The Best JBL Portable Bluetooth Speakers: A Side-by-Side Comparison, Mini-Reviews, and FAQ


We’ve done in-depth reviews of all JBL Bluetooth speakers, understandably you folks don’t want to read all that. So here’s a quick side-by-side table with mini-reviews and an FAQ to help you choose the right JBL sonic portable buddy for you.

JBL makes great-sounding, well-regarded portable Bluetooth speakers that are durable and road-worthy. Any of them could be smart picks; which you get depends largely on the size you’re willing to carry, the price, and a few other feature factors.

We’ve got the basic facts in a side-by-side table below; we also have a variety of FAQs below that.

Update History of This Article

This article was first published on Oct. 2, 2019. It was expanded on Oct. 4, 2019.

JBL Speakers: A Side-by-Side Comparison

We’ve ordered the speakers below from most portable at the beginning (that is, the lightest and smallest) and going up in size to the boombox-sized portable party monsters at the end.

Further down on this page we also offer more in-depth side-by-side comparisons of specific JBL speakers plus some non-JBL speakers to recommend.

Our take in a nutshell Interface Notes Connectivity Frequency range Output power Battery life (advertised) Speakerphone Voice assistant Pair multiple units Waterproof? Length (in.) Height (in.) Depth (in.) Length (cm.) Height (cm.) Depth (cm.) Weight (kg.) Weight (lbs.) Check latest prices Amazon pricing (updated daily)

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JBL Go 2 • Tiny, palm-sized option is JBL's smallest portable speaker
• Limited bass
• Battery life is on the shorter end at 5 hours
• The cheapest JBL speaker
• No syncing issues when watching video from laptop or phone, good way to boost volume from such devices for watching on the go
• Speakerphone mic isn't very sensitive and you must speak loudly
• Goes surprisingly loud for its size but to some ears sounds harsh at top volumes
• Bluetooth pairing
• Volume up/down
• Power
• Play/pause button
• 3.5mm input
• Available in a range of solid colors • Bluetooth v4.1
• A mini 3.5mm (typical headphone) stereo input for playing music from older devices
3 W 5 hours / takes 2.5 hours to fully charge up Yes No No Completely waterproof; can be submerged (IPX7) 2.8 3.4 1.2 7.1 8.6 3.2 0.18 0.41Amazon
eBay
BestBuy
JBL
$28.50

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JBL Clip 3 • Offers more clarity, volume, and bass than the Go 2, but is slightly larger
• Overall widely seen as one of the clearest-sounding, even speakers at its size and price
• Quite solid construction and convenient clip, plus waterproofing, make it excellent for showers and for carrying clipped to a backpack
• Bass is present, but, not surprisingly given its size, does not produce powerful bass
• Depending on volume, battery life can significantly outlast the advertised 10 hours
• Bluetooth pairing
• Volume up/down
• Power
• Play/pause button
• Integrated carabiner clip
• Available in a range of solid colors • Bluetooth v4.1
• A mini 3.5mm (typical headphone) stereo input for playing music from older devices
2.40 Hz - 2.48 Hz 3.3 W 10 hours / takes 3 hours to fully charge up Yes No No Completely waterproof; can be submerged (IPX7) 5.4 3.8 1.8 13.7 9.7 4.6 0.22 0.49Amazon
eBay
BestBuy
JBL
$29.95

[Click the + for more...]
JBL Flip 4 • One of the best-sounding cheap, waterproof, cylindrical portable speakers
• Crisp, even performance in mids and highs
• Excellent for spoken voices
• Bluetooth pairing
• Volume up/down
• Power
• Connect button (for pairing multiple JBL Connect+ speakers)
• Play/pause/answer phone calls/activate voice assistant
• Two 44 mm transducers
• Available in a range of solid colors
• Bluetooth 4.2
• Analogue mini audio in
• Micro-USB charging
70Hz – 20kHz 2 x 8 W Up to 12 hours; 3.5 hours to fully charge Yes Yes; access your phone's Google Assistant or Siri Now through the speaker Connect multiple units for bigger sound (any JBL Connect+ speakers work) Completely waterproof; can be submerged for up to 30 minutes (IPX7) 6.9 2.7 2.8 17.5 6.8 7 0.515 1.125Amazon
BestBuy
JBL
$59.99

