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JBL FLip 5 on a green couch with logo visible

JBL Flip 5 review

A worthy update.
September 30, 2021
JBL Flip 5
The bottom line
The Flip 5 is a worthy successor to the Flip 4 and if you're going to be heading out for a weekend trip or just going to the backyard, this is definitely worth the asking price. It also holds strong against the newer, JBL Flip 6.

JBL Flip 5

The Flip 5 is a worthy successor to the Flip 4 and if you're going to be heading out for a weekend trip or just going to the backyard, this is definitely worth the asking price. It also holds strong against the newer, JBL Flip 6.
Release date



$119.95 USD


18.1 x 6.9 x 7.4 cm


0.54 kg

Model Number




What we like
IPX7 waterproof
Lightweight and portable
Decent sound
Battery life
USB-C charging
What we don't like
No Bluetooth 5 or high quality codecs
Sound quality is good for hikes or the beach, but isn't great
SoundGuys Rating
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Sound Quality
Durability / Build Quality
Battery Life

There aren’t many products that get universal recommendations. Everything from cars to kitchen knives has a plethora of opinions and reviews for people to look into before they buy. That isn’t really the case for affordable, waterproof Bluetooth speakers. For years now if you wanted a speaker that you can bring to the beach and won’t break the bank my answer has been to just get the JBL Flip. While the Flip 4 has been the go-to for a few years now we have the JBL Flip 5, so how is it?

Editor’s note: this JBL Flip 5 review was updated on May 10, 2022, to update formatting, add information on the JBL Flip 6, and to add a disclosure about our updated testing.

  • Shower singers. The IPX7 covering means that it’s completely resistant to water. Sure, this is great for poolside jams—but if you like to bring your music into the shower with you, this is perfect.
  • Anyone looking for their first Bluetooth speaker. While this isn’t that much better than the Flip 4, you might as well future-proof your purchase for as long as you can with the USB-C input.
  • Someone who is going to be outdoors. If you’re into hiking, camping, or just headed to the beach the Flip series has always been a great companion and that doesn’t change with the Flip 5.

How’s the build quality of the Flip 5?

JBL FLip 5 on a green couch with logo visible
On the front of the speaker is the red JBL logo.

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 in 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.

JBL Flip 5 next to blue paracord and green jacket in a black backpack
It’s still small enough to fit in your bag and comes with a string, though I’d recommend swapping it out for some paracord.

I’m nitpicking here because the JBL Flip 5 is built about as good as a $100 speaker meant for your next adventure can be. There’s even a small loop built into the speaker that comes with a string so you can hang it from things like branches or even showerheads. Pro tip: if you pick one of these up I would recommend ditching the cheap shoelace string and replacing it with some strong and cheap paracord that can come in handy in emergency situations while hiking.

Start here: Ultimate Bluetooth speaker buying guide

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. Another underappreciated thing about the Flip series is that they come in a bunch of different colors so whether you want teal, all-black, or even pink you can find one for you.

How do you pair the JBL Flip 5?

Man holding JBL Flip 5 with power button and Bluetooth button lit up
The only lights are in the power and Bluetooth buttons.

Pairing to the JBL Flip 5 hasn’t changed from any of the previous versions and it’s still just as seamless. All you need to do is:

  1. Press the Bluetooth button on the back of the speaker next to the power button.
  2. Once it begins blinking and making a beeping sound that means you’ve entered pairing mode.
  3. Open up the Settings app on your device and click on Bluetooth. From there you should see “JBL Flip 5” in the available devices section.
  4. Tap that icon, and you’re all paired up.

Connection strength is solid, and I experience few problems playing music anywhere in my apartment from my iPhone 11 Pro in my pocket. When issues crop up, though, turning it off and on again fixes the problem. Twice during testing, the audio just began to skip and stutter uncontrollably which was annoying—but thankfully not permanent. Simply powering off the speaker seems to fix the issue, but it’s still not something you want to be dealing with.

Does the JBL Flip 5 support AAC or aptX?

JBL Flip 5 on a wooden table with multitool and watch
Along the side of the speaker is the playback control button built into the fabric.

Unfortunately, there are no high-quality Bluetooth codecs to speak of here so there was a huge lag while watching YouTube videos. The Flip 5 uses SBC only. For whatever reason, the audio never syncs up with what the person was saying, and because JBL removed the 3.5mm input: there’s no real way around this issue. It’s a bit of a bummer since you can’t use this speaker with anything that doesn’t have Bluetooth. The latency means you should stick to audio only media with the Flip 5.

What’s JBL PartyBoost?

