JBL Charge Essential vs Charge 3: Which One Should You Buy? 

Updated on: November 16, 2023

Are you confused about whether to go for JBL Charge Essential or Charge 3? Well, you’re not the one to blame. These two speakers appear remarkably similar, making it challenging to decide which one is superior.
However, after testing them for hours, I managed to scrap out some differences in the overall features and the sound quality. So without any further ado, let’s dive into them. 

Both these speakers have the same accessories in the box except for the additional 5V 2.3A USB Adapter in the JBL Charge 3. The rest includes: 

  • The speaker unit
  • A micro USB cable 
  • A quick start guide 
  • A warranty card 
  • A safety sheet 

Why Go For JBL Charge Essential? 

  • A quicker charge time (4 hours vs 4.5 hours) 
  • Slightly lighter than JBL Charge 3 (770 g vs 800 g)

Sadly, I couldn’t find many reasons to put JBL Charge Essential on top. 

Why Go For JBL Charge 3?

  • It has a noise and echo-cancelling speakerphone feature 
  • The Voice Assistant Integration allows you to access Siri and Google Assistant with a simple button press
  • You can connect up to 3 devices (smartphones, tablets) at the same time (3 vs 2) 
  • It has an AUX input to connect devices 
  • With the JBL connect feature, you can pair multiple JBL speakers
  • You get an additional 5V adapter 

Before we move on to the sound comparison and the feature details of these two speakers. Let’s take a quick look at the specifications. 

Features JBL Charge Essential JBL Charge  3
Frequency Response 65 Hz – 20 KHz 65 Hz – 20 KHz 
Battery Time Upto 20 HoursUpto 20 hours
Charge Time4 hours4.5 hours
Charging Cable TypeMicro USBMicro USB 
Weight 770 g800 g
Output Power5W 2 X 10W
IP Rating IPX7IPX7
Bluetooth Version4.14.1
Powerbank Feature Yes Yes 
JBL Connect Feature No Yes 
Voice Commands No Yes 
AUX input YesYes 

These two speakers seem to be twins in overall features, but do they have the same sound quality? Let’s find out. 
In my tests, I noticed that the JBL Charge Essential is slightly louder and maintains sound clarity even at full volume. On the other hand, the JBL Charge 3 has a slight edge in bass as it offers more depth in the low notes. But you would have to compromise on the loud sounds.
The JBL Charge Essential is ideal for rock and party music packed with a powerful electric punch. The louder sound and incredible sound clarity make it worthwhile for your outdoor parties.
However, the JBL Charge 3 is perfect for all bass lovers. It might not be as loud as Charge Essential, but loud enough to vibe up your indoor party sessions. 
Although the difference was minimal, I think the JBL Charge Essential takes the lead in the sound battle. 

What’s the Difference in Overall Features? 

Despite being an older model, the JBL Charge 3 offers a bunch of extra features that you won’t find in the JBL Charge Essential. 
The JBL Charge 3 features an integrated voice assistant that allows you to control it with voice commands. You can use it to pick up calls and access Siri and Google Assistant making it effortless to use. 
Up for an outdoor party? The JBL Charge 3 has the JBL connect feature that allows you to connect multiple speakers to build a sound wall.

JBL Charge 3 features

Furthermore, JBL Charge 3 allows you to pair up to three devices at once, whereas with JBL Charge Essential, you can connect only two devices.
The JBL Charge 3 features an AUX port beside the charging port. So you can also connect your device via an AUX cable. 
The JBL Charge Essential lacks all of the features listed above. Aside from the fact that it takes 30 minutes less to recharge and weighs 30 g less, there are no other features that distinguish the JBL Charge Essential

 JBL Charge Essential features

After these details, I don’t think there’s any need for me to pick out a winner. The JBL Charge 3 is absolutely on top here. /

Now you know all of the dissimilarities between the JBL Charge Essential and Charge 3. As for price, the JBL Charge Essential costs 180$ on the official web. But, on Amazon, both speakers are priced around 130$, so the real question is: which one offers better value for money?
If I had to choose, I would go for JBL Charge 3 as it offers more features and also has a decent sound performance. But if you want a louder speaker with thrilling upbeats, the JBL Charge Essential would be better for you. 
In the end, only you can determine which speaker is best for you, depending on your needs. However, if you have any questions or concerns about the speakers, please leave a comment below. We can talk it out! 

Are JBL Charge Essential and Charge 3 waterproof? 

Yes. Both speakers have an IPX7 rating which means they have full water resistance when submerged in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. However, they’re not dust resistant. 

Can I use my JBL Charge Essential or Charge 3 as a power bank? 

Yes. You’ll find a USB port on both of these speakers to power up all your devices. 

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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