JBL Clip 3 Review: Best Wearable Bluetooth Speaker
You don’t want to, but you know you must work out to make your New Year’s resolution goal.
But how do you psych yourself up to get moving?
You grab your portable Bluetooth speaker (perhaps as a result of this JBL Clip 3 review?), put on your best jams, and conquer those excuses.
Nothing is more motivating than listening to great music on the best-sounding portable Bluetooth speaker you can wear.
The JBL Clip 3, is close to being the best wearable Bluetooth speaker.
This tiny little Bluetooth speaker is impressive. The sound quality and loudness pack a powerful punch.
And since you want your speaker to be as powerful as your hardest workout, JBL Clip is a great choice. In this review, I give you all you need to know about the sound quality, volume, portability, range, and waterproof rating. I’ll tell you what comes in the box and its most favored uses.
JBL Clip 3 is an upgrade over its earlier version. The newer robust design has better sound and improved battery life.
In the process of improving it, the size and weight increased from the JBL Clip 2 version. But the enhancements were worth these minor changes.
But what else is different in this upgraded version?
Let’s find out.
Upgraded Version Cheated On Favorite Extras
There were several changes in the design and functionality of JBL Clip 3. And two made no sense. Here is a list of the things that are different.
- Improved carabiner
- Increased battery life
- Slightly boosted loudness and sound quality
- Increased color choices from 6 to 11
- Added auxiliary port but took away the cable
- Removed Wireless Daisy Chain capabilities (JBL Connect Not Supported)
- Reduced Bluetooth from 4.2 to 4.1
Let’s examine each:
The carabiner has become part of a reinforced frame around the Clip 3 speaker, providing extra protection around the device.
Clip 2 had a triangle carabiner that was attached by a silicone type material. Over time, silicone can weaken and compromise the integrity of the clip.
Plus, the shape of the carabiner speaks versatility, making it great for clipping to clothes, hanging on a doorknob, or hanging off bike handlebars.
Increased Battery Life
The most significant improvements are in the battery life. The newer version of the speaker takes you to about 10-16 hours depending on volume output. The JBL Clip 2 is only between 5-8 hours.
That’s double the battery life and good for a mini Bluetooth portable speaker. The downside is it increased charging time by about 30 minutes.
Boosted Loudness and Sound Quality
The sound between the two speakers differs slightly. Clip 3 has a 3.3 Watt speaker vs. the 3 Watt speaker of Clip 2.
On a sound test, you barely notice the difference, but there is a more precise and crisp sound in Clip 3. Check out this video sound test and see if you can tell the difference.
Increased Color Choices
Adding color choices was a nice touch. Clip 2 offered six, and Clip 3 increased to eleven. I like the tan option for Clip 3.
Added Auxiliary Port
This one made no sense. It was okay that they eliminated the non-detachable cable and installed an auxiliary port, but they didn’t include the AUX cable in the new version.
Clip 2 had a nicely attached and concealed that was inserted in a groove and stored directly on the device.
I guess if you are into aesthetics, that may have been bothersome. But it would have cost JBL virtually nothing to include the cable with the Clip 3.
Removing the auxiliary cord just didn’t seem like an added value for the upgrade in the device.
As much as this was a puzzle to me, taking away the Wireless Daisy Chain capability and downgrading the Bluetooth capability was even more confusing.
Removed Wireless Daisy Chain Capabilities
If you’ve purchased JBL Bluetooth speakers in the past, you’re probably familiar with JBL Connect.
This feature allows you to pair multiple speakers together for a fuller sound, also called Wireless Daisy Chaining.
You’ll likely be annoyed that JBL took this option away in the Clip 3 design.
That move seemed unnecessary, but there may be more to their reasoning than what I could find in my research.
The size and intended use typically wouldn’t warrant this feature. But if that’s your thing, you’ll be bummed.
More disappointing than the Wireless Daisy Chain removal was the Bluetooth shift from 4.2 to 4.1.