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JBL Flip 5 • Slightly bigger, better bass, and more volume than its predecessor the Flip 4
• Larger battery and updated charging port to USB-C
• Improvement in bass and treble from JBL's "racetrack-shaped" driver
• Bluetooth pairing
• Volume up/down
• Power
• PartyBoost (for pairing multiple JBL PartyBoost speakers)
• Play/pause
• 44 x 80 mm transducer
• Available in a range of solid colors as well as camouflage
• Bluetooth 4.2
• USB-C charging
65Hz–20kHz 20 W RMS Up to 12 hours; the capacity is larger but so is the driver, thus the same overall battery life. The Flip 5 goes 10 hours at top volume; fully charges in 2.5 hours. No No Can pair with any other JBL PartyBoost-compatible speaker for portable stereo sound, and with multiple speakers for bigger sound Completely waterproof; can be submerged for up to 30 minutes (IPX7) 7.1 2.7 2.9 18.1 6.9 7.4 0.54 1.188Amazon
BestBuy
JBL
$107.95

[Click the + for more...]
JBL Charge 3 • Stronger bass than the JBL Flip models; better evenness and clarity
• Loud enough to animate a small picnic, beach gathering
• Bluetooth pairing
• Volume up/down
• Power
• Connect button (for pairing multiple JBL Connect speakers)
• Play/pause/answer calls/voice assistant
• Two 2 x 50 mm transducers
• Available in a range of solid colors
• Bluetooth v4.1
• One USB output for charging other devices
• A mini 3.5mm (typical headphone) stereo input for playing music from older devices
• Charges via Micro USB-B cable and adapter (included)
65Hz - 20kHz 2 x 10 W 20 hours / takes 4.5 hours to fully charge up; can charge a phone or other device off of the speaker's battery; auto power-off saves battery when not in use Yes Yes; access your phone's Google Assistant or Siri Now through the speaker Yes; connect multiple (100+!) JBL speakers as long as they are labeled JBL Connect (JBL's older standard) Completely waterproof; can be submerged for up to 30 minutes (IPX7) 8.4 3.4 3.5 21.3 8.7 8.85 0.8 1.76Amazon
eBay
BestBuy
JBL
$96.99

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JBL Charge 4 • Directional speaker with wide soundstage and good clarity and powerful bass for a speaker of its size, strong step up from the preceding Charge 3
• Goes loud enough to fill a large room or small outdoor gathering without straining
• Updated to USB-C charging (latest standard used with most new phones)
• Bluetooth pairing
• Volume up/down
• Power
• Connect+ button (for pairing multiple JBL Connect+ speakers)
• Play/pause
• One 50 x 90 mm oval transducer
• Available in a range of solid colors as well as camouflage
• Bluetooth v4.2
• One USB output for charging other devices
• A mini 3.5mm (typical headphone) stereo input for playing music from older devices
• Charges via USB-C cable (USB-A to USB-C cable included, but you need your own wall outlet to USB converter like this if you don't have one)
60Hz - 20kHz 30 W 20 hours / takes 5.5 hours to fully charge up; can charge a phone or other device off of the speaker's battery; auto power-off saves battery when not in use No No Yes; connect multiple (100+!) JBL speakers as long as they are labeled JBL Connect + (not compatible with JBL Connect) Completely waterproof; can be submerged for up to 30 minutes (IPX7) 8.7 3.7 3.6 22 9.5 9.4 0.96 2.1Amazon
eBay
BestBuy
JBL
Price not available

