The new JBL Flip 6 brings with it some great improvements to the JBL Flip 5, most noteworthy of which are the additions to weather resistance, audio performance, and Bluetooth capabilities. The improvements seen between the JBL Flip 6 vs JBL Flip 5 are noticeably different than that of the Flip 5 vs Flip 4 which didn’t offer many incentives for the upgrade. With the retail price only being around $20 more, the JBL Flip 6 is an easy choice for the winner of this showdown.
Given our findings when comparing the Flip 4 and Flip 5, we were excited to see how the JBL Flip 6 vs. Flip 5 battle would go down. JBL’s ‘Flip’ series of Bluetooth speakers have gained widespread popularity and are easily considered the best tiny Bluetooth speakers on the market. Practically the size of a soda can, they are easily portable, lightweight, and still have a way of sounding powerful.
|Feature||JBL Flip 5||JBL Flip 6|
|Dimensions||7.12 x 2.91 x 2.71||7.0 x 6.8 x 7.2|
|Weight||1.2 lbs.||1.21 lbs.|
|Battery Life||up to 12 hours||up to 12 hours|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 4.2||Bluetooth 5.1|
The Flip 5 was released in mid-2019 and recently saw an upgrade in the form of the Flip 6, released near the end of 2021. Both speakers share many features, yet the Flip 6 undoubtedly outperforms the Flip 5 in several ways.
Appearance & Build
When looking at the JBL Flip 6 vs Flip 5, they are practically the same size, although the 5 is a tiny bit longer and thinner. Still, it’s barely a noticeable difference. Both speakers are practically soda can-sized and can comfortably fit into a backpack water bottle compartment or the bag itself, as well as a handbag or small water-resistant draw-string bag for hiking trips.
Both speakers include a small hook-like feature on the top of the unit where you can loop a carry handle to either clip it onto your belt or bag or tie the cord around your wrist, and both speakers are so light you won’t notice the additional weight. As for the control panel, the 5 and 6 are identical, where you’ll find buttons on the top of the speaker that provides control over volume, power, wireless pairing, and Bluetooth.
One feature I like about the Flip speakers is the placement of the charging port on the speaker’s side rather than underneath. Both Flip 5 and 6 models comply with this placement, and the new battery indicator LED is subtle and classy- I much prefer the scale-like indicator rather than annoying flashing lights or a ‘Battery Low’ voice prompt which many modern Bluetooth speakers use.
As for aesthetics, I prefer the look of the Flip 5. The JBL logo on the Flip 6 is distastefully large, while the Flip 5 has a subtle red and white sticker logo on the face of the speaker. Additionally, the Flip 5 is available in a large variety of colors, and through JBL’s website, you can create a custom design that can include your background pattern or color of choice as well as some text or a personal photo, while the Flip 6 is only available in very few standard colors in comparison.
Best Design: JBL Flip 5
While the 5 and 6 are virtually the same as design is concerned, I like the wide choice of colors and personalized options of the Flip 5, making it great for gifts.
Which is the Toughest?
Both the Flip 5 and Flip 6 portable Bluetooth speakers are extremely well-built and, despite their small size, will survive being dropped on nearly any surface from reasonable heights. One small issue with the Flip 5 was its tendency to roll on a smooth surface. JBL solved this issue on the Flip 6 by incorporating a rubber base into the design to prevent the speaker from walking off the table when playing bass-heavy music.
When looking at a portable Bluetooth speaker that’s good for hiking, camping, swimming, sports, and other outdoor-based activities, a strong IPX rating is very important but also depends on your intended uses. However, you can never be too safe. The Flip 5 holds an IPX7 rating, allowing for exposure to essentially all outdoor conditions, including extreme water exposure, where it can survive submersion up to 1 foot for less than 30 minutes. The Flip 6 saw an upgrade in weather resistance as it earned a rating of IP67, which deems it fully weather-resistant to all extreme conditions, from snow, sand, and dust to heavy rain or prolonged water-based use.
While the value of the IPX rating of a portable speaker will depend on where you plan on using it, I feel that it’s always handy to have some extra protection, in which case, the Flip 6’s near-indestructible grade of weather resistance makes for an excellent outdoor Bluetooth speaker.
Most Durable: JBL Flip 6
Its IP67 weather-resistance rating allows for uninterrupted and stress-free use in any condition, no matter how extreme.
JBL’s signature powerful and warm sound, known as The Harman Curve, is present with these two speakers, capable of reaching pretty impressive volume levels for their size. When dealing with speakers this small, I often see a serious lack of bass response; the JBL Flip speakers took me by surprise here with their low-end punch, even at higher volumes. Bluetooth speakers in this price range and size often overcompensate in this department, causing serious deterioration of the midrange and high-end definition. However, JBL has secured a well-rounded sound quality from these pocket-sized speakers that can’t be beaten.