Once again, I’m scratching my head. For some reason, JBL decided to go backward in Bluetooth capabilities. Clip 2 has 4.2 Bluetooth, which adds range, connectivity, and security.
JBL went to a 4.1 Bluetooth connection in Clip 3. This move made the device less secure, reduced speed, and reduced range.
4.2 Bluetooth Smart sensors make it 250% faster over the internet. It also has LE Privacy 1.2, which provides more security and pairing capabilities.
For an upgrade, reducing Bluetooth capabilities was just plain shortsighted.
Overall the upgrades were somewhat of an improvement. But for the increase in price and eliminated options, I’m not convinced it was worth the redesign.
At least they kept the IPX7 Waterproof Rating. While not an improvement from Clip 2, it’s still a feature of Clip 3 and that’s a good thing.
It’s So Waterproof It Floats
This tiny Bluetooth speaker has an IPX7 waterproof rating. If you’re on a big run and drop your JBL Clip 3 in a puddle, you don’t have to panic.
JBL made a rugged little speaker for your active lifestyle. There is a protective plug on the side of the unit to cover connection ports.
Before you set out on that big run, make sure you plug those ports. If you drop it in water, your speaker stays protected. And it floats-watch here.
For an in-depth description of IP ratings, click here to check out my Comprehensive Guide.
The IPX7 rating is fantastic for this little speaker, but how about the battery life?
Battery Life Improvements Are A Plus, and…
JBL got this one right!
The upgraded internal battery from mAh 730 to 1,000mAh Lithium Polymer was a great move.
This gave Clip 3 almost double the playtime. More hours are possible depending on how loud you like your music.
It also provided a better capability to charge your smart devices like your phone and tablet.
Another great feature is the built-in noise-canceling and echo-controlling speakerphone. If you like using your speaker for those important calls, you’ll love the clarity of your call with Clip 3.
Plus, the increased battery life means longer talk time. And for its size, playtime at these lengths is fantastic. Just know that the increase in battery life does mean a charging time of 3 hours.
But the small size does reduce the amount of bass you hear. So if you love a deep bass, you’ll want to consider another option.
Not For Bass Lovers
This tiny speaker produces an excellent sound for its size, but, understandably, the bass can only go so far.
Like I said earlier, for its intended use, you can’t expect Clip 3 to produce the deep bass and full-bodied sounds of a more prominent speaker like the Anker SoundCore 2 or Tribit Xsound Go.
Comparably sized speakers like the Bose SoundLink Micro give you more bass, but the price difference is significant. That’s why Bose didn’t make my top ten list in this post, The Best Bluetooth Speakers Under 50 in 2020.
For the money and the quality of sound, Clip 3 still produces enough vibration and low-end bass to feel like you’re getting near full-spectrum sound out of your music.
Those motivating tunes while you workout won’t miss a little bass for all the other great portable features offered.
And the durability you need is all there in JBL Clip 3.
It May Be Small But It’s Tough
I love the fact that this incredible little speaker floats. I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve been on a nice long run after rain and dropped my phone in a puddle.
I know, don’t ask.
But seriously, Clip 3 floats in the water. And with the IPX7 rating, as long as your ports are covered, it won’t miss a beat.
There is a protective waterproof fabric around the device. And, the carabiner clip creating a protective barrier around the circumference of the device makes it even more durable.
Speaking of the carabiner clip, you can attach your speaker on your clothes, on a belt bag, backpack, or any carrying device for ultimate portability.
Plus, the sturdy design of Clip 3 ensures protection from drops and bangs during your active moments.
The range isn’t vast, but for what you’ll be doing with the Clip 3, range most likely won’t be a factor. Clip 3 wasn’t designed to be a party machine or home entertainment center companion.
Plenty of Range for Its Intended Use
While it’s disappointing JBL went from Bluetooth 4.2 to Bluetooth 4.1, for the intended use of a mini wearable speaker, the range might not impact your buying decision as much.
You’ll get about 30 feet of range out of this little wearable Bluetooth speaker.