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JBL Pulse 3 • Flashy, customizable, lava-lamp-like light show that responds to the music in various ways and designs can be customized via the app; one can even take photos and have those colors load into the light show
• 360-degree sound, can be placed in the middle of a room
• Sounds smooth and slightly bass forward in small and medium sized rooms, energetic vocals
• Both light and sound can be synchronized if you buy two Pulse 3s
• Bluetooth pairing
• Volume up/down
• Power
• Connect+ button (for pairing multiple JBL Connect speakers)
• Play/pause/answer calls/voice assistant
• Three 40 mm transducers
• Produces a 360-degree, customizable light show that responds to the music
• Bluetooth v4.2
• A mini 3.5mm (typical headphone) stereo input for playing music from older devices
• Charges via Micro USB-B cable and adapter (included)
65Hz - 20kHz 20 W 12 hours / takes 4.5 hours to fully charge up Yes Yes; access your phone's Google Assistant or Siri Now through the speaker Yes; connect multiple (100+!) JBL speakers as long as they are labeled JBL Connect+ Completely waterproof; can be submerged (IPX7) 8.8 3.6 3.6 22.3 9.2 9.2 0.96 2.11Amazon
eBay
BestBuy
JBL
$149.99

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JBL Pulse 4 • Updated version of the JBL Pulse 3; customizable, flashy light show expanded to fill entire speaker
• Even sound across all frequencies, solid bass end for a speaker of its size
• Similar sound profile to Pulse 3 but from single speaker driver
• If you buy two Pulse 4s, the light and sound can be synchronized between both
• Bluetooth pairing
• Volume up/down
• Power
• Connect button (for pairing multiple JBL Connect+ speakers)
• Play/pause
• LED Lightshow
• 57 mm transducers
• Available in a range of solid colors
• Bluetooth 4.2 70Hz - 20kHz 20 W 12 hours / takes 3.5 hours to fully charge up No No Yes, Connect multiple units for bigger sound (any JBL Connect+ speakers work) Completely waterproof; can be submerged (IPX7) 8.15 3.78 3.78 20.7 9.6 9.6 1.26 2.78Amazon
eBay
BestBuy
JBL
$224.95

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JBL Xtreme • An excellent outdoor party speaker, strong volume and thumping bass
• One of the loudest portable speakers that you can buy at this price and size that still sounds good at top volumes
• Thoughtful features for outdoor use, especially the ability to charge your phone off of the speaker's battery
• Bluetooth pairing
• Volume up/down
• Power
• Connect button (for pairing multiple JBL Connect speakers)
• Play/pause/answer phone calls/activate voice assistant
• Two 63 mm woofers
• Two 35 mm tweeters
• Bluetooth v4.1
• Two USB outputs with combined 2A for charging other devices off of the speaker battery
• 1 mini stereo input for playing music from older devices
70Hz - 20kHz 2 x 20 W 15 hours / takes 3.5 hours to fully charge up Yes Yes; access your phone's Google Assistant or Siri Now through the speaker Connect feature: Wirelessly connect multiple JBL Connect speakers (i.e., only older speaker models) Splashproof (IPX4) 11.2 5 4.8 28.3 12.6 12.2 2.122 4.687Amazon
eBay
$149.99