Both Flip models use the same driver configuration and power handling capabilities; however, the Flip 6 includes a 10W tweeter to take care of the higher end of the spectrum, improving clarity and sparkle and eliminating distortion at high volumes. When comparing them side-by-side, I immediately became aware of the sharper high-end of the Flip 5 and the 6’s ability to smoothen out this frequency band thanks to the dedicated tweeter. This also makes the Flip 6 appear to sound a little louder than the Flip 5. As for the rest of the frequency range, no differences are worth stressing.
Both Flip speakers sound great for any style of music. However, it is clear that JBL has drawn focus to perfecting this speaker for genres with more low-end energy. Suppose you’re looking for a little less bass exaggeration or more midrange depth. In that case, the Flip 6’s sound quality can be adjusted using the JBL app (available on the Google Play Store and Apple iTunes Store), which features a 3-band equalizer to give you a little control over how the speaker sounds. This EQ is easy to use and certainly makes a difference, and although I’m quite disappointed to see no presets available, I’m sure JBL will update this in the near future.
Best Sound Quality: JBL Flip 6
The dedicated 10W tweeter softens the harshness of the higher frequencies. It creates a more balanced listening experience and, ultimately, a speaker you can listen to for longer before ear fatigue begins to occur. The adjustable equalizer also adds great versatility and completely customizes the speaker’s tonal qualities.
The Flip range of Bluetooth speakers is quite limited regarding connectivity options, as only Bluetooth connections are supported. This upsets me a little, as I really like an auxiliary input on a Bluetooth speaker, and sometimes the option for USB as well. However, you shouldn’t have a problem connecting any cell phone, tablet, computer, or television to either of these Flip speakers.
The Flip 5 uses Bluetooth 4.2, while the Flip 6 supports the stronger Bluetooth 5.1 connection strength, providing a more stable pairing over longer distances. The Flip Bluetooth speakers can execute JBL’s PartyBoost function, where two or more of the same speakers can be wirelessly linked to either form a stereo pair or a larger network of speakers for increased volume abilities.
Another feature I miss is the onboard microphone/hands-free calling ability that pretty much any modern Bluetooth speaker can use. While this ultimately depends on where/when you’ll be using it and how much this may inconvenience you, I prefer to have the option available at all times.
Best Connectivity: JBL Flip 6
While it would have otherwise been a tie in this category, the Flip 6’s improved Bluetooth version makes for stronger connections over double the potential pairing distance.
Comparing JBL Flip 6 vs. Flip 5 Batteries
Both Flip speakers use a 4800mAh battery to power the unit. I hoped to see a stronger battery on the Flip 6 and would have loved a power-bank feature, but nothing has changed here.
The Flip 5 and 6 speakers are advertised as being capable of running for up to 12 hours before a recharge is necessary. In my experience, both Flip speakers could play for around 8 hours at +-70% volume. So yes, 12 hours seems accurate if the speaker is running at about 40% volume level or less, which should be enough for casual listening around the house or outdoors for up to 5 people.
The battery is charged using a USB-C cable, rather than a micro-USB; as mentioned, the charging port is situated on the speaker’s side.
Best Battery: Tie
Both the Flip 5 and Flip 6 Bluetooth speakers use the same battery, and since no additional features are found on the Flip 6, the runtimes are pretty much the same.
The JBL App
The free JBL app can be downloaded on any app store, giving you additional control over your JBL speaker. The functions available depend on your speaker, but this app can have some pretty fun features. For the Flip range of speakers, the app controls basic tasks such as renaming your speaker, performing firmware updates, and checking the battery status. I feel JBL could have included more features here like they do with their other speakers, such as volume control and play/pause functions.
The only difference between the two speakers here is the Flip 6’s adjustable EQ, controlled by the JBL app.
Best App Features: JBL Flip 6
While they share all the same features on the JBL mobile app, the Flip 6’s sound characteristics can be adjusted using the app’s 3-band equalizer.
Which to Buy?
|Feature||JBL Flip 5||JBL Flip 6|
While the JBL Flip 6 shares many of the same attributes versus the Flip 5, the upgrades that have taken place between these two models make the Flip 6 a superior Bluetooth speaker in several ways. It surpasses the Flip 5’s durability, sound quality, and some design elements at not much of a price gap. The only feature I prefer on the Flip 5 is the availability of a huge range of colors, and patterns and the ability to create a custom personalized design.
Given that at the time of publication, the price difference between the JBL Flip 6 vs. Flip 5 was less than $20, it’s difficult to find a situation where the JBL Flip 5 is the best purchase decision. The one area where we do notice the Flip 5 retaining some merit is in the second-hand market, where prices will no doubt be much lower than the newer Flip 6 and thus justifiable for those who don’t feel they need the cleaner high tones, newer Bluetooth and additional protection from the elements.