If you’re looking for big Bluetooth sound in a portable and durable package, it’s hard to beat JBL’s wireless waterproof speakers. That being said, JBL seems to enjoy torturing us with their frequent upgrades to their most popular models. Now, JBL has just released the Flip 5. Is it powerful enough to meet your partying needs? Or is it worth upgrading to the larger, Charge 4? And if you already own a JBL speaker, are you going to run into any compatibility issues by adding the Flip 5 to your collection? Let’s take a closer look in this JBL Flip 5 vs JBL Charge 4 Review.
JBL Flip 5 vs JBL Charge 4 Review
Controls and Functionality
Both of these speakers offer the same standard controls, including, play/pause, track skipping (though you can’t skip backwards) and volume control.
Neither of these models have microphones. And if your mobile device is paired with your speaker when you get a call, the caller will be audible from your phone speaker, not from the JBL speaker itself.
Some JBL owners will be disappointed here. JBL has updated its “Connect+” feature (employed by the Charge 4) to “PartyBoost” with the release of the new Flip 5. These features allow you to pair or synchronize multiple JBL speakers. But Connect+ and PartyBoost are not compatible. So I couldn’t connect the Flip 5 to the Charge 4. Therefore, if you buy the latest JBL flip speakers, you won’t be able to connect them to older models. Sneaky.
Battery and Charging
At 20 hours of playtime, the Charge 4 offers 8 more hours than the Flip 5, which will only provide 12 hours of usage.
The Charge 4 takes 4.5 hours to fully charge, while the Flip 5 takes 2.5 hours. And both models use a USB-C connection for charging. (Charging cables included in the box).
Both speakers have battery level indicators that light up when you turn them on. The Charge 4 uses a series of glowing dots to show you how much battery life is left, while the Flip 5 uses a single glowing white line that reduces in brightness as the battery life begins to drop.
Unlike the Flip 5, the Charge 4 has a 3.5mm audio input so that you can connect the speaker to your device via a cable. (Auxiliary cable not included). However, even with the cable connected to your device, the Charge 4 still has to be powered on.
Of course, one of the main advantages of going for the larger Charge 4 is that the speaker also works as a charging bank, allowing you to juice up your mobile device.
Both models have an IPX7 waterproof rating, which means the speakers can be submerged in up to 3 feet of water for about 30 minutes. So, if the speaker falls off your pelican floaty, just enjoy the the show and crack open a beer. And certainly, both speakers can withstand being left out in the rain for a while.
Surprisingly, the Charge 4 doesn’t get much louder than the Flip 5. (JBL has boosted the Flip’s volume since the Flip 4). However, compared to the Flip 5, the Charge 4 displays vast improvements in sound quality, and the increased soundstage creates a more expansive feel overall. But more about this below.
Of course, the Charge 4 will give you wider, more powerful bass frequencies. And you can almost feel your belly button vibrate once the volume on the Charge 4 is turned up to max. In contrast, the Flip 5 doesn’t produce nearly as much of a low end.
Another big difference is the level of clarity offered. The Charge 4 presents a much more transparent sound. And tracks with heavy arrangements are a lot cleaner. So, you’re definitely getting a wider and more detailed scope of sound from the Charge 4.
There’s a huge difference in the feeling of spaciousness created by these two models. The soundstage on the Charge 4 feels vast and sweeping compared to the relatively compact sound of the Flip 5. And this is the biggest improvement you’ll notice when you move to the larger model. If you’re looking for that big room sound, and you’re planning on hosting over 10 people at your next pool, the Charge 4 is more ideal. But again, in terms of max volume levels, there’s not an extremely big difference. So, if all you need is background music for your 4th hour of beer pong, the Flip 5 is sufficient.
Both models will provide plenty of volume for a gathering. But I would ordinarily recommend going with the larger Charge 4, given the major improvement in clarity, bass and soundstage. And considering the Charge 4 is only a $50 price jump, it seems like a reasonable investment (unless you’re looking for something very small in size). However, if you’re planning on buying more JBL speakers to create a synchronized multi-speaker system, it’s better to go with the Flip 5. Otherwise you might run into compatibility issues in the future.
You can find both, the Flip 5 and the Charge 4 for the best price here: