JBL Charge 5 Bluetooth Speaker Review

Introduction

In this article I’ll review the JBL Charge 5 Bluetooth speaker to help you figure out if it’s the right fit for you. I’ll take a deep dive into the Charge 5’s build and form factor, button access and features, power and ports, and I’ll also do a sound comparison with the JBL Flip 5, JBL Charge 4 and JBL Xtreme 2. I’ll wrap up the article with my recommendation.

All of the images associated with this review are included inline below, but if you’d prefer to watch this review you can do that in the below YouTube video. Also, please note that you’re not able to leave a comment directly on this article. If you have a question or feedback, please leave it on the YouTube video.

If you do think the JBL Charge 5 is the right speaker for you, you can click here to buy it.

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Build and Form Factor

Now let’s dig into the JBL Charge 5, and start by taking a look at the build and form factor.

The JBL Charge 5 sits in between the JBL Flip 5 and the JBL Xtreme 3 in the JBL portable Bluetooth speaker lineup. The Charge 5 is just under nine inches long, 3.7-inches tall and 3.7-inches deep. The speaker feels sturdy and has a good weight to it, checking in at a little over two pounds. From a purely physical standpoint the Charge 5 is only slightly larger than the JBL Flip 5, but is significantly smaller than the JBL Xtreme 3. For a sizing comparison, this image shows the JBL Flip 5, JBL Charge 5 and JBL Xtreme 2.

JBL Charge 5 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
JBL Charge 5 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

JBL Xtreme 2 (left), JBL Charge 5 (middle), and JBL Flip 5 (right)
JBL Xtreme 2 (left), JBL Charge 5 (middle), and JBL Flip 5 (right)

JBL Xtreme 2 (top), JBL Charge 5 (middle), and JBL Flip 5 (bottom)
JBL Xtreme 2 (top), JBL Charge 5 (middle), and JBL Flip 5 (bottom)

JBL Xtreme 2 (left), JBL Charge 5 (middle), and JBL Flip 5 (right)
JBL Xtreme 2 (left), JBL Charge 5 (middle), and JBL Flip 5 (right)

JBL Xtreme 2 (left), JBL Charge 5 (middle), and JBL Flip 5 (right)
JBL Xtreme 2 (left), JBL Charge 5 (middle), and JBL Flip 5 (right)

Similar to the rest of JBL’s line of portable Bluetooth speakers, the JBL Charge 5 is built to take on all conditions in the great outdoors. The exterior of the speaker is an attractive but tough wire and mesh combination that does an amazing job keeping the speaker components safe. Again, similar to current and past JBL portable Bluetooth speakers, the JBL Charge 5 boasts rubber end caps that protect the exterior passive radiators from damage in the event it gets dropped or otherwise banged up.

JBL Charge 5 rubber end caps that protect the passive radiators.
JBL Charge 5 rubber end caps that protect the passive radiators.

Finally, the JBL Charge 5 improves on the IPX7 rating earned by the JBL Charge 4 by rocking an IP67 rating, which means it’s dustproof and can be submerged in up to three feet of water for up to 30 minutes and still work just fine.

Button Access

The buttons on the JBL Charge 5 are laid out in the same easily accessible fashion as on the Charge 4, resting conveniently along the top of the speaker. From left to right you’ve got the buttons for PartyBoost, Volume Down, Power, Bluetooth, Volume Up, and Play.

From left to right you've got the buttons for PartyBoost, Volume Down, Power, Bluetooth, Volume Up, and Play.
From left to right you’ve got the buttons for PartyBoost, Volume Down, Power, Bluetooth, Volume Up, and Play.

The volume buttons just control the volume and don’t perform any other core functions. The PartyBoost button lets you connect your speaker to other portable JBL Bluetooth speakers that support PartyBoost. If you’ve got older JBL speakers that you connect to each other through the legacy JBL Connect or JBL Connect+ technology, know that you won’t be able to connect the JBL Charge 5 to those speakers and that you can only connect it to JBL Bluetooth speakers that support JBL PartyBoost. JBL speakers that support PartyBoost currently includes the JBL Flip 5, JBL Charge 5, JBL Xtreme 3, and JBL Pulse 4. PartyBoost lets you connect up to 100 speakers together over a distance of roughly 50 yards. The Play button lets you start, stop and skip songs, and while there are older JBL portable Bluetooth speakers that let you configure the Play button to activate either Apple’s Siri or Google’s Assistant, you can’t do that on the Charge 5.

