JBL Flip 5 Review - Audiostance

JBL Flip 5 Review

The Low-Down!

I feel a bit confused with the release of the JBL Flip 5. Usually, JBL includes some exciting new improvements. The Flip 5 doesn’t feel very unique and exciting. The sound quality is an improvement, which is fantastic, but with no AUX input, no built-in microphone, no stereo sound, and only Bluetooth 4.2, one can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed with JBL’s latest offering. At a $50 discount, the JBL Flip 4 could be better value for money.

JBL Flip 5 Specs

Waterproof
IPX7


AUX Input
No


Battery
12 Hours


Bluetooth
V4.2


2019 has been an exciting year for Bluetooth speakers. We’ve seen many new releases, but it’s always great to see some old favorites get a facelift. One of those is the JBL Flip 5, an upgrade from the Flip 4. If you’re a JBL fan, you’ll definitely want to check out this review and my rant about the Flip 5’s most annoying feature when comparing the Flip 4 and Flip 5.

Design and Features

If you are familiar with any of the JBL Flip speakers, then there will be no surprises with the Flip 5. The portable Bluetooth speaker is still cylindrical in shape measuring 7 inches in length and weighing 1.2lbs.

As with previous models, the Flip 5 is waterproof with an IPX7 rating. This will protect your speaker to a depth of 1 meter (3.2 foot) for 30 minutes. Perfect for use around the pool (in the shallow end of course) and even in the bath or shower.

PartyBoost is the latest speaker chain technology from JBL. This allows you to connect multiple JBL PartyBoost-compatible speakers to get even more sound. You have the option of two speakers in mono or stereo or multiple speakers in mono.

Not much has changed in the battery life department except that the Flip 5 charges one hour faster than the Flip 4. The JBL Flip 5 has a 12-hour battery life and will fully recharge from flat in around 2 and a half hours. Expect about half that battery life if you run the Flip 5 at full volume.

Audio Connections

If you like using a 1/8-inch AUX connection, then you’re probably not going to like the fact JBL Flip 5 does not support wired connections.

We’re seeing this with a lot of new speakers in 2019 as more and more devices move to wireless connectivity. While this is great for new playback devices and smartphones, what about those without Bluetooth or WiFi?

Another slight disappointment is that the JBL Flip 5 features Bluetooth 4.2 rather than the newer improved 5.0. I think any premium brand manufacturer releasing a Bluetooth speaker in 2019, must include the latest version of Bluetooth.

Having said that, is there a big difference between 4.2 and 5.0? For a portable Bluetooth speaker, not much to be honest. You might get a smidge more range and slightly better connectivity for most audio applications.

Where you might notice a difference is with video latency. If you have watched a YouTube video using a Bluetooth speaker, you’ll see there are some lip-sync issues. Bluetooth 5 corrects this, so there is zero latency. If you’re just using the Flip 5 for music, then you obviously won’t experience any issues with latency.

What Does the JBL Flip 5 Sound Like?

Those who are familiar with JBL know to expect excellent sound quality. You pay that little bit more than other Bluetooth speakers, but you get fantastic sound.

The Flip 5 features just one 20W speaker driver with passive bass radiators at either end. This is an extra 4 watts of power compared to the Flip 4’s 16W.

The low end is slightly deeper and more punchy than most portable Bluetooth speakers of a similar size. This includes other premium brands like Song, LG, Beats, and more. The Flip 5 has a tight low-end sound which is cleaner and more refined than the competition.

The mid-range and highs are forward in the mix making vocals and instrumentation standout. This is not only great for music, but also for those who use a Bluetooth speaker for podcasts or radio. The intelligibility of the Flip 5 is far superior to any speaker of a similar size.

JBL Flip 5 Review - Audiostance

JBL Flip 4 vs. Flip 5

So, you’re probably wondering what the differences are between the JBL Flip 4 vs. Flip 5? Here is a brief breakdown of the differences. Click here for a detailed comparison between the JBL Flip 5 and the Flip 4.

Sound Quality

Most important, is there a difference in sound quality? Yes, is the answer to that question. If you’re looking for an audio upgrade, the Flip 5 sounds better than the Flip 4. The Flip 5 has better bass, it’s louder and with improved clarity across the frequency spectrum.