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JBL Xtreme 2 • Just slightly larger and heavier than the preceding JBL Xtreme, carries with its own strap; improved, deeper and more detailed bass and excellent volume
• The best outdoor party speaker for its size, plenty loud enough to animate a mid-sized outdoor gathering
• Outdoor party features including waterproofing, carry strap, and integrated beer bottle opener
• Bluetooth pairing
• Volume up/down
• Power
• Connect button (for pairing multiple JBL Connect+ speakers)
• Play/pause/answer phone calls/activate voice assistant
• Two 69.85 mm woofers
• Two 20 mm tweeters
• Available in a range of solid colors as well as camouflage
• Bluetooth v4.2
• One USB output for charging other devices
• A mini 3.5mm (typical headphone) stereo input for playing music from older devices
• Charges via standard AC wall plug
55Hz - 20kHz 2 x 20 W 15 hours / takes 3.5 hours to fully charge up; can charge a phone or other device off of the speaker's battery; auto power-off saves battery when not in use Yes Yes; access your phone's Google Assistant or Siri Now through the speaker Yes; connect multiple (100+!) JBL speakers as long as they are labeled JBL Connect + Completely waterproof; can be submerged for up to 30 minutes (IPX7) 11.3 5.3 5.2 28.8 13.6 13.2 2.393 5.3Amazon
eBay
BestBuy
JBL
$249.95

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JBL Boombox • Twice as big as the Xtreme 2, twice as heavy, but still certainly within the realm of "portable"
• Huge, deep bass (perhaps even over-emphasized for some tastes)
• "Outdoor" mode further increases bass
• Just as durable and waterproof, outdoors-ready
• Further boost the sound by pairing with any other JBL Connect+-enabled speaker
• Bluetooth pairing
• Volume up/down
• Power
• Connect button (for pairing multiple JBL Connect+ speakers)
• Play/pause/answer phone calls/activate voice assistant
• Two 101.6 mm woofers
• Two 20 mm tweeters
• Available in black, green, and camouflage
• Bluetooth v4.2
• Two USB outputs for charging other devices off of the speaker battery
• 1 mini stereo input for playing music from older devices
50Hz - 20kHz 2 x 30 W 24 hours / takes 6.5 hours to fully charge up Yes Yes; access your phone's Google Assistant or Siri Now through the speaker Connect+: Wirelessly connect more than 100 JBL Connect+ enabled speakers (i.e., pair with more recent JBL speakers) Completely waterproof; can be submerged for up to 30 minutes (IPX7) 19.5 10 7.7 49.5 25.5 19.6 5.25 11.562Amazon
eBay
BestBuy
JBL
$379.95

Find Out More About JBL and Other Portable Speakers

Also note that while JBL speakers are quite well regarded by others (and by us), we have another pick for our top travel speaker as well as for our favorite larger, louder Bluetooth speaker. JBL speakers particularly excel, however, if you want full waterproofing and strong, even sound in a portable, durable package.

We have specific comparison articles devoted to the following JBL speakers if you’re just deciding between two or three:

F.A.Q. on JBL Portable Bluetooth Speakers

We’ve tried to answer the most key questions we’ve gotten from readers in the process of choosing speakers.

If this mega-JBL-coverage somehow doesn’t do the trick, feel free to drop your own questions in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer (and improve this article) if needed.

Questions on Choosing JBL

Still can’t decide between JBL speakers? The table at top should help, but here are answers to the most common questions.

What’s the loudest JBL portable speaker?

Though it stretches our definition of portable, the loudest JBL Bluetooth speaker that you could still consider taking around is the JBL PartyBox 300. It weighs 41.5 lbs. (18.84 kg) and only has a five-hour battery. It’s also not at all water resistant. But it can put out a wallop of a sound, and you can plug a guitar or mic into it for karaoke.

More realistically, the loudest truly portable JBL speaker is the JBL Boombox. It’s 19.6 lbs (5.25 kg) of pure party madness on the go. It’s rugged, it floats, and it is fully waterproof (IPX7 rated). There’s a carry handle, which is key, and still relatively compact and easy to carry for its outsized sound.

Which portable JBL speaker has the best bass?

JBL Boombox $379.95

As with the previous answer, the JBL PartyBox 300 can deliver the deepest bass, but is quite a lot to carry around. The JBL Boombox (also just above) is the closest you can get to a true, quality subwoofer-style bass experience in a speaker on the go.

What’s the smallest JBL Bluetooth speaker?

