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JBL Flip 5 Review

An affordable balance for those that want good sound quality and portability but don't want to pay a premium price for the absolute best
JBL Flip 5
Credit: JBL
Best Buy Award
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Price:   $120 List | $119.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Good sound quality, waterproof, long battery life
Cons:  Not the strongest sounding bass
Manufacturer:   JBL
By Max Mutter and Michelle Powell  ⋅  Sep 3, 2019
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 12
  • Sound Quality - 40% 7
  • Portability - 25% 7
  • Volume - 20% 9
  • Battery Life - 15% 9

Our Verdict

Finding a reasonable balance between sound quality/volume and portability/ruggedness, the JBL Flip 5 is the quintessential jack of all trades, master of none. It's melodious enough that you're almost certainly going to enjoy listening to any type of music with it, but its listening experience is decidedly less refined than than those offered by the field-leading Bose models. It is also waterproof and fairly light, making it a perfect companion for campsites and beach days. However, it is just heavy enough that it probably won't make it into your pack for a longer hike or bike ride. So, if you're like the majority of people that want a speaker that can both sound decent and handle the elements, the Flip 5 definitely gets our recommendation. However, if you put a large premium on sound quality or portability, there are more specialized models available that will likely fit your needs a bit better.

Compare to Similar Products

 
JBL Flip 5
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JBL Flip 5
Awards Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $120 List
$119.95 at Amazon
$70 List
$69.95 at Amazon
$100 List$50 List
$49.99 at Amazon
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$36.99 at Amazon
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Pros Good sound quality, waterproof, long battery lifeSuper-portable, waterproof, great battery lifeLoud, compact, durablePortable, great battery life, inexpensiveWaterproof, inexpensive
Cons Not the strongest sounding bassSound quality diminishes significantly at higher volumesDistortion at higher volume, not the longest battery lifeSub-par sound qualityWeak bass, not very loud
Bottom Line An affordable balance for those that want good sound quality and portability but don't want to pay a premium price for the absolute bestThis mega-portable, waterproof, and durable speaker is perfectly at home on hikes, bike rides, out on the lake, or in the showerThis durable little speaker packs plenty of volume into a waterproof packageA much less expensive, but still enjoyable, portable speaker option for those sticking to a tight budgetAn inexpensive speaker that is totally waterproof and sounds better than built-in phone speakers
Rating Categories JBL Flip 5 JBL Clip 4 Ultimate Ears Wonde... Anker Soundcore 3 Tribit XSound Go
Sound Quality (40%)
7.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
Portability (25%)
7.0
10.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Volume (20%)
9.0
6.0
8.0
6.0
3.0
Battery Life (15%)
9.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
Specs JBL Flip 5 JBL Clip 4 Ultimate Ears Wonde... Anker Soundcore 3 Tribit XSound Go
Dimensions (in x in x in) 3.64" x 3.6" x 8.5" 1.8" x 3.4" x 5.3" 3.68" x 3.68" x 4.02" 6.9" x 2.4" x 2.2" 6.7" x 2.3" x 2.2"
Inputs and Charging Ports Micro USB port USB-C port Micro USB port USB-C port Charging port, Micro-USB, 3.5mm auxillary input
IP Rating IPX7 IP67 IP67 IPX7 IPX7
Reported Weight (ounces) 19.04 oz 8.48 oz 15.04 oz 13.12 oz 13.4 oz
Measured Weight 19 oz 8.13 oz 14.9 oz 17.8 oz 13.4 oz
Wireless Range (feet) Not Listed Not Listed 100 66 66
Reported Battery Life (hours) 12 10 13 24 24
Measured Battery Life (hours) 27 27 13 16.75 18.5

Our Analysis and Test Results

The JBL Flip 5 is one of the better sounding waterproof speakers on the market, making it great for beachgoers and lake vacations.

Performance Comparison



This rough and tumble speaker packs a lot of sound into a portable...
This rough and tumble speaker packs a lot of sound into a portable package, at a nice price.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Sound Quality


Overall, the JBL Flip 5 sounds quite good. Songs sound reasonably well balanced and relatively full. Bass-heavy numbers easily induced head bobbing in our office, and acoustic ballads sounding quite crisp without any of the tininess one would fear from a smaller speaker.


The Flip 5's sound really only has shortcomings when you directly compare it to more expensive and/or larger speakers. In that case, you'll notice that some of the finer nuances you can hear in the top-end speakers get somewhat muddled away with the Flip 5, and podcasts lack a bit of that, "It sounds like this person is in the same room with me," quality. Additionally, both higher-end speakers and larger speakers in the same price range are able to produce a bit more bass punch than the JBL 5.

The Flip 5 strikes a good balance between size, durability, and...
The Flip 5 strikes a good balance between size, durability, and sound quality.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

While the Flip 5 does have some noticeable shortcomings when compared to the best speakers, we doubt you'll notice them unless you compare them side-by-side, or you have a particularly discerning ear.

Using PartyBoost you can link two Flip 5's together for stereo...
Using PartyBoost you can link two Flip 5's together for stereo sound, or link multiple together for surround sound.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Portability


The Flip 5 definitely sacrifices a bit of portability in order to be louder and sound better, but it does this less so than many other comparable speakers.


Offering IPX7 total waterproofness, the Flip 5 can easily handle heavy downpours, big splashes, and even a complete dunking if you tip over the canoe. At 19 ounces it isn't particularly light, but certainly isn't' heavy either. We had no qualms throwing it in our bag for a day at the beach or a stroll down to the lake, and it was a mainstay whenever we went car camping. However, it is noticeably bigger than some of the super slim models, so it tended not to make the cut when we were going on longer walks/hikes or when we were overstuffing our carry-ons.

This waterproof, dustproof speaker is a perfect choice for a day at...
This waterproof, dustproof speaker is a perfect choice for a day at the beach.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Volume


This speaker packs an impressive amount of volume into a relatively average-sized body. It kept a group of a dozen people in our large testing apartment entertained easily. Really the only common use we can think of where it wouldn't be loud enough would be a large backyard barbeque with 30+ people. Even then it would be fine for a mellow barbeque, but might be a bit quiet if you want to get all those people dancing.


We also found the sound quality to deteriorate a bit at absolute full volume, but even a couple notches below max was loud while still sounding good.

Battery Life


The Flip 5's battery is slated to last 12 hours, but it blew that figure out of the water in our testing, pumping out music for 27 hours straight before finally yielding to the lack of electrons. We don't see anyone having any qualms about this speaker's battery life.


Value


Considering the JBL Flip 5's waterproofness and above-average sound quality, we think it's a pretty good deal. For those that want decent sound quality in a package that can take a beating, it's a worthwhile purchase.

Our tests show that this speaker's battery life goes well beyond the...
Our tests show that this speaker's battery life goes well beyond the manufacturer's stated 12 hours, so you can rock out for a long time between charges.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Bottom Line


Possibly one of the best summertime beach speakers around, the JBL Flip 5 is great for those that are ok with good but less-than-premium sound, as long as it means the speaker can take a beating without breaking the bank.

Max Mutter and Michelle Powell