Tue. May 21st, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • JBL Charge 5 remains relevant due to bold sound, water resistance, and handy power bank feature.
  • Speaker expectations change over time, but Charge 5’s functionality and performance remain impressive.
  • Despite the competition, the Charge 5 is still a worthy speaker and a solid value.


The JBL Charge 5 Bluetooth speaker was great when it was released in 2021. But now it’s 2024 and there’s a question of its relevance. I set out to see if its age was a problem or if it could still hang at the party and was worth a purchase.

JBL Charge 5 speaker

JBL Charge 5

$130 $180 Save $50

The JBL Charge 5 speaker delivers bold JBL Original Pro Sound, with its optimized long-excursion driver, separate tweeter and dual pumping JBL bass radiators. Up to 20 hours of playtime and a handy power bank to keep your devices charged to keep the party going all night.

Pros

  • Big sound for compact size
  • IP67 water and dust resistant
  • Handy power bank feature to charge other devices
Cons

  • Power bank is a USB-A port
  • A little heavy for carrying in a backpack

Price and Availability

The Charge 5 speaker retails for $179.95 but can almost always be found on sale somewhere. It comes in several different colors and JBL even offers a custom design option, including printing pictures on the exterior. Because of that, the style of the Charge 5 is nearly endless.

Specifications

Connectivity
Bluetooth

Battery
Up to 20 hours

Water Resistance
IP67

Power
40W

Connections
USB-C in, USB-A out

Colors
Multiple choices, including custom designs

Dimensions
8.7 x 3.76 x 3.67in

Buttons
Media control buttons on top

Others
2.1lbs

A Little Context For ‘Old’ Speakers

top view of JBL Charge 5 showing control buttons
Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek


I was thoroughly impressed with the sound of the Charge 5 when it was released in 2021. At the time, it was a relatively compact portable speaker that could start a party at the beach or in a living room. Three years later, that’s still true.

It turns out the only thing that’s really changed about the Charge 5 is the competition around it. The speaker itself functions the same as it has since the beginning. Its rich, thick boom of the low-end remains impressive for its size. The speaker can get surprisingly loud. I had no problem filling the living room and dining room area. The mid-range of the speaker is clear and vocals are present. It’s a punchy speaker, great for lots of music genres.

Speakers and the drivers inside speakers should last a long time. It’s the connectivity and other features that tend to be the limiting factor in tech-focused products.


For example, I have had to update the speaker’s firmware a few times through the JBL Portable app—available for iPhone and Android. As long as the company still supports its Bluetooth speaker through software, it should be a safe buy.

As an example of longevity in tech-focused speakers, Sonos released its portable Bluetooth speaker, Roam, in April 2021. Apple released its HomePod mini speaker in late 2020. The original full-sized HomePod went five years before being replaced.

The Features of the Charge 5

JBL Charge 5 Charging Port flap pulled back by someone's thumb
Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek

There aren’t an abundance of features on the Charge 5, but the ones it has, it makes count. Probably the most important is its 20 hours of battery life. That amount of time should provide enough juice for even the longest party or, more likely, several days of use.

If you do want to use the battery power in other ways, there’s a USB-A port on the back that can be used as a power bank to charge a phone or tablet.


It’s a small design detail, but I like the little power meter under the JBL logo. It’s not super detailed, but the view is enough to tell if the speaker is full, or needs to be plugged in. I can also verify that my Charge 5 speaker’s battery continues to maintain a charge after several years.

A phone plugged into the JBL Charge 5 charging port on the back
Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek

The Charge 5 is IP67 rated, so it’s water and dust-resistant. Rain, sprinklers, and splashes haven’t phase the speaker. I took the speaker to the beach and, even though a few sand grains remained attached, it did not affect the speaker’s performance. While the Charge 5’s size is suitable for a backpack or to take most places, it is a bit heavier than you might expect. It’s solid throughout. That means it won’t roll around too easily, but you also probably don’t want to lug it around all day if you don’t need to.


The speaker supports JBL’s PartyBoost for linking two speakers together wirelessly. This type of thing is on several different Bluetooth speakers, but I’ve never seen anyone use it in real life. It’s an elusive use case that never fully materializes suddenly.

If you’re intrigued by multiple speakers used at once, I would consider speakers with Wi-Fi built-in that have more control and permanent uses around a house. If you’re intrigued by the increased volume that two PartyBoost speakers could provide, I would suggest looking at a bigger, more powerful single speaker.

Should You Buy the JBL Charge 5 Bluetooth Speaker?

The front of the JBL Charge 5 with logo showing
Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek


We’ve become accustomed to year-over-year turnover in consumer electronics. It’s easy to be jaded with anything not brand new. But the JBL Charge 5 remains a solid value if you can pick one up closer to the $100 price, rather than its full $180 one. It’s plenty portable in size but is still capable of a loud, bold sound. Three years on the Charge 5 is still rocking.

JBL Charge 5 speaker

JBL Charge 5

$130 $180 Save $50

The JBL Charge 5 speaker delivers bold JBL Original Pro Sound, with its optimized long-excursion driver, separate tweeter and dual pumping JBL bass radiators. Up to 20 hours of playtime and a handy power bank to keep your devices charged to keep the party going all night.



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By John P.

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