JBL Charge 4 vs. JBL Charge 5: What has changed, and which should you buy

JBL is a well-known audio brand that makes some good speakers. The JBL Charge 4 and Charge 5 are no exception to this. Both speakers are perfect for outdoor activities such as camping, picnics, or just chilling by the pool.

If you’re trying to decide which one to choose, this article will help you. We’ll take a look at how these speakers compare to one another and examine the features, sound quality, and overall performance.

Charge 4 vs. Charge 5: the differences at a glance

  • The Charge 5 is dust- and waterproof (IP67), while the Charge 4 only is waterproof (IPX7).
  • The Charge 5 has clearer, more detailed audio than the Charge 4.
  • The Charge 5 is more rigid because of the rubberized sections on the speaker, making it able to withstand more significant impacts.
  • The Charger 5 has a new look compared to the 4. It has a bolder JBL logo, and it offers eight color schemes.
  • The JBL Charge 5 has a stronger bass response and is slightly louder than the Charge 4.
  • The Charge 5 offers equalization adjustability in the JBL Portable app.
  • The Charge 4 uses JBL Connect+ to connect multiple speakers together, while the Charge 5 uses JBL PartyBoost.

What is the difference between JBL Charge 4 and JBL Charge 5?

In the table below, you’ll see the rating for the Charge 4 and Charge 5 for essential factors. The products can both get a point for each factor. If one speaker is better than the other, it gets the point. If both speakers are equally good, they both get the point.

Below the table, we’ve explained our rating for each factor.

JBL Charge 4JBL Charge 5
User-friendliness and accessibility11
Range01
Design and build quality01
Sound quality01
Battery life11
Connectivity10
Technical specs01
PriceCheck on AmazonCheck on Amazon
Total score4/87/8

User-friendliness and accessibility

User-friendliness and accessibility are essential points for a Bluetooth speaker. Everyone likes it when the buttons are laid out logically and intuitively.

The button placement on JBL speakers has always been excellent, so it’s not different for the Charge 4 and Charge 5.

JBL Charge 4 vs. JBL Charge 5
Source: RTINGS.com

The layout of the buttons on the top is the same for both speakers (Charge 4 on the left and Charge 5 on the right). The button layout from left to right is as follows:

  • A button to pair multiple compatible speakers together, so they play the same audio. For the JBL Charge 4, this function is called Connect+, and for the Charge 5, this function is called PartyBoost.
  • The volume down button to decrease the volume.
  • The power button to turn the speaker on or off.
  • The Bluetooth pairing button to pair the speaker to your device.
  • The play/pause button to play or pause your music. You can also use this button to skip songs by pressing it twice.

The charging port is also easy to find. However, the cover it’s behind can be a bit hard to open.

Both speakers win a point in terms of user-friendliness and accessibility.

Range

What sets both of these speakers apart is the ability to link multiple portable speakers so they all play the same sound simultaneously. This is perfect for parties or watching movies. This function is called Connect+ on the Charge 4 and PartyBoost on the Charge 5. Other than the name, these two functions have no real differences.

There is a big difference in range when speakers are linked, though. JBL 4 speakers with the Connect+ function can keep a connection within 9 meters (30 feet), while JBL5 speakers with the PartyBoost function can cover 18 meters (60 feet). If you go outside these ranges, the speakers will start stuttering.

PartyBoost is a big step up from Connect+ and lets you wirelessly chain the Charge 5 with up to 100 other PartyBoost enabled speakers. The Charge 4 has Bluetooth 4.2 with an unobstructed range of 10 meters, while the Charge 5 has Bluetooth 5.1 with a range of 40 meters. The upgraded Bluetooth version also improves the listening experience.

In terms of range, the Charge 5 wins a point.

Durability

Both speakers are durable and have a rigid design, and can survive being submerged in up to 1.5m of water for half an hour. The Charge 5 is dust-proof on top of that, earning it an IP67 rating, while the Charge 4 ‘only’ gets an IPX7 rating.

Both the Charge 4 and Charge 5 feature a lot of rubber in the design, making them less prone to falling and breaking.

In terms of durability, both these speakers are durable, so they both get the point.

Design and build quality

The JBL Charge 4 and 5 are almost the same size, with the JBL Charge 5 being a tad bit smaller. Both these speakers are very similar in design. They both share a cloth-like plastic mesh on the outside. This plastic mesh can be considered a characteristic design for JBL by now, and it keeps the speaker’s internals safe.

They’re easy to hold in one hand but won’t fit in a pocket. If you’re looking for a speaker of that size, smaller speakers from JBL like the Go, Clip, and Flip should do.

As mentioned above, the Charge 4 is rated IPX7, which means it can withstand being submerged in 1.5 meters of water for 30 minutes. On the other hand, the Charge 5 has a better IP67 rating, which means it can withstand being submerged in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes and is dust-proof.

In terms of design and build quality, the Charge 5 wins a point over the Charge 4

Sound quality

Both speakers have great volume and clarity, considering their size and price. However, the Charge 5 has a slightly better sound, which you can feel in the bass’s power. It is really powerful and can be felt from a long way out.

