When it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers, there is pretty much a universal consensus that the JBL Charge 5 is one of the best portable speaker units around. Whether it’s a sound that defies its smaller size, up to 20 hours of playtime, or the knowledge that you can take it to the beach without worry, there are many reasons why the JBL Charge lineup has grown in popularity over the years.
Even so, the JBL charge is hardly the only portable speaker on the market, and that is good news for anyone who wants to shop around for sound quality or battery life. Perhaps you want a more portable speaker or one that is a little larger for an even more heart-pumping sound.
Rest assured there is no shortage of JBL Charge competition, so let’s take a look at some of the best alternatives you can pick up instead.
- Best Overall: JBL Flip 6
- Best Battery: Sony SRS-XB43
- Best Splurge: Bose SoundLink Revolve+
- Best for Portability: Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3
- Best Budget: Anker Soundcore 2
- Best for Parties: Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM
- Best for Durability: Altec Lansing LifeJacket
Best Overall: JBL Flip 6
- Powerful sound and deep bass
- IPX7 Waterproof
- 12 hours of playtime
- JBL PartyBoost for multiple speaker pairing for home, outdoor, and travel
The sound of the JBL Charge 5 is so good that it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to note that the best alternative is another JBL speaker. The JBL Flip 6 is smaller and offers less battery life, but you still get the same outstanding sound quality you expect from its older sibling.
Only 7 inches wide and 2.6 inches in height, the JBL Flip 6 is definitely portable but still offers 45mm drivers to boost overall sound quality in low and midrange frequencies. A separate Tweeter works to keep the high-end in check and does so in style, thanks to dual passive radiators that have been adjusted with Harman’s advanced technology.
Sound isn’t the only good thing about the JBL Flip 6 as its 4,800mAh battery is enough to give it more than 12 hours of time on a single charge. Plus, with IP67 waterproofing, the Flip 6 can not only handle the water, but you can forget dust, as neither will interrupt the sound of your music. What’s more, you can string the Flip 6 up to another Flip 6 speaker through JBL PartyBoost technology and double your available sound experience.
Check out the JBL Flip 6 on Amazon.
Best Battery: Sony SRS-XB43
- IP67 waterproof and durable for home, outdoor, and travel
- 24-hour battery
- Party lights
- USB Type-C
With 20 hours in battery life, the JBL Charge 5 is already near the top of the battery life class, but here comes the Sony SRS-XB43 to beat it out.
Offering up to 24 hours of battery life on a single charge, this equates to an additional four hours of partying you can do with the Sony. This party can happen anywhere; this Sony speaker is IP67 waterproof and dust-proof for handling the elements. Regardless of where, the inclusion of Sony’s X-Balanced sound will pair with the dedicated Tweeter inside the SRS-XB43 for a heart-pumping sound. Live Sound Mode is also here to support Sony, so it feels as if you are getting a 3D sound without the extra hardware.
When it comes to partying, the Sony also beats the JBL Charge 5 in one major way, thanks to a few extra features. The first is the four-speaker light setup included right on the Sony hardware which flashes in sync with your music and changes colors at random for a fun style. Another advantage to Sony is the ability to connect the SRS-XB43 to up to 100 other Sony portable speakers over Party Connect and create a room-pounding sound indoors or even on the beach.
Check out the Sony SRS-XB43 on Amazon.
Best Splurge: Bose SoundLink Revolve+
If you’re okay spending a bit more than the JBL Charge 5, you can find some outstanding sound with the $330 Bose SoundLink Revolve+ portable Bluetooth speaker.
Even with its mouthful name, it’s hard to ignore the room-filling sound that emanates from the Bose hardware. In fact, the Bose is engineered to provide a full 360 degrees of sound so you can feel it no matter where you are standing in a room. Bose indicates that it offers a fancy omnidirectional acoustic deflector to evenly spread out the sound and, in practice, it works incredibly well.
Taking advantage of the 360 degrees of sound offered by Bose is easy when you factor in up to 17 hours of battery life on a single charge. Plus, you receive an IP55 water and dust-resistant rating so the Bose can handle a few splashes — but don’t throw it in, the Bose SoundLink cannot swim!
If you happen to be listening to the Bose by your pool and a call comes in, do not worry as the inclusion of a built-in mic enables hands-free calling. You can even connect an Echo Dot to the Bose and enable Amazon Alexa for a truly hands-free experience.
Check out the Bose SoundLink Revolve+ on Amazon.
Best for Portability: Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3
When it comes to true portability, even the JBL Charge 5 can’t stand up to the size and sound of the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3.
Don’t let its size fool you at only 104mm in height and 95mm in width as the WONDERBOOM 3 packs 360 degrees of sound, courtesy of two 40mm active drivers and dual passive radiators. It’s hard to look past the sound quality that the WONDERBOOM 3 produces, but when you do, you’ll find up to 14 hours of battery life as well as IP67 water and dust proofing. Even more exciting is that the WONDERBOOM 3 can float, so go ahead and throw it into the pool (your mom won’t get mad this time).
Should the speaker start to float away, do not worry as you have up to 131 feet of available Bluetooth range. Syncing a smartphone with the WONDERBOOM 3 is very easy with Google Fast Pair for just one tap to sync up to a compatible Android device. Adjusting the volume of your music is also one tap away by using the giant plus or minus buttons right on the Ultimate Ears hardware.
Check out the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3 on Amazon.
