JBL Charge 5 review: A compact Bluetooth speaker with big sound

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Techaeris Rated 9.3/10

Bluetooth speakers come in all shapes and sizes. JBL offers some of the best, ranging from small (Flip series) to large (Boombox series) to in between. Today, we’re taking a look at the latest of one of their mid-size speakers.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Our JBL Charge 5 review looks at a portable waterproof Bluetooth speaker that features up to 20 hours of playtime and includes a power bank for your other devices. Read on to see how it stacks up!

Specifications

The JBL Charge 5 Bluetooth speaker we reviewed has the following features and specifications:

  • Bold JBL Original Pro Sound
  • 20 hours of playtime
  • IP67 waterproof and dustproof
  • Wireless Bluetooth Streaming
  • Crank up the fun with PartyBoost
  • Power up with the built-in powerbank
Model No.JBL Charge 5
Transducer52mm x 90mm woofer; 20mm tweeter
Rated output power 30W RMS for woofer, 10W RMS for tweeter
Frequency response20Hz – 20kHz
Signal-to-noise ratio>80dB
Battery typeLi-ion polymer 27Wh (equivalent to 3.6 V/7500 mAh)
Battery charge time4 hours (5V/3A)
Music play timeUp to 20 hours (dependent on volume level and audio content)
USB portType-C in, Type-A out
USB rating5V/2A (maximum)
Bluetooth version5.1
Bluetooth profileA2DP 1.3, AVRCP 1.6
Bluetooth transmitter frequency range24000MHz – 2483.5MHz
Bluetooth transmitter power≤20dBm (EIRP)
Bluetooth transmitter modulationGFSK, π/4 DQPSK, 8DPSK
Dimensions223 x 96.5 x 94mm (8.7 x 3.76 x 3.67″)
Weight0.96 kg (2.11 lbs)

What’s in the box

  • JBL Charge 5
  • Type C USB Cable
  • Safety Sheet
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty Card

Design

Like many portable Bluetooth speakers, the JBL Charge 5 has a horizontal cylindrical design. While the top of the speaker is relatively flat, so to speak, the bottom curves up on the sides. Centred on the bottom is a series of rubber-like strips to give the speaker a bit of grip when set down. The majority of the speaker is covered in a soft woven fabric-like finish. The JBL logo is pretty big on the front but not out of place. Just below this is an oval-shaped LED battery life indicator.

The buttons on the top of the JBL Charge 5 portable Bluetooth speaker
The buttons on the top of the JBL Charge 5 portable Bluetooth speaker.

On the top of the speaker are five buttons. From left to right, they are the JBL Link button (for connecting up to 100 JBL speakers in PartyBoost mode), a volume down button, an oval button with the power and Bluetooth buttons inside it, a volume up button, and a play/pause button. On the back of the speaker is a USB Type-C port for charging the speaker, as well as a covered USB-A port which you can use to charge your smartphone or other devices.

Each end of the speaker has a rubberized shell on it, with three “feet” which jut out slightly. While it does have a grip on the bottom of the cylinder, you can also place it on either end without fear of it falling over. Unlike some other JBL speakers, each end is entirely sealed. Centred in the middle is the JBL ! logo to finish off the look.

The speaker also has an IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating, which can survive about 30 minutes submerged in 1 meter (3 feet) of water. As such, you don’t have to worry about being caught out in the rain, using it at the beach, or accidentally dropping it in the pool. Our review unit came in the Teal colourway (which my daughter loves), but the Charge 5 is also available in Black, Red, Grey, Blue, and Squad (green/tan camo).

Ease of Use

Like most other Bluetooth devices, the JBL Charge 5 Bluetooth speaker is easy to set up and even easier to use. After holding the power button to turn the speaker on, press the Bluetooth button. It will start blinking, and the speaker will make a “bing” noise every once in a while to indicate it is in pairing mode. Search for JBL Charge 5 on your smartphone or other device and tap it. After that, your phone should pair up, and you’ll be good to go.

Sound Quality

Bluetooth speakers have come a long way over the past few years when it comes to sound quality. JBL has always offered up decent sound, but the JBL Charge 5 definitely packs a punch. When at 50% volume, I can easily hear it just about anywhere in my backyard with no issues. Standing beside it at this volume makes it a bit difficult to hold a conversation.

Side view of the JBL Charge 5 portable Bluetooth speaker
Side view of the JBL Charge 5 portable Bluetooth speaker.

The sound quality is pretty balanced, with just enough bass to suit most people’s tastes without being too much. Everything from “bad guy” by Billie Eilish to Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” “Unfinished Symphony” by Massive Attack, Beethoven’s “String Trio in C Minor,” “Enter Sandman” by Metallica, and everything in between sounded great on this compact Bluetooth speaker.

In case you’re curious, the tracklist I test speakers on is below:

Software

While it’s not needed to enjoy the JBL Charge 5, there is a JBL Portable app that you can use to update the firmware on the speaker, toggle audio feedback sounds, and toggle PartyBoost mode. It’s pretty basic but, at the least, useful for updating the firmware, which, during our review time, happened once with minor bug fixes.

One feature I would have liked to see in the app is an equalizer function for those who want to tweak the sound.

Battery Life

JBL claims up to 20 hours of battery life with the Charge 5, depending on volume and type of music played. During our testing, we consistently hit near the 20-hour mark listening to various music at around 50% volume, which is plenty loud. Once depleted, the speaker takes a couple of hours to recharge fully.

Easily recharge the JBL Charge 5 portable Bluetooth speaker over USB-C or charge your smartphone from the speaker via USB-A
Easily recharge the JBL Charge 5 portable Bluetooth speaker over USB-C or charge your smartphone from the speaker via USB-A.

Price/Value

With an MSRP of US$179.95, the JBL Charge 5 is a bit more expensive than other speakers its size. However, you do get what you pay for, and given the great sound, excellent battery life, IP67 rating, and included power bank functionality, it does off pretty good value for the asking price.

Wrap-up

If you’re looking for a portable Bluetooth party speaker that will last all day and then some, is waterproof, has big sound, and isn’t unwieldy to carry around, the JBL Charge 5 may be the one for you.

*We use revenue-generating affiliate links and may earn a commission for purchases made using them. Read more on our disclaimer page.

Last Updated on May 30, 2021.

JBL Charge 5

US$179.95

Design

9.5/10

Ease of Use

10.0/10

Sound Quality

9.5/10

Software

8.5/10

Battery Life

9.5/10

Price/Value

8.5/10

Nailed it

  • Compact, water/dustproof design
  • Big sound
  • Easy to use
  • Can pair with other JBL speakers for bigger sound
  • All day battery life
  • Power bank feature

Needs work

  • A bit on the pricey side
  • Software app is pretty basic
  • No equalizer option in software
JBL Charge 5 portable Bluetooth speaker
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