The Charge 4 already has impeccable sound quality, especially when compared to other speakers of its size. As a result, its sound is surprisingly refined, with a solid mid-range and a clear bass. The Charge 5 has built on this already excellent sound quality and offers a little sharper treble, more crispiness, and a more steady sound at high volumes.

The Charge 4 sounds a bit cleaner than the Charge 5 because it doesn’t feature a heavy bass. Even if you would drop the bass from the Charge 5 in the app, the Charge 4 still has a less distorting bass. The heavy bass of the Charge 5 does make it, so the sound thins out less over longer distances.

The power output of the Charge 5 is 40 Watts, whereas that of the Charge 4 is 30 Watts. This upgrade makes the Charge 5 a bit louder, but the difference is not all that big. The Charge 4 has a slightly better frequency response than the Charge 5 but doesn’t offer sound profile customization in the app.

In terms of sound quality, the Charge 5 wins a point over the Charge 4

Battery life

Both these speakers have the same battery. They both contain a 7.500 mAh battery with a 20-hour rated runtime and the ability to charge other devices. However, the 20-hour battery life rating for both speakers is ambitious and is heavily dependent on the volume levels. Both speakers can do around 10 hours at half volume, and if you want to listen to max volume, you’ll get about 5 hours.

The Charge 4 has a battery indicator at the bottom of the speaker. These consist of five dots, showing how much battery there is left. As the battery power drops, the light goes out. When the last light is red, it’s time to charge the speaker, which you can do with the USB-C cable in the box.

The battery indicator of the Charge 5 is a lightbar just below the logo. When the battery life runs out, the light dims. When it glows red, it is time to charge the speaker, which you can do with the USB-C cable in the box.

In terms of battery life, both speakers get the point.

Connectivity

JBL didn’t give the Charge 5 an AUX port, while the Charge 4 does have one. This can be a massive dealbreaker for some people who want to connect their phone with an AUX cable.

Both speakers do have a USB-C port and a USB-A port. You use the USB-C port to charge the speakers. They both have similar charge times and take around 4 hours to charge fully. The type-A port can be used to charge other devices, basically like a power bank. Remember that charging other devices with the speaker lowers the overall battery life, so you can’t listen as long as you might like.

The Charge 5 features Bluetooth version 5.1, while the Charge 4 has Bluetooth version 4.2. For some reason, the latency on the Charge 5 is higher than on the Charge 4. The Charge 4 has a Bluetooth range of 10 meters, while the Charge 5 has a Bluetooth range of about 40 meters.

In terms of connectivity, the Charge 4 takes a point.

Technical specs

As mentioned above, the Charge 4’s Bluetooth 4.2 has been upgraded to 5.1 in the Charge 5. The latter version of Bluetooth is quicker, better in terms of range, and uses less power.

Another difference in technical specs between these two is that the JBL Charge 5 has the PartyBoost feature, which is a huge step up from the Connect+ feature of the JBL Charge 4. One downside is that PartyBoost enabled speakers aren’t compatible with Connect+ enabled speakers. This means that you can’t connect a JBL Charge 4 to a JBL Charge 5. However, the Charge 5 can be connected with the Boombox 2, Flip 5, Xtreme 4, and Pulse 4 via PartyBoost.

Besides the update in software, there has also been an update in hardware. The 52 x 90 mm bass driver is a tad bit wider than the driver of the Charge 4, and there is a new 20mm tweeter. In addition, both these units have dedicated power amplification, 30 Watts for the woofer and 10 Watts for the tweeter.

Regarding technical specs, the Charge 5 shows some upgrades and takes a point.

JBL Charge 4 vs Charge 5: the specs

JBL Charge 4JBL Charge 5
Weight2.0 lbs (0.9kg)2.0 lbs (0.9kg)
Water resistanceSubmersible (IPx7)Submersible (IPx7)
Dust resistanceNoneDust-proof (IP6x)
Battery life13.5 hours13.6 hours
Charge time4.0 hours3.8 hours
Voice assistantNoNo
AUX inputYesNo
PriceCheck on AmazonCheck on Amazon

JBL Charge 4 vs Charge 5: The Verdict

Regarding the comparison, both Bluetooth speakers from JBL are good. The Charge 5 has seen some improvements to the Charge 4, but they were minor.

The Charge 5 has a louder bass than the Charge 4 and gives you better EQ customizability. It also enables PartyBoost, but the Charge 4 allows Connect+, which is comparable.

If you don’t have a Charge 4 yet, and you want a new Bluetooth speaker, I’ll go for the Charge 5. However, if you already have the Charge 4 and you’re thinking of an upgrade, wait until the Charge 5 is on sale or the price lowers.

Frequently asked questions about JBL Charge 4 vs Charge 5

Is JBL Charge 4 or 5 better?

The JBL Charge 5 is an overall better speaker than the JBL Charge 4. The Charge 5 has a more balanced sound profile and a newer Bluetooth version, v5.1. It is also better built than the Charge 4. In addition, it has an IP67 rating, which means it is dust- and waterproof, whereas the Charge 4 is only waterproof.

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