What the JBL Flip 5 does have is the PartyBoost mode which I still find to be one of the most useless features on JBL speakers. If you click the dedicated PartyBoost button on the speaker then you can pair a second JBL speaker for stereo sound or even just to add more life to your party.

Pictured is the exposed bass radiator of the JBL Flip 5 on a fire escape with water on the speaker
The exposed passive bass radiators completely seal against water damage.

I personally don’t know anyone who has ever bought more than one speaker, but if you decide to pick up a second speaker, already have one, or have a friend that also has a fairly recent JBL speaker, then maybe you might find this feature useful. In my experience, just one speaker was more than enough for any hike or trip to the beach I’ve ever been on. If you find yourself needing a second speaker to power your parties often then it might be worth investing in something like the JBL Boombox or the UE Hyperboom, both of which are giant speakers that you shouldn’t have a problem partying along with.

Besides that, you get the standard playback buttons like the volume up or volume down buttons designated by the plus and minus signs, respectively. Then there’s the play/pause button which will let you pause tracks or skip to the next song if you double-tap it.

Unfortunately JBL updated the feature and ditched backward compatibility. This is to say if you have an old JBL Flip 4 it uses JBL Connect+ instead of PartyBoost, so they can’t sync up together. Be sure to check compatibility between speakers before you buy. Typically, you’re best off getting two speakers from the same generation. As our review of the JBL Flip 6 revealed, even if two speakers have PartyBoost, they still might not play nice together.

How long does the battery of the JBL Flip 5 last?

Close-up shot of the USB-C input on the JBL Flip 5 speaker.
The speaker charges via USB-C which has orange so you can see it.

JBL claims that you’ll get 12 hours of constant playback with the JBL Flip 5, and in our testing we got 9 hours and 27 minutes which isn’t bad at all but falls just short of the claimed 12 hours. Still, that’s more than enough for an average day at the beach or a good day hike. It takes 2.5 hours to fully charge the Flip 5, but it does not have fast charge.

Hold up! Something’s different:

Some of our picks’ frequency response and isolation charts were measured with our old testing system. We have since purchased a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test fixture (and the appropriate support equipment) to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this review (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements. These will be made obvious with our new chart aesthetic (black background instead of white).

Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.

How does the JBL Flip 5 sound?

Before you read too much into a heavily-smoothed chart, recognize that the Flip 5 is a budget Bluetooth speaker. The roll-off at 60Hz is something that you’re not only able to ignore completely, but you’d have to live with no matter what speaker you buy under a few hundred dollars. Additionally, as you’re likely going to be using this in less-than-ideal environments: this is merely a ballpark measurement to give you a rough idea about the Flip 5’s performance, and a rough idea only. It won’t always be representative of what you’re going to hear, because you’re not going to be listening to this in a sound-dampened or anechoic environment. You’re going to listen to it in a room, or a noisy place like the beach, or in a yard.

A chart of the frequency response of the JBL Flip 5 showing underemphasis around 1100Hz, and a sharp drop under 100Hz.
The JBL Flip 5 still sounds good enough for what you’re going to be using it but don’t expect amazing sound.

JBL upgraded the driver inside the speaker to give it more of a deeper low end, and the company succeeded from what I could tell. JBL’s wireless speakers tend to follow a signature sound that’s roughly similar to the Harman target curve. Essentially, bass notes from middle-C and lower see a bump from 2-8dB, mids are evenly emphasized, and the highs are gently attenuated. The Flip 5 doesn’t buck this trend, and you’ll likely be happy with the sound without too much futzing with any in-app equalizers or junk like that. Take it out of the box and start using it.

Lows, mids, and highs

The bass response definitely sounds like it was given more of an emphasis this time around than the JBL Flip 4, but it still isn’t going to be the greatest thing you’ve ever heard.

The difference is subtle, and if you’re hanging out in the yard or the beach: chances are you’re streaming off of a lowish-quality service like Spotify. If you aren’t really paying attention to the subtleties of the bass response, you won’t hear them anyway. Still, it’s a welcome addition in The Less I Know The Better by Tame Impala, where the groovy bassline is the main part of the song in my opinion. It sounds good enough to hear but it isn’t able to get super low due to the hard drop off at under around 100Hz.

The under-emphasized midrange notes are sometimes hard to hear during particularly prominent bass lines.

