JBL FLIP 5 portable Bluetooth speaker review

Ridiculously good value.
JBL FLIP 5 bluetooth speaker in black
Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5
The JBL FLIP 5 is undoubtedly the best speaker in its price range.

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.

What we like

  • Fantastic sound quality
  • The price is right
  • Ultra-portable, rugged design

What we don’t like

  • No 360-degree sound
  • 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.

JBL FLIP 5 vertical

JBL FLIP 5 horizontal

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 ConnectJBL Connect +JBL PartyBoost
JBL FLIP 3JBL FLIP 4JBL FLIP 5
JBL CHARGE 3JBL XTREME 2JBL PULSE 4
JBL PULSE 2JBL PULSE 3
JBL CLIP 2JBL 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.

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