JBL’s Flip 5 is a simple soul with Bluetooth-only playback and modest features, but if you desire a rugged, great-sounding portable speaker and can sacrifice voice control or hands-free call functionality, you won’t be disappointed. The minimalist manner of the JBL Flip 5 portable speaker is unexpected, then – especially as it even strips back some of the features of its predecessor, the JBL Flip 4.
Still, the best Bluetooth speakers aren’t always the ones with the longest spec sheets, and JBL has a proven track record for quality speakers.
So does the Flip 5 indeed buck the trend or represent another flippin’ steal from the renowned US stalwart?
Price and Availability
The JBL’s MSRP is currently $119, and costs as much if you buy direct from JBL.
There’s an impressively wide array of colors to choose from, and if you stretch to $149, you can even design your own with custom patterns and text.
Alternatively, Amazon has the plain black model for $94. That’s a big saving if you’re not so fussed about aesthetics.
You’d have a hard time picking out a Flip 5 among a lineup of Flip 4s — they are very similar looking.
The 7.1 x 2.9 x 2.7-inch Flip 5 is marginally bigger than the 6.9 x 2.75 x 2.7-inch Flip 4 and slightly smaller than the 7.2 x 2.8-inch Ultimate Ears Boom 3.
It’s also lighter than the Boom 3, with the Flip 5 weighing in at 1.2 pounds.
If you want your speaker color to reflect your personality, The Flip 5 has you covered. It comes in 12 color options, and you can design your own (for an extra $30).
How’s the Build Quality of the JBL Flip 5?
If there’s one thing the JBL Flip series is known for, it’s for being tough.
The Flip series started out splashproof, and eventually made the jump to being completely waterproof—and that’s still the case with the new JBL Flip 5.
It’s wrapped in a durable fabric material that gives it an IPX7 rating, meaning: it can survive being submerged in up to three feet of water.
On either end of the speaker is a tough rubber that protects the exposed bass radiators.
Down the back of the speaker is where you’ll find the power and Bluetooth pairing button as well as the USB-C input for charging the speaker up.
Both buttons here have lights around them for when the speaker is on and connected to a source device.
It’s a useful feature that I wish was also used on the playback buttons that’s built into the fabric.
While it’s easy enough to figure out which button is which thanks to them slightly protruding away from the fabric, I feel like they would be much easier to use in low light situations if they lit up or were at least painted a different color.
While I enjoy the black on black look I think having the buttons be white or some other vivid color that pops off the speaker would help with legibility.
The design of the speaker hasn’t changed much from the JBL Flip 4. The Flip 5 is still cylindrical in shape and isn’t heavy at all weighing in at just 540 grams.
Sticking this speaker in the water bottle pocket of any backpack would be a perfect fit.
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JBL Flip 5 Performance
On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the Flip 5 delivers impressive thump for its size.
The bass doesn’t distort at top volume levels, thanks to some DSP (digital signal processing) that thins out the deep lows.
At more moderate volumes, the bass depth sounds thicker, but this is not a speaker capable of producing subwoofer-like depth.
It makes up for it by pushing out the lows and low-mids with the help of the passive radiators.
Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better sense of the Flip 5’s general sound signature.
The drums on this track can sound thunderous on bass-forward speakers, but here, they’re less powerful.
The lows have much more of a presence with Callahan’s baritone vocals, which have an added richness to them.
The high-mids and highs are also sculpted, lending the vocals some added definition and crispness, and the acoustic strums some extra brightness.
It should be noted that depending on where you are in relation to the speaker, and whether it’s sitting on its end or flat, can make a tremendous difference in terms of perceived treble response.
Things never sound dull, but when the speaker is lined up with the ears, you’re more likely to have a bright, crisp sound signature.
You’ll get roughly the same bass depth regardless of positioning.
JBL says you can play the Flip 5 for 12 hours on a full charge (the same as the Flip 4), but that seems to underestimate its actual ability.
After using it for more than 5 hours at mostly low volume, it still had ¾ of the full charge. The Boom 3 is rated at 15 hours.
JBL Flip 5 Features
Whichever finish takes your fancy, you get the same straight up, no-frills portable speaker.
There’s Bluetooth playback of course (simply press the dedicated button to initiate pairing); JBL’s PartyBoost function that pairs Flip 5 or Pulse 4 speakers either for stereo pairing or simultaneous playback in the companion JBL Connect app and a USB-C slot for charging – and that really is your lot.
JBL has decided not to equip the Flip 5 with an AUX socket for hardwiring a smartphone or alternative audio device, nor is there a built-in microphone to facilitate hands-free calls and Siri and Google Assistant activation.
They’re both surprising omissions considering their presence on the Flip 4, although perhaps more unusual is its support of Bluetooth 4.2 over the newer 5.0 standard.
It’s not the end of the world, but it does mean missing out on faster data speeds and a staggering wireless range of 240m (4.2 offers a range around four times shorter).
What JBL has improved with the Flip 5 is the speed of charging. A full charge, which offers 12 hours of playback, takes an hour less – 2.5 rather than 3.5 hours.
A step up in sound quality seems promising thanks to a greater (20-watt) power output and newly engineered, racetrack-shaped 44mm driver with an increased cone area for greater sonic amplification.
The JBL Flip 5 is a simple soul – perhaps too simple for some in this world – but that minimalist approach has allowed JBL to focus on performance and create one of the best-sounding budget portable speakers around.
Thanks to its neat design and IPX7 rating it’s suitable for use outside as well as in, making it an ideal outdoor speaker.
And so, JBL’s track record with excellent Bluetooth speakers persists. On behalf of everyone who loves good-quality music on the move, long may it continue.
Frequently Asked Question
Below are some Frequently Asked Questions by Users before making a Purchase. We took our time to answer these questions so you have no need to worry. Check it out!
QUES: Is the Flip 5 Waterproof ?
ANS: Yes and it’s very light.
QUES: Will it work as a Speaker for PC using Bluetooth?
ANS: Definitely Yes.
QUES: Does it include cord and charger?
ANS: Our JBL Flip 5 only includes a USB Type C cable.
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