JBL Charge 3 review:

Waterproof Bluetooth speaker plays louder, but sound quality takes a step back

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The JBL Charge 3 is a well-designed, fully waterproof portable Bluetooth speaker that features good battery life and doubles as an external charger for your portable devices. It also has built-in speakerphone capabilities, and plays loudly with strong bass for its size and price class.

The Bad While it plays louder than the JBL Charge 2+ it doesn't sound as good.

The Bottom Line The JBL Charge 3 is larger than its predecessor, fully waterproof, and plays louder -- but it should sound a little better.

7.6 Overall
  • Design 9.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Sound 7.0
  • Value 7.0

There are a zillion wireless Bluetooth speakers you can buy these days, but three brands rise to the top of the heap: Bose, Ultimate Ears and JBL. And of those three, only JBL makes models that also double as backup batteries for phones and other USB-powered devices: the Charge line.

The JBL Charge 3 looks similar to the highly rated JBL Charge 2+ and has the same list price of $150 and £150. (It's not available in Australia, but that US price converts to about AU$200.) While the Charge 2+ is water resistant, its successor model is fully waterproof, with IPX7 certification, which means it can be completely submersed in water for a short period. Like its predecessors, you can lay it flat or stand it up vertically. And, for better or worse, the new model is about 20 percent larger and heavier.

It delivers an impressive 20 hours of battery life and also has speakerphone capabilities. Using the JBL Connect app you can wirelessly link think this to other JBL Connect enabled speakers to amplify the sound and widen the soundstage.

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