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JBL Clip 3 review: A top-notch waterproof travel speaker

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The Good The JBL Clip 3 offers improved sound and battery life in a more durable design than its predecessor. It's fully waterproof and sounds very good for its small size. The integrated carabiner allows you to clip the speaker to a bag or hang it from a peg.

The Bad It's a tad larger and heavier than the Clip 2, which is still available at a lower price.

The Bottom Line The JBL Clip 3 is a better-sounding version of one of our favorite micro Bluetooth speakers.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 7
  • Sound 7
  • Value 8

Review Sections

We've been fans of earlier JBL Clip mini Bluetooth speakers, and the new Clip 3 ($60, £50, AU$80) features some significant design modifications that clearly distinguish it from its predecessor, the Clip 2

Not only does the the fully waterproof speaker (IPX7) have improved battery life and better sound, it's more durable, according to JBL, thanks to the integrated carabiner framing the entire perimeter of the speaker, acting as a bumper.

I spent some time comparing the Clip 3 with the Clip 2, as well as Bose's more expensive SoundLink Micro, which retails for $99. It's worth noting that the Clip 3 is slightly larger and weighs slightly more than the Clip 2 (210g, 137x97x46mm versus 184g, 141x94x42mm). 

The JBL Clip 3 also comes in a nice array of colors: black, blue, green, gray, pink, white and "sand."

The JBL Clip 3 is fully waterproof.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Clip 3's integrated carabiner does come at the cost of the Clip 2's integrated 3.5mm cord, which fits into a slot around the perimeter and bottom of the speaker. That said, the Clip 3 has a 3.5mm input next to the charging port, so it will work with wired audio sources -- you just need to supply the cable.

Thankfully, the size tradeoffs pay off: The Clip 3 clearly sounds better than the Clip 2. Not only does it sound a little fuller, with slightly better bass, but it also plays louder. These little speakers have their limitations, but for its size, the Clip 3 impresses. (It also sounds fuller and plays louder than its sibling, the JBL Go 2 -- though you can snag that one for as little as $30 to $40).

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