JBL Clip 4 Review: Travel-Friendly Waterproof Speaker
JBL Clip 4 speaker is a reliable summer sidekick that can latch onto a variety of surfaces and pump out solid audio performance.
By Angela Wilson I Jan 28, 2021
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Our Score: 7.8
+ Well-made and portable
+ IPX7 waterproof build
+ Multiple color options
+ Easy to setup and use
+ Redesigned carabiner
+ Connection strength is solid
+ USB-C charging
- No EQ adjustments
- Doesn't get very loud
- Lacking in bass
- No microphone for phone calls
- No integrated voice assistant
- No aptX/aptX HD
- No App support
The JBL Clip 3 has been at the top of our best waterproof speaker list since its debut and for good reason: It’s rugged and plays louder than its diminutive sound suggests.
But JBL clearly isn't one for kicking back and relaxing. The 4th generation JBL Clip Bluetooth speaker was launched a couple of months back, promising a whole new range of features and improved bass.
These seemingly minor updates will not only keep the JBL Clip 4 on our list of the best waterproof speakers for another year, but will help make it one of the best portable speakers you can buy.
Model: JBL CLIP 4
Release date: September 2020
Regular price: $69.95 USD
What’s included in the box?
Type-C USB cable
User manual - Click to open
Who is the JBL Clip 4 for?
General consumers who want a versatile shower speaker. JBL Clip 4 can hang from a towel rack and can quickly go from the bathroom to the patio. The small design makes it an unobtrusive pick for listeners with limited real estate.
If you are a podcast listener. The JBL Clip 4 is definitely lacking in the low end due to its small size, but the emphasis on vocals makes it a solid choice for anyone that just wants to listen to a podcast while going about their business.
Summer adventurers looking for a durable speaker to accompany them on all their warm weather endeavors. The IP67 build means the JBL Clip 4 can withstand dust, sand, and full submersion (up to one meter for 30 minutes).
How’s the build and design of JBL Clip 4 portable Bluetooth speaker?
The JBL Clip 4 portable Bluetooth speaker now has a squarish design against the rounded one of Clip 3 and available in a wide range of colors—Grey, Squad, Pink and many more. The thick built-in carabiner on the top panel will clip on to a wide variety of objects, or the speaker can lie flat on its back and project audio upward.
JBL Clip 4's ultra-portable design goes great with the latest styles, and its colorful fabrics and expressive details make it look as great as it sounds. – JBL
The Clip 4's front grille has the large JBL logo at the bottom and three buttons embedded in the fabric up top. On the side panel there is a power on/off button and a Bluetooth pairing button.
The fabric that wraps around the speaker is fairly similar to the previous model, and provides the same waterproof protection. It's easy to grip with one hand and isn't too heavy either.
Product height: 134.50 mm
Product width: 86.30 mm
Product depth: 46 mm
Product weight: 239 g
Will water splashes ruin the JBL speaker Clip 4?
The JBL Clip 4 has IP67 protection, which makes the speaker both dustproof and waterproof, and its solid rubberized plastic structure is drop-proof. I’ve been using this regularly for a couple of days now, and the speaker has held up to soap splashes, drops, and everything in between.
You can completely submerge it in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes if need be, and the carabiner being built into the frame just gives it a more rugged feel overall.
From the protection point of view, JBL has left nothing to complain about and the speaker can definitely withstand rain or water splashes easily. This makes it perfect for parties at the pool or on the beach, it won't die on you if you drop it into the pool as well.
Water resistant: Yes
IP rating: IPX67
Maximum depth of water resistance: 1 m of water for 30 mins
Drop proof: Yes
Manufacturer's warranty – Speaker: 1 year limited
Manufacturer's warranty – Labor: 1 year limited
On that note JBL speaker Clip 4 still doesn’t float like the UE Wonderboom 2 speaker, so if you accidentally drop it into a pool that thing is sinking to the bottom. And if you’re in the ocean just kiss it goodbye.
How to connect the JBL Clip 4 speaker?
Pairing to the JBL Clip 4 speaker is thankfully pretty simple. All you need to do is power it on and press the Bluetooth button along the side of the speaker. From there you can find the speaker in your smartphone’s Bluetooth settings in order to connect to it.
Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth
Pair speakers to Party Up: No
Hands-free function: No
Wireless multi-room audio: No
Input & output terminals: No
Power input: USB Type-C
There is no NFC feature that allows one-tap pairing with your NFC-enabled smartphone or player. Therefore, you would need to turn on the Bluetooth on your device and pair the Clip 4 JBL manually.
In terms of connectivity, the JBL Clip 4 comes with Bluetooth v5.1 on board and takes just 3 seconds to connect to the audio source.
The Clip series has always been a speaker on the forefront of connection strength and quality, and that doesn’t change with the JBL Clip 4. We didn't face any major sync issues even when 8-10 meters from the device, without a clear line of sight.
Bluetooth version: 5.1
No. of devices to be paired: 7
No. of devices can connect simultaneously: 1
Bluetooth transmitter power: ≤ 10 dBm (EIRP)
Bluetooth transmitter frequency range: 2.4 GHz
Bluetooth transmitter modulation: GFSK, π/4 DQPSK, 8DPSK
Bluetooth range: Up to 10 m
Compatible profiles: A2DP 1.3, AVRCP 1.6
Unfortunately, you don't have the option of wirelessly connecting two speakers to augment the sound or create a stereo pair for better, louder, more vivid sound output.
Listeners with a death grip on the 3.5mm aux cable won’t be in love with the Bluetooth-only JBL Clip 4 portable Bluetooth speaker. Though the official Bluetooth codecs aren’t stated in the bundled paperwork that JBL provides, there are slight latency issues with the Clip 4 when paired with iphone.
Audio lags behind video (especially 4k) with a one-second delay. This isn’t a deal breaker but can be annoying at times.
What can the controls on JBL Clip 4 do?
The JBL Clip 4 also still has the same three playback buttons as the previous model embedded in the front fabric of the speaker. They are just slightly raised above the fabric and have a nice clicky feel to them.
You can control music playback, call management, and, with multiple taps, track navigation, while plus/minus buttons handle volume. On the side panel there is a power on/off button and a Bluetooth pairing button.
With its latest model, JBL seems to have a coherent design language across its products now as the buttons are consistent with the other speakers in the product line-up.
Interface: Physical buttons
Controls: Power, Bluetooth, Volume, Play/Pause, skip tracks
Voice assistant: No
Similar to the previous Clip 3 model the buttons aren't lit up to make this speaker easy to use in the dark.
Unlike many portable Bluetooth speakers in this price range, JBL Clip 4 does not include Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri. Also there is no built-in microphone that allows you to route calls from your smartphone to your speaker.
Is there any companion app to manage your JBL Clip4?
Unfortunately, there is no JBL application (high-end models have the JBL Connect app) that allows you to change the sound profile of the Clip4 speaker, update the firmware or make adjustments to a graphic equalizer.
App name: NA
Customizable EQ: No
How long does the battery of the JBL Clip 4 last?
There is no improvement in battery life over the previous generation model. According to JBL, it is still being rated as 10 hours on a single charge and we found that number to be fairly accurate. We managed to get 9 hours playing at medium to low volume. Your results will vary with your volume levels and your mix of wired and wireless playback.
There is an automatic shutdown timer that conserves the battery when the JBL Clip 4 speaker is operating on battery power. The speaker turns off when audio stops and the buttons are not pressed for 20 minutes.
The JBL Clip 4 now also features the latest USB Type-C charging port, so you can charge the speaker with the same cable that charges your Android phone.
Battery type: Lithium-Ion Polymer
Battery capacity: 1050 mAh
Battery voltage: 3.7 V
Music playtime: Up to 10 hrs
Standby mode: No
Auto-power off: After 20 mins
Power consumption: 5 W
Battery charge time: 3 hrs
USB charge out: No
If you're more interested in a portable speaker with a really long battery life, you should check out Anker Soundcore 3. It offers excellent music playback time, rated 24 hours at a moderate volume level. This means that you can easily use the speaker at lower volume levels for several days without having to recharge.
Does the JBL Clip 4 sound good?
If you were looking for the JBL Clip 4 to be a huge improvement in terms of sound quality over the previous model, I’m sorry to disappoint. The Clip 4 sounds very similar to the previous model. Now that isn’t a knock against the Clip 4 in any way because I really liked the sound of the Clip 3 speaker.
On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like Topic, A7S - “Breaking Me ft. A7S," the Clip 4 speaker has a little trouble with the opening bass rumble, teetering on the edge of distortion. When the deeper bass comes in, the JBL Clip 4's Digital Signal Processing (DSP) reduces it to a thin tapping.