Mono vs Stereo

While the sound quality of the Flip 5 may be improved, the Flip 5 only features a single driver. This means that the JBL Flip 5 is a mono speaker. While the Flip 4, with two drivers, is a stereo speaker. If left/right sound separation is important to you, then the Flip 4 is definitely going to be the better choice.

Audio Connections

If you like using an AUX cable, then the Flip 4 will be the better option. The Flip 5 doesn’t have an AUX input. Both feature Bluetooth 4.2.

Another big difference is the fact that the Flip 5 no longer includes a built-in microphone. This means no speakerphone and no voice assistants like Siri or Google Assistant. If you want these features, better to go with the Flip 4.

Waterproof

The Flip 4 and Flip 5 both share an IPX7 waterproof rating. One nice improvement seen on the Flip 5 is that it now floats, whereas the Flip 4 did not. This is particularly useful, and somewhat essential, if you’re using your speaker on a boat or for those vacations at the lake.

JBL Flip 5 Waterproof

Battery Life

There is no difference in playing time between the Flip 4 and Flip 5. Depending on the volume you play your audio, both speakers will give you 12 hours. The Flip 5 features a 4,800 milliamp-hour (mAh) vs. the Flip 4’s 3,000 mAh. You won’t notice a massive difference in playing time between the two speakers, but you will be able to charge the Flip 5 in 2 hours 30 minutes vs. the Flip 4 at 3 hours 30 minutes.

JBL Flip 4 vs. Flip 5 Comparison Chart

Flip 5vsFlip 4
44mmDriver Size40mm
20WPower Output16W
4800mAhBattery Size3000mAh
IPX7WaterproofingIPX7
☑️Stereo Pairing☑️
☑️USB-C Quick Charge
AUX Input☑️
Microphone☑️
Stereo Sound☑️
☑️Floats on Water

Multiple Speaker Connections

Both the Flip 4 and Flip 5 allow you to connect multiple JBL speakers. The Flip 4 features JBL Connect+ while the Flip 5 features PartyBoost.

The Flip 4 can connect to all Connect and Connect+ speakers while the Flip 5 can ONLY connect to other PartyBoost speakers. This is extremely poor of JBL.

When JBL first released Connect+, this was also an issue. You could only connect to other Connect+ speakers and not your older models.

Subsequent firmware updates mean you can now pair Connect to Connect+, but I cannot see the point of changing this as often as JBL does. It adds no value to the consumer and ultimately devalues your older JBL speakers.

Cost

Another important factor is cost. At just under $120, JBL Flip 5 comes in just shy of $50 higher than the JBL Flip 4 which is just below $60.

What’s in the Box?

  • JBL Flip 5 Bluetooth speaker
  • USB-C charging cable
  • Quick-start guide
  • Protective foam case

Conclusion

So, should you get the JBL Flip 5? Usually, it’s a simple yes or no, with the JBL Flip 5, it ain’t as simple as that. If you want better sound quality, then yes, absolutely the JBL Flip 5 is a significant upgrade from the Flip 4 and other similar Bluetooth speakers on the market.

The more recent Flip 6 model shares many design and functionality attributes with the Flip 5, however, the Flip 6 is compatible with equalization adjustments on the JBL companion app, and the Bluetooth codec has since been improved, promoting longer connection ranges and signal strength.

But this is where it ends. If you want an AUX input, built-in microphone, or stereo sound the Flip 4 is going to be the better option for you.

What We Like

  • Incredibly loud for its size
  • Portable and durable
  • Excellent sound quality

What We Dislike

  • Reduced connectivity options
  • No built-in microphone
Audiostance Author - Matt Hallowes
Written by
Matt

Matt is a sound engineer and self-confessed vinyl-junkie! His work as a sound engineer includes both live production and venue installations. While traveling the world, Matt shares his knowledge and expertise with us!

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24 comments
  • Thanks man. This is exactly what I needed. I picked up a variety of JBL speakers on Black Friday not knowing which was best for my son and now doing the comparison but you did the Flip one for me.

  • The more Power JBL Flip 5 would be my choice there’s nothing wrong with The JBL Flip 4 the 5 is a more improved & powerful version that’s all.

  • A friend had a flip 2 and I fell so in love with the sound, I bought two flip 4s. The charge lasts forever and I don’t feel like I have to be too careful with it. They get REALLY loud. It’s better than any speaker system I’ve ever had.