This isn’t a huge deal when listening to podcasts since there’s not a lot going on besides voices, but in songs with a lot of instrumentation like Ghost Under Rocks by Ra Ra Riot I find that some parts lack in clarity. It sounds like guitars and strings battling for volume with the vocals throughout the chorus. Highs are also pretty quiet, and you may find yourself boosting the levels from time to time. Throughout the same song, the shakers and cymbals in the background of the song sound more like weird hissing cymbals just because of how low and unclear they are.

Does the JBL Flip 5 have a microphone?

JBL Flip 5 hanging from showerhead next to shampoo
The JBL Flip 5 is perfect for outdoors or just the shower.

No, the Flip 5 does not have a microphone. So if you were hoping for a speaker to answer phone calls on or if you want access to your phones personal assistant then you won’t get that here.

Should you get the JBL Flip 5?

The JBL Flip 5 in black outside with water spraying onto it
The JBL Flip 5 is covered in an IPX7 fabric.

If you don’t already have a Bluetooth speaker and are looking for an affordable speaker to knock around on your next adventure, the JBL Flip 5 is absolutely worth it. It has a tough waterproof fabric, good sound, decent battery life, and its portable size makes it a great option for just about everyone. For those who already have a JBL Flip 4, there is absolutely no reason to rush out and upgrade, though, and anyone looking at the Flip 6 might as well pick up whichever is cheaper.

The JBL Flip 5 portable Bluetooth speaker in black against a white background.
JBL Flip 5
All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

What about the JBL Flip 6 and JBL Charge 5?

The JBL Flip 6 in black on a bed of flat stones.
The JBL Flip 6 is water- and dust-resistant and loud enough to keep a small patio party entertained.

The JBL Flip 6 improves upon the Flip 5 with its IP67 dust and water-resistant build. JBL ditches the small, red JBL logo out in favor of large JBL lettering on the Flip 6. You also get Bluetooth 5.1 firmware. Its battery life is almost exactly the same as the Flip 5, at 9 hours 25 minutes.

The Flip 6 weighs about the same as the Flip 5. Strangely the new Flip 6 only supports the SBC codec, which isn’t ideal. Unless you benefit from the IP67 rating, it’s a small improvement over the Flip 5.

A woman touching the JBL Charge 5 as it rests on a table.
The JBL Charge 5 is a great speaker for indoors or outdoors.

The JBL Charge 5 doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it’s a very good speaker nonetheless. Despite the shared cylindrical design, the Charge 5 is a completely different speaker from the Flip 5. The larger, heavier Charge 5 is meant to power a party and supplies up to 20 hours of playtime from a single charge. It also serves as a battery pack to charge your portable devices.

Next: The best Bluetooth speakers

Frequently asked questions about the JBL Flip 5

This is a tricky question because it varies for everyone due to difficult to quantify variables from different hardware sending the audio signal via Bluetooth. In addition, there will be latency because it’s Bluetooth, so it also depends on what is an acceptable amount of latency for you. Typically, 80 milliseconds or less is the best to aim for. Speakers supporting aptX—particularly aptX-LL (low-latency) or aptX Adaptive ideally—will generally lend better results. With that said, JBL speakers seem to consistently have latency issues with YouTube over Bluetooth, but look for aptX-LL, aptX and possibly, LDAC codecs and make sure you’ve got a good returns policy with whatever you end up purchasing, as your mileage will vary depending on your hardware.

You’re kind of stuck with whatever volume your JBL maxes out at. As for EQ apps, I’d suggest checking out this list by our sister site.

Yes, although if you want to press any buttons you may want pick it up or put it horizontally.

It really depends on what you prioritize. If it’s price, the Flip 5 is usually a bit cheaper. The battery life in actual use is pretty similar. The Flip 5 has USB-C charging, rather than the older, micro USB on the Boom 3. If it’s waterproofness and dustproofing, the Boom 3 has the edge with IP67 rating. The Boom 3 floats in water which might sway you. Neither is going to blow your mind with audiophile quality, but they’re both decently loud and so similar that it will come down to what you prioritize.

There are a few differences between the JBL Flip 4 and JBL Flip 5. For one, the older model charges via microUSB while the Flip 5 uses USB-C. Both portable speakers let you connect to multiple JBL speakers, but the Flip 4 supports JBL Connect+, a legacy feature, while the Flip 5 can only connect to other JBL speakers that support PartyBoost. This is very limiting, but has its advantages: PartyBoost supports true stereo playback, while JBL Connect+ stereo mode struggled to maintain a connection between speakers. Real-world battery performance has doubled from the Flip 4 to the Flip 5. The Flip 5 lacks a microphone, which the Flip 4 has for speakerphone calls. The Flip 4 takes longer to fully charge than the Flip 5 too.