JBL Charge 4 vs. UE Boom 3: Not a Fair Fight (One Exception)

After several weeks of testing I have found that JBL Charge 4 wins the battle of JBL Charge 4 vs UE Boom 3. It comes down to better sound quality and battery life. While UE Boom 3 has omnidirectional sound and a great design, it lacks Charge’s depth and richness.

Read on as I compare these two in sound, design, durability, power, and software.

Sound

Charge 4 easily wins this category. I like Boom 3’s omnidirectional sound, but that’s the only advantage it has here.

Charge 4’s sound is fantastic for its price and size. The bass is stronger and the sound richer and louder compared to Boom 3. Charge 4 is similar to the higher-tier Megaboom 3, and it’s set at a great price at $150. However, you do need to be in front of the speaker for the best experience. It’s good outdoors, but not ideal due to the directional sound.

Compared to the previous Charge 3, this new version has a single 30W driver while Charge 3 has two 10W drivers. While I usually prefer two drivers, the higher power of Charge 4 results in stronger bass. The treble also sounds better. However, the sound quality isn’t an extraordinary leap and both are good for their price and size.

Boom 3 comes with two drivers and two passive radiators. The sound isn’t bad when you’re listening to it by itself, but you really notice the reduced quality when it’s next to Charge 4. It does have more bass than JBL Flip 4, but there’s no contest between Boom 3 and Charge 4.

The one thing in Boom 3’s favor is the omnidirectional sound, which makes it better for gatherings and outdoor use. There are also four equalizer settings, and you can change the bass, treble, and mids via the app.

While the omnidirectional sound is good, it isn’t enough to win this battle. JBL Charge 4 sounds stronger and better, making it the winner.

Sound winner: JBL Charge 4

Check Price: JBL Charge 4 ->

Check Price: Boom 3 ->

Design

While Charge 4 has a pretty good design, Boom 3 blows it out of the water. UE is one of the best when it comes to designing their speakers, and it shows.

Charge 4 weighs 2.1lbs and is 8.7 inches, still small enough to be held in one hand. While the design isn’t great, it at least has a base for sitting horizontally (this is lacking in the JBL Flip 4). It also comes in 10 colors: Black, Blue, Forest Green, Grey, Pink, Red, Sand, Teal, and White. But, the colors are bland in my opinion.

The port cover latches for waterproofing, but it’s easy to open when needed. Some speakers, like the Flip 4 again, can be a challenge. There’s also a 3.5mm port to connect audio devices.

UE Boom 3 weighs 1.3lbs and is 7.2 inches. It’s much smaller and lighter than Charge 4, which in my opinion wasn’t a dealbreaker. You can choose from four colors: Lagoon Blue, Nightblack, Sunset Red, and Ultraviolet Purple. All colors have a two-tone mesh material that looks amazing, and UE has promised to release more colors.

I loved Boom 2’s designs, but there were three flaws that Boom 3 corrected. The charging port was on the bottom, so listening and charging was challenging. The port has been moved to the side, or you can use a wireless charging dock. Boom 2 required you to use gestures that were often inaccurate, but Boom 3 uses the Magic Button. Boom 2 had an ugly rubber strip that has been removed for a better, more minimalist design.

You can get the battery life by pushing both volume buttons simultaneously. It lacks a 3.5mm port, but this won’t matter too much unless you have an audio device to connect.

With a better look and more useful design, the win goes to Boom 3.

Design winner: UE Boom 3

Check Price: JBL Charge 4 ->

Check Price: Boom 3 ->

Durability

Durability is good for both, but Boom 3 sneaks ahead because it doesn’t have any weaknesses whereas Charge 4 has one exposed area.

Charge 4 is IPX7 waterproof rated, so it can last in a meter of water for 30 minutes. While this will keep it safe, you will need to let it air out as water gets in the radiator and sides. The sound will be muffled until the speaker is dry. It floats, making it simple to retrieve from the water.

Boom 3 has the same IPX7 waterproof rating, and it’s also dustproof. While both brands withstand a drop, Boom 3 does it better. Charge 4 has exposed radiators that might break. Boom 3 also floats if it’s dropped in the water.

Both are good, but Boom 3 is the more durable of the two.

Durability winner: UE Boom 3

Check Price: JBL Charge 4 ->

Check Price: Boom 3 ->

Power

Not only does Charge 4 have better battery life, but it also has an extra feature that makes it useful. However, some might be charmed by Boom 3’s wireless charging port.

Both brands overshoot their battery life. Charge 4 is listed as having 20 hours of battery life, but it’s actually 8.5 hours at 60% and 6.5 hours at 85%. This is still quite good. The 7,500mAh battery has a USB port and can charge your phone and devices. You can charge the battery with a USB-C cable.

Boom 3 is listed as having 15 hours of battery life, but it’s actually 6 hours at 60% and 3.5 hours at 85% volume. While the battery life isn’t as good, one thing I love is the US charge base for $40. It’s amazing and can run the speaker while you’re charging. Plus, you can leave the speaker here and always have it at 100% battery when you’re ready to leave.

Wireless charging aside, Charge 4 has the better overall battery life.

Power winner: JBL Charge 4

Check Price: JBL Charge 4 ->

Check Price: Boom 3 ->

Software

JBL is terrible when it comes to software. It isn’t just Charge 4, it’s all of their speakers. Boom 3 wins by a landslide.

Charge 4 uses Bluetooth 4.2 and you can connect two devices simultaneously. While Charge 3 allowed three devices at once, this is actually good because limiting it to two devices improves the connection stability. The JBL is terrible. Not only is it hard to pair with Charge 4, but it has no useful features if you do.

However, I can say the Bluetooth range is 15 feet better than Boom 3. Thankfully you don’t need the app to pair current generation JBL speakers. Just push the Connect+ button on both speakers to pair them. The pairing is shaky at times though.

UE has one app for both Boom and Megaboom speakers to simplify the process. On top of that, the UE app is one of the best. The Block Party feature lets you connect three devices to one speaker so everyone has control. There’s also Party Up. This lets you pair 150 UE speakers either as duplicates or to create stereo sound. However, like any other Bluetooth speaker, the connection can be shaky at times.

Boom 3 also uses Bluetooth 4.2 with a listed range of 150 feet. I only got about 30 feet, which was worse than Charge 4. There are frequent firmware updates, so the speaker will get better with time. The app lets you turn the speaker on and off. If you don’t like the “power on” sounds, then you can turn this off in the app. While there’s no mic for a smart assistant, it’s fine because these often aren’t useful with portable speakers.

You can preload up to four Apple Music playlists. Start them by pushing the Magic Button for two seconds.

With all the extra features and a useful app, it’s easy to see why Boom 3 wins this category.

Software winner: UE Boom 3

Check Price: JBL Charge 4 ->

Check Price: Boom 3 ->

Final Thoughts

While UE Boom 3 has some strong points here and there, especially with design and software, JBL Charge 4 wins this battle due to its better sound. There is a very noticable difference between them and I think most people would be happier with Charge 4, but Boom 3 has some features that might sway your opinion.