JBL Flip 5 Review
The JBL Flip 5 is a great option for anyone looking for an affordable speaker to take out and about, rain or shine, without having to worry about the battery depleting before the party’s over. However, the absent microphone will be a drawback for anyone hoping to make calls with the speaker, or talk with Siri or Google Assistant.
- Rugged and waterproof design
- Long-lasting battery
- Warm and energetic sound
- No microphone for calls/voice assistant
- No 3.5mm jack for a wired connection
- UKRRP: £119.99
- USARRP: $119.95
- EuropeRRP: €129.00
- CanadaRRP: CA$149.98
- AustraliaRRP: AU$169.95
- Racetrack-shaped driverDesigned to deliver high output with deep bass
- Water-resistant designIPX7 means the speaker can be submerged in 1m of water for up to 30 minutes
- PartyBoost modeThis feature lets you listen in stereo with two speakers or connect even more
- Long-lasting battery lifeJBL claims this speaker can last for up to 12 hours
The Flip 5 is the fifth speaker in JBL’s Flip range. It sits in the middle of JBL’s portable speaker lineup, above the budget-friendly JBL Go 3 and Clip 4, and below the pricier Charge 5 and Pulse 4.
The Flip 5 is the successor to the Flip 4, which scored an impressive four out of five stars in our review. We praised the speaker’s rugged, water-resistant design and punchy bass; but, sadly, the audio wasn’t refined enough to score a perfect five.
JBL recently announced the Flip 6, which comes with a refreshed logo design and colour range, along with an all-new audio configuration designed to deliver detailed audio from the bass to higher frequencies.
With the Flip 5 still available on JBL’s website at a lower price than its successor, we put the speaker to the test.
- The Flip 5 comes in 11 different colours
- The speaker is durable and waterproof up to IPX7
- The rear buttons and charging bar light up
The Flip 5 is a rugged portable speaker that’s available in a wide variety of bright and cheerful colours, as well as in more muted black and white shades. The model I tested was the Flip 5 Ocean, which is actually the brand’s “Eco Edition”.
The Eco Edition is built from 90% recycled plastic and comes in an environmentally friendly packaging, making it the slightly more sustainable choice. Otherwise, the speaker shares the same design and specs as the standard Flip 5.
The Flip 5 is a compact and lightweight cylindrical-shaped speaker. It looks a bit like the Ultimate Ears Boom 3, but with more of a curve to it. The speaker can be positioned upright or on its side, thanks to a flat rubber panel that prevents the device from rolling around.
Much of the Flip 5 is wrapped in a mesh fabric material, while the ends are made of a durable rubber. There’s a strap on one end, and the speaker is waterproof up to IPX7, meaning it can handle being submerged in one metre of water for up to 30 minutes. JBL labels the Flip 5 an “all purpose, all weather companion”.
The main playback controls can be found across the length of the speaker, including a play/pause button that also allows you to skip tracks if pressed twice, volume controls, and a PartyBoost button that allows you to connect multiple speakers at once.
There’s also an on/off switch and a Bluetooth pairing button on the back panel, along with a USB-C port for charging. All three light up, making it easy to find the buttons in the dark – and you can also see just how much progress the speaker has made charging, as the bar next to the USB-C port gradually lights up.
However, JBL has chosen to get rid of the 3.5mm jack with this model, meaning you’ll have to use Bluetooth to connect the speaker to your phone or laptop.
- The PartyBoost feature lets you listen in stereo with two speakers
- There’s no mic to make calls or use your voice assistant
- The battery life is impressively long
Pairing a device with the Flip 5 is quick and easy with Bluetooth 4.2. Simply press the Bluetooth button on the side of the speaker and it should show up on your phone or laptop’s list of available devices.
The Flip is compatible with the JBL Connect app, which can be used to update the speaker’s software, check its battery life, and connect speakers in PartyBoost mode.
PartyBoost can also be accessed using the large infinity sign button on the side of the Flip 5. The feature makes it possible to link two speakers for stereo sound or to connect multiple speakers for a bigger sound at a party or around the home.
Unfortunately, the Flip 5 also signalled some losses for the Flip series. JBL has taken away the microphone on the speaker, meaning it no longer has the speakerphone call functionality present on the Flip 4.
The lack of mic also means there’s no voice assistant integration this time. With the Flip 4, you could access Siri and Google Assistant with the press of a button.
As far as battery life goes, the Flip 5 certainly delivers. Like the Flip 4, the Flip 5 claims to offer 12 hours of playtime. I found the battery life far outlasted this time, clearing the 24-hour mark with ease. I did test the speaker at a low to medium volume, however; the playtime is likely to be shorter in situations such as parties, where the volume will be louder.
The JBL Flip 5 doesn’t support wireless or fast charging. If you want to charge the speaker from 0% to 100%, you’ll have to wait 2.5 hours. That’s an hour less than the charge time on the Flip 4.
- There’s a new racetrack-shaped driver
- The audio is balanced and detailed
- The bass is full and warm
Inside the Flip 5, you’ll find a newly engineered racetrack-shaped driver. According to JBL, the shape amplifies the company’s signature sound to deliver “crisp highs and deep bass” – and it’s tough to argue with this description of the sound.
The speaker demonstrates excellent tonal balance across a variety of tracks and genres. An example of this can be found in Lorde’s Solar Power. The song shows off the Flip’s warm bass without taking away from the crispness of the guitar and vocals. There’s a clear stereo image here, and each component of the song is packed with detail.
I switched over to Kendrick Lamar’s Humble to get a better feel of the bass performance – and the Flip 5 didn’t disappoint. The bass is full and, while it would be tough for such a small speaker to shake the ground, it certainly tries its best to do so. The bass makes this track a dynamic listen and the soundstage is wide and spacious.
Moving on to something more mellow, First Step by Hans Zimmer, and the Flip 5 does an even better job at demonstrating its dynamism as the volume builds from the beginning to the end of the piece in a dramatic crescendo. There’s also great tonal balance and plenty of detail to be found here.
One thing I did notice while testing this speaker is that it sounds best when positioned on its side. You can certainly use the Flip standing upright or hanging vertically from the attached strap, but if you want the best audio experience, I’d definitely place it on its side with the JBL logo directed towards you.
Should you buy it?
You want a fantastic and affordable speaker The Flip 5 packs a vibrant and durable design, an extensive battery life and a full sound, making it a great all-rounder.
You want a speaker you can use for calls The Flip 5 is missing the mic found on the Flip 4, meaning it can’t be used to make calls and you won’t be able to chat with your chosen voice assistant.
The JBL Flip 5 is a great option for anyone looking for an inexpensive speaker that can withstand a good amount of wear and tear.
The Flip 5 has an impressive battery life, capable of doubling its 12 hour claim on lower volumes meaning you shouldn’t need to stop and recharge too often.
The biggest drawback here is the loss of the microphone that was available on the Flip 4. This means you won’t be able to use the speaker to make calls or control it hands-free with your chosen voice assistant as you could with the previous generation of the JBL speaker.
How we test
We test every wireless speaker we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Used the speaker for one week
Tested the battery to find out how long it lasts
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Yes, the Flip 5 has an IP rating of IPX7, meaning it can be submerged in 1m of water for up to 30 minutes.
JBL claims this speaker will play for 12 hours.
No, there’s no voice assistant support on the Flip 5.