JBL’s Splashproof Charge 2+ Bluetooth Speaker Perfect for Summer Fun

Image: Patricia Vollmer.
Image: Patricia Vollmer.

Just in time for summer, our family received a JBL Charge 2+ bluetooth speaker to check out. Having had experiences with the JBL Flip and Charge speakers already, we were no strangers to this compact sound system’s great sound quality and versatility.

However, this time around we had a couple extra features to check out. Let’s explore a little more, shall we?

What Comes in the Box

  • Charge 2+ speaker
  • 40″ USB charging cable
  • A/C Adapter for USB cable
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Safety instructions
Connecting the Charge 2+ wirelessly is easier than ever! Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
Connecting the Charge 2+ wirelessly is easier than ever! Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

General Usage

Setup for these speakers has been becoming more straightforward over the years, and connecting my iPhone 5S to the Charge 2+ was easier than ever. Simply hit the Bluetooth logo button on the top of the speaker and consult your device’s Bluetooth settings to look for “JBL Charge 2+” to connect.

If Bluetooth isn’t an option for your device, you can use an auxiliary cable to connect any phone, iPod-type player, or computer to the speaker and still enjoy the Charge 2+’s sound.

With the connection in place, you can now explore the Charge 2+’s sound capability. Turn up the volume for some awesome bass, and check out the JBL Bass Radiators on the ends: they pulse with the bass beat. Volume can be controlled either via your device or on the speaker itself.

In addition to using the Charge 2+ for tunes, it can also function as a speaker for your cell phone. Use the telephone icon button on the top to answer phone calls or transfer your phone’s speaker to the Charge 2+.

Finally, as the speaker’s name implies, the Charge 2+ can also charge your devices. Use your device’s USB charging cable and plug it into the USB female port in the back of the unit. The Charge 2+ has a 6000mAH lithium-ion battery can support up to 12 hours of playback (at a lower volume), so there is plenty of juice to spare for charging. I plugged in my iPhone 5S at 59% and it had charged up to 95% in one hour (I had turned off all apps on the phone and wasn’t playing music on the Charge 2+…although one can simultaneously play music and charge devices).

New Feature: Social Mode

JBL’s new “Social Mode” feature allows up to three devices to be connected to a single Charge 2+ speaker. There’s a button on top that needs to be pressed before connecting the multiple devices; otherwise the speaker will kick any additional devices off.

Multiply your playlists: The Social Mode button allows for up to three Bluetooth-enabled devices to connect to the JBL Charge 2+. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
Multiply your playlists: The Social Mode button allows for up to three Bluetooth-enabled devices to connect to the JBL Charge 2+. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

Hold down the button until it illuminates, then invite your friends to join you in playing from multiple playlists!

I tried this feature out by connecting my iPhone 5S, my MacBook Pro laptop, and my son’s Motorola Droid Turbo. We took turns taking over each others’ playlists, with my son choosing Green Day’s “Holiday” versus my Eminem and Katy Perry. At first we were just hitting “play” on our respective devices over and over again, which was some silly fun.

When we let one of the songs play for a minute or so, it was taken over abruptly by other things. My iPhone took over the Charge 2+ when I received a text message, which made a sound. When the TweetDeck app on my MacBook received a new Tweet, it beeped and hence took over the speaker. Users will need to keep this in mind for the Social Mode to work smoothly.

Another thing to know about the Social Mode: the Charge 2+ will play based on each device’s own volume settings. So when users first set up their respective playlists, they should agree on a volume. Ideally, each device should have maximum volume; use the Charge 2+ volume for the master control.

Battle of the Playlists! While Social Mode can be cool for multiple smartphones, when my laptop was added to the mix, however, every time my Tweetdeck tweeted it would take over the speaker. Oops. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
Battle of the Playlists! While Social Mode can be cool for multiple smartphones, when my laptop was added to the mix, every time my Tweetdeck tweeted it would take over the speaker. Oops. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

“Splashproof”, Not “Waterproof”

The Charge 2+ features “splashproof” operation. What this means is it can operate near water, but not in water. For example, if someone towels off poolside and drips on the speaker, it’s fine. If you want to have the speaker at the beach, that also shouldn’t be a problem. I was even willing to take it into the shower, so long as the shower stream wasn’t directly spraying onto the Charge 2+.

However, do not try to submerge the speaker altogether. This is not designed for underwater listening.

"Splashproof" operation means the JBL Charge 2+ can operate near water, but not in the water. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
“Splashproof” operation means the JBL Charge 2+ can operate near water, but not in the water. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

We took our Charge 2+ near our hot tub on a chilly evening earlier this spring. Since my husband has a Lifeproof case on his iPhone 4S, he was able to take his phone into the hot tub and control the speaker from within. Being able to listen to tunes and control things from within the hot tub was a lot of fun.

We had to be extra careful not to let the speaker fall into the hot tub altogether.

Get enough friends together (with splashproof cases, of course) and you can enable the Social Mode and have a fun music party in the pool, the beach, or the hot tub. Summertime just got a lot more fun!

In addition to the standard black and white, the Charge 2+ comes in a variety of additional fun colors, such as red, orange, green, blue, and pink. With these additional new features, the Charge 2+’s price is no more than the Charge 2 that’s on the market currently, with an MSRP of $149.99. The JBL Charge 2+ is sold at major electronics retailers and online through the JBL-Harman website (where, as of this writing, it’s on sale for $119.99) or Amazon.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

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Patricia Vollmer is a geeky meteorologist mother of two emerging geek sons, ages 11 & 14. Patricia blogs about her family's nomadic military life at Ground Control to Major Mom. Home is always where the Air Force sends her family, which for now is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hobbies include running, despite no one chasing her, and exploring the world with her boys. Ask her why the sky is blue at your own risk.