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We know better than anyone that there are a lot of portable Bluetooth speakers for sale in 2022. Over the summer, I even got in the habit of throwing waterproof Bluetooth speakers into the pool to make sure they were really, you know, waterproof. But even in a crowded market, you probably know JBL, the audio company with a popular line of portable party speakers, which includes the newly upgraded JBL Clip 4.
The company makes dozens of different speakers for almost every use case. In this review, we’ll take a closer look at the JBL Clip 4. The fourth generation of this clip-topped speaker is a big seller, but what do you get, how well does it work, how does it sound, and would we recommend it?
To spoil our own JBL Clip 4 review, we definitely do recommend this product, and we think it’s sure to be one of the year’s most popular tech gifts.
- Small, light, portable
- Nice design
- Clip is secure, handy
- Rugged build
- Sounds good
- Easy setup
- No fast charging
- Bass is thin
- Might not be powerful enough for some
- Clip opening is narrow
- No multi-device connectivity
JBL Clip 4 Review: Design
The JBL Clip 4’s design incorporates a carabiner as part of the design of the speaker’s body frame. It’s a smidge more than 5-inches tall, roughly 3 and a half inches wide, and it weighs just over than a half-pound.
In theory, embedding the loop as part of the frame also allows for more space for securely hooking to different objects, but the truth is I had a hard time fitting it over many objects like door knobs, handles and my car’s rearview mirror.
The Clip 4 gets points for being the first dustproof JBL Clip thanks to the IP67 rating (instead of the IPX7 rating bestowed upon on the JBL Clip 3).
The front of the JBL Clip 4 has a simple control layout with a play button on the center flanked by volume controls.
JBL Clip 4 Review: Easy Setup and Pairing
Turning on the JBL Clip 4 requires a simple long button press on the speaker’s rear. Below that power button is a Bluetooth button which you must hold before you pair with a new device, and that’s good to know since you can only have one connected device at a time, so you’ll need to re-pair if you switch source phones or devices.
JBL has made a connectivity upgrade to USB-C charging. Fast-charging is still missing, as is a 3.5mm jack which lots of folks are doing without anyway.
JBL’s Famous Sound Quality
When it comes to music, the speaker definitely doesn’t have an abundance of power, but it performs well for a speaker this size. It’s got a bit of a lean to the higher end of the sound spectrum and the bass is on the leaner side, but overall it sounds good. Particularly if you’re using this speaker outdoors, or in the shower, you’re not likely looking for concert-level acoustics anyway. If you are looking for more power or boom, you can certainly find it from other bigger, bassier JBL speakers; the main selling point here is it provides music on the go, securely. It’s made for clipping to a backpack or bag, for music on a hike or dog walk, or hanging out at a campsite, to name a few use cases.
Perhaps not a shock for a rugged travel-ready speaker, but JBL’s Connect+ and PartyBoost features that enable you to pair up multiple JBL speakers are absent.
JBL Clip 4 Review: Good But Not Great Battery Life + Charging
The battery life of the JBL Clip 4 gets the same 10-hour playback rating as its predecessor and that was about right in my testing. Charging takes about 3 hours, which does feel long.
JBL Clip 4: Should You Buy It?
Overall this is a pretty great little travel speaker, especially at the discounted price. The carabiner on the JBL Clip makes the Clip 4 stand out in the vast sea of portable rugged Bluetooth speakers. It gets loud, it sounds good, and it’s highly portable. On the downside, it could use faster charging and multi-device pairing, and some music lovers may be disappointed by the audio quality.
Overall, the improvements, while incremental, are a step in the right direction. We recently included this product in the SPY Smart Home Awards 2022, and we still think it’s worth it.
Buy This If: I think this is a great little speaker though and would definitely recommend it for campers, hikers, dog walkers and anyone who needs a compact portable speaker.