JBL Charge 3 vs. UE Boom 2: Not a Fair Fight (With One Exception)
After weeks of testing, I determined most people should get JBL Charge 3 because of its superior sound quality (though it isn’t omnidirectional). UE Boom 2 seems more durable, the sound is crisp and omnidirectional, but it lacks bass and loudness.
I’ll compare and contrast these two portable speakers (JBL Charge 3 vs. UE Boom 2) while evaluating five categories: sound, durability, power, software, and design.
JBL Charge 3
- Sound: It’s the best sound for its size. It has better bass and volume than UE Boom 2, but it’s not as loud as Megaboom. The sound only shoots in one direction.
- Durability: It’s waterproof but needs to be aired out if it gets wet.
- Power: You’ll get 20 hours of playback, and it works as a portable phone charger.
- Software: It connects to up to three phones at once.
- Design: There are six colors. The playback buttons aren't great, but they’re there.
Best for you if...
You want the best sound for this size and price. You’ll get great one-directional sound, and you can charge your phone with it. It’s a great speaker and an excellent value for $120. JBL Charge 3 is my pick for MOST people.
UE Boom 2
- Sound: It sounds crisp and clear. It's omnidirectional (perfect for outdoor use), but there’s no bass, and it doesn’t get loud enough.
- Durability: UE speakers are more durable than Charge 3, and they’re fully waterproof.
- Power: The battery lasts 15 hours, but the port in on the bottom.
- Software: You can pair it with eight devices and have it paired with two simultaneously.
- Design: There’s a huge color selection, but no physical playback buttons.
Best for you if...
You want an ultra-portable speaker with crisp sound that’s fit for outdoor use, and you don’t care much about bass or volume. UE Boom 2 was introduced at $200 and is now $110, but it's still not worth the price considering JBL Charge 3 is the same price and far superior.
Why listen to me?
- I’ve been obsessed with gadgets since I was eight years old.
- I bought each device with MY money.
- I’ll update this post frequently because my opinions change.
- I don’t have insider access. I’m just like you, the everyman.
There are several excellent waterproof speakers on the market.
But two brands stand out as fan favorites: JBL and Ultimate Ears.
I’ve had this post in the queue for a long time, but I was focusing on other products.
Then, during Amazon’s Cyber Monday Deals Week, most of the speakers I wanted to test were half off.
Merry Christmas to me!
Each brand sells at least four different waterproof Bluetooth speakers. I bought one mid-level and one high-end speaker from each brand.
I have three uses for waterproof speakers:
- While I’m in the hot tub, I like to jam, but my phone’s speakers aren’t loud enough to play over the jets. With the waterproof speakers, I can place it on the tub without fear of it falling in.
- I like to set these speakers next to the shower, and I don’t have to worry about steam ruining the speaker.
- I wanted to experiment with Echo Dot and a Bluetooth speaker (you can pair them with all four that I reviewed.)
Plus, it’s nice to have a portable speaker that has a long battery life. It’s not always convenient to be tied to a wall.
You can’t go wrong with any of the speakers from the JBL or UE collection. All three speakers that I looked at are better than 95% of waterproof speakers on the market.
I tried JBL Xtreme (pictured above) too, but I decided it didn’t belong in this post because of its bulk.
I kept UE Megaboom for myself and gifted my brother JBL Charge 3. He loves it!
JBL Charge 3
- The sound is outstanding for its size. It has a much better bass than UE Boom 2, and it’s significantly louder. The sound is closer to the Megaboom than Boom 2. Overall, it’s a perfect sounding speaker, but it doesn’t go as loud as the Megaboom.
- You need to be in front of the speaker for optimal listening. Although it’ll be fine outdoors, it’s not ideal for outdoor use because it’s not omnidirectional.
- It looks solid and comes in six different colors.
- It weighs three pounds and can be held in your hand.
- The buttons can be hard to press and feel cheesy, but at least it has physical buttons.
- The port cover is perfect. It stays latched (for waterproofing), but it’s easy to open.
- Like UE’s lineup, it’s entirely waterproof (IPX7 rating). It can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes.
- While it’s waterproof, you have to let it air out if it gets wet because the water gets in between the radiators on the sides and makes the sound muffled.
- The battery is impressive for its size. You’ll get 20 hours of playback.
- It works as a portable phone charger with its 6,000-mAh battery and USB port.
- I love that you can have up to three different phones connected at once without needing an app. I like having my iPhone and MacBook connected at the same time. That way I can switch the music source without going to the Bluetooth settings.
- But the JBL app is worthless and doesn’t provide any value.
- I couldn’t pair with other JBL speakers because it kept cutting in and out.
UE Boom 2
- It’s doesn’t get loud or have any bass, but it’s well balanced and fantastic for its size.
- The speakers are omnidirectional, making them perfect for outdoor use or parties because everyone will be able to hear it.
- There are no physical playback buttons. You use gestures for play and pause. It’s an unusual method, and you have to be holding the speaker for it to work.
- It’s tiny, making it the most portable speaker I reviewed. It weighs about a pound and is seven inches tall. It fits in the pocket of my basketball shorts.
- The design and color selection is better than JBL’s.
- There are a tripod mount and hook option on the bottom.
- UE speakers are more durable than JBL’s. Accidental drops won’t be an issue.
- It’s entirely waterproof (up to a meter of water for 30 minutes).
- The battery lasts 15 hours. That’s alright, but not so great relative to the others.
- The charging ports are on the bottom making it difficult to charge and listen simultaneously.
- The battery level is displayed at the top of your phone.
- The battery can be replaced by Logitech.
- The app is excellent. You can customize the bass, mids, and treble levels to your liking or you can pick one of the four presets.
- There’s an option inside the app to set alarms.
- You can pair up to 150 UE speakers together with the Party Up feature.
- Block party lets you connect up to two source devices at the same time while eight different people can manage the music being played.
- You can pair it with eight devices and have it paired to two simultaneously.
- The firmware is frequently updated, and the speaker is improving. There were two updates during the two weeks I was testing.