Portable Bluetooth speakers are great for almost any situation. Travel, camping, your lunch hour at work… days at the beach. There are dozens of different brands, sizes and options to choose from. One of the most popular, though, is JBL’s Flip series. These small, well priced speakers have a good reputation. In this review I’ll look at what you get with the JBL Flip 5, the sound quality, and any special features—and how it compares to the newer Flip 6.
JBL Flip 5
Value for price
This is a sweet little portable and party speaker. It’s really small but it cranks, it’s pretty rugged and durable, allows multiple device connections, it comes in a billion colours, sounds great and it’s waterproof. Any downsides don’t take away from this speaker in a huge way.
If you’re looking for a solid quality knock-around speaker that is waterproof, the Flip 5 might be a good choice.
The Flip 5 is about seven inches tall, just under three inches in diameter, and weighs 19 ounces. It comes in a surprisingly wide range of 11 different colors. There’s also an eco-option that’s made from 90% recycled plastic.
It has a loop with a cord allowing you to attach it to your wrist, handlebars, or to hang it up. It has a fabric cover and it’s submersible to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes (IPX7); you can even take this speaker in the shower with you—great for catching up on podcasts while you get ready in the morning. The overall design is small but it feels rugged and durable, like if you dropped it it would survive.
On top of the speaker are a series of buttons; play/pause, volume up/down and the party boost button which will link other JBL speakers. On the back, there’s your Bluetooth connection, power and a charging port that uses USB-C.
Pairing the speaker is easy; simply press the Bluetooth button and link up from your device.
The Flip 5 doesn’t have an Aux port, likely to allow for the waterproofing. You’ll be dependent on the Bluetooth signal for music input. The Bluetooth support is only 4.2, which is a bit surprising for this model. The speaker supports multiple types of audio files and should be able to handle whatever app you’re using to provide music.
The lack of a microphone means you won’t be using the speaker to receive or send calls and won’t have Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant support.
Sound Quality: JBL Flip 5
The Flip 5 puts out great quality sound for its size, and you’ll find the 20-watt output, and 44mm driver is capable of pushing the tunes out. It may be a bit lacking on the bass side, but for the size of the speaker, there’s not a lot to complain about. The app will help you get the most out of your music; though there are limitations, you’re not dealing with a home stereo and equalizer here.
JBL gets great ratings on its Flip speakers, and the Flip 5 has over 55,000 5 star reviews. This speaker is surprisingly powerful, and has good rumbling bass. You can actually see the bass thumping during playback.
The speaker is definitely more directional; in that the primary speaker is pointed straight out from the logo. That just means if you’re behind it at a distance it won’t be as loud.
I listened to music from hip hop to jazz, and the JBL Flip 5 owned it all.
Outdoor sound quality
Important in an outdoor speaker is the ability to fill your outside listening area. Normally it can be tough to keep sound from escaping into oblivion, and keep it where you are. IN my testing with the Flip 5 it was astonishingly good at filling the yard, and I was shocked at how far I could get from the speaker while still hearing things clearly on just a mid-level volume. Even looping around behind the rear of the speaker I was still able to hear clearly though the volume was a touch more muted.
Can I connect JBL Flip 5 to other speakers?
Using the Partyboost system, you can pair the Flip 5 to other Flip 5 speakers for stereo sound. The app allows you to determine which speaker handles which music channel or you can send both channels to each speaker. There are minimal controls, a power switch, a Bluetooth connection button, a play/pause button, volume up and down controls, and the Partyboost button.
JBL says the Flip 5 offers 12 hours of playback before needing a charge with the included USB-C cable. That’s a decent amount of playtime for a speaker and should last you throughout your day at the beach or camping. When the lithium-polymer battery is done, you’re looking at two and a half hours for a full recharge.
How does Flip 5 compare to JBL Flip 6?
While the Flip 6 is the newest, it may not necessarily be the best choice for you… particularly when the Flip 5 clicks in at a slightly lower cost.
The Flip 6 is upgraded to add dust proofing, bringing it to an IP67 rating. I T also has Bluetooth 5.1, which means somewhat better connectivity, and less chance of dropouts and reconnecting.
The battery life on both the 5 and the 6 is the same at 12 hours.
Overall review: JBL Flip 5
Overall this is a sweet little portable and party speaker. It’s really small but it cranks, it’s pretty rugged and durable, allows multiple device connections, it comes in a billion colours, sounds great and it’s waterproof.
On the downside… the battery life is just meh, there’s no mic for speakerphone, and no smart digital assistant capability, and the app isn;’t very useful. For me, though, those downsides don’t take a way from this speaker in a huge way, so I can recommend the JBL Flip 5 if you’re looking for a cool portable Bluetooth speaker.
JBL Flip 5 sells for about $129 and you can get it from Amazon.
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I'm a journalist, tech blogger, writer, TV producer, silversmith& jewelry designer, foodie and world traveler. I blog, write for publications, and supply freelance writing services to Calgary, and the world.