JBL Flip 5 vs Charge 3 (2020): Which JBL Waterproof Speaker Should You Get?

With the plethora of JBL portable speakers available today, choosing the best JBL speaker to fuel your next party can be a daunting task. Add the latest JBL Flip 5 to the mix and you have another portable and high-quality waterproof speaker to consider. At less than 100USD (it is on sale at the time of writing), it’s budget-friendly, too. We compare the new JBL Flip 5 to the similarly priced but heftier JBL Charge 3. Spoiler alert: The Charge 3 offers more features, but we can’t write off the Flip 5 just yet, as it has its own strengths. Here’s our in-depth comparison to help you choose the better speaker for your needs. 

JBL Flip 5 vs Charge 3 Portable Speakers Comparison Chart

ModelJBL Flip 5JBL Charge 3
 JBL FLIP 5 - Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker - Black (New Model) JBL Charge 3 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker (Black), 1 
PriceCheck Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon 
Dimensions

18.1 x 6.9 x 7.4 cm

(7.1″ x 2.7″ x 2.9″)

21.3 x 8.7 x 8.85 cm

(8.38″ x 3.42″ x 3.48″)

Weight

1.19 lbs / 540 g

1.26 lbs / 800g
BluetoothVersion 4.2Version 4.1
WaterproofIPX7 / Up to 3 ftIPX7 / Up to 3 ft
RuntimeUp to 12 hoursUp to 20 hours
Battery4,800 mAh6000 mAh
Charging Time2.5 hours4.5 hours
3.5 mm Audio InputNoYes
PowerbankNoYes
Output Power20W RMS2x10W
Wireless PairingJBL PartyBoostJBL Connect+ 
Voice Assistant IntegrationNoYes
Color Options116
Year of Release20192017

Design and Build Quality

The  JBL Flip 5 is more travel-friendly than the bulkier Charge 3 and it comes in more colors to choose from design and build quality

To give you an idea of their size difference, here’s the JBL Flip 5 (left and top) and the Charge 3 (right and bottom) next to each other

The aesthetics of the JBL Flip5 and Charge 3 screams JBL–their pill-shaped frames, fabric grilles, and plastic base support are typical among JBL’s Flip and Charge series.  Their raised playback controls uniformly blend with the rest of the mesh grille, giving both the Flip 5 and Charge 3 a minimalist, monochrome look. Where they considerably differ is in their weight and size. The new Flip 5 is more compact than the Charge 3. Weighing 540g, the Flip 5 is also lighter than the Charge 3 by 260 g. 

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Both the JBL Flip 5 and Charge 3 are IPX7-rated, meaning they are waterproof for up to 3 feet (.9 meters) for 30 minutes. They can withstand rain, spills, or pool splashes, so taking them with you to a beach or pool party won’t be a problem. The JBL Flip 5 offers more color options to choose from than the Charge 3. It’s available in 12 colors while the Charge 3 only comes in 6 variants. 

Audio Quality

The JBL Charge 3 gets slightly louder and its vocals are more clear when used outdoors, but the Flip 5 has a clearer, more balanced sound profile

jbl flip 5 vs charge 3 (2)
As the smaller speaker, the JBL Flip 5 (left) slightly struggles in terms of bass

The newer JBL Flip 5 is at a disadvantage here as its smaller footprint also means smaller drivers. When used outdoors, the bigger Charge 3 outperforms the Flip 5 in terms of volume and bass. But only slightly. The Charge 3’s bass is heavier and its vocals more forward. However, the JBL Flip 5’s audio sounds consistently cleaner and crisper than the Charge 3 despite its smaller size. It further delivers bright mids and lively bass for its size. As the older stereo speaker, the Charge 3’s bass can be jumbled and fuzzy at times. 

If you want the perfect balance between booming bass and undistorted mids and highs, the JBL Charge 4 meets these criteria. It is worth noting that both the Flip 5 and the Charge 3 only support SBC audio codec, so there might be a slight delay when they’re used for watching videos. However, the lag is almost unnoticeable unless you pay close attention.

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Set-Up and Controls

The JBL Flip 5 pairs with other speakers through JBL PartyBoost while the Charge 3 uses the older Connect+

set-up and controlsAs they have different pairing protocols, you can’t pair the JBL Flip 5 (in photo) with the Charge 3

If you see yourself eventually building a JBL speaker ecosystem or you already have one, a crucial deciding factor between the JBL Flip 5 and Charge 3 is their pairing protocol. The newer JBL Flip 5 pairs with other speakers through the JBL PartyBoost. At the time of writing, the only other JBL portable speaker that is compatible with PartyBoost is the JBL Pulse 4.

Most of the previous models, such as the Charge 3, Charge 4, and Flip 4 pair through the JBL Connect+. If you own Connect+ enabled speakers, then the Charge 3 is what fits your collection. On the other hand, if you’re only starting your collection of JBL wireless speakers, the more updated Flip 5 is your safer bet. This is because JBL won’t update the firmware on the Connect+ to make it compatible with newer JBL speakers. 

Battery and Additional Features

The JBL Flip 5 has a shorter battery life than the Charge 3 and it lacks the power bank feature that the Charge 3 offers 

jbl flip 5 vs charge 3 (4)
With 12 and 20 hours of playback, respectively, the Flip 5 (left) and Charge 3 (right) can fuel the party all day long

Both the JBL Flip 5 and Charge 3 boast impressive battery life that lets you liven up any party for hours on end. The Flip 5 packs a 4,800 mAh battery that can last for up to 12 hours while the 6,500 mAh battery of the Charge 3 gives you up to 20 hours of usage. Unlike the Flip 5, the Charge 3 doubles as a power bank so you can charge your smartphone or other devices when the need arises. 

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As the newer model, the JBL Flip 5 is equipped with a USB-C port for faster charging. On the other hand, the Charge 3, which was released in 2017, still uses mini-USB to charge. Those who like the option for a wired connection will be disappointed to know that the latest Flip 5 has gotten rid of the 3.5mm audio jack input. If an audio jack is a requirement for you, the Charge 3 is what you need. Another point in favor of the JBL Charge 3 is due to its speakerphone feature and voice assistant integration, functionalities that the Flip 5 lacks. 

Verdict

The JBL Charge 3 offers overall better value for your money, but if you want the option to pair your speaker with future JBL releases, get the newer Flip 5 instead. 

The JBL Charge 3 towers above the JBL Flip 5 waterproof portable speaker in many departments. It’s louder, delivers punchier bass, boasts longer battery life, and offers other nifty smart features that are unavailable on the Flip 5. As mentioned earlier, if you currently own JBL speakers that pair through Connect+ and you need the speaker to be compatible with them, the Charge 3 is the clear choice for you. 

Meanwhile, if you’re in the market for your first JBL portable speaker or want one that you can pair with the Pulse 4 and future speakers, you’re better off with the JBL Flip 5. The Flip 5 doesn’t get as loud and bass-heavy as the Charge 3, but it delivers cleaner sound across different genres.

On the other hand, the Charge 3’s audio sounds muffled at times. On top of that, while the extra features on the Charge 3 may sound appealing at first, many users don’t end up making use of them. If you don’t mind paying a bit more in exchange for deeper bass that doesn’t compromise clarity, we recommend getting the JBL Charge 4 instead of the Charge 3

Last update on 2020-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Rhodaline Escala-Phelps
Rhodaline Escala-Phelps

Managing Editor and Team Leader at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about people, product comparisons, culture, and current events.