JBL Charge Essential & Essential 2 Review

Join me as I explore the intricate details of the JBL Charge Essential & Essential 2.

Updated on: September 26, 2023

Choosing the perfect Bluetooth speaker for road and camping trips can be challenging. I’ve found that JBL has built a reputation for creating high-quality Bluetooth speakers, laden with features beneficial for users like me who are always on the go.

Let’s review the features and specifications of both speakers to compare which could be a better option for you.

Comparing Features: Charge Essential & Essential 2


JBL Charge Essential design
AspectCharge EssentialCharge Essential 2
Dimensions (WxHxD)21.3x 8.97×8.7(cm)22×9.60×9.34 (cm)
Weight0.77 kg0.93 kg
Physical ControlOn top of the SpeakerOn top of the Speaker
Battery IndicatorLED Battery IndicatorLED Battery Indicator

JBL speakers have a rugged and sturdy build which makes the speaker suitable for outdoor use and have a sturdy design that protects the speaker from accidental drops. JBL Charge Essential and Essential 2 have a cylindrical design, and a small volume, making it easier to carry inside a bag. They have a fabric covering and metal textured front, keeping sound drivers safe from accidents. 

Both speakers have rubberized sides and bottoms to protect them against rough handling and accidental drops.

The only difference between the two speakers is weight; Charge Essential 2 is slightly heavier, weighing 0.93 kg, than Charge Essential, which is only 0.77 kg.

The control buttons are at the top of both speakers, comprising Power, Bluetooth, Play/Pause, and Volume up and down buttons. These buttons are raised a bit, like braille, making it suitable for blind operation.

For instance, I remember taking the Charge Essential on a camping trip last summer. Its rugged design and waterproofing made it the ideal companion, enduring splashes and rough handling with ease, allowing for worry-free enjoyment of music in the great outdoors.

Sound Quality:

AspectCharge EssentialCharge Essential 2
Frequency Response65 Hz- 20 KHz60 Hz-20 KHz
Power Output20 Watts40 Watts
transducers2x50mm52mmx90mm woofer, 20mm tweeter

In my experience, I’ve noticed that the sound quality of the Charge Essential 2 seems to have a slight edge over its predecessor, the Charge Essential. It has a separate dome tweeter alongside the dual passive radiators, which gives it a sound signature of impressive deep bass and clear mids and trebles. The mid-bass unit of Essential 2 delivers a restrained and well-balanced mid-range and bass without mixing them.

In addition, the dome tweeter, a 40 Watts power output, and a frequency response of 60Hz-20 KHz allow the speaker to deliver clear high-frequencies, which is powerful and suitable for enjoying a diverse range of music.

On the other hand, Charge Essential has a power output of 20 watts and also comes with dual passive radiators on the sides of the speaker to deliver impressive bass and mids. It has a frequency response of 65HZ-20KHz, which means it pretty much covers all frequency ranges. However, listening to heavy metal music or music of intensive trebles at a high volume can sometimes distort the sound. In addition, the speaker isn’t as loud as its younger sibling.

Battery Life:

AspectCharge EssentialCharge Essential 2
Battery Life20 hours20 hours
Charging time4 hours4 hours
Power bankYesYes
Battery typeLi-ion polymer battery: 22.2 WhLi-ion Polymer battery: 27 Wh

I’ve found that both speakers live up to their advertised battery life of 20 hours and have a consistent charging time of around 4 hours. However, the JBL Charge Essential has a USB-A port for charging, which is now becoming obsolete. JBL Charge Essential 2 has a USB-C port for charging, which has a fast-charging response, and most electronic devices now have a USB-C port. However, the battery life may vary depending on the speaker’s volume, the type of music, and the usage. 

Connectivity Options:

AspectCharge EssentialCharge Essential 2
USBType AType C
USB 2YesYes

I’ve experienced that while both the JBL Charge Essential and Charge Essential 2 offer Bluetooth connectivity, they operate on different versions. JBL Charge Essential 2 uses the newer version of Bluetooth, i.e., Bluetooth 5.1, which has a better connection, connectivity range, and transmission rate than its predecessor JBL Charge Essential, which uses Bluetooth 4.1.