Guitars and vocals come through loud and clear and while Clip 4 does struggle with clarity when songs have more going on, I found it perfect for relaxing acoustic songs and also podcasts.
If you're looking for a mega bass sound, you need to be spending more money on a larger speaker. The Clip 4 sounds full and crisp at moderate volumes, and that's about all we can ask of a speaker this small.
Transducer: 40 mm/1.5”
RMS power: 5 Watts
Impedance: 4 ohms
Minimum Frequency Response: 100 Hz
Maximum Frequency Response: 20,000 Hz
Maximum sound level: > 85 dB
Supported codec: SBC, AAC
You won’t find any high-quality streaming codecs like aptX, aptX HD or aptX LL, but if we’re being honest that shouldn’t be a surprise considering the price point and target use case of the speaker.
Though the CLIP 4 can be hooked to handlebars, there’s no way to get it to sound good while cycling. That said, if all you want is to hear something without fumbling with headphones, the JBL Clip 4 speaker is great.
Speaking of volume, the JBL Clip 4 doesn't get loud enough for my taste. The speaker sounds very loud to listen to in a quiet room, but once it has to compete with the surrounding noise, you'll quickly find the speaker’s volume limit.
Can I use the JBL Clip 4 for phone calls?
Unfortunately, The JBL Clip 4 doesn't have a built-in microphone, which can be annoying if you tend to use your speakers for phone calls. Personally I don't use the microphone on the speakers, but it can be a deal-breaker for some.
Should you get the JBL Clip 4?
Yes, there are plenty of reasons to go with this compact speaker over the larger alternative. The JBL Clip 4 is less than half the size of the Flip 5 and one third the weight at 180 g. If travel is your main concern, the Clip 4 is going to be the better pick.
From a design standpoint, there's nothing not to like about the ultra-portable, waterproof JBL Clip 4. Sonically, the speaker delivers a solid experience for its low price, though we still haven't gotten to the point of portable $70 speakers sounding big and full of bass.
The JBL Clip 4 is a rugged, waterproof speaker that you really want to carry around. If all you need is a reliable waterproof poolside speaker, then the JBL Clip 4 is a winner.
What are some alternatives to JBL Clip 4?
This little Bluetooth speaker succeeds the Sony SRS-XB10. It is a model that is still so compact and light. If we look at it, we also find that Sony didn't take a big risk because the design of the XB-12 is not significantly different from the XB-10.
The Sony SRS XB-12 comes with a 46mm speaker and there are no complaints about the sound quality of the speaker, given its price and support for all the major codecs you might want. The highs and lows are clear, the mids are well balanced thanks to the DSP (Digital Signal Processing), which thins the lows a little to avoid any distortions.
The speaker offers a battery life of 16 hours. This is a good performance for a wireless speaker of this size. It works just as well as the previous generation. Once the battery is fully charged, you can enjoy your music for several hours without interruption.
LG XBOOM GO PL2
With the LG XBOOM GO PL2, LG has found a way to stand out in the crowded area of portable Bluetooth speakers. The PL2 holds its own against the best Bluetooth speakers in the same price range in terms of sound quality and battery life, while offering a unique and attractive design.
The LG XBOOM PL2 has IPX5 splash proof rating, which means it can withstand being sprayed with water but should not be submerged. We ran it under a faucet for a few seconds and the speaker kept working as it should.
You don't get a built-in voice assistant and it won't overwhelm you with bass. But it's worth considering the LG XBOOM PL2 if you're looking for an attractive and reliable portable Bluetooth speaker and don't need those additional features.
Anker Soundcore Mini 3
The Soundcore Mini 3 is an update to the Mini 2, but retains excellent sound quality and battery life of the original model. Anker has added 360-degree surround sound, BassUp technology for powerful sound, a customizable EQ via the Soundcore app, and the ability to connect up to 100 Mini 3 (or any Soundcore PartyCast speakers) to party into the next dimension.
The dedicated companion app for Soundcore Mini 3 speaker is really good. It is compatible with both iOS and Android. There are many customization options available, such as turning the speaker on or off, adjusting the volume, turning BassUp on/off, or fully customizing the equalizer for a more personalized sound experience.
The Anker Soundcore Mini 3 offers a powerful punch for such a small speaker, and the waterproof construction adds value to an already affordable price.