You’ll see anywhere from 15-50 feet in most mini speakers. So 30 is about average for mini Bluetooth devices. If you’re just lounging by the pool or laying on the beach, you’ll have no issues with JBL Clip 3.
And the beauty of the little clip-on is that you can take it anywhere. If you’re a marathon runner, this little companion keeps you focused on the finish line.
Let’s take a look at what you’ll get with your speaker.
What Comes with Your JBL Clip 3?
The packaging is simple but plenty protective. Inside, you’ll find a very sturdy built, round speaker that weighs 7.6oz, a tad more than its predecessor JBL 2.
It’s a little bigger than JBL 2 but not enough to impact your normal usage.
The speaker fits comfortably in your hand and measures 5.4 x 3.8 x 1.8 inches. So small, you can fit it in a pocket, purse, or belly bag.
The best part is that it has a nice carabiner that can clip onto a belt or sports bra strap. That way, you don’t risk it falling out of a pocket.
Some of my favorite features are:
- Nice rubbery feel to the speaker that gives you incredible gripping ability.
- Carabiner encases the entire speaker creating a protective barrier from dings and dents.
- Built-in mic for utilizing the touch-free calling feature.
It’s so simplistic in design that the only other things in the box are the product information booklet and an orange micro USB charging cable.
Your JBL Clip 3 comes with a one 1,000mAh Lithium Polymer battery.
Here is a fun little video that shows you:
- What’s in the box
- A waterproof test
- A sound test
There’s no need to look for the auxiliary cable because it doesn’t come with one. You’ll have to buy that separately, unlike the JBL Clip 2.
For a nominal price, you can get a Hermitshell travel case that zips up your Clip 3 investment for extra protection. It even has a pouch inside to hold a pair of earbuds.
If you want to use the AUX port, you can purchase an optional auxiliary cable as well.
Operating Your New Bluetooth Speaker Is Easy
JBL smartly put the control buttons at the top of the front of the speaker. It’s easy to press each control to navigate your volume and play options. You can pause, play, and skip with the play control button.
One downfall is that you can’t jump back to the previously played song. You can’t move back and forth within a song, either.
You can use your Clip 3 as a speakerphone to answer phone calls.
JBL Clip 3 floats on top of the water and is submersible for up to 30 minutes in approximately 3 feet of water.
But make sure you have the attached plugs inserted securely in the ports before taking that chance.
There is an auxiliary port for attaching an AUX cable and playing your non-compatible Bluetooth devices.
At about 70% volume, you should get around 9 hours of battery life. The full volume gets you around 5.5 hours of playtime.
Charging Clip 3 takes about 3 hours. You can also charge your smartphone and tablet with your device if you’re in a pinch.
JBL Clip 3 – What I Like
- Nice large carabiner for flexible clip-and-go use.
- 11 different color choices.
- It’s waterproof, and it floats.
- Affordable and performs like the higher-priced UE Wonderboom 2.
JBL Clip 3 – What I Don’t Like
- You can’t connect multiple Clip 3 devices for a fuller sound.
- Issues with holding a charge. Less than 1% of more than 4,000 reviews had this problem. I can live with those odds.
- It operates with 4.1 Bluetooth instead of the much more robust 4.2 Bluetooth.
- An auxiliary cable doesn’t come with the device.
Who It’s Best For?
It’s perfect for the runner who loves listening to their motivating playlist while beating their last run time.
You love cool gadgets, and you want lots of color options. You might even consider buying one to match all your favorite workout clothes.
You want something small, portable, and easy to tow while you do your thing.
You enjoy water sports, and you don’t want to worry about losing or ruining your new portable Bluetooth speaker.
Now that you know the difference between JBL’s Clip 2 and Clip 3, you can decide which one gives you the flexibility for your desired use.
And, if you’re still undecided, check out my top 10 picks under $50 here.
You can be confident you’ll have all the information you need to find the Bluetooth speaker that’s right for you.