The JBL Clip 2 was a very strong contender in the ultra-portable speaker category with its built-in carabiner, compact size, and long battery life.
So much so, that when I reviewed it, it even won by me the Best Ultra-Portable Speaker title.
Now JBL updated its popular model and we got the JBL Clip 3 with a redesigned carabiner and a new, fresh look.
I was excited to see, how JBL could improve the former model and if the Clip 3 is a worthy successor.
In the last days, I tested the different attributes of the speaker to find this out and collected my results in this JBL Clip 3 ultimate review.
JBL Clip 3 Review Video
- 100 feet
- 70% volume: 8 hours 50 minutes
- Maximum volume: 5 hours 20 minutes
- IPX7 certification
- It is completely waterproof, it can be submerged into 1-meter-deep water
- It floats on the water
- Durable body
- Long Bluetooth range
- Good battery life
- Integrated carabiner
- Weak lows
- No battery level indicator
- No daisy chain, no JBL Connect+
The Box, Accessories
The Clip 3 comes in a small transparent box with only an orange micro USB cable included.
My test device is the black version, however, the speaker is available in 11 different colors.
While the dimensions remained the same, the Clip 3 got a completely fresh look, with a newly designed carabiner.
Now, it is built into the device and embraces the whole speaker as a metal frame, making the Clip 3 more solid and durable than the predecessor.
While in terms of durability, it is an improvement, I preferred the replaceable carabiner of the Clip 2, since if it broke or if you needed a larger one you could easily replace it.
Unfortunately, the carabiner of the Clip 3 is even slightly smaller, which can limit its usability, for example, it might not be large enough to clip it on a thicker bicycle handlebar.
The Clip 3 got a new speaker grille, which now curves to the edges of the speaker and houses the music control buttons.
I think placing the control buttons to the front was a good decision, they look better and are more convenient to use.
Overall, the Clip 3 got a better build quality and a more stylish design.
In terms of music control capability, there is no improvement, while the buttons got a better location, the speaker still provides a limited music control capability.
It means you can pause/play the music and skip a song, however, you cannot jump back to the previously played song or forward/backward in a song.
It got a built-in noise and echo-canceling microphone, so it can be used as a speakerphone to answer phone calls.
Just as the older model, the Clip 3 got an IPX7 protection, which means it is completely waterproof, it can be submerged into 1-meter-deep water for 30 minutes.
On the top of that, it even floats on the water, so it is ideal for any water sports.
Although it comes good if you accidentally drop it into the water, you cannot listen to music on it while it's floating since it does not float on its back.
To ensure the water protection, the ports are covered by a waterproof flap.
The design of the flap is great, it is easy to open and close and it seals correctly.
Connectivity, Bluetooth range
JBL decided to remove the built-in audio cable of the Clip 2 and the Clip 3 comes with only an audio jack input port.
I think this was a good decision, although the built-in audio cable was a very convenient solution if it got damaged you completely lost this connectivity option.
Testing the Bluetooth range I measured 100 feet range in my outdoor test, which is a really good range, much better than the 20 feet range of the older model.
Unfortunately, the Clip 3 does not support the JBL Connect+ feature, so it cannot be connected with other types of JBL speakers and surprisingly also the daisy chain function of the Clip 2 was removed, so it is not possible to connect even two JBL Clip 3 devices together.
This is definitely a step back and a bad news if you were thinking of buying two Clip 3.
The Clip 3 got a slightly bigger 1000mAh battery compared to the 730mAh battery size of the Clip 2.
I did two tests to check the battery life of the speaker.
First, I played various types of songs at 70% volume on the speaker and measured 8 hours 50 minutes play time.
Then I repeated the same test at the maximum volume level and got 5 hours 20 minutes.
This battery life is pretty decent and it is above the average in this category, however, despite the larger battery, the Clip 3 could not improve significantly compared to the older model.
While at maximum volume it could play longer than the 3 hours 40 minutes play time of the Clip 2, at 70% volume it produced a shorter battery life compared to the 13 hours 20 minutes of the older model.
Unfortunately, the speaker does not have any battery level indicator, so you do not know how much battery percent remained.
JBL Clip 3 Sound Test
Under the hood, the Clip 3 has the same sized 3W driver as the Clip 2, however, in terms of sound quality, it improved a lot.
It has a much clearer and more powerful sound while the size remained the same.
Thanks to its newly designed passive radiator, it has a more pronounced bass and a fuller sound.
So despite its compact size the Clip 3 has a nice, well-balanced sound.
It cannot compete with larger speakers and still lacks some bass compared to the similarly sized Bose SoundLink Micro, however, for an ultra-portable speaker it has a nice overall sound.
JBL Clip 3 vs JBL Clip 2 Sound Test Video
The Clip 3 could improve in many aspects and it is a more stylish, durable device.
If you are looking for a compact speaker what you can easily carry a whole day and can withstand the elements, then the Clip 3 is one of the best choices.
It has a strong battery life, long Bluetooth range, and a decent sound.
Since it could retain the values of the Clip 2 and it could even further improve it, it easily won by me the Best Ultra-Portable Speaker title.
It is highly recommended if you are looking for something very portable.
The Best Ultra-Portable
IPX7 water protection
Long Bluetooth range
Good battery life
No battery level indicator
No daisy chain, no JBL Connect+
One obvious alternative is the Clip 2 which is still available and provides a similar functionality for a lower price.
It has a shorter Bluetooth range and a weaker sound, however, it comes with a built-in audio cable and supports the daisy chain feature, so you can connect two devices together for an amplified sound.
One strong contender is the Bose SoundLink Micro which also has a really compact size and durable body.
Its major advantage over the Clip 3 is its superior sound quality.
It has a bigger sound with deeper lows, however, it has a higher price tag and a shorter battery life.
It is worth to mention here the UE Roll 2, the compact, portable speaker of the UE.
It also has a nice attachment option, got a cool design and has a decent sound.
Transducer: 1 x 40mm
Output power: 3.3W RMS
Frequency response: 120Hz – 20kHz (-6dB)
Signal-to-noise ratio: >80dB
Dimensions: 137 x 97 x 46 (mm) \ 5.4" x 3.8" x 1.8"
Weight: 220g \ 0.49 lbs