We expect all next generation technology to get smaller, faster, lighter – it’s the smartphone effect. But in the case of the just launched Charge 4 Bluetooth speaker it’s quite the opposite.

When compared to the JBL Charge 3 – the new generation Charge 4 is a touch bigger, a touch heavier.

Green Charge 4 – Black Charge 3

If you walk into a store today, you’ll find the Charge 3 nicely discounted, while the Charge 4 is of course hitting it’s RRP at $198 or there abouts.

So – why choose the Charge 4?

Bigger battery inside – that’s good – but the play-time for the speaker remains at 20 hours – what gives?

Sure that bigger battery is going to mean more top-ups of your smartphone when plugged into the USB-A port.

There’s no speakerphone on this new generation either. Hmmm.

Oh – why should you buy the Charge 4? THE SOUND.

I sat the Charge 3 and Charge 4 side by side – paired them to two phones and played the same song. Switching from one to the other the Charge 4 is by far the better sounding speaker.

It’s louder, by some measure. And that’s noticeable.

It’s also a cleaner sound – while still packing the same solid JBL Bass you’d expect. Overall, you’d be hard pressed to pick the Charge 3 if you really love your music when faced with the Charge 4 right next to it.

You can connect two smartphones, you can pair to any other JBL connect enabled speaker, it’s waterproof and it looks great.

Not much to complain about there.

Bang for your buck, JBL seem to have this segment nailed. At $200 or less, the Charge 4 may be the best value mid-sized speaker you can buy.