Build and Form Factor
The first thing you’ll notice is that the JBL Charge 4 weighs twice as much as the JBL Flip 5. The Charge 4 tips the scale a little over 2 pounds, while the the Flip 5 weighs in at a little over 1 pound. With regard to how much space the speakers are going to take up, the Charge 4 is roughly 8 and a half inches wide, and a little more than 3 and a half inches tall and 3 and a half inches deep. Alternatively, the Flip 5 is a little over 7 inches long, and just over 2 and a half inches tall and 2 and a half inches deep.
The JBL Charge 4 has a stand on the bottom so you can comfortably park it in one spot, while the JBL Flip 5 is built to rest on the plastic bar that runs along the back of the device.
Both the Flip 5 and the Charge 4 are wrapped in the same wire mesh material that gives the Bluetooth speakers a higher degree of toughness and durability, in addition to just making the speakers look good.
Adding to that toughness and durability, both the JBL Flip 5 and JBL Charge 4 are IPX7 rated, which means both of the speakers are waterproof in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes, and that they are dustproof, making them ideal not just for the beach, but also for setting up in a garage or workshop.
Finally, the speakers each have the same rubber end caps covering the passive radiators on each end of the speakers to protect them in the events of drops and being slung around. The passive radiators are also made out of the same nice rubbery material that features the JBL logo on one side and an exclamation point on the other.
The primary buttons on the JBL Flip 5 are located on the back part of the device, embedded in the wire mesh above the plastic bar that runs across the back of the speaker. The Power and Bluetooth buttons on the Flip 5 sit in the center of the plastic bar. Alternatively, the buttons on the JBL Charge 4 are all easily accessible, located right along the top of the device. The Power and Bluetooth buttons sit in the center of the buttons with plastic overlays, while the rest of the buttons are embedded in the wire mesh. The button array offered by both speakers is fairly similar, with buttons for volume up and volume down, a Play button that starts and stops music, and Power and Bluetooth buttons. The only difference is that the JBL Charge 4 has a button for JBL Connect+ and the JBL Flip 5 has a button for PartyBoost. Both JBL Connect+ and PartyBoost do the same thing, in that they let the user connect more than a hundred JBL speakers together, however, the Charge 4 will only connect to other speakers with JBL Connect+ and the Flip 5 will only connect to other JBL speakers with PartyBoost; to be clear, the Flip 5 won’t connect to the Charge 4. Additionally, the Play button on the Charge 4 used to lets users interact with Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri, or accept phone calls and use the Charge 4 as a speakerphone, but JBL removed that functionality. So if you see it somewhere else, know that those features aren’t available anymore on the Charge 4.
The JBL Flip 5 produces cleaner tones than the JBL Charge 4 at all levels — low, mid, and high, and even stands its ground on bass, if its not actually a little more punchy than the Charge 4, which I’m assuming comes as a result of significant improvements to the device’s passive radiators. However, if all you care about is how loud the speaker can get, the Charge 4 wins that battle, and still puts out good audio in its own right.
Power and Ports
The JBL Charge 4 has a massive battery that can keep the Bluetooth speaker running for 20 hours on a full charge. Alternatively, the JBL Flip 5 offers 12 hours of music playback. Both devices are charged through a USB-C port, allowing for faster charge time. The Charge 4 takes 5 and a half hours to top off, while the Flip 5 only takes 2 and a half hours to reach a full charge. The USB-C port on Flip 5 is located on the plastic bar that runs across the back half of the device, sitting out in the open and not under a cover like on past versions of the JBL Flip. Alternatively, you have to pop open a cover on the JBL Charge 4 to access the charging port. But while that’s the end of the ports available on the Flip 5, the Charge 4 is just getting started. Under the back back flap it also offers an input for a 3.5-millimeter audio cable that can be used to connect to other devices and play their audio through the Charge 4 without Bluetooth, and also a USB Type A port that can be used to charge other devices off of the JBL Charge 4’s massive battery.
Finally, the Charge 4 battery indicator is a string of five LED lights on the bottom front center of the Bluetooth speaker that are easily visible. Alternatively, the JBL Flip 5 indicator is on the back of the device, in the form of a single light that fades as the power goes down.
In conclusion, and in my opinion, the JBL Flip 5 isn’t just the more portable JBL Bluetooth speaker of the two, it’s also better sounding and will cost you a little less. The fact that you can get more than a day’s use out of a single charge on either device doesn’t make the battery a deciding factor for me, as I think most people will end up charging at night if they need to before they take it out for another adventure. The improvements to the Flip 5 even allow it to pump out bass that’s just as good, if not better, than the Charge 4. The only reason to go with the Charge 4 is if you’re looking for the louder of the two speakers. Other than that, I’d say save yourself a few bucks and recommend picking up the JBL Flip 5.