In this article I’ll compare the JBL Charge 5 to the JBL Flip 5 to help you figure out which JBL Bluetooth speaker is the best fit for you. Specifically I’ll walk through looking at build and form factor, button access and features, power and ports, a sound comparison and some additional considerations before giving my final thoughts and recommendation.
All of the images associated with this review are included inline below, but if you’d prefer to watch this review you can do that in the below YouTube video. Also, please note that you’re not able to leave a comment directly on this article. If you have a question or feedback, please leave it on the YouTube video.
And a quick note before we get into the description that if you do want to purchase the JBL Charge 5 you can do so by clicking here. Alternatively, if you want to purchase the JBL Flip 5 you can do that by clicking here.
Build and Form Factor
First let’s look at the build and form factor of each device.
The JBL Charge 4 and the JBL Charge 5 have almost the exact same size dimensions, with both measuring in around 8.7-inches wide, 3.7-inches tall and 3.7 inches deep, and weighing in at just a little over two pounds. It shouldn’t be enough to affect your decision, but the JBL Charge 5 is the slightly smaller of the two Bluetooth speakers.
Both the JBL Charge 5 and the JBL Flip 5 are wrapped in the wire mesh that’s a staple of the JBL portable Bluetooth speaker lineup. The wire mesh covering doesn’t just look good, but it’s tough and does a great job of protecting your speaker from damage. The material the end caps are made of are slightly different on each Bluetooth speaker.
On the JBL Flip 5 the end caps feel more like they are made of plastic; they are very solid and there isn’t any give. Alternatively, the end caps on the JBL Charge 5 have much more of a rubbery feel to them, and as a result they have more give. Both feel like they will hold up well over time, but the Flip 5 feels like it’s more likely to break if dropped enough or from a high enough distance.
The end caps on both speakers are also designed in such a way that when you stand either JBL speaker on their side they don’t stand perfectly straight like older versions of each speaker, and there is a little lean to them. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s just an observation for anyone who plans on standing their speaker on its edge. The external passive radiators on the JBL Charge 5 feel sturdier and like they are made of slightly better material than those on the JBL Flip 5. And one minor aesthetic note. While the JBL exclamation logo that sits on the external passive radiators isn’t indented on the Flip 4, it does stick out roughly an eighth of an inch on the JBL Charge 5. It doesn’t affect the overall performance of the speaker, but it’s in line with the massive JBL logo plastered across the front of the speaker. In past years, and as you can see on the Flip, 4 JBL’s brand isn’t in your face. With the Charge 5 it’s pretty clear that JBL wants people 100 feet away to know that you’ve got a JBL speaker.
The stand is another area where the devices are very different. The Flip 5 doesn’t really have a stand and is designed to rest on a plastic bar that runs across the back of the speaker. Alternatively the Charge 5 features ridged rubber lines that run diagonal across the bottom center section that serve as the stand. It’s not a huge deal, but I did find it to make the Charge 5 a little less stable and more subject to being knocked over.
And the final item to cover in this section, the JBL Charge 5 is rated IP67, making it both waterproof and dustproof. It’s waterproof rating means it can spend up to a half hour in up to three feet of water and operate just fine. Alternatively, the JBL Flip 5 is IPX7 rated, which means it’s just waterproof and not dustproof. It can also spend up to a half hour in up to three feet of water and operate just fine.
Now let’s take a look at the button access on each device.
All of the buttons on the JBL Charge 5 run directly across the top of the device. On the far left you have the PartyBoost button followed by Volume Down. In the center of the row in a plastic pad you’ve got the Power and Bluetooth buttons. And on the right side you’ve got the Volume Up and Play/Pause buttons. The button presentation on the JBL Flip 5 is a bit different. Along the back top part of the Flip 5 you’ve got four buttons: PartyBoost, Volume Down, Volume Up, and Play/Pause. The Power and Bluetooth buttons are located in the center of a plastic bar that runs along the back of the device. It’s worth noting that both speakers do feature the PartyBoost feature, which is the newest technology from JBL that lets you connect up to 100 JBL speakers together within a range of roughly 80 yards. You should keep in mind that you can only connect a PartyBoost speaker to another PartyBoost speaker, and you can’t connect a PartyBoost speaker to a JBL speaker with Connect or Connect+ technology.
Additionally, unlike previous JBL Charge and JBL Flip speaker versions, the Play button on both the JBL Charge 5 and the JBL Flip 5 doesn’t let you access Apple’s Siri or the Google Assistant. It just lets you play, pause and skip songs.
And the final item in this section, neither the Flip 5 or the Charge 5 features a built-in microphone, so you won’t be able to use the speaker as a true speakerphone.
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Next let’s do a sound comparison between the JBL Charge 5 and the JBL Flip 5 to test audio quality.
