JBL Clip 4 VS Clip 3

By |
JBL Clip 4 VS Clip 3 1

JBL Clip 3

Despite its older technology, the Clip 3 outperforms the Clip 4 in battery life, features, and connectivity.

Since its release in early 2018, the JBL Clip 3 has established itself as a reliable portable Bluetooth speaker with good sound and a versatile design. For a few years, it was the go-to choice for a small adventure speaker. Until the release of its successor, the Clip 4, which was released back in 2020.

Comparatively, the two speakers share the same principle. They provide portability and durability at the forefront. Still, the Clip 4 saw some noticeable changes made. Let’s compare how these two speakers stack against each other and see whether upgrading your Clip 3 to the more recent Clip 4 is worth upgrading.

If you’d like to see the JBL Clip 4 covered in more detail, we have a full review published.

Our Pick
JBL Clip 4 VS Clip 3 2

JBL CLIP 3

RRSP $49.95
JBL Clip 4 VS Clip 3 3

JBL CLIP 4

RRSP $79.95
Size3.58 x 3.38 x 1.81″3.39 x 3.72 x 2.14″
Weight204g239g
Water ResistanceIPX7IP67
Battery LifeUp to 10 HoursUp to 10 Hours
Bluetooth4.15.1
Frequency Response120Hz – 20kHz100Hz – 20kHz
Power3W5W
InputsBluetooth, AuxBluetooth
Built-In MicYesNo

Build, Design & Durability

Winner: Clip 4

Clip 3

  • IPX7 water-resistance
  • Volume and play controls
  • Minimalist logo
  • Moderate carabiner clearance
  • Indented power and Bluetooth buttons

Clip 4

  • IP67 water-resistance
  • Volume and play controls
  • Large logo
  • Wide carabiner clearance
  • Raised power and Bluetooth buttons

While both the Clip 3 and 4 have durable designs intended for outdoor use, the Clip 4 has the advantage of a dust resistance rating. Both are relatively small and compact Bluetooth speakers, with the Clip 4 only weighing 25g more.

Design-wise, the most noticeable difference is the shape of the speaker. The Clip 3 has a round shape with a narrow carabiner, while the Clip 4 is closer to a square with rounded edges. The carabiner on the Clip 4 is wider and offers more clearance, letting you attach it to thicker objects. This is an often-overlooked change between these two speakers.

The construction of the speaker shell varies a lot in the materials used. Both speakers have a fabric wrap, but the Clip 3’s is only on the face of the speaker, while the Clip 4’s fabric extends across most of the surface. This adds more durability to the Clip 4, reducing the chances of scratches on the speaker’s surface.

Both of the Clips have the same buttons. Volume up, volume down, play/pause, Bluetooth, and power. The Clip 4’s controls are easier to press while on the move. The Clip 3 has indented buttons, which can be challenging for those with large hands.

JBL’s Clip 4 has several color designs with a toned-down appearance, while the Clip 3 is available in more vibrant color options.


Features & Functionality

Winner: Clip 3

  • Built-in microphone
  • No additional functionality

Both speakers lack the features and functionality of midrange and large Bluetooth speakers. The Clip 3 has more to offer with its inclusion of a built-in microphone that can be used for taking calls while the speaker is in use. The Clip 4 doesn’t offer additional functionality, as JBL dropped the microphone support for its release.


Connectivity Options

Winner: Clip 3

  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Micro-USB charging port
  • Aux input
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • USB-C charging port

The Clip 3 has more to offer when it comes to connection types. It supports Bluetooth 4.1 and has an auxiliary input for wired connections. In line with modern Bluetooth speaker designs, the release of the Clip 4 had the aux input removed. The Clip 4 has the advantage of supporting Bluetooth 5.1, a more efficient version—however, the Bluetooth 4.1 offered by the Clip 3 is still a viable connection type today. The Clip 4 also introduced USB-C support, while the Clip 3 uses Micro-USB.


Audio Performance

Winner: Clip 4

  • Bright sound profile
  • Performs best at low-volume
  • 3W of power output
  • Bass-heavy sound
  • Sounds best at higher volume
  • 5W of power output

When comparing the sound quality of these two speakers, the JBL Clip 4 comes out ahead. It has a wider frequency range than the Clip 3, and the additional bass extension is noticeable. One problem with the heavy bass presence is that the Clip 4 sounds muffled and lacks vibrance at moderate volumes, being overwhelmed by the lows. Conversely, the Clip 3 sounds crisp and clear at moderate volume levels, with a bright sound.

When the volume is cranked to 80% on both speakers, the Clip 4 comes out on top because of its deeper bass and improved compression. The increased volume makes the Clip 4 sound more vibrant in the midrange and treble, while the Clip 3 sounds thin at this volume, lacking the depth found in the 4. Additionally, the Clip 3 suffers from noticeable compression artifacts at high volume.

Both speakers can get relatively loud for their size, but the Clip 4 has a slight advantage, with a 5W driver, compared to the 3W driver found in the Clip 3.


Battery

Winner: Clip 3

  • Battery lasts up to 12 hours
  • Recharges in under 3 hours
  • Battery lasts around 6 to 7 hours
  • Recharged in 2.5 hours

Both models have the same manufacturer-specified battery estimate at 10 hours. However, when we tested these two speakers, we found that the Clip 4 could only deliver around 6 hours of playtime at 80%, while the Clip 3 impresses with up to 12 hours of playtime at the same volume level. The Clip 4 is a faster charging speaker, but only for around 30 minutes. The Clip 3 and Clip 4 can be charged in under 3 hours.


Conclusion

In summary, both speakers have value. The Clip 3 is quite old now, and if you can still find it available, it has a lot to offer, with more connectivity options and battery life than the Clip 4, and better audio quality at lower volume. The Clip 4 performs better at higher volume and has more bass. The wider clearance gap on the carabiner is also a noteworthy benefit of the 4.

If you’ve got the Clip 3 and you’re considering upgrading. Whether it’s worthwhile depends on how you use your speaker. It is worth upgrading if you want more bass and a little extra volume. But if you’re happy with how your Clip 3 is performing, you won’t see a significant upgrade advantage. At this point, it may be worth waiting until the Clip 5 release.

JBL Clip 5 Release Date & Expectations

Update (04 April 2024): The Clip 5 has officially been announced and will be released in the United States in June this year. We’ve also got our first views of the speaker, including detailed views of several color variations. While the Clip 5 still has a few months before it hits the shelves, here’s what we know about how it compares to the Clip 3 and Clip 4.

JBL’s Clip 5 is the first generation of JBL speakers to include Auracast support, which JBL is marketing as a multi-speaker pairing. Auracast will allow you to pair multiple speakers together in ways we haven’t seen before, connecting each speaker to the source device instead of a primary speaker controlling the connection to several secondary speakers. This new technology is powered by the move from Bluetooth 5.1 on the Clip 4 to Bluetooth 5.3.

The Clip 5 improves battery life, with two additional hours of playtime over the Clip 3 and 4. We will also finally get app support with the Clip 5, a massive upgrade to the series that will allow users to adjust their sound to fit any occasion.

Expect improved sound quality too, with better dynamics and smoother frequency response, creating a more comprehensive sound that aligns with some of JBL’s larger speakers.

Check out our Clip 5 announcement article if you’d like to read more about what to expect with the Clip 5.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!
Share:
Photo of author

Author: Bryn De Kocks

Bryn has worked in the field for several years, writing in-depth speaker reviews for various audio publications. His work has historically focused on headphones and Bluetooth speakers, while incorporating his understanding of the Bluetooth speaker market to help educate potential buyers.

See All His Posts