JBL Go 2 $29.95

The smallest JBL speaker we’d recommend is the JBL Go 2. It’s about the size of a bar of soap, and if your phone, tablet, or laptop isn’t producing enough sound, this is an excellent option to boost things a bit on the go. It’s a great travel speaker.

Add to this the fact that the Go 2 syncs well over Bluetooth and generally causes no problems for matching dialogue with whatever device you’re watching videos on. It’s certainly not going to sound as good as a home theatre system, but if you’re watching Netflix on a laptop, this little speaker will certainly improve the audio experience.

What’s the best JBL shower speaker?

JBL Clip 3 $37.95

Hands-down the speaker we’d opt for in the shower is the JBL Clip 3, though with their full-on IPX7 waterproofing any of the JBL speakers above would also work.

The Clip 3’s advantage is its small size, solid construction, and built-in carabiner that allows you to easily hang it from a toiletry shelf or towel hook.

The Clip 3 goes plenty loud enough to be heard over spraying water and your own terrible crooning. The mix is even and there’s plenty of clarity for such a small speaker.

The Clip 3 doesn’t have a lot of bass (to be expected for a speaker of its size) — if you need some thump with your shower experience, check out (from smallest to largest) the JBL Charge 4, Xtreme 2, or Boombox in the table above.

What’s the trippiest JBL speaker?

Could any speaker seem more expressly designed for passing a joint or tripping balls than the JBL Pulse 4?

This modern take on the lava lamp pumps out detailed 360-degree sound while offering a fully customizable light show. Place it in the middle of a room for best effect.

What’s the newest JBL Bluetooth speaker?

New speakers are released all the time, but as of this writing, the newest speaker in the line would be the JBL Pulse 4, released late September of 2019. It offers a full-length modern lightshow along its body that can be customized to go with the music, as well as smooth 360-degree delivery that can fill a large room.

The Future of JBL Portable Bluetooth Speakers

We’ve been following JBL quite carefully for years. So while the following is conjecture, it’s very carefully considered conjecture. We update this section as new information is released/leaked. In the past, JBL has sometimes previewed its new speakers for journalists at electronics shows, and we’ll be all over that too if it happens.

If you’re shopping, it’s not worth waiting around for a new speaker model to be released, in our opinion. The last several models of various lines of JBL speakers have been consistently good, so we wouldn’t bother waiting for the latest version in general. Also, it can be wise to wait until a speaker has been out for a few months in any case; this gives you a chance to wait for review sites (especially us!) to cover it thoroughly, and notice any firmware or manufacturing problems that JBL may need to correct. There’s really very little sense in being a first adopter.

Will there be a JBL Flip 6?

Since new JBL Flip speakers have been released about every two years, if the schedule is maintained we would expect a future JBL Flip 6 speaker to come out in mid-to-late 2021.

That’s guesswork, but it’s based on the following: The JBL Flip 3 was released in September of 2015, the JBL Flip 4 was launched in April 0f 2017, and the JBL Flip 5 was released in August of 2019 (after a long build-up).

JBL Flip 5 $119.95

As we’ve said in our review of the JBL Flip 4 versus Flip 5, there’s some definite improvement between versions, but anything can get better. We’ll be curious what an eventual JBL Flip 6 could bring. More volume would be at the top of our list, if this can be done without sacrificing sound quality or increasing the size or weight.

Will there be a JBL Charge 5?

Given this JBL’s past schedule of new Charge releases every two or so years, we’d expect a JBL Charge 5 (if it is indeed made) to be released in late 2020, perhaps in time for the holiday season. But as of yet, there is no official word from JBL. In the meantime, consider the JBL Charge 4 or Charge 3 as we describe here.

JBL Charge 4 $129.95

We’re basing this educated guess on the past: the JBL Charge 2 was released in late 2014, the JBL Charge 3 was released in May of 2016 and the JBL Charge 4 was released in Oct of 2018. We’ll certainly update this space as soon as we hear more; the JBL Charge 5 may very well be the next portable speaker from JBL to look forward to in 2020.