Sound Comparison

Next, let’s do a quick sound comparison between the JBL Flip 5, JBL Charge 4, JBL Charge 5, and JBL Xtreme 2, and discuss audio quality. The setup inside of the Charge 5 is the same as the Charge 4, with a single long driver, a separate tweeter, and dual bass radiators.

For this sound comparison I’ll play the same 20-second sound clip from a song with deeper bass on each of these speakers at fifty percent volume under the exact same conditions. Additionally, these audio files won’t be manipulated in any way.

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Next, let’s do a quick sound comparison between the JBL Flip 5, JBL Charge 4, JBL Charge 5, and JBL Xtreme 2, and discuss audio quality. The setup inside of the Charge 5 is the same as the Charge 4, with a single long driver, a separate tweeter, and dual bass radiators.

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For its size, the JBL Charge 5 is a good middle ground between the Flip 5 and the Xtreme 2. You get bigger volume that you don’t get out of the Flip 5, and cleaner high tones that you won’t get out of a JBL Xtreme speaker. It’s obviously a closer race between the Charge 4 and the Charge 5, but I think the Charge 5 is a close winner there, in that the audio, overall, sounded cleaner. One other audio test I did was to take the speakers outside into a large open space to see how the sound carried. In that scenario the JBL Charge 5 really shined, pumping out audio that sounded great even from modest distances. But as a reminder speaker audio is experienced differently by everyone, so you’ll want to listen to the JBL Charge 5 in a store to make sure the audio quality is something you’re comfortable with as it relates to any other Bluetooth speakers you’re considering.

Power and Ports

Next let’s discuss power and ports.

Similar to the JBL Charge 4 the JBL Charge 5 charges through a USB Type C cable, and also similar to the Charge 4 the Charge 5 battery only takes four hours to fill up and boasts 20 hours of battery life on full power. And while the charging port is still located on the back of the Charge 5, the port is exposed rather than under a port cover. Also like the JBL Charge 4, the JBL Charge 5 has a port cover on the back that when lifted exposes a USB Type A port that can be used to charge connected devices.

The USB Type C port on the back of the JBL Charge 5 that charges the speaker.
The USB Type C port on the back of the JBL Charge 5 that charges the speaker.

Lifting the cover on the back of the JBL Charge 5 reveals a USB Type A port that can be used to charge other devices.
Lifting the cover on the back of the JBL Charge 5 reveals a USB Type A port that can be used to charge other devices.

It should be noted that the USB Type A port can only be used for charging, and you can’t play audio from connected devices without them being connected to your Charge 5 via Bluetooth. And the final consideration in this section is that, unlike previous versions of the JBL Charge, the Charge 5 doesn’t include a 3.5-millimer auxiliary port.

Additional Considerations

Finally, let’s look at additional considerations when you’re deciding whether or not to buy the JBL Charge 5.

Older JBL portable Bluetooth speakers had a built-in microphone that allowed users to use the speaker as a speakerphone for phone calls. A built-in mic has been an omission from JBL speakers for a while now, and it’s not included on the Charge 5. However, as a bonus, the JBL Charge 5 does use Bluetooth 5.1, which offers healthy data transfer rates and a good wireless range.

My Recommendation

In closing the JBL Charge 5 is a great speaker at a good price. It’s small enough that it’s easily portable, and it’s tough enough that it can travel anywhere you need it to. The audio sounds great both indoors and outdoors, and it’s probably the perfect portable Bluetooth speaker for either a pool party or outdoor barbeque. The lack of an auxiliary port to connect devices via a 3.5-millimeter audio cable is a bit of a miss for me, but I’ve adjusted to living without it. If you like the JBL Charge 5 but the price tag is holding you back, the JBL Charge 4 is still a great speaker that’s almost identical to the Charge 5, with the exception of older Bluetooth technology and JBL Connect+ instead of PartyBoost, and you should be able to get it for a healthy discount.

Click here to shop the JBL Charge 5 on Amazon. Alternatively, if you want to save a few dollars you can click here to shop the JBL Charge 4. If you want to go bigger you can click here to shop the JBL Xtreme 3. Or, if you feel like a smaller portable Bluetooth speaker would better meet your needs you can click here to shop the JBL Flip 5.

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About Max

Max has nearly 20 years of experience working in IT across three different industries in project management and management capacities: publishing, telecommunications and healthcare. He holds the following degrees and certifications: BS Communications, MA Communications, MBA and Project Management Professional (PMP). His tutorial-focused YouTube channel earned more than 100,000 subscribers in its first four years, and currently has more than 160,000 subscribers, 110,000,000 video views and an insane 2.4 million hours of watch time. Max enjoys learning new technology, reading and collecting comic books, listening to audiobooks and playing video games.

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