Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3, JBL Charge 5, and JBL Xtreme 3 are popular speakers that share similar key features. All three are solid options for anyone that wants a portable speaker with a little extra oomph.
But how do they square up against the other regarding sound clarity, the overall design, durability and battery life? All of that — and more — will be discussed.
Although the JBL Charge 5 and the JBL Xtreme 3 are very similar portable speakers, the significant differences are their size, how much they weigh, an AUX port, and their price point. The Xtreme 3 is a bit larger and heavier speaker and costs approximately $100 more than the Charge 5.
The UE Megaboom 3 and the JBL Charge 5 weigh the same and cost the same, but the features differ quite a bit. The JBL Charge 5 and Xtreme 3 have a handy power bank to charge your devices, a feature the Megaboom 3 lacks. The Megaboom 3, which was released a few years earlier than both JBL products, shows its age in a few areas, as well.
The UE Megaboom 3, JBL Charge 5, and JBL Xtreme 3 are robust in their design while also being water resistant and dustproof. And the apps are relatively simple and easy to navigate. So, deciding which portable Bluetooth speaker is better will be a challenging call.
The JBL Charge 5 and Xtreme 3 are similarly built, and the sound profiles are similar. The Xtreme 3 provides more volume at a higher price, but we have previously discussed that the difference in volume isn’t as noticeable as you would expect.
If you are looking for a portable speaker that cranks up the bass, the UE Megaboom 3 should probably be your first choice in the sub-$200 price range. However, if you value the mids and treble that focus on the vocals and instruments, look to both JBL speakers. The signature JBL sound profile has more balance than what you get from the UE, which accentuates bass.
A portable Bluetooth speaker’s sound quality needs to be crisp, clear, and have a kick to it in terms of sound clarity. The Megaboom 3 is slightly disappointing compared to the others, and the sound is muffled.
The JBL Xtreme 3 wins hands down regarding clarity. The vocals and instruments are much punchier, crisper, and in the end, sound much clearer when played at a higher volume.
The Megaboom, like all Ultimate Ears products, excels when it comes to 360 degree sound with no dead zones. This makes for a great party speaker, since it sounds good from any location in the room.
Sound Winner: JBL Xtreme 3 (even though the volume difference isn’t as large as you would expect, considering the price disparity)
The Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 has the classic cylindrical speaker shape that is common with portable speakers. JBL Xtreme 3 and Charge 5 have a similar, yet slightly modified, shape. Instead of a true cylinder, the speakers are slighly oblong and football-shaped.
The JBL speakers have forward-facing speakers with passive radiators on the left and right-hand sides, whereas the Megaboom 3 features a 360-degree speaker that delivers omnidirectional sound, perfect for outdoor listening.
The most significant difference between the JBL Charge 5 and Xtreme 3 in terms of the design is the size and weight difference. The Xtreme 3 speaker is much larger and weighs over 4 pounds. The UE Megaboom 3 speaker weighs the same as the JBL Charge 5, at ~2 pounds each.
The three Bluetooth speakers have an IP67 rating, making them waterproof and dust-resistant. Compared to both JBL speakers, the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 stands out since it can float on water, whereas the other two speakers can be submerged under water for at least 30 minutes.
The UE Megaboom 3 fails in its design because the JBL Charge 5 and the Xtreme 3 can be used as a power bank to charge other devices. So, if your phone battery needs a top-off, you can just plug straight into either JBL speaker.
All three speakers differ in design because neither the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 nor the JBL Charge 5 have an AUX port to accommodate older devices. The JBL Xtreme 3 has the option to accommodate a 3.5mm AUX cable. This is an excellent feature that many newer speakers have abandoned.
Another flaw in the design of the Megaboom 3 is that, unlike the JBL speakers that can link to two devices at a time, this portable Bluetooth speaker does not support multi-device pairing using a Bluetooth connection. Compared to both JBL speakers, the Megaboom 3 has fantastic Bluetooth connectivity and an incredible range.
Design Winner: JBL Xtreme 3 (has a power bank and aux port, and the shoulder strap increases portability despite being heavier than the other speakers)
Both JBL speakers and the Megaboom 3 are exceptionally durable. While the JBL speakers and the Megaboom 3 are made from almost identical high-density fabric mesh, the Megaboom 3 seems more resistant to everyday wear and tear.
