Updated on November 27, 2018
JBL Pulse 3 vs JBL Charge 3 Comparison – Which Is Best?
Today, we take a look at two of the most popular and best portable Bluetooth speakers on the market and see how they compare head-to-head. We’ll be looking closely at the JBL Pulse 3 and JBL Charge 3 to determine which is the better speaker.
We’ll compare the speakers based on:
At the bottom, you’ll also find a nifty specifications comparison table.
Without further ado, JBL Pulse vs JBL Charge 3 – ready, set, fight!
One of the things that made JBL so popular is their design. You know a JBL speaker when you see it due to their characterful designs.
JBL Pulse 3
The Pulse 3 is absolutely stunning to look at. It only comes in two colorways (black and white) but the Pulse 3 has beautiful LED lights covered in transparent plastic all the way around it. This is very unique and something you won’t see in very many Bluetooth speakers.
You can change the colors of the LED lights at any time or even use the Lightshow feature that’ll take care of setting the atmosphere right on autopilot. All in all, the JBL Pulse 3 has a very unique design that is bound to impress. Wanna be able to customize your Bluetooth speaker on the go or set the right mood with some warm lighting at your dinner party? The JBL Pulse 3 got you covered!
The Pulse 3 Bluetooth speaker is very simple to use. It has a total of seven buttons that effectively lets you control the speaker functionality. The controls are used for:
- Connecting Bluetooth devices
- Changing the volume
- Powering on and off
- Pairing with other JBL speakers
- Controlling the LED lights
- Playing/pausing and handling speakerphone
There isn’t much to be confused about here. JBL speakers are always very straightforward to use and the Pulse 3 speaker is no exception.
The Pulse 3 offers everything you’d expect in terms of connectivity options. It has an AUX input to connect your speaker to other AUX-compatible devices (laptops, phones, tablets). If you don’t have Bluetooth on your device, you’re good to go with AUX connectivity.
Also, there’s the power input. This one speaks for itself. When your speaker runs out of power, you power it up here.
Size & Weight
The Pulse 3 is relatively normal in size. It’s 22.3 cm long and 9.2 cm in both height and depth. Also, the speaker weighs 960 g which isn’t a whole lot either. This makes it easily portable.
JBL Charge 3
The Charge 3 is simpler in its design. No LED display, no color changes. However, the speaker comes in a handful of different colors so you can get something subtle or flashy. The general colorways are one solid color, but there’s also a really awesome camouflage colorway available.
The JBL Charge 3 has six controls on the top. You’ve got controls for the following:
- Bluetooth connectivity (enable/disable)
- Volume (up/down)
- Power (on/off)
- Pairing with other speakers
- Play/Pause + Hands-free phone calls
Having only six buttons in total makes the JBL charge 3 super easy to use. Everything is highly intuitive and if you’re ever in doubt, you can find a well-explained answer in the user manual.
The connectivity design is almost identical to that of the Pulse 3. You’ve got the two standard connectivity options.
- AUX input
- Power input
However, the JBL Charge 3 features another input as well. It has a USB input! This input is used for the power bank functionality. Using this, you can charge your phone or tablet with ease.
Size & Weight
The speaker is slightly smaller and lighter than the Pulse 3, but weighing 800 g this will be an unnoticeable difference.
The build quality is another aspect that plays an important role in the equation of choosing a portable speaker. Ultimately the build quality will affect the lifespan of the speaker you pick.
As these two products are by the same manufacturer, many of the components are built similarly. All in all, this means they match up quite evenly on build quality.
Both speakers are IPX7 waterproof. This means you don’t have to worry about malfunctions due to water. By definition, this means that a speaker can be fully submerged in water at 1 meter of depth for 30 minutes. I don’t know why you’d want to do that, but now you know!
Also, they’re both have a rugged rubber housing (only partly for the Pulse 3). The rubber housing absorbs any hits your Bluetooth speaker might get along the way. The materials are intended to last for a long time. Many owners of both products also report their units working perfectly even after several years of use.
There is a notable difference between the JBL Charge 3 and the Pulse 3 that you may want to consider.
The difference is the plastic housing around the LED lights on the Pulse 3. This material is slightly more fragile than its rubbery counterpart, but unless you’re gonna use it as a punching bag you should be fine. JBL did a great job making the biggest weakness of the product sturdy.
If you care more about durability than visual appeal, the Charge 3 is probably the better choice.
The sound quality is regarded as the most important factor by many. We all want something that sounds expensive but isn’t – and this is where things get really exciting!
On first look, the speaker specs look similar. The frequency response is 65Hz to 20kHz on both speakers. The signal-to-noise ratio is ≥80dB on the Pulse 3 and >80dB on the Charge 3.
But what do our ears tell us? Do they sound the same?
The short answer: No, they do not sound the same.
JBL Pulse 3
When you first see the JBL Pulse 3, you might get the idea that they’ve compromised the sound quality to get a cool visual look. However, that is far from the truth. All in all, the JBL Pulse 3 gives a well-balanced sound experience.
Geared with two bass radiators (one on top, one at the bottom), the speaker is able to fill the room with solid and warm bass. At the other end of the spectrum, JBL really stepped up with the highs. Where some other JBL speakers lack clarity and crispiness in higher frequencies, the Pulse 3 does a great job bringing even the most subtle details to life.
It’s a shame when manufacturers focus too much energy into nailing the bass only to have an incomplete product that disappoints anyone not listening to house music. The JBL Pulse 3 is not that!
This speaker is a perfectly balanced solution. It can handle anything from bass-heavy dubstep to soothing low-volume jazz background music. No matter the occasion, the Pulse 3 speaker is a solid option.
