JBL, a popular Bluetooth speaker manufacturer, offers a plethora of portable options suited for a gear buyer.
Their compact products provide excellent sound quality, durability, and great features accommodating the users’ needs. JBL’s wireless speakers are also pretty affordable, making them an attractive option when it comes to portability.
We’ll be comparing both these models in this article, outlining their pros and cons to help you make an informed decision for portable speaker purchases.
Both speakers may seem similar at first, but there are actually a few significant differences between the two. For example, the Clip 4 has an upgraded Bluetooth version, providing more transmitter power with a longer range. The Clip 3 doesn’t offer this advantage since it only has Bluetooth 4.1.
At the same time, Clip 4 offers improved sound quality, especially when it comes to picking up bass notes in heavy songs. Plus, it’s more dynamic, rich, and clear. The Clip 3 has a worse frequency response range, so it can’t effectively output the bass level.
Although both speakers are waterproof, the Clip 4 is far more durable due to its upgraded protection capabilities. It’s essentially designed to keep dust and other small particles out of the speaker. So at the end of the day, you won’t need to worry about taking it outside or on a camping/hiking venture.
Portable speakers may not have the best sound quality due to their overall size and capabilities. So users might notice a few flaws in each product that will ultimately affect the overall listening experience. That also means each speaker may be more suitable for softer types of music as opposed to heavier tunes. Even then, the fact that these can output clear sound for their size is still pretty impressive.
The JBL Clip 3’s sound quality isn’t anything to brag about compared to other products on the market. Overall, the speaker’s frequency response range isn’t ideal (120Hz to 20 kHz, 6dB), so it won’t output the proper bass level for heavy songs, making it very quiet. Higher frequencies also have a rough sound.
Even then, the speaker is still top-notch for its portable size and relatively approachable price tag. It can generate a complete sound experience compared to other products. This makes it perfect for listening to podcasts or acoustic songs, even if clarity can be an issue at times, particularly at volumes closer to the max.
Meanwhile, the JBL Clip 4 offers a very similar yet rich quality at mid-volume. Thanks to the frequency response range (100 Hz to 25 kHz), everything sounds spectacular, including the clear and sharp highs along with the dynamic lows.
You will also notice that the speaker can output clear bass at a lower level. However, raising the volume to a higher level causes the bass to become distorted with muffled highs. Despite its flaws, the portable speaker has an impressive sound for its size and price, which simply outweighs other products on the market.
Verdict – Although both speakers are quite similar, the JBL Clip 4 produces much better sound at medium volume thanks to its lower frequency response range.
Design & Durability
Both speakers look quite similar due to their circular design, dimensions, and size. Of course, those factors also mean that they’re incredibly portable and comfortable to carry around. However, one of these Bluetooth speakers has an advantage over the other due to its increased durability and other design features.
The JBL Clip 3 features an incredibly durable and sturdy carabiner built into the structure, meaning it won’t easily detach. The speaker has three playback buttons nested in the frontal fabric, making it very convenient and easy to access.
Meanwhile, the speaker’s plastic back shell consists of a 3.5 mm input protected by a dust cover. You can even use the speaker in rainy weather without damaging the device, thanks to its IPX7 rating.
However, that also means it’s not designed to keep dust or other air particles out, so those can still cause damage or affect performance. Plus, the speaker only weighs 222 grams and measures 5.4 x 3.8 x 1.8 inches, compact enough to hang off a bag or showerhead.
The JBL Clip 4 has a favorable design that comes with a carabiner, allowing you to attach it to a bag. The speaker’s front and back section is enveloped in a fabric wrap, making it convenient and easy to carry around. It also has a rubberized lining that runs along the back, preventing the speaker from slipping off a flat surface.
You can submerge it underwater for thirty minutes at a one-meter depth thanks to its IP67 rating, which keeps dust and other particles out of the product. Overall, this compact speaker measures 5.3” x 3.4” x 1.8” and weighs just 239 grams. So you won’t have any issues carrying it around if you need some tracks to listen to while jogging, hiking, or even camping.
Verdict – The JBL Clip 4 wins this category by a fair margin. With its simplistic design and extra protection, users are assured of the best quality since they won’t have to worry about dust or other air particles affecting their overall performance.
The battery is one of the most important parts of these speakers that we should consider because they operate longer at certain volume levels. After all, the Bluetooth speaker should have an extended battery life for consistent performance.
The JBL Clip 3 has an average battery capacity, which means it lasts for ten hours and takes three hours to recharge. It doesn’t stop there — you can extend the battery life to 16 hours with a continuous 74dB output rating. However, the battery will degrade if you raise the volume. So varying factors will ultimately affect the battery life in the long run. In addition, the product automatically turns off if it’s not in use for 10 minutes.
The JBL Clip 4 can stay powered for up to 10 hours and takes 3 hours to recharge. Increasing the volume will ultimately shorten the battery life during playtime, even with a slightly higher capacity. This portable speaker also has a power-saving feature that shuts off the device after 10 minutes of inactivity. If you play the speaker at 75% volume, you can extend the battery life for up to 27 hours (as confirmed by other tech reviewers), perfect for playing music just for a few more hours on hiking or camping trips.
Verdict – Overall, the JBL Clip 4 has a slight edge when it comes to battery life, even though it offers the same qualities as the JBL Clip 3. That’s because the battery capacity has a higher rating. Plus, it charges with a USB-C cable rather than a micro-USB cable, making it more convenient and less prone to failures in the charging port.
Features & Software
As mentioned earlier, these models come with a carabiner, which is incredibly handy for users looking to hang the speaker and play some music. Also, these have different Bluetooth versions that offer certain operating ranges.
The speakerphone is an even more impressive feature, all things considered. On the downside, neither of these have any app connectivity support, so it’s simply not possible to connect them to other speakers.
Compared to other speakers, the Clip 3 and Clip 4 don’t support multiple device connectivity. So users will need to switch connections manually via the Bluetooth menu.
The JBL Clip 3 has a special add-on that makes interactivity possible: a built-in speakerphone. This basically means you can answer phone calls on your speaker by pressing a button while listening to some tunes.
The overall sound quality is top-notch due to its echo and noise-canceling capabilities, allowing you to listen without missing a word. You can even communicate back to the caller through the integrated microphone. Fair warning, however, the microphone audio quality isn’t anything to write home about.
Unfortunately, this speaker won’t work on the JBL Connect+ app due to incompatibility, so you won’t be able to connect it to other speakers. While it lacks qualitative streaming codecs, the speaker has Bluetooth 4.1 with a ten-meter range, ideal for standard use.
The JBL Clip 4 features Bluetooth 5.1 with a 10-meter range and SBC Bluetooth codec. The range extends to 15 meters in open environments. Bluetooth 5.1 is more energy-efficient, which means the Clip 4 has a longer playing time than the Clip 3.
Considering the price point, we can’t fault JBL for not including a companion app or party mode with either speaker. But it should be noted that there are similarly priced speakers which feature stereo/party modes.
Overall, the Clip 3 is a more affordable Bluetooth speaker option that offers various unique features. However, the audio quality isn’t spectacular by any means, and it’s not as durable as competitive products on the market.
On the other hand, the Clip 4 is an upgraded version offering improved audio quality, durability, and even design quality. So this portable speaker can be used without fear of rain or dust damaging the speaker as a whole, making it the perfect accessory.