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The JBL Charge 4 from the front with a forest floor in the background.

JBL Charge 4 review

The Charge 4 is still a good speaker, even with the advent of the Charge 5.

Published onSeptember 18, 2023

JBL Charge 4
The bottom line
If you want to futureproof yourself and get the new JBL Connect+, then this is the way to go for sure. Otherwise, there isn't much difference between this and the Charge 3 before it (though USB-C charging is definitely nice).

JBL Charge 4

If you want to futureproof yourself and get the new JBL Connect+, then this is the way to go for sure. Otherwise, there isn't much difference between this and the Charge 3 before it (though USB-C charging is definitely nice).
Product release date



$129 USD


22 x 9.5 x 9.3cm



Model Number




What we like
Good build
Gets loud
Long battery life
Can charge your portable devices
USB-C charging
Plenty of color options
What we don't like
Basically the same sound as the Charge 3
Slightly bigger and heavier than previous model
The buttons that aren't lit up are hard to see in the dark
Vocals in the mids can get masked by bass
No microphone for phone calls
SoundGuys Rating
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Durability / Build Quality
Battery Life

If you’re in the market for a Bluetooth speaker, one brand tends to come up more often than others. JBL has options at basically every price point, but for the price, its best speakers have always been the Charge series. The JBL Charge 4 speaker is a few years old now but you can still find it in various retailers. How well has it held up since the initial release?

Editor’s note: This review was updated on September 18, 2023, to note the discontinuation of the product.

What’s it like to use the JBL Charge 4?

Pictured is the all-black JBL Charge 4 from the front on a pile of wooden sticks.
The JBL Charge 4 speaker is slightly larger than the previous version, and a little heavier too.

At first glance, the Charge 4 doesn’t look like it’s any different than the previous Charge 3. But if you look a little closer you begin to notice a few slight differences in build and in size. The Charge 4 is slightly bigger by roughly a centimeter in every way, but it’s also heavier by 165 grams (7.05 ounces). While that obviously isn’t a huge deal, it’s not good news if you were relying on the portability of the speaker. If you’re hiking, an ounce in the morning is a pound by the evening. That said, it shouldn’t really make a practical difference in everyday activities. You should be able to throw this in a backpack with no problem.

Pictured is the exposed passive radiator of the JBL Charge 4.
On either end of the speaker the Charge 4 is still rocking dual exposed passive radiators.

JBL also upgraded the battery from 6000mAh on the Charge 3 to around 7500mAh on the Charge 4. Besides that, the Charge 4 still keeps most of the features that made the Charge 3 so great.

Is the JBL Charge 4 waterproof?

Yes, the tough waterproof fabric makes a comeback along with the IPX7 certification that lets you submerge it for up to 30 minutes in a meter of water. It also floats for a bit if you do drop it in the water so you don’t have to worry about losing it if it falls off of a boat or a deck. These also have the characteristic exposed dual passive radiators on either end just like most of the new JBL speakers over the last few years.

Editor’s note: Sara tested a JBL Flip 4’s IPX7 rating by submerging it in a pool for about 10 seconds, and it came out broken. The speaker still produced sound, but the sound was shrouded by a loud crackling. JBL customer support stated that the one year warranty had passed, and defective products out of warranty could not be replaced for free. Considering JBL is a company whose big selling point is their waterproofing, this was disappointing.

A photo of a water spigot, as shot by Flickr user rheinitz
Flickr user rheinitz Despite the metaphor, please resist the temptation to plug your headphones into a spigot.

Up top, you’ll get the playback buttons that are just slightly raised above the fabric along with a power and Bluetooth button. The bottom is a small built-in stand with five tiny LED lights that let you know how much battery life is left when you tap the power button, and around back is a rubber flap that keeps all of the ports protected from water. You’ll definitely want to make sure this is closed if you’re going to be taking this to the beach or rocking out poolside.

How to connect to the JBL Charge 4?

Pictured are the lit up playback buttons of the black JBL Charge 4.
The Charge 4 has the playback buttons up top with the power and Bluetooth pairing buttons lit up.

Connecting to the speaker might not be as simple as your AirPods, but it’s still pretty easy. As soon as you turn it on all you have to do is press the Bluetooth button that’s located next to the power button in order to enter pairing mode. From there, simply locate the device in your Bluetooth settings in order to connect to it.

If you can’t tell yet, the JBL Charge 4 isn’t too different than the previous model. It’s an iteration on an iteration, but connectivity is where things to start to split. The Charge 4 has all of your bases covered with a strong connection up to around 30 feet just like most Bluetooth speakers. The playback controls work great and the buttons are nice and clicky, though I do wish the buttons were made of white plastic or were all lit up like the power button, as it’s hard to see which one is which when it’s dark. The Charge 4 also doesn’t have a built-in microphone so if you tend to use your speaker for phone calls you might be annoyed. Personally, I never want a mic on my speaker and always ended up fumbling to disconnect my phone every time I got a phone call, so this is actually a positive thing for me but I can see how that can be a deal-breaker for some.

Pictured are the USB-C, 3.5mm, and USB-A ports of the black JBL Charge 4 behind the waterproof flap.
Protected under a waterproof flap are the inputs and outputs of the speaker.