The only thing I’d like to point a finger at in terms of sound quality is that the bass bleeds ever so slightly into the mid-range. It’s not a big deal and definitely something that can be expected from most portable speakers of this size.
JBL Charge 3
So can the Charge 3 follow along with the Pulse 3? – Well, almost!
Also geared with two bass radiators, the Charge 3 manages to output a full-bodied and detailed low-range. It isn’t surprising as the two speakers have a lot in common when it comes to their components. They cover the same frequency range, just about the same signal-to-noise ratio and they both have 20 W output power.
As mentioned earlier, the two speakers don’t quite sound the same. The JBL Charge 3 seems to fall behind slightly when it comes to the high-end frequencies. Whether it’s the components, its smaller size or something else, there is a slight but noticeable loss of detail when comparing the two speakers head-to-head.
On the other hand, the Charge 3 portable speaker actually seems to have less bass bleeding into the mid-range.
The JBL Pulse 3 is slightly more balanced than the JBL Charge 3 which seems to be the obvious pick if you’re “all about that bass”.
One of the major things that set these two bad boys apart is their battery life. At first glance, their batteries look similar. Both batteries are lithium-ion polymers and with a capacity of 6000 mAh. Also, they both take around 4.5 hours to fully charge.
However, though these specifications are the same, there is a drastic difference in how long they can play on a single charge.
- The JBL Pulse 3 can play 12 hours on a single charge.
- The JBL Charge 3 can play 20 hours on a single charge.
Also, the Charge 3 speaker can function as a power bank, so you’d expect it to be the one with better power retention.
This battery playing time difference mainly comes down to the power consumption. Due to the neat looking LED lights on the Pulse 3, its battery drains faster. Again, it’s aesthetics versus handiness.
If you want something that you can take with you all day long, you definitely wanna opt for the Charge 3. It’ll keep your phone charged all day as well.
Functionality & Features
When it comes to functionality, there are a handful of differences between the two Bluetooth speakers.
Smart Features Both Speakers Have
With JBL Connect+, you can connect your speakers to other Connect+ compatible JBL devices. You’re able to connect up to 100 JBL Connect+ enabled speakers at once.
Say you’re meeting with your friends to throw an epic party. To further enhance your audio experience, you each bring your individual JBL speakers and combine their power together to get more sound.
You can also get two Connect+ enabled speakers on your own and use them with stereo functionality. One speaker to the left, one speaker to the right.
Here’s a really cool video showcasing the power of 100 JBL Bluetooth speakers combined using Connect+.
Both speakers have noise-canceling speakerphone functionality. With echo-removing technology and a built-in microphone, you can take phone calls using your speakers at the click of a button.
Voice Assistant Integration
Both speakers interact perfectly with Siri and Google Now. Again, by pressing a button, you can quickly get in touch with your artificially intelligent phone helper. All in all, this is a pretty helpful feature to have though not all will come to use it.
JBL Pulse 3 – 360° Sound & Interactive Light Show
Now, this is where the JBL Pulse 3 sets itself apart from other portable Bluetooth speakers.
The previously mentioned fully controllable interactive 360° LED light show that it provides really amplifies the party. The light show can be customized directly in the JBL Connect app for both iOS and Android.
JBL themselves describe it as “sound you can see”. It adds a whole new dimension to music listening by making it visible.
The sound experience is also 360°. The speaker does a great job at filling a room with full-bodied audio no matter where you’re sitting. Place the speaker somewhere in the center of your room and everybody in the room will get the same listening experience.
JBL Charge 3 – Powerbank Functionality
The JBL Charge 3 is more than a speaker. While being lightweight, it acts as a power bank as well. This means you can drop the usual power banks and just use the JBL Charge 3 on the go instead.
This makes the Charge 3 an ideal choice if you’re out all day or like longer stays at the beach. Also, if you’re an avid traveler, this speaker is wonderful to bring on the go and will last the entire day. Super useful if you’re backpacking all day.
Value for Money
The last thing I wanna cover – and that many people regard as the most important factor – is the price. How much value do you get for your money?
Usually, there’s around a $50 gap between the two speakers – with the Pulse 3 being more expensive.
Taking all the previous points into account, we conclude that the Charge 3 speaker brings more value to the table at its given price.
Both speakers offer something unique. One is a party catalyst. The other has power bank functionality.
It all comes down to whether you wanna pay extra for having an LED light show and 360-degree sound.
But our verdict is that the Charge 3 is the better speaker when it comes to value for price.
Specifications Comparison Table
|JBL Pulse 3||JBL Charge 3|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||22.3 x 9.2 x 9.2 cm||21.3 x 8.7 x 8.85 cm|
|Weight||960 g||800 g|
|Battery type||Lithium-ion polymer (3.7V)||Lithium-ion polymer (22.2Wh)|
|Frequency range||65Hz – 20kHz||65Hz – 20kHz|
|Output power||20 W||2 X 10 W|
|Playing time||12 hours||20 hours|
|Battery capacity||6000 mAh||6000 mAh|
|Charging time||4.5 hours||4.5 hours|
|Color options||Black, white||Black, blue, grey, red, teal|
|Voice Assistant Integration||Yes||Yes|
|360° Lightshow & Sound||Yes||No|
|AUX cable input||Yes||Yes|
|What’s in the box||– JBL Pulse 3
– Power adapter
– Micro USB cable
– Quick start guide
– Safety sheet
– Warranty card
|– JBL Charge 3
– Power adapter
– Micro USB cable
– Quick start guide
– Safety sheet
– Warranty card
|Warranty||1 year||1 year|
|View on Amazon||View on Amazon|