With an IP67 rating, these three speakers will do well in water and are dustproof, making them resistant to water damage should you accidentally drop them in the ocean or pool. That is where the similarities pretty much end.
The major difference between the two audio manufacturer brands is that the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 is shock resistant. Any accidental slips or hard falls will ensure the speaker remains intact. However, this does not mean the portable speaker won’t be damaged if it is dropped.
Durability Winner: UE Megaboom 3 (well-built and drop tested)
There is no denying that all three Bluetooth Speakers have incredible battery performance.
The JBL Charge 5 and the UE Megaboom 3 can last up to 20 hours on a single charge. The JBL Xtreme 3, despite its sheer size, only has a battery life of 15 hours.
Of course, the battery performance will vary on all three speakers depending on your usage. Using the power bank feature will also decrease battery life.
The three speakers have a power-saving feature that automatically shuts off the speakers without audio input. The Megaboom 3 shuts off after 15 minutes, and the JBL speakers shut off after 20 minutes of inactivity. This is an incredible feature for all three speakers to maintain longer battery life.
While the battery performance for all three speakers is excellent, the amount of time it takes to receive a full charge is where the big difference comes in.
The Xtreme 3 takes two and a half hours to get a full charge, and the JBL Charge 5 takes at least four hours to get a full charge. The Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 takes three hours with a charger and 5 hours and 30 minutes using the USB C cable before the speaker’s battery is fully charged, which could be an issue for those who use their speaker often.
The Megaboom wireless charging is a great feature; however, the charging dock needs to be bought separately.
Battery Winner: JBL Charge 5 (power bank, faster charging, and long battery life)
The JBL Connect App, now renamed the JBL Portable App, features a graphic equalization tool that allows you to customize the sound of the music.
For example, if you want to add more bass to a particular song, use the graphic EQ to change the music accordingly. The JBL Xtreme 3, Charge 5, and the UE Megaboom 3 speakers allow you to adjust the song using the graphic EQ on your Android or iOS device.
It should be noted that the JBL Xtreme 3 and Charge 5 lack a graphics EQ on older versions of the app. You’ll need to update the app’s firmware to access it, unlike the Ultimate Ears App, which has always had the option of a graphics EQ.
The JBL Portable App has a feature called PartyBoost that allows the Xtreme 3 and the Charge 5 to link to two compatible JBL speakers to create a stereo pair, where one speaker plays from the left and the other from the right. The downside is that PartyBoost is only compatible with recent versions of JBL speakers, so if you have an older generation it won’t work.
The Ultimate Ears App has an identical platform called Party Up that serves the same function, allowing you to link to speakers to create a stereo pair. The biggest difference is that different models of JBL speaker can link with another JBL speaker. With the Ultimate Ears App, only an Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 can link with an identical Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 to create a stereo pair; there are no other compatible speakers.
PartyBoost is perhaps one of the JBL Portable app’s best features. Not only can you create a stereo pair, but the PartyBoost feature allows you to connect with multiple speakers (up to 100 JBL speakers) and play the same audio simultaneously.
Ultimate Ears’ Block Party feature, not to be confused with Party Up, takes it up a notch. It not only allows you to connect up to 150 speakers but also gives you the option to connect up to eight devices (Android/iOS smartphones and laptops). The frequent firmware updates make the Ultimate Ears App better and more functional, ensuring that the Megaboom 3 has the latest software updates.
Although PartyBoost is a great feature, JBL does not offer a multi-room function. Connecting to multiple speakers works for small spaces, but should you choose to connect multiple speakers for a larger venue with multiple rooms, you may lose range, and certain speakers will lose connectivity.
Software Winner: UE Megaboom 3 (JBL software is more limited, whereas UE provides more reliable and feature-packed software than most portable speaker companies)
All three are incredible Bluetooth speakers with robust sound and exceptional durability and are relatively similar in most ways.
The JBL Charge 5 stands out due to the remarkable sound clarity and quality, which makes it the better speaker for outdoor use once you consider the price difference.
The JBL Xtreme 3 is best suited for those who regularly entertain large groups and is not compact enough to cart around daily. If your budget is less constrained, this is still probably the “best” speaker on the list.
The JBL Charge 5 and UE Megaboom 3 are both more compact in size, making them better suited to carry around in a bag daily. The Megaboom 3 has surround sound, perfect for hosting pool parties or beach days.