On paper, you’ll notice that the JBL Charge 4 has Bluetooth 4.2 instead of the older 4.1 which is nice, but the real differences have to deal with JBL Connect. If you’ve never owned a JBL speaker, JBL Connect is the feature that allows you to sync up a few speakers together in order to play the same song. It’s not really the equivalent of a Sonos system, but if you’re having a party it could definitely get the job done. JBL Connect+ is a better version of the older JBL Connect, and lets you connect up to 100 JBL speakers together instead of one or two. If you happen to have a mansion, this would be a cool party trick.

Unfortunately, if you bought an older speaker with the regular JBL Connect (like the Charge 3), it isn’t compatible with this new plus version. So if you and a few friends are going to splurge on 100 of these and throw a “Project X” style party, this could be a feature that you might be interested in. For the average person, I doubt it matters much.

How to reset the JBL Charge 4

If you’re having trouble connecting to your Charge 4 then it might be a good idea to just reset it and start from scratch. To do that just follow these steps:

  1. Go into the Bluetooth settings of your source device and delete the Charge 4 from your paired devices.
  2. Power on the speaker
  3. Once it’s powered on, hold down the Bluetooth button and the volume up (+) button simultaneously for a few seconds until the LED ring on the top of the speaker lights up. After it does this the speaker should power down automatically.
  4. Power the speaker back on. It should enter pairing mode automatically so that you can locate it in your Bluetooth settings.

How’s the battery life of the Charge 4?

Pictured are the battery indicator lights of the JBL Charge 4.
On the stand there are tiny LED lights that let you know how much juice you have left.

Even though the JBL Charge 4 has a battery with a much larger capacity than the Charge 3, they’re still both touted as having an identical 20 hours of constant playback. During our testing, we managed to get the Charge 4 to pump out music for 13 hours and 46 minutes straight. It wasn’t quite the 20 hours they promised, but it’s still not bad. That will take a hit though if you decide to also charge your devices via the USB-A output on the back. You’ll also find a 3.5mm input and a USB Type-C input on the back, but the Type-C can only be used for charging. So if you have a Type-C to Type-C cable and were hoping to charge your new Android phone or iPad Pro through that port, you’re out of luck. You have to use the USB-A port for everything charging related.

Does the JBL Charge 4 sound good?

This was the part where I was most surprised because I was expecting the sound quality to be an improvement over the Charge 3, but it seems to be extremely similar to my ears. JBL went with a single driver over dual-drivers this time around, but besides a few minor complaints, I don’t think many people who buy this speaker are going to notice. Just like the previous model, the new JBL Charge 4 has a strong low end for its size which is no doubt helped by those passive radiators.

Like the older Charge 3, this model will sound better in larger rooms and open areas—mostly due to the fact that bass tends to lose power over distance faster than higher-pitched sounds. If you use the Charge 4 in a barn, yard, or garage: the sound will drop a little bass emphasis and sound a little more pleasing to you.

The sound signature and quality of the JBL Charge 4 is nearly identical to the JBL Charge 3.

Bass notes throughout the song Tearing at the Seams by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats were distinct and easy to follow along with, but the speaker suffers from the same lack of clarity in the mids that the last model did. Vocals were still discernible, but they sounded like they were taking the backseat to some of the instrumentation of the song.

This was especially true in the song Lost on You by LP, where the vocals sounded like they were in competition with the strings and background melodies throughout the chorus. If you’re a lover of the high end you don’t have to worry because nothing sounds harsh and I didn’t hear any distortion at high volumes either. Overall, it seems like JBL just focused on tuning the speaker to sound as close as possible to the Charge 3, and it’s impressive how close they got considering the move to only one driver. But if you liked the way the last Charge 3 sounded, you’ll like this one too.

Should you get the Charge 4?

Now that the Charge 4 is discontinued, you may be able to find it in stores with old stock. However, unless you can get it for a steep discount, it’s not worth searching hard for this product. It won’t be available for very long.

Man holding a wet all-black JBL Charge 4 in hand with water droplets covering it.
The Charge 4 has an IPX7 waterproof fabric so you don’t have to worry about water damage.

The JBL Charge 4 is only worth the money if you can find for a very good deal. Otherwise, you’re better off springing for the JBL Charge 5, with its newer tech, better battery life, and better ingress-protection rating. For those interested, read our in-depth JBL Charge 5 review.

If you’re looking for an alternative, check out the Sony SRS-XB32. It has a similarly powerful sound and fun LED lights. It’s also got an IP67 rating. If you want to stay within the JBL sphere but just want a more portable speaker, the JBL Flip 5 is one of the best waterproof  Bluetooth speakers out there.

JBL Charge 4JBL Charge 4
JBL Charge 4
Good build • Gets loud • Long battery life
MSRP: $219.00
The Charge 4 is still a good speaker, even with the advent of the Charge 5.
If you want to futureproof yourself and get the new JBL Connect+, then this is the way to go for sure. Otherwise, there isn't much difference between this and the Charge 3 before it (though USB-C charging is definitely nice).

Frequently asked questions

The sound won’t be as big and powerful as, say, bookshelf speakers because of the sheer size difference, but it should be fine for casual listening. Another option we’d recommend looking into is soundbars, especially if you’re planning to put a TV in your lounge.

No matter where you buy the JBL Charge 4 from, JBL covers you with a 1 year warranty to replace a defective product. If you want to buy a refurbished speaker, you can check JBL’s website, and it’s common for Amazon to put JBL’s products on sale.

This speaker isn’t specifically billed as an at-home speaker since portability is one of its main features. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t do so; in fact, one of Lily’s favorite speakers to use in the apartment is the portable Bose SoundLink Micro.