  • I don’t even know where to start I love the color options, the waterproof factor, the price point the sound quality on the JB5. I think this is a hot item that will provide many hours of enjoyment for my family and especially while we are home-bound. Having a 12 hour battery life is great and the multiple connections will be helpful. This is a great way to pass time and connect through sharing our love of music in a high quality delivery mode. I like that the Flip 5 charges in 2 and a half hours as we will be using it frequently and require quick charge!

  • I definitely like the JBL Flip 5 better by far. What really caught my eye is the better bass and larger battery in it. The volume appears to be alot louder as well. When you’re hanging out at the pool with alot of background noise or at a tailgate, I would definitely go with the Flip 5. Another amazing feature I see in the JBL 5 is the ability to pair multiple speakers together. That can make a huge difference when you’re using many of them together. I have a product that uses the USB-C charging so that was definitely a eye catcher. I have no problem with Micro-USB either but the USB-C seems to charge a lot faster for me. In all honesty, for the upgraded feature, I think the $50 or so is worth it in the end for the JBL 5 vs the JBL 4. I hope to try one very soon and have one available when pool season comes around as well as tailgating or small get together. It’s definitely handy with the size of it when bringing it too places. The waterproof comes in handy when you’re having pool parties as well so either one will work when it comes to that. The different Bluetooth doesn’t really bother me too much honestly. I do hope to try one very soon though as I am in the market for a new speaker very soon!

  • I really like that they are both rated to IPX7, which means they are waterproof if immersed up to 1 metre! This means they can stay outside on the deck and it does not matter if it rains. I like the Bluetooth connection as well, so I can play songs off my phone, personally I am not bothered about having a wired connection for a little speaker like this. It is nice that the Flip5 has better sound, but I’m not sure that it is worth the trade-off in terms of other lost features and the extra cost seems a lot compared to the Flip4. Anyway, I like the design and the range of colours available, as well as the pretty solid battery life, so overall this would be an awesome addition to my deck. Ideally I guess a pair of them would be nice to provide stereo listening – it seems odd that the manufacturer has chosen to change the multi-speaker connection option without providing backward compatibility. This would be really annoying if you already had a Flip4, or bought one and decided to buy a twin later on – I guess that makes the new model a better choice for now, since it should stick around for longer before being replaced. Anyway, great speakers!

  • truly would adore this unit! seems like a cool color speaker with a lot of added features! Exciting to see long hours of charge along with so many other features but the one that stands out the most is fast charging unit in the JBL flip 5. That cool teal color is really appealing and the fact that it is waterproof is like saying its a drop above the rest as i truly have a hand to submerge what should not go into water. Really if i was gonna buy instead of entering this contest to win : I would certainly consider the 50$ price difference for a great Flip!

  • The JBL Flip 4 speaker is my new favorite adventure item because the speaker ads an element of joy to everything that I do. Be it canoeing at sunset with relaxing music, starting a hike early in the morning with exciting tunes, or having a relaxed afternoon by the pool with great music I love knowing that I will have fun and my equipment will be safe. With my phone now being water proof, it is imperative that your speaker has the same water proof security so you are confident that you can always keep the good times rolling. Also, this speaker makes Taylor Swift sound so great.

  • When I first bought the JBL 4 Flip I was excited to have a speaker I could take to the pool but I didn’t realize how many other uses there would be to a waterproof speaker. I have taken this on runs, hikes, and walks through the forest in all weather. It is so nice to have the confidence in the waterproof nature of the speaker and cannot wait to bring it skiing.

    While it’s portable and convenient, the speaker also has great quality and I love listening to reggaeton on this speaker. You’ve got to hear the great quality! I love it.

  • Despite being a critical facet of their intended function, many reviews seem to avoid specific criticisms of the reviewed product.

    Not so here – and refreshingly so.

    I stumbled across this review and read it only because I was interested in the possibility of using the Flip during canoe trips because it is waterproof. The volume and quality of the speaker are not critical factors. If I really want to listen to music, I use my home stereo system.

    The details provided in the review allowed me to determine that the Flip4 would be a much better selection for my uses due to its versatility, especially the jacks. That said, the Flip5 appears to have a niche for uses (e.g., at the pool or beach) and user demands (as noted in the comments section).

