JBL FLIP 5 portable Bluetooth speaker review

Ridiculously good value.

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5

The JBL FLIP 5 is undoubtedly the best speaker in its price range.

Georgia Dixon
Digital Content Editor
Read More
Published on September 29, 2020
3 min read
Our verdict

The JBL FLIP 5 is undoubtedly the best speaker in its price range. Despite its lack of a 360-degree speaker array, the FLIP 5’s amazing sound quality, portability and tough, waterproof design more than make up for it.

Pro Heading
What we like
Pro Bullet Fantastic sound quality
Pro Bullet The price is right
Pro Bullet Ultra-portable, rugged design
Con Heading
What we don't like
Con Bullet No 360-degree sound
Con Bullet No AUX-in

In the battle of the portable Bluetooth speakers, it’s always been a close race between JBL and UE. Both have their pros and cons, but when we put both brands’ sub-$200 offerings head-to-head, the JBL FLIP 5 came out on top - and we’re going to show you why.

JBL FLIP 5 price

The best value Bluetooth speaker on the market.

The JBL FLIP 5 has an RRP of $169.95, but you can nab it even cheaper with a bit of research.

We scoured the web and found a couple of retailers (such as Kogan and Amazon) selling this compact beast for under $130. When you compare it to the FLIP 5’s biggest competition, the $199.95 UE BOOM 3, it offers similar benefits for a lot less, which is what put it in first place in our comparison.

JBL FLIP 5 sound quality

Powerful and rich.

JBL is known for high-quality sound that doesn’t cost the earth, and the FLIP 5 is the perfect example. With a new ‘racetrack-shaped’ driver and a frequency range of 65Hz-20kHz, it not only nails deep bass but the very highest treble notes, too. For comparison, the UE BOOM 3 offers a 90Hz-20kHz, which might not sound much different, but for bass lovers, JBL’s offering is the better pick.

If 360-degree sound is important to you, you may find the FLIP 5 slightly lacking. That said, even though it doesn’t boast an omnidirectional speaker array, it’s still more than loud enough to fill a large space with clear, quality sound. We tested the FLIP 5 in multiple conditions - in a small room, in a larger space and outdoors, facing all angles - and it didn’t struggle once.

JBL FLIP 5 design

Rugged and life-proof.

At 540g heavy and just over 18cm in length, the FLIP 5 wins big in the portability stakes and is the perfect size for beach days, picnics and pool parties. Thanks to its IPX7 waterproof rating, a little splash or rain here and there isn’t going to disrupt your jam - in fact, it’ll hold up even after 30 minutes in metre-deep water. It’s also tough enough to survive the odd bump, scrape or even drop with its durable mesh fabric and strong rubber build.

The FLIP 5 can stand upright on either of its ends (though it won’t be 100% flush with your chosen surface), but we found lying it horizontally produced the loudest, clearest sound. Still, we were happy to have the option.

There are 11 colours to choose from, including black, white, navy, teal, red and even camo, so you can easily match your speaker to your style.

JBL FLIP 5 features

A mixed bag.

While it’s true that the UE BOOM 3 has it beat with 15 hours of battery life, the JBL FLIP 5 can still comfortably take you from noon till the midnight with an impressive 12 hours of playback time. We were pleasantly surprised with its fast charging time, too - it took just two and a half hours to get the battery from flat to full.

Like most newer portable speakers, the FLIP 5 comes with a USB-C charging port and cable. The only thing we would’ve liked to see, however, is an AUX input. Sure, it’s 2020 and we’re all wireless natives by now, but there’s something to be said for the humble 3.5mm jack.

In terms of speaker pairing, it’s a bit of a strange one. JBL has multiple pairing technologies across each generation of their devices, so even though you may have several JBL speakers, not all of them are compatible with one another. To add an extra boost to your FLIP 5, you’ll need another FLIP 5 or a PULSE 4 - any models earlier than that and you’re out of luck. Take a look at the table below to see how each model connects.

JBL Connect
JBL Connect +
JBL PartyBoost

JBL FLIP 3

JBL FLIP 4

JBL FLIP 5

JBL CHARGE 3

JBL XTREME 2

JBL PULSE 4

JBL PULSE 2

JBL PULSE 3

JBL CLIP 2

JBL CHARGE 4

JBL BOOMBOX

Is it worth it?

Absolutely.

Even at the RRP of $169.95, the JBL FLIP 5 is one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers money can buy, and when you factor in the under-$130 deals that some retailers are offering, it’s only more appealing. While its features let it down slightly, the FLIP 5’s audio quality, size, portability and build are more than enough to make up for any shortcomings.

Now that you know, here are your next steps.

Still looking? Check out the best of the rest.

In the market for some wireless earbuds?

Georgia Dixon
Written by
Georgia Dixon
Georgia Dixon has over seven years' experience writing about all things tech, entertainment and lifestyle, with bylines in TechLife magazine, 7NEWS and Stuff.co.nz. In her spare time, you'll find her playing games and daydreaming about good food, wine, and dogs.

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