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JBL Charge 6 wishlist: All the features I want to see

The JBL Charge 5 is one of JBL's most popular speakers to date. Can JBL do better?
By

Published onMarch 25, 2024

JBL Charge 5 resting on a bed of crystals.
Sara Carbone

The JBL Charge 5 is one of the most popular portable Bluetooth speakers on the market. Whether you are a backyard BBQ host or confined to a small dorm room, the Charge series will serve you well. Given JBL’s track record for releases, followers are expecting the JBL Charge 6 to arrive soon. But what might it have in store? Here is all I want to see from JBL’s next Charge Bluetooth speaker.

Microphones

A woman touching the JBL Charge 5 as it rests on a table.
The JBL Charge 5 is a great speaker for indoors or outdoors.

I would like to see a return of built-in microphones on the JBL Charge 6. Unfortunately, JBL ditched the microphones on the Charge 4, but adding them back in would make the Charge 6 a much more versatile speaker. With microphones, the Charge 6 could be used as a speakerphone and for accessing your phone’s smart assistant right from the speaker. It could also allow the speaker to self-calibrate its audio output based on the environment.

A smaller form factor

The JBL Charge 5 is a little on the bulky side. Measuring 22.3 x 9.65 x 9.4 cm and weighing 960g, the Charge 5 is likely too cumbersome to take long hikes or jogs along the beach. Its sizable build also makes it difficult to place in most standard rucksacks. This all plays against the marketing of a truly portable wireless speaker. In reality, the Charge 5 serves best as a semi-portable shower speaker.

The JBL Charge 6 would benefit from a lighter and smaller form factor. While this would undoubtedly affect the size of the speaker’s bass woofers, it would make the Charge 6 more portable. A more compact frame would benefit hikers, beach-goers, cyclists, and rock climbers. Given the robust IP67 rating of the Charge 5 is expected to continue, it would make sense for the Charge 6 to wear a more portable design.

An aux input

JBL Charge 5 resting on a balcony fence. The top buttons of the speaker are visible.
Though there are no buttons to skip forward or backward on the JBL Charge 5, it has pretty much all the other controls you’d need.

This is another feature JBL ditched, and the Charge 5 was the first of the series to debut without an aux input. While a 3.5mm input is unlikely to return to the Charge 6, it would make the speaker stand out from the likes of UE and Bose. It would also provide users with a stable, lossless quality wired connection. This is desirable, given the Charge 5 can only connect to source devices via the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. While the Charge 5 is not intended as an audiophile speaker, SBC is notorious for poor signal strength and significant data loss. AAC works well with iOS devices but performs unreliably with Android. An aux input would solve this issue and prevent signal dropouts in congested radio environments.

Fast charging

JBL Charge 5 placed on some rocks and grass. The charging port is visible.
The back of the Charge 5 has a charging port for juicing up the speaker and another one for charging your smartphone.

Although the Charge 6 is bound to have a 20-hour battery life or longer, it would be helpful to have fast charging too. As it stands, you need to set aside four hours to charge the Charge 5 fully. It is easy to recharge the speaker overnight, but I would appreciate some quick-charge option when in a bind. This would help JBL’s next-gen iteration stand out among some of the best portable party speakers. It is reasonable to expect a portable wireless speaker to top up on the fly. This is a handy feature for those who live active and busy lifestyles.

Auracast

Updated hardware should award the latest Bluetooth 5.3 features. This means that the new speaker could incorporate Bluetooth Auracast functionality, allowing it to receive transmission from an Auracast-enabled Bluetooth playback device. This would bring similar functionality to JBL’s PartyBoost feature to the speaker and allow speakers from other brands to join the party.

What would you like to see JBL bring to the JBL Charge 6?

367 votes

Will there be a JBL Charge 6?

A woman touching the JBL Charge 5 as it rests on the armrest of her chair.
The JBL Charge 5 is a great buy if you don’t already have a previous iteration of JBL Charge.

JBL unveiled a list of new portable audio products at CES 2024. Chief among them are the JBL Xtreme 4, Clip 5, and Go 4 wireless speakers. Unfortunately, there was no mention of the JBL Charge 6. However, JBL’s Charge series is one of the company’s most popular product lines. It is almost certain the JBL Charge 6 will make it to market alongside the highly anticipated JBL Flip 7 soon.

  • JBL Charge 4: August 30, 2018
  • JBL Charge 5: January 7, 2021
  • JBL Charge 5 Wi-Fi: May 11, 2023 (European market only)

JBL has not officially announced or even hinted at the Charge 6. Additionally, the release window has grown longer between each generation. However, based on previous Charge series release dates, the JBL Charge 6 should arrive sometime in 2024.

