JBL Flip 5 vs JBL Flip 4

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Introduction

In this article I’ll compare the JBL Flip 4 to the JBL Flip 5 to help you determine which JBL Bluetooth speaker is the best fit for you. While there are a lot of similarities between the two devices, there are some key differences that may cause you to lean toward a specific version of the popular portable speaker.

Build and Form Factor

The JBL Flip 5 is slightly larger than the JBL Flip 4, in that it’s just over 7 inches long, just under 3 inches tall and 3 inches deep, and weighs 1.19 pounds. The added weight is barely noticeable, and shouldn’t play a big part in your decision.

Both the Flip 4 and the Flip 5 are wrapped in the same wire mesh combination that not only gives JBL devices an attractive look, but also contributes to the tough exterior that protects the internal components from the elements. Additionally, the rubber end caps that sit over the exterior passive radiators are the same on each device. The exterior passive radiators themselves have a more rounded appearance and a rubbery feel on the JBL Flip 5, similar to the JBL Charge 4 and the Xtreme 2, while the exterior passive radiators on the JBL Flip 4 are flat and feel like flat plastic.

Finally, both the JBL Flip 5 and the JBL Flip 4 Bluetooth speakers are IPX7 rated, which means they are waterproof for up to three feet, and also dustproof.

Button Access

Both the Flip 4 and the Flip 5 have four buttons built into the wire mesh toward the back of the device, and two buttons built into the plastic bar that runs along the back of the device. The buttons for the JBL Flip 5 are positioned slightly closer to the top so you don’t have to go all the way behind the speaker to get to them, which is nice. However, what buttons are located where on each device is slightly different. A Play button and the volume up and down buttons are located in the wire mesh on each device, but the JBL Flip 4 Bluetooth speaker has the Bluetooth button in the last spot, while the JBL Flip 5 has the PartyBoost button in that location. The PartyBoost button can be used to connect more than a hundred JBL speakers together that also have the PartyBoost feature. Additionally, the Play button performs different functions on the two speakers. The Play button on the JBL Flip 4 can be used to access either Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri, and also accept phone calls. The only function of the Play button on the Flip 5 is to start and stop music. The Power button for each device is built into the plastic bar, but the Flip 4 also has the JBL Connect+ button in that location (which is the older functionality that can be used to connect multiple JBL speakers with JBL Connect+ together), while the Flip 5 has the Bluetooth button in that spot. One thing that is worth noting is that the buttons on the JBL Flip 5 are more easily clickable. While the buttons on the JBL Flip 4 aren’t bad, sometimes it feels like you have to drive your finger through the speaker to get a response.

Power and Ports

One of the biggest changes from the JBL Flip 4 to the JBL Flip 5 is the switch from the micro-USB port that powers the Flip 4 to a USB-C port that powers the Flip 5, allowing for faster charging. Both devices offer up to 12 hours of music playback on a full charge, but the Flip 5 only takes 2 and a half hours to fully charge, while the Flip 4 takes 3 and a half hours. Additionally, the USB-C port on the JBL Flip 5 is located on the right end of the plastic bar that runs along the back of the Bluetooth speaker, and is exposed with no cover for easy access.

Also, the Flip 4 offers an input for a 3.5-millimeter cable under the flap next to the micro-USB input. The 3.5-millimeter input was scrapped on the Flip 5. That’s not a big deal for me, but if you still have devices you want to use with your JBL portable speaker and that’s the only connection type that will work for you, that’s definitely something to consider.

Additionally, the Flip 4 uses five LED lights on the back to convey the batteries charge level, while the Flip 5 has a solid LED light that fades as the battery loses power. I haven’t used the Flip 5 long enough to know whether I like the new approach to indicating the power level, but I didn’t have any issues with the LED lights, and I’m not sure why they changed it.

Connecting to Other JBL Speakers

JBL is ditching the JBL Connect+ functionality it rolled out in it’s last generation of portable Bluetooth speakers that made it possible to connect more than a hundred devices together, replacing it with PartyBoost. PartyBoost also let’s you connect up to a hundred JBL Bluetooth speakers together — as long as they all have PartyBoost, which of course, no older JBL Bluetooth speakers do. If you own multiple older JBL speakers, prepare to be frustrated, and take this into consideration when determining whether to upgrade to any of the latest generation of JBL portable Bluetooth speakers.

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Additional Considerations

Some other final things to take into consideration. In line with feature downgrades on the JBL Flip 5 like removing the ability to interact with Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri, and removing the mic and speakerphone, and not allowing people to connect to JBL speakers with JBL Connect+, the Flip 5 uses Bluetooth 4.2 rather than bumping Bluetooth 5.0, which would have afforded higher data transfer rates and better wireless range. The Flip 4 also uses Bluetooth 4.2.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, the JBL Flip 5 is an awesome speaker that’s worth the price, even if you can get the JBL Flip 4 for a little less. The combination of great sound, high portability, and tough body mean it can fit into a lot of different scenarios, whether you’re just looking for a speaker to sit on your desk at work, whether your kid wants a speaker in her room, whether you need something to sit out by a pool, whether you want to pack it on a camping trip, or whether you want to park it in the garage. I’m fairly confident that if you end up getting the JBL Flip 5, you won’t be disappointed. However, it’s lacking in the feature department when compared with the Flip 4, and if the ability to use the device as a speakerphone and interact with Google Assistant or Siri are important to you, you’ll be better off with the Flip 4, which is still a good speaker that offers great value if you’re constrained by cost.

About Max

Max has nearly 20 years of experience working in IT across three different industries in project management and management capacities: publishing, telecommunications and healthcare. He holds the following degrees and certifications: BS Communications, MA Communications, MBA and Project Management Professional (PMP). His tutorial-focused YouTube channel earned more than 100,000 subscribers in its first four years, and currently has more than 160,000 subscribers, 110,000,000 video views and an insane 2.4 million hours of watch time. Max enjoys learning new technology, reading and collecting comic books, listening to audiobooks and playing video games.

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