In addition, both the speakers have a USB port, which you can use to charge your devices from the speakers, and an AUX/3.5mm cable port, which allows the user to connect the speaker with audio sources through a wired connection.

When connecting my phone to the Charge Essential at a crowded event, I noticed some connection drops, possibly due to the older Bluetooth version. However, the Charge Essential 2 maintained a stable connection in similar environments, enhancing the overall user experience.

Water Proofing:

JBL speakers have a rugged design making them suitable for outdoor use, and one of the features that most of their speakers have is waterproofing. Both JBL Charge Essential and Charge Essential 2 have an IPX7 rating, meaning these speakers are completely waterproof and can sustain water splashes without any damage. It is another reason these speakers could be used for outdoor and pool parties.


AspectCharge EssentialCharge Essential 2
Voice AssistantNoNo
Built-in MicrophoneNoNo
Built-in PowerbankYesYes
Connect +NoNo

The JBL Charge Essential and Essential 2 can be connected to two audio sources at a time, which means you can take turns playing music with your partner. These speakers do not have the connect+ feature, so you cannot daisy chain them with other speakers. Also, Charge Essential and Essential 2 do not have built-in microphones, so they do not support voice assistants and hand-free calling.

Both speakers have a built-in power bank for charging devices and have an AUX cable input for wired connections. These speakers are also waterproof (IPX7 rating), which means you can submerge these speakers in water for about 30 minutes without any damage. 


The price of JBL Charge Essential 2 is more than Charge Essential. These prices may vary depending on the vendor, the location of purchase, and ongoing sales and promotional discounts.

However, JBL Charge 5 is an upgraded version of the Essential series. It has a better sound spectrum, IP67 rating, Microphone, Partyboost feature, and an amazing battery life. So, if you have the budget for buying any of the Essential series, you may skip it and get a JBL Charge 4 or 5 speakers, as it has more worth for the same money compared to JBL Essential series.

Final Verdict: Which One is Better?

I believe the choice of speaker is highly personal, depending on individual preferences such as usage, desired sound signature, portability, and the necessity for additional features. It also comes down to the budget allotted for purchasing the speaker, so what may suit you won’t be a good choice for someone else. Therefore, before purchasing a speaker, list your preferences to find the best one.

Among the two competitors, Charge Essential 2 is a better option. Although most of its features and specifications are the same as its competitors, like a 20-hour battery life, built-in power bank, and IPX7 waterproofing, it has an amazing sound quality which is bold and original JBL pro-sound. Furthermore, it has Bluetooth 5.1, which is way better than its competitor. Finally, with all these benefits, the price is not too high, and some may find it economical in most cases.

Charge Essential, conversely, has a decent sound signature, 20 hours of battery life, a rugged design, and waterproofing for better portability. However, its audio output, frequency response, and sound signature are less bold and clear than its younger sibling.  

So, you can easily buy the new one, i.e., Charge Essential 2, at a lower price and all the features this speaker has.


What are the main distinctions between the Charge 5 and the Charge Essential 2?

Based on my understanding, the Charge 5 and the Charge Essential 2 have notable differences in features and sound quality. The Charge 5 allows for the linking of multiple speakers in Party or Stereo mode, a feature that is not available in the Charge Essential 2. Additionally, it seems that the Charge 5 may offer superior sound quality and more powerful bass, while the Charge Essential 2 might have the ability to reach lower frequencies, providing a more bassy experience. Furthermore, the Charge 5 offers the option to customize EQ settings through the JBL app, a feature not present in the Charge Essential 2.

Is the additional cost for the Charge 5 justified over the Charge Essential 2?

It appears that opinions vary on whether the additional cost for Charge 5 is justified. Some might find the enhanced features, improved sound quality, and the ability to link multiple speakers make the Charge 5 worth the extra investment. However, others might argue that the Charge Essential 2 provides similar performance and represents better value for money, especially for those who do not need the extra features of the Charge 5.

I’m Shaun Conroy, an audiophile & founder of HiFi Audios. Holding a Bachelor’s in Sound Engineering, I bring deep expertise in audio devices and offer insights & recommendations to fellow enthusiasts.

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