A portable speaker is fast becoming an essential item in most modern households.
These devices are generally lightweight, wireless and offer clear, powerful sound - perfect for personal use or entertaining guests, both indoors and outdoors.
Two of the most durable and impressive wireless speakers on the market are the JBL Charge 3 and UE Megaboom.
If you’ve been on the lookout for a waterproof wireless speaker then you’re likely to have stumbled across these two names, and overall, they’re extremely similar - with the same battery life, frequency response, and even a similar cylindrical design.
But which comes out on top?
I’ve decided to analyze each one closely to find out which speaker has the edge, giving you the most bang for your buck.
Keen to find out more?
Keep reading to find out whether you should buy the JBL Charge 3 or UE Megaboom.
Design and exterior
First up, let’s take a look at the design…
Out of the box, these two speakers look very similar.
The JBL Charge 3 has a cylindrical design with exposed bass radiators, which are highly effective and look great, but sadly this means you can’t stand it vertically.
The UE Megaboom is slightly less robust with a simpler design, but it also has rubberized ends, so it can stand vertically. It also has large touch-sensitive + and - buttons to easily adjust the volume, which is an added convenience.
The rubber ends offer added protection and durability on both speakers.
The UE megaboom is slightly slimmer in its design, which brings me to the point that it's also lighter, weighing in at just 1.48 lbs.
Neither of these speakers are super lightweight though, as they’re not the type you’d throw in your bag - you’ll feel the weight of both of these.
Both the UE megaboom and JBL charge 3 are waterproof, meaning they’re both ideal for outdoor use, whether you’re playing music by the pool or hosting a garden party.
Both have IPX7 waterproof rating, which means they can be submerged up to 1 meter in water for 30 minutes - though hopefully you never have to try that out!
Both speakers are available in a range of cool colors, including a camo design and several other bright colors which set both speakers apart from the classic black ones that saturate the market.
Sound quality and performance
This is the most important aspect, right?
Both of these speakers will play your music loud, and this is what makes them especially suited to the outdoors.
Bass is powerful on both speakers, but with the JBL you have to stand it horizontally, as the bass radiators are on either end.
The UE has the advantage of 360 degree sound, meaning wherever you stand, the sound quality and volume will remain the same. This makes it perfect for parties, when everyone is moving about.
The JBL doesn’t offer this. For the best sound quality it needs to be placed horizontally, with the logo facing you. The UE can be stood up horizontally or vertically, and you’ll still have the same level of bass.
Both speakers offer just the right level of mids, with crystal clear guitars, vocals and synths.
In some other speakers mids can be compromised to allow for more bass and treble, but both the JBL and the UE get the balance just right here, providing a clean, full sound.
Waterproof speakers can sometimes lack brightness due to the waterproof covering on the speaker grille, and this is the case with both speakers.
However, both still offer great sound quality, it’s just ever so slightly compromised by the waterproof coating, but you’ll only really notice this when playing music with a lot of high frequencies.
For an even louder sound, both speakers offer pairing features.
The Megaboom has a stereo mode meaning it can be connected to another Megaboom speaker to provide full stereo output.
For more volume you can also pair it with multiple Boom series speakers, such as the Boom 2 or Boom 3.
The Charge 3 can also be paired with multiple JBL speakers to amplify your sound.
With Bluetooth speakers it’s often the small things that can make a big difference, and, seen as so far both speakers have been pretty similar in their appearance and sound output, it’s the smaller details that will swing it.
First up, the Megaboom offers NFC connectivity, allowing you to magically touch your smartphone to the end of the speaker to connect the two.
The Charge 3 doesn’t have NFC connectivity, however, it does allow you to connect up to 3 smartphones or devices to take turns playing your favorite songs.
It also has great call quality which allows you to take crystal clear calls through the echo-cancelling speakerphone with the simple touch of a button.
Both the Charge 3 and UE Megaboom have similar connectivity range: you’re clear for about 50 feet without walls, or 20 to 30 with walls in between.
The Megaboom also offers a magic “one touch” feature for accessing and controlling your music through Apple music and Deezer.
Nobody wants a wireless speaker that has to be constantly charged up, as this defeats the point slightly. You needn’t worry about battery with either of these speakers, as both offer playback for up to 20 hours.
The JBL takes longer to charge up taking 4.5 hours to reach full charge, while the UE Megaboom is much quicker, at 2.5 hours.
However, the JBL Charge 3 takes an extra two hours as it also enables you to charge your phone and other devices via the USB port while you’re out and about, which is always convenient and can be great if you take your speaker on vacation or are using it in the park or on the beach.
The UE Megaboom is slightly more expensive than the JBL Charge 3, and it does have a few extra features which explains this, such as the NFC connectivity, 360 degree sound and the ability to stand up both vertically and horizontally.
It’s also a little lighter and slimmer than the JBL.
That said, it’s worth remembering that both speakers offer similar sound quality, battery life, bluetooth range, and are both waterproof, so if these are the most important aspects for you, then the JBL would appear to give you the most bang for your buck.
The option of charging your smartphone and other devices while you’re out and about is also an attractive feature.
However, let’s take another look at the similarities and differences lined up alongside each other to get a better idea of what each speaker offers:
- 20-hour battery life on both speakers.
- JBL Charge 3 and UE Megaboom have similar frequency response and produce similar volume and sound quality.
- Both speakers and waterproof and dustproof.
- With the apps, you can connect multiple speakers with the Charge 3 and UE Megaboom for amplified sound.
- Voice assistant feature is available for use on both speakers.
- Both come in a range of colors
- Both are perfect for playing music outside
- UE Megaboom offers NFC connectivity, while Charge 3 only offers Bluetooth.
- UE Megaboom offers 360-degree sound and gives the same performance from wherever you’re standing, plus you can stand it vertically or horizontally. Charge 3 can only be stood horizontally and it has a “good” side rather than 360-degree sound.
- Charge 3 doubles up as a power bank if your phone runs out of battery. UE Megaboom doesn't have this feature.
- Charge 3 has an echo-cancelling speakerphone button for receiving phone calls.
Both the JBL Charge 3 and UE Megaboom are great speakers that are optimized for outdoor use thanks to their waterproof and dustproof coating, meaning you needn’t worry about where you take them - whether you’re playing music on the beach, in the park or near the pool.
Both have a great battery life but the UE has a slightly shorter charge time, although the JBL can be used as a powerbank for your smartphone, which is a bonus.
In terms of sound, both speakers offer quality sound with powerful bass and clear mids, and both can be paired with other speakers to amplify your sound.
However, the UE just has the edge when it comes to sound quality as it offers 360-degree sound, while the JBL will sound different depending on where you are standing and which way up it is placed.
The bluetooth connectivity on each of these speakers has a similar range, and, without obstacles and walls can work up to 50m, however, while the JBL only features bluetooth, the UE can connect to your smartphone via NFC connectivity, which is pretty convenient.
The bottom line is that these two speakers are pretty similar when it comes to their overall appearance, sound quality, and durability.
In terms of overall features, the UE Megaboom would have to come out on top, though if you can forget about the NFC connectivity and 360-degree sound, the JBL is certainly great value for money, and the power bank charging facility is an excellent addition.
Overall, you can’t go too far wrong with either option.
If it’s sound that’s your priority, I suggest you go with UE, whereas if you’re likely to take your speaker out and about, JBL’s charging feature will definitely come in handy.