For this sound comparison between the Charge 5 and the Flip 5 I’ll play samples from two songs on each speaker. One sample will be heavier on bass, and the other sample will be heavier on mid and high tones. To be clear, both samples were played at fifty percent audio under the exact same conditions and the audio files weren’t manipulated in any way and they were inserted into the audio track for this video after all of my editing was done.
Let’s start by listening to the audio clip that’s heavier on bass on both the JBL Charge 5 and the JBL Flip 5.
Next let’s listen to a clip with more mid and high tones on the JBL Charge 5 and the JBL Flip 5.
The easiest way to say it is that everything about the Flip 5 is amplified for the Charge 5. The volume is bigger, the bass is richer, and the clarity of mid and high tones is just better on the JBL Charge 5. And none of that is to take anything away from the JBL Flip 5. It’s a great speaker for its size, but it just doesn’t pack the overall punch of the Charge 5. You start to experience distortion on both speakers at around 80 percent volume, so keep that in mind. The final item I’ll touch on here is using these Bluetooth speakers in an outdoor setting. The JBL Flip 5 will be fine for a small group setting, but if you’re gonna have a big party in your backyard, you’re probably gonna want the power of the JBL Charge 5. I’d go so far as to say that if outdoor use for larger groups is going to be the primary function of your speaker, I’d recommend looking at the Ultimate Ears Boom 3. It’s got a 360-degree sound mode that makes it an outstanding outdoor speaker. But as a reminder speaker audio is experienced differently by everyone, so you’ll want to listen to the JBL Charge 5, JBL Flip 5 or even the UE Boom 3 in a store to make sure the audio quality is something you’re comfortable with.
Power and Ports
Next let’s discuss power and ports.
The JBL Charge 5 sports an impressive 20 hours of battery life, while the JBL Flip 5 only gives you twelve hours of audio playback time. The power indicator for both devices is an LED light bar that will be fully lit up at full power, and will decrease as the battery is drained. The power bar will flash red when the battery is close to drained.
On the JBL Charge 5 the power bar is located on the front bottom part of the speaker directly beneath the JBL logo, and on the JBL Flip 5 the power bar is located on the plastic bar along the back of the speaker, next to the USB Type C port.
Both portable Bluetooth speakers feature an open USB Type C port on the back of the device. Because there is no port cover, if your speaker gets wet you’ll want to make sure and dry it out before you connect a power cable. Even thought both speakers are waterproof, you still don’t want to mix water and electricity. The JBL Charge 5 also boasts a USB Type A port, which is located under a port cover on the back of the speaker. This port is only for charging other devices, such as a phone that’s battery is low. It should be noted that you can’t use this port to connect a device to your JBL Charge 5 and play music through it. In order to do that, you’re other device still needs to be connected to your Charge 5 via Bluetooth.
The biggest item that’s missing from a ports perspective on both devices that was available on previous versions is a 3.5-millimeter audio cable input. While most people can live without an auxiliary input, there are some people who can’t live without it. If that’s a feature you can’t live without you’ll probably want to look at other portable Bluetooth speaker options, or consider the previous versions of these speakers, the Charge 4 and the Flip 4, both of which had an auxiliary input.
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And now let’s discuss some additional factors you’ll want to take into consideration when determing whether the JBL Charge 5 or the JBL Flip 5 is right for you.
The JBL Charge 5 supports Bluetooth 5.1 while the JBL Flip 5 supports Bluetooth 4.2. While this may sound trivial, it’s important for a few key reasons. Bluetooth 5.1 support makes it possible to connect up to two Bluetooth devices at the same time to your Charge 5, something you can’t do on the Flip 5. The data transfer rate is also faster with Bluetooth 5.1. I’ve discussed it earlier in this video but it warrants mention again that neither of these speakers offer any integration with either Apple’s Siri or Google’s Assistant. The last thing you’ll want to take into consideration is the price difference. The JBL Charge 5 retails for around $180 US dollars, while the JBL Flip 5 retails for around $120 US dollars, although it’s been around for over a year and you can pretty easily snag it online for $100 US dollars or less.
In conclusion, my recommendation really depends on your primary use case for a portable Bluetooth speaker. If you care more about portability and you’ll have to travel with it, the JBL Flip 5 is probably what you’re looking for. If you care deeply about getting a speaker that will give you the widest range of tones, rich bass and overall audio quality, you’ll want to get the JBL Charge 5. If you’re going to be hosting a lot of backyard parties and you need something that can carry over a small crowd, the JBL Charge 5 will do the job. And if you’re on a budget and need to save money, you can rest assured that if you get the Flip 5, you can save money and still get a great speaker. And finally, if you feel like the JBL Charge 5 is right for you, you can click here to buy it on Amazon. Or, if you feel like the JBL Flip 5 is more your style, you can click here to check it out on Amazon.