JBL Charge 4 vs. Bose SoundLink Color II: One Of These Is Too Pricey

Cam Secore
Updated 11/01/2018

After a month-long trial using JBL Charge 4 and Bose SoundLink Color II, I determined JBL Charge 4 is the best because of its superior sound, durability, and battery runtime. Bose SoundLink Color II sounds good but it doesn’t have adequate volume and isn’t worth its price.

I’ll compare and contrast these two portable speakers (JBL Charge 4 vs. Bose SoundLink Color II) by evaluating five categories: sound, design, durability, power, and software.

JBL Charge 4

9
  • Sound: It has the perfect balance of lows, mids, and highs and gets twice as loud.
  • Design: It comes in 10 different colors and is aesthetically pleasing.
  • Durability: It’s waterproof for 30 minutes in up to a meter of water and will float.
  • Power: 8 hours at 60% and 6.5 hours at 85% volume. You can charge your phone too.
  • Software: The app is useless, but you’ll get five extra feet of Bluetooth range.

Best for you if...

You want a durable speaker with brilliant, loud sound and a fantastic battery life that’s ideal for large groups. Charge 4 is the clear winner between these two speakers and a must-have if you’re using it near water.

Budget Option

JBL Flip 4 is $80 and JBL Charge 3 is $120. Both sound better and have better battery life than SoundLink Color II.

Bose SoundLink Color II

4
  • Sound: It sounds alright but it’s only half as loud as Charge 4. It’s not worth the price.
  • Design: It’s smaller and lighter than Charge 4, but it’s an odd shape with weird material.
  • Durability: It’s only water-resistant (splashproof).
  • Power: 9 hours at 60% and 4 hours at 85% volume.
  • Software: You can customize options and manage devices.

Best for you if...

You want to pay a premium price for an indoor-only speaker to play at low volumes. If you're cool with a low volume and only plan to use it for personal listening, it's not a bad speaker but not worth its price.

Budget Option

Bose SoundLink Micro is $99 and makes more sense because of its better durability, price, and amazing form.


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    charge vs bose soundlink

    JBL Charge 4

    9

    Sound (A-):

    • Charge 4 is an amazing speaker for this form factor. It has a brilliant sound that offers a deeper bass at all volume levels with better depth than other speakers. You won’t beat it for $150.
    • The sound gets distorted at high levels because the highs are rough on the ears, but Charge 4 sounds best under 70% volume and Bose can’t come close to this volume level.
    • It’s twice as loud as SoundLink Color II. If you’re looking for a quality party speaker, this is it.
    • There are a 30W driver and two side radiators which bounce with the bass and look cool.
    • If you’re looking to go the JBL route, JBL Charge 3 sounds almost as good (some say better) and is usually around $100.

    Design (B-):

    • It weighs 2.1 pounds and is 8.7 inches long. It sits on a base horizontally.
    • It’s not the most attractive device, but it doesn’t have the awkward design and cheesiness of Bose SoundLink Color II. If aesthetics are a priority, consider Boom 3 or Megaboom 3.
    • It comes in 10 different colors (Black, Blue, Forest Green, Grey, Pink, Red, Sand, Teal, and White).

    Durability (B+):

    • It’s waterproof (IPX7) in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes and if you drop it in the water it’ll float.
    • It’s not listed as shockproof, but it’s going to withstand normal drops.

    Power (A+):

    • The listed playback time for Charge 4 is 20 hours and takes four hours to recharge. My real world tests yielded these results:
      • 8.5 hours with 60% volume.
      • 6.5 hours with 85% volume.
    • JBL Charge 4 works as an external battery pack for charging your gadgets via USB.
    • You recharge it with USB-C and it takes around four hours.
    • If you factor in the volume difference of SoundLink Color II and Charge 4, Charge 4 offers three times long music playback runtimes.

    Software (C-):

    • The JBL software serves no purpose and should be avoided. There are no benefits, it’s hard to connect, and the interface runs off of the screen. There are supposed to be firmware updates, but I haven’t seen any.
    • You can keep it paired to two different devices at the same time.
    • You can pair Charge 4 with other JBL speakers, but those speakers need to be the current generation that supports JBL Connect+. The documentation on this is poor.
    • JBL Connect+ works pretty well by just pressing the Connect+ button on each speaker that you want to be paired. The connect is stable compared to most Bluetooth connections.
    • There’s no way to activate your phone’s voice assistant because there’s no mic, but you should be okay as this function doesn’t work well on most portable speakers.
    • It gets an extra five feet of Bluetooth range, and the Bluetooth seems more reliable than SoundLink Color II.
     

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