Best Budget: Anker Soundcore 2
- 12W speaker
- Better bass
- 24-hour playtime
- 66 ft. Bluetooth range
- IPX7 water resistance
- Built-in mic
- Dual driver speaker for beach, travel, party
The Anker Soundcore 2 has been around a little longer than the JBL Charge 5, but it’s stuck around for all the right reasons.
This 12W speaker has sold more than 20 million units because of its budget-friendly price tag of $39, all while offering IPX7 protection against rain, snow, dust, and even the occasional spill. Pick up the Soundcore 2 and you’ll find what so many others have discovered as Anker packed in customized dual drivers and a digital signal processor that helps keep volume even without a hint of static.
Well ahead of its time, the built-in 5,200mAh battery provides up to 24 hours of battery which quickly connects to your smartphone courtesy of Bluetooth 5.0. For even more sound, like the JBL Charge 5, you can sync two Soundcore 2 speakers to a single device to double up on volume or place them in separate areas of a room for a true room-filling experience. Don’t forget your choice of four different colors including a standard black or a more vibrant party blue, red, or navy blue.
Check out the Anker Soundcore 2 on Amazon.
Best for Parties: Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM
- Loud wireless speaker with big bass
- Water resistant IPX4
- 150 ft. range
- 24-hour battery life
- White color
When the time comes for a true portable party speaker, the JBL Charge 5 is good, but not as good as the Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM.
At 14 inches tall, it’s decidedly larger than the JBL Charge 5, but with HYPERBOOM sound, you feel every part of that extra size as soon as the music starts to play. Speaking of music, you can sync up to four different devices to the HYPERBOOM at once, so up to four people can play DJ during a party. Of course, using the HYPERBOOM at a party can be testy when drinks are flowing, so the IPX4 splash-proof rating is likely to come in handy fairly frequently.
Thinking more about music, an adaptive equalizer is built right into the HYPERBOOM hardware and will automatically customize the speaker’s sound depending on the environment. This is a welcome feature as the HYPERBOOM can quickly determine if you need just a little bit of bass or a whole lot of bass. Courtesy of precision woofers, passive radiators, and soft dome tweeters, the HYPERBOOM has all of the speaker power it needs to deliver sound while still providing 24 hours of battery life for an all-day party.
Check out the Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM on Amazon.
Best for Durability: Altec Lansing LifeJacket
While JBL doesn’t suggest throwing the Charge 5 down a flight of stairs, go ahead and do so with the Altec Lansing LifeJacket.
This durable speaker looks as rugged as it feels and is more than ready to go camping, biking, to the beach, by the pool, or even hang from the side of a mountain. No matter where you are, dual two-inch neodymium woofers and a passive radiator deliver up to 16W of sound across. The highs and lows sound great even when it’s raining outside and there’s plenty of bass to make sure your campground neighbors know you’re still there.
Should the weather turn against you while outdoors, you have an IP67 water, dust, snow, and dirt-proof body inside the Altec Lansing LifeJacket to keep everything moving. Just in case, you have five LED lights to help you locate the Altec should you leave it outside as soon as bad weather starts. Weather aside, one distinct difference with the Altec is that it adds Qi wireless charging to keep your phone powered up so the music can stay on long after your battery should have died off.
Check out the Altec Lansing LifeJacket on Amazon.
How to Pick the Best Alternative to the JBL Charge
When you are looking at the best alternatives to the JBL Charge, it’s helpful to look at these considerations.
- Battery life
Let’s break them down below.
You really can’t consider another Bluetooth speaker an alternative to the JBL Charge unless it’s truly portable. While the alternatives on this list vary in size, they are all just as portable in that some have handles and some can be carried like a football, but all of them can fit in a backpack or beach bag for use no matter where you want to break out the music.
The JBL Charge is often regarded as having some of the best sound in the portable Bluetooth speaker space, so finding comparable alternatives is a must. Between passive radiators, tweeters, soft dome speakers, and more, every option on this list offers its own advantages as far as sound and, by doing so, makes them all great alternatives to the JBL Charge. All it takes is one listen to the Bose SoundLink and you might forget all about the JBL Charge.
While water isn’t the only element to worry about, it’s likely the most dangerous for users of the JBL Charge. Therefore, any alternative must also be able to stand up to different elements and every option on this list has varying degrees of waterproofing, at the very least, water resistance. The Altec Lansing LifeJacket is the most durable but the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3 can float so that’s hugely advantageous as well.
Just as important as sound is going to be battery life even if the sound is slightly more of a concern. Still, battery life is hugely important when focusing on alternatives given the JBL Charge’s solid 20 hours of music listening on a single charge. The Sony SRX-XB43 or the Anker Soundcore 2 are the standouts in this space offering four more hours of battery life in total.
Using the Best Alternatives to a JBL Charge: What It’s Like
At some point, every Bluetooth speaker can start to sound the same, so identifying the best alternatives to a best-in-class option like the JBL Charge isn’t easy. The Sony SRS-XB43 has long been a favorite for finding a front-facing booming sound, while the Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM has long been considered the best portable speaker for parties unless you want a full sound system. Its portability is just a bonus so you can take it from party to party.
Recognizing that all of these speakers offer something great, they can all help you quickly forget about the JBL Charge. With varying prices, you’re going to have your choice of what you want in terms of features (and there are plenty of features to choose from). Finding extras like voice assistance or stringing together multiple speakers to create a party sound will also help you think twice about purchasing the JBL Charge.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Roman Arbuzov/Shutterstock.com.