    This review, especially the embedded comparison chart, was structured in a fashion that easily enables the reader to distinguish the ‘wheat’ of the product features from the ‘chaff’ of promotional hype.

    The author did a good job. The only suggestion that I would make is to consider including links at the end of a review to reviews of similar products.

  • We are very happy with our above water jbl and would love to add this under water version to our active lifestyle. The colors and functionality look fantastic and fit in with the jbl brand perfectly. This site that explains all about the features and interaction is the best I have come across in quite a while. The longer battery life and range is something we all can use nowadays. The detailed comparison chart was very helpful and easy to use. The price point is very reasonable for either speaker. I love the fact that there is a contest to win one. Keep up the great work….rock on.

  • The JBL5 looks amazing. I really like the sound quality, and the sturdiness of construction overall. It fits nicely in my hand, my bag or attached with the wrist strap. I like the color choices as well. They are really seasonal so ill look cool with this speaker as well as sound cool. I’ve been looking for a new speaker and was really interested in the JBL4, but then the JBL5 came out. I know it doesnt have an Aux input, but I never use those anyways, so im fine with it. Its bluetooth is better than the 4 as well, but not a 5.0 new bluetooth parameter, which is kind of a bummer. I might not really have noticed though, as before reviewing these two, I didnt even realize bluetooth was being upgraded at all. Sounds like a great speaker and Im looking forward to buying one!

  • I love the JBL4 – it’s the perfect speaker out on the deck at the lake! We even bring it out onto the floating lounger to enjoy music mid-lake. The battery life has been great and lasted well over a long weekend and the sound quality is awesome especially when outdoors. We brought it to the beach and on hikes last summer and it has a great range over Bluetooth. The controls and design looks sleek and provide easy access. We are looking to grab a few more so we can sync them up together and cover more ground over our property at the lake.

  • There are so many great things about these speakers. One of the great things about these is the variety of color options to choose from. However, the best part has to be the waterproofing. This feature allows it to be portable to literally any place. Whether it be the beach, swimming pool, or shower, water won’t be an issue to have to worry about. The battery life seems long lasting as well. It’s unique that the 4 has a microphone in it too as most speakers do not have this capability. Overall, these speakers definitely stand out from the rest out there!

  • What I like about the JBL Flip 5 is the improved sound quality. I also like the ability to connect with other JBL speakers for a full surround sound party effect. The small size with the 12 hours of play time is an added bonus. I also like that it is waterproof so that I would be able to use it on my paddle board or we could take it on the boat. Although the JBL Flip 4 has a few other options that the Flip 5 does not, I think the improved sound quality of the Flip 5 would be worth going without the auxiliary input and microphone.

  • I had the flip 2, and that was my first experience with the portable speaker. It got the job done, but I was wondered what else could be added. It’s nice to see that JBL is smarter than me. Adding the quick charge USB and a more extended battery where significant upgrades from the 4. Twelve hours is great! The last thing I wanted to see was a short battery life where I have to lug a cable or a battery booster to help my equipment. I’m happy to see JBL wants to compete with the big boys. They are well on their way.

  • The JBL Flip 5 seems like a great speaker with a lot of awesome features! I love the lightweight design and variety of colors that are available. The teal is really pretty! I like to listen to music in the shower, so the waterproof feature would be super useful for me. It would also be a great speaker to use when I am listening to music while gardening! The JBL Flip 5 would be ideal for trips to the beach and mountains with my children and grandchildren. It is really cool that you can connect multiple speakers. I would love to get two of them, so that I could utilize this fun feature!

    • Both the CS and GG models do float, however, the CS seems to have a better reputation for its floating ability than the GG. They aren’t however built with the intention of being an in-pool speaker.

    • As with Bluetooth products, the quality you’ll get from paring with Partyboost will depend on how good the signal is in your location. If the two devices are in the same room or outside, they will be able to communicate from around 20 to 30 feet, while if you have the devices in different rooms or the line of sight between the two devices are obstructed, this will be lowered and larger distances could cause drops in the connection.

  • “Flip 5 is MONO and the sound is better” the entire music industry is adding speakers from STEREO to 2.1, 5.1, then 7.1, etc….. more spekears means closer to reality sound. MONO isn’t an improve, it’s a downgrade!