JBL has a habit of announcing products annually at IFA Berlin, but that did not happen in 2023.

In 2022, the company announced the JBL Tour Pro 2 ($249.95 at Amazon) and JBL Bar 1000 ($1199.95 at Amazon) at IFA. In 2018, it announced the Charge 4 ($104.95 at Amazon) at the same show. Unfortunately, we did not see the Charge 6 at IFA 2023. We may have to wait until IFA on September 6, 2024, to hear any news of the JBL Charge 6.

Should you wait for the JBL Charge 6?

JBL Charge 5 resting on a wooden step with deer antlers next to it.
The Charge 5 is a great adventure companion.

The Charge 5 is an excellent Bluetooth speaker for under $200. It is unlikely that the Charge 6 will reinvent the wheel or render the Charge 5 irrelevant when it does come to market. Before making any purchasing decisions, consider a few alternatives before investing in a JBL Charge.

The JBL Flip 6 ($99 at Amazon) offers many of the same features as the Charge 5 but in a smaller package. The Flip series is more affordable and can fit into a backpack’s water bottle pocket. It also benefits from a loud sound profile, IP67 water and dust-resistant rating, and easy Bluetooth pairing. Of course, JBL isn’t the only player in the Bluetooth speaker market.

We also recommend the UE Megaboom 3 ($157 at Amazon), which directly competes with the Charge 5. However, unlike the JBL Charge 5, the UE Megaboom 3 supports wireless charging with a purchasable compatible dock. The speaker also wears a robust IP67 water and dust-resistant rating that floats in water. This ensures the speaker does not submerge itself if dropped in water. The Megaboom 3 can connect with up to 150 other UE wireless speakers via the BOOM & MEGABOOM by Ultimate Ears app. This is more versatile than JBL’s PartyBoost and Stereo Mode features.

If you want a more budget-friendly option, look at the Anker Soundcore Motion Plus ($99.99 at Amazon). Anker is famous for its high-value products. The Motion Plus stands out for its aptX support integrated microphone. The speaker also hosts a microphone that supports voice assistant features. Anker’s Soundcore app includes a custom EQ to hone your sound, and users can enable Bluetooth Multipoint for multiple device pairing. The Motion Plus can be connected with a second Motion Plus speaker to create a stereo sound environment. Unfortunately, the speaker is not dust-resistant and is heavier than the Charge 5 at 1.05kg.

JBL Charge 5JBL Charge 5
SG recommended
JBL Charge 5
MSRP: $159.00
Whether your season is full of trips to the beach or backyard parties, you'll need just the right speaker to DJ these events. The JBL Charge 5 gets the job done if you need something that's very loud, and quite portable. It's a little pricey though, so anyone who already has an older JBL Charge speaker shouldn't feel the need to upgrade.

FAQs

JBL announced a string of new portable wireless speakers at CES 2024. Unfortunately, the JBL Charge 6 did not feature among them. Nevertheless, the company’s Charge series speakers are among its most popular products. Based on JBL’s previous release pattern, I fully expect the JBL Charge 6 will come to market in 2024.

The JBL Flip 5 ($89 at Amazon) and Flip 6 ($99 at Amazon) share many of the same features. For example, the JBL Flip 5 boasts an almost identical battery life to the Flip 6. It also hosts an IPX7 water-resistant rating and supports USB-C charging. Both speakers offer a loud and bassy sound profile. The JBL Flip 5 is a smart choice if you want to save cash. However, the JBL Flip 6 has improved sound quality and is the company’s most accomplished speaker yet.

JBL unveiled a host of new Bluetooth speakers at CES 2024. These included the JBL Xtreme 4, JBL Clip 5, JBL PartyBox Club 120, JBL PartyBox Stage 320, and JBL Go 4 speakers. However, the JBL Charge 6 avoided any mention. We will have to wait for an official announcement from JBL for any concrete details.

The JBL Flip 6 was released on December 6, 2021. This followed two years and four months after the Flip 5 on August 1, 2019.

The JBL Flip 6 is indeed louder than the JBL Flip 5. In particular, the Flip 6 reproduces music with a louder output than the Flip 5 without sacrificing audio quality. The Flip 5 is loud but unable to retain audio quality to the same extent as the company’s latest Flip series speaker.

JBL claims that the Flip 6 can last up to 12 hours on a single charge. However, during our testing, the speaker lasted nine hours and 25 minutes with a continuous maximum output of 75dB (SPL.)