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.
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 20W speaker drivers with passive bass radiators at either end. Nothing new from the Flip 4 speaker design except that you have 4 extra watts of sound.
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 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:
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.
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.
The Flip 4 and Flip 5 both share an IPX7 waterproof rating.
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.
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.
Another important factor is cost. The good news for consumers is that the JBL Flip 5 costs the same as the Flip 4 at just $99.
What’s in the Box?
- JBL Flip 5 Bluetooth speaker
- USB-C charging cable
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.
But this is where it ends. If you want an AUX input and built-in microphone, the Flip 4 is going to be the better option for you.
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, and only Bluetooth 4.2, one can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed with JBL’s latest offering.