Will there be a JBL Pulse 5?

The JBL Pulse series of unique digital-lava-lamps-cum-speakers has been a hit. The current model is the JBL Pulse 4, and if JBL keeps a similar release schedule we could expect a new model, the theoretical JBL Pulse 5, to be released in summer or fall of 2021.

JBL Pulse 3 $149.99

We’re basing this on what we’ve seen previously; the JBL Pulse 2 was released at the tail end of 2015, the JBL Pulse 3 was released in January of 2017, and the JBL Pulse 4 was released in September of 2019.

That doesn’t guarantee that JBL will ever make a Pulse 5, of course. But since each successive model has gotten snazzier, both in terms of the light show and how it sounds, we’d expect that JBL engineers are going to try to come up with even greater refinements.

Note also that some features tend to be both gained and lost, as happened in the upgrade from the JBL Pulse 3 to Pulse 4, which we covered here. In particular, speakerphone features have been on their way out with current JBL Bluetooth speaker models.

Durability of JBL Portable Speakers

Don’t expect any piece of electronics with a battery to last for life. But compared to other such speakers (and electronics products generally) JBL speakers do pretty well.

How long do JBL portable Bluetooth speakers last?

All of JBL’s powered speakers have a one-year warranty, so you’re at the very least guaranteed that they’ll last at least that long. But we’d expect any JBL portable Bluetooth speaker to last for at least a few years beyond that.

JBL speakers are quite well-built and survive some degree of rough handling; most of those discussed above are also IPX7 waterproof, which is to say that they can survive up to 30 minutes under a meter of water.

It’s instructive to look back at the JBL Bluetooth speakers that have been around for a while. Amazon reviews of the durability of the JBL Flip 4 show that people can be total jack-donkeys with their speakers: dropping them, throwing them down stairs, leaving them in the pool, etc. Generally the results are very positive in terms of survival stories in such reviews. JBL speakers deal with quite a lot.

The most likely part of a JBL portable speaker (or any Bluetooth speaker) to fail is the internal battery; all such rechargeable speaker batteries have a limited number of cycles. I have one that has lasted for about five years of frequent use, but I think I just got lucky. It wouldn’t be surprising for a speaker battery to conk out after 3-4 years.

Individual results will vary widely based on your usage and the temperatures that the speaker is operating at.

When the battery doesn’t hold a charge any more, you can use the speaker plugged into the wall as either a kitchen or bathroom speaker, for example. Or you can replace the batteries yourself, as discussed just below.

Note that if you’re interested in durability we also strongly recommend speakers from JBL’s competitor Ultimate Ears. They have twice the warranty period of JBL at two years and are at least as well built if not more so. See for example our review of the Ultimate Ears Boom 3 (which is similar to the JBL Flip 5), the smaller, cheaper Wonderboom 1 or 2, or how the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 stacks up against JBL Charge speakers.

Are JBL Bluetooth speaker batteries replaceable?

The batteries are unfortunately not replaceable directly from JBL. If you’ve had your speaker for less than a year, you can expect the battery to be replaced by them under the warranty policy.

Otherwise, you can check IFixIt for your speaker model (for example, here’s the JBL Flip 4 battery replacement); they have do-it-yourself guides and sell the battery and tools to open your speaker. These run about $30, which is certainly cheaper than a new speaker and extending your speaker’s life is more environmentally friendly as well.

By the time your speaker’s battery does give out, there will also likely be newer, better models to consider and tempt you to simple replacement. You can keep the old speaker to use as a bathroom speaker, exercise space speaker, or in any other space where you can keep the speaker always plugged into an outlet and not have to use the battery any longer.


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1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    Jason
    2019-12-06
    Reply

    Sign up for newsletter? Instagram? How else can we view your articles. Thanks

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