JBL has been doing something interesting with its portable Bluetooth wireless speakers. Instead of completely redoing its line, it’s upgraded certain models with a water-resistant design and simply added a plus sign to their product names. Such is the case for the Charge 2+, which — except for the color of the logo — looks identical to last year’s . However, it weights slightly more at 600 grams to the Charge 2’s 540 grams, which means something has changed.
Like its Charge predecessors, you can lay this cylindrical speaker down horizontally or stand it up vertically. It charges via Micro-USB and has a built-in 6,000mAh battery for a healthy 12 hours of playback. It also retains its eponymous feature: the ability to juice up USB-powered portable devices (smartphones, music players, even tablets). Of course, if you use it as a backup battery, expect the music playback time to dip accordingly.
The speaker is powered by two 7.5-watt drivers, which gives you a total of 15 watts. That’s pretty decent for a speaker this size. The Charge 2+ plays surprisingly loud, and — unlike the originalI reviewed — it’s tuned better and delivers cleaner sound with tighter bass. That’s because about three months after the initial release of the Charge 2, JBL upgraded the speaker’s firmware without bothering to tell anyone about it.
As far as I can tell, the new Charge 2+ sounds the same as the firmware-updated Charge 2, and it’s arguably among the best-sounding Bluetooth speakers in this size and price class.