Soundcore Motion+ vs. JBL Charge 5: Which is the Better Buy?

Summary

Both speakers are great values among waterproof Bluetooth speakers under $200. 

JBL Charge 5 has excellent sound quality and nearly 20 hours of battery life. It also has a powerbank built in which allows you to charge other devices from the Charge 5. 

For a lower purchase price, Soundcore Motion+ is probably a better value overall. Along with excellent sound, you get true stereo speakers and an equalizer. The device also has a built-in aux port and microphone.

Because both devices score well in nearly every category, either is a great choice for a quality portable speaker.

Sound

Based on my own assumptions, I was expecting this to be an unfair battle. JBL makes premium bluetooth speakers, and we have previously written about how much we like both the JBL Charge 4 and JBL Charge 5.

In testing, the sound quality between the Charge 5 and the Anker Soundcore Motion+ was pretty even. Charge 5 sounds great, with clarity throughout the sound spectrum, and gets quite loud for a portable bluetooth speaker. Motion+ gets even louder, and maintains sound quality even at high volumes. 

To my ear, the Soundcore Motion+ actually sounded better in mid- and high-ranges. Charge 5 has stronger bass right out of the box, which is punchy and more powerful. The bass on the Motion+ was strong, also, but had a more authentic sound. This will be a matter of personal preference, whether you prefer the subtle-yet-strong bass of Motion+ (think of this like Sennheiser products, which “lack” bass only because our ears are used to rattling, overdone cheap subwoofer bass), or the accentuated bass of Charge 5.

Motion Plus has dual drivers for true stereo sound. In other words, there is a left speaker and a right speaker. By definition, the Motion+ will have a better soundstage with its stereo speakers. Charge 5 has mono sound, and requires a multi-speaker setup for true stereo. 

To audiophiles and purists, having stereo speakers sounds like a big advantage for the Motion+. However, in our testing, there wasn’t much difference in soundstage or speaker sound between the mono Charge 5 and the stereo Motion+. You have to remember that, due to the small footprint of these speakers, the “right” and “left” channels are so closely located to one another that you really can’t achieve much of a stereo effect.

Charge 5 has a total 40 watt output, while Motion+ has 30 watts. But again, the volume is similar between the two devices, and the Motion+ really doesn’t lack. 

Another point in the favor of Soundcore Motion+ is the available equalizer. Charge 5 sounds great out of the box, but there is no equalizer. Motion+ has an equalizer available on the app, which has preset options as well as a fully adjustable EQ. 

Sound winner: Soundcore Motion+

Check Price: Soundcore Motion+ –>

Check Price: JBL Charge 5 –>

Design

The two devices are similarly sized, with the Charge 5 being taller and wider, and the Motion+ being a bit longer. Although the overall size of the Charge 5 is larger (as measured by volume), it weighs less than the Motion+.

The esthetics of the Charge 5 beat the Motion+ by a wide margin. Motion+ is designed in a practical fashion, without much in the way of bells and whistles. It looks similar to a soundbar, a simple cylinder with a flat base and a flat area on top for buttons and controls. The entire front of the device is a simple black grill, with a subtle Anker Soundcore logo on the center.

The Charge 5 has a more noticeable JBL logo incorporated into the design, but the logo looks great and actually adds to the esthetics of the device. Rather than the device being a cylinder, it has a kidney bean shape which adds some visual interest.

The Charge 5 feels like a sturdier build, with higher-end materials and a nicer appearance. Both speakers test well for durability, though, and hold up well to drops from moderate heights. The Motion+ is worse about collecting fingerprints, but I thought the Motion+ was easier to handle and grip, which makes it worthwhile.

The JBL Charge 5 also has more color and design options, although I wouldn’t make any purchase decisions based on this.

So, the form of the Charge 5 beats the Motion Plus. But when it comes to function, the Motion+ wins for a few reasons.

First, Charge 5 is missing a 3.5 mm aux port. Previous generations had the aux port, but JBL eliminated this feature with the Charge 5. Motion+ has an aux port, and also includes an aux cable in the box.

Next, the Motion Plus has a built-in microphone, while Charge 5 does not. This allows you to use the speaker for phone calls and voice functions. However, in our testing we were unimpressed with the microphone quality. It really only tested well in silent environments, so the microphone may not provide much value if there is any background noise. Nonetheless, this is a nice feature to have.

