JBL Charge 3 vs. UE Boom 2: Not a Fair Fight (With One Exception)

Cam Secore
Updated 10/11/2018

ue boom 2 vs jbl charge 3

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.

ue boom 3 vs jbl charge 3

JBL Charge 3

9
  • 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.

jbl charge 3 vs ue boom 2

UE Boom 2

4
  • 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?

  1. I’ve been obsessed with gadgets since I was eight years old.
  2. I bought each device with MY money.
  3. I’ll update this post frequently because my opinions change.
  4. I don’t have insider access. I’m just like you, the everyman.
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My Experience

best waterproof speaker

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:

  1. 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.
  2. I like to set these speakers next to the shower, and I don’t have to worry about steam ruining the speaker.
  3. 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

9

Sound (A):

  • 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.

Design (B-):

  • 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.

Durability (B+):

  • 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.

Power (A+):

  • 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.

Software (D+):

  • 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

4

Sound (C+):

  • 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.

Design (B-):

  • 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.

Durability (A+):

  • 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).

Power (C+):

  • 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.

Software (A):

  • 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.
 

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