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JBL Clip 3 Review

A near perfect combination of portability, performance, and price that is great for use in the shower or at the beach
JBL Clip 3
Credit: JBL
Top Pick Award
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Price:   $50 List | $49.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Super compact, waterproof, good battery life, good sound quality given the size
Cons:  A bit more expensive than other super-portable options, can sound tinny and hollow at high volumes
Manufacturer:   JBL
By Max Mutter and Michelle Powell  ⋅  Jul 27, 2020
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 20
  • Sound Quality - 40% 6
  • Portability - 25% 10
  • Volume - 20% 6
  • Battery Life - 15% 8

Our Verdict

If you're looking for a small, portable, and waterproof speaker, the JBL Clip 3 is a great choice. This quaint speaker weighs a mere 7.5 ounces, is small enough to fit in the back pocket of most pairs of jeans, has a built-in carabiner so it can easily be hung from a backpack or belt loop, and can survive complete immersion in up to a meter of water. This combo makes it the perfect companion for beach trips, boat outings, and singing in the shower. The small size does make it sound a bit tinny, but it can still belt out a tune good enough to get your groove on.

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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award   
Price $50 List
$49.95 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Super compact, waterproof, good battery life, good sound quality given the sizeExcellent sound quality, very loud, long battery lifeExcellent sound quality, water resistant, great battery lifeGood overall sound, great volume, great battery life, waterproofGood sound quality, waterproof, long battery life
Cons A bit more expensive than other super-portable options, can sound tinny and hollow at high volumesExpensive, relatively large and heavyExpensive, relatively heavyNot the strongest bass, a bit priceyNot the best sounding nor most portable
Bottom Line A near perfect combination of portability, performance, and price that is great for use in the shower or at the beachTop notch sound quality and volume in a somewhat heavy packageThe best portable speaker for audiophilesA good mix of sound qaultiy/volume and durabilityA great balance of sound quality, portability, and price
Rating Categories JBL Clip 3 Bose Soundlink... Bose SoundLink... UE Boom 3 JBL Flip 5
Sound Quality (40%)
6
10
10
7
7
Portability (25%)
10
6
7
8
7
Volume (20%)
6
10
8
8
9
Battery Life (15%)
8
9
8
9
9
Specs JBL Clip 3 Bose Soundlink... Bose SoundLink... UE Boom 3 JBL Flip 5
Dimensions (in x in x in) 5.4" x 3.8" x 1.8" 4.1" x 4.1" x 7.3" 5.97" x 3.24" x 3.24" 2.9" x 2.9" x 7.25" 3.64" x 3.6" x 8.5"
Inputs USB charging port, 3.5mm auxillary input Charging port, Micro-USB, 3.5mm auxillary input 3.5 mm auxiliary input, Micro USB port Micro USB port Charging port
Reported Weight 7.84 oz 34 oz 24 oz 24 oz 19.04 oz
Measured Weight 7.5 oz 34 oz 24 oz 22 oz 19 oz
Wireless Range (feet) Not Listed 30 feet 30 feet 150 feet Not Listed
Reported Battery Life (hours) 10 16 12 15 12
Measured Battery Life (hours) 18.75 24 18 24 27
Warranty 1 year limited 1 year limited 1 year limited 2 year limited 1 year limited
Receive Phone Calls Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The super compact JBL Clip 3 is perfect for those that like to always keep a speaker in their bag, just in case, or those that like to add a proper soundtrack to their shower singing.

Performance Comparison


Credit: Laura Casner

Sound Quality


Overall the JBL Clip 3 certainly isn't going to impress audiophiles, but can generally do enough justice to your favorite tune to get you singing along.


Compared to the majority of Bluetooth speakers out there, the JBL Clip 3 sounds relatively thin. It lacks a bit of bass power, and higher frequencies can sound a bit harsh and tinny. Considering its small size, however, the Clip 3's sound is quite impressive. It manages to sound fuller than most of the other super-compact models on the market, and avoids the shrill hiss accompanying high notes that many of those speakers are plagued with.

The JBL Clip 3's overall sound quality is good not great, but more...
The JBL Clip 3's overall sound quality is good not great, but more than adequate for some singing in the shower.
Credit: Laura Casner

Bottom line, the Clip 3 is not going to provide a refined nor exceptional listening experience, but it can provide a pretty good one in situations where toting along a more capable speaker wouldn't be convenient.

The Clip 3 is one of the most portable speakers we've ever tested.
The Clip 3 is one of the most portable speakers we've ever tested.
Credit: Laura Casner

Portability


This is where the Clip 3 reigns supreme. Tipping the scales at just 7.5 ounces, it weighs barely more than most smart phones, so you probably won't even notice it in your bag or backpack. The built-in carabiner allows for easy hanging on the outside of a backpack, on a belt loop, or on the rung of a shower curtain. Speakeing of shower curtains, this speaker is also IPX7 waterproof, meaning it can survive complete immersion in up to a meter of water — so take it on boats, on lazy river floats, and use it as accompaniment to your shower singing with reckless abandon.


Volume


Here again, the Clip 3 isn't fantastic, but does quite well given its size. Its maximum volume is actually quite loud. However, the speaker is really straining at that point, with the sound becoming quite blown out. If you lower the volume to where it maintains its sound quality, it is plenty loud enough to entertain a group of friends hanging out on the beach or lounging on a dock. However, it's a bit too quiet for a barbeque with 20+ people.


Credit: Laura Casner

Battery Life


In our tests the Clip 3 well outdid its claim of a 10-hour battery life, lasting a whopping 18 hours before finally succumbing to exhaustion. This is more than enough time for entertainment during a weekend camping trip or night in the backcountry.


Value


The JBL Clip 3 certainly isn't cheap. However, if you want a super tiny speaker that still lends a good overall experience, you're going to have to spend a bit more. Considering its combination of performance and portability, we think the Clip 3 asks a reasonable price.

Conclusion


The JBL Clip 3 is one of the best compact Bluetooth speakers we've tested. For those that value portability over all else, and don't mind spending slightly extra to add in some decent sound quality, this is a perfect choice.

Max Mutter and Michelle Powell