One great design feature of the Charge 5 is the ability to charge other devices (hence the “Charge” model name). The Charge 5 is unusual among portable Bluetooth speakers because it has a power bank which allows you to charge phones and other devices from the power stored on the Charge’s battery. To some users, this is a big selling point. And there really aren’t many comparable devices that incorporate this feature.

Design winner: Charge 5 for styling/build, Soundcore Motion+ for function

Check Price: Soundcore Motion+ –>

Check Price: JBL Charge 5 –>

Durability

Both the Motion+ and the Charge 5 rate well for durability. Neither device is shockproof, but should hold up well to water, elements, and drops from normal heights.

Motion+ is IPX7 rated, so it withstands water without any concern. It isn’t labeled as dustproof, but we don’t have any concerns using the speaker in dust, dirt, or sand. 

Charge 5 withstands water, and also adds the dust-proof label with an IP67 rating. The materials and build quality feel a notch higher on the Charge 5 than the Motion Plus, also.

Overall, these devices are both durable enough for everyday use, and for taking to the beach or on the boat. Like any portable speaker, drops have the potential to cause damage. But if you take decent care of these speakers, you should get at least a few years of life from them without issue.

Durability winner: Charge 5

Check Price: Soundcore Motion+ –>

Check Price: JBL Charge 5 –>

Battery

Charge 5 wins this category, but the Motion+ is no slouch either.

The 7,500 mAh battery on the Charge 5 gives you 12+ hours of playtime, even at high volumes. And the powerbank feature (which allows you to charge your phone and other devices from a USB port on the speaker) is an excellent addition.

Motion+ has a 6,700 mAh battery that doesn’t quite live up to its 12 hour listed battery life. At normal listening volumes (50-70%), run-time fell just short of 10 hours. It also lacks the powerbank feature (as do most portable speakers), so you can’t use it to charge other devices.

Though we were pleased with the battery life on both devices, the battery status displays left a lot to be desired. 

Charge 5 has a battery status light that is distractingly bright when fully charged, and then dims as the battery runs down. Overall, I liked the style of the Charge 4 better, which had a series of status lights that turned off one at a time as the power ran down.

The Motion+, on the other hand, has no battery status light or display of any kind. This isn’t a huge deal, but it is still mildly annoying having to check the app or your phone to find the device’s remaining battery.

Battery winner: Charge 5

Check Price: Soundcore Motion+ –>

Check Price: JBL Charge 5 –>

Software

Charge 5 has Bluetooth 5.1, while Motion+ has a slightly older Bluetooth 5.0 technology. In our testing, there wasn’t much difference.

Charge 5 had an easier time connecting and remaining connected via bluetooth, but neither device struggled. Tech blogs with better test labs than ours generally find that Charge 5 has a longer range with its Bluetooth 5.1, but Motion+ actually has a faster connection with less latency on its Bluetooth 5.0.

Charge 5 has PartyBoost, which allows you to connect multiple speakers together. This also allows you to receive true stereo sound, assuming you have multiple recent-generation JBL speakers with PartyBoost. We have previously discussed our frustration that the new PartyBoost isn’t compatible with Connect+, meaning you can’t sync new and older JBL speakers to each other. There is no party mode available for Motion+, so you can’t sync multiple Anker Soundcore speakers together through the app.

The Motion+ app is significantly better than the Charge 5 app. 

Charge 5 has no equalizer, so the sound out of the box is the sound you are stuck with. If the punch of the bass is a bit too strong for your ears, JBL doesn’t give you the option to change it.

Motion+ has a fully-adjustable equalizer on the app, as well as a number of presets. Overall, the Soundcore app functioned pretty smoothly.

As mentioned above, Motion Plus has a built-in microphone, while Charge 5 does not. We weren’t pleased with the clarity on the microphone, but it at least gives you the ability to use a voice assistant or speakerphone.

Charge 5 has a 1 year warranty. The Motion+ is backed by an 18 month warranty. Both JBL and Anker Soundcore have fairly good customer service, too.

Motion+ wins the software battle, mainly due to the equalizer and our frustrations with the JBL app. But the Charge 5 has a more recent Bluetooth version, a party mode (PartyBoost), and the ability to charge other connected devices.

Software winner: Soundcore Motion+

Check Price: Soundcore Motion+ –>

Check Price: JBL Charge 5 –>

Final thoughts

Soundcore Motion Plus provides a better value, with excellent stereo sound, an adjustable equalizer, and a built-in microphone and aux port.

For ~$75 more, the Charge 5 also provides excellent sound, along with better battery life and a built-in power bank to charge your phone.

Both devices are great choices if you are looking for a portable waterproof speaker under $200.