JBL Flip 5 vs Charge 4 (2020): A Review of JBL’s Top Portable Speakers

JBL’s line of Bluetooth speakers strikes the perfect balance between excellent audio, build, and price. The latest addition to JBL’s waterproof portable speakers is the JBL Flip 5, a compact wireless speaker that boasts bolder sound. How does the Flip 5 fare against its heftier sibling, the JBL Charge 4? And what are the advantages of getting one over the other? We hone in on their sound quality, specs, and features to help you choose your next party speaker. 

JBL Flip 5 vs Charge 4 Portable Speakers Comparison Chart

ModelJBL Flip 5JBL Charge 4
 JBL FLIP 5 - Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker - Black (New Model) JBL Charge 4 - Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker - Black 
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″)

22 x 9.5 x 9.3 cm

(8.66″ x 3.74″ x 3.66″)

Weight

1.19 lbs / 540 g

2.12 / 960 g
BluetoothVersion 4.2Version 4.2
WaterproofIPX7 / Up to 3 ftIPX7 / Up to 3 ft
RuntimeUp to 12 hoursUp to 20 hours
Battery4,800 mAh7,500 mAh
Charging Time2.5 hours5.5 hours
3.5 mm Audio InputNoYes
PowerbankNoYes
Output Power20W RMS30W
Wireless PairingJBL PartyBoostJBL Connect+ 
Color Options1112
Year of Release20192018

Design and Build Quality

The JBL Flip 5 is more compact than the Charge 4, but both are robust, well-built, and both come in an array of colorsdesign and build

Here’s a side by side comparison of the JBL Flip 5 (left and top) and the Charge 4 (right and bottom)

Both speakers sport a rugged build and slightly curved profile that’s familiar in most JBL portable speakers. They house similar playback controls that blend seamlessly with the rest of the speaker’s grille. The most glaring difference between the two is their size and weight, with the JBL Flip 5 being more compact and lighter than the Charge 4. Weighing 960 g, the Charge 4 is almost twice as heavy as the Flip 5 that only weighs 540 g. If you prefer a speaker that you can easily carry everywhere, the Flip 5 is a no-brainer in this comparison.

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IPX7-rated, both the JBL Flip 5 and Charge 4 are waterproof down to 3 feet (that’s .9 meters for our non-American friends). They can withstand submersion for up to 30 minutes, and getting your JBL speaker drenched in the rain will not pose a problem. This makes either speaker an excellent outdoor adventure or pool party companion. They come in an array of colors to suit every style, from more subdued hues like white and camo to more vibrant shades like pink and teal. The Charge 4 also comes in black camouflage, a variant not available in the Flip 5. 

Audio Quality

The JBL Flip 5 delivers great sound quality, but when it comes to low-ends, it can’t compete with the JBL Charge 4

JBL Charge 4
If you’re after deeper bass and more detailed audio even at maximum volume, the JBL Charge 4 (in photo) won’t disappoint

It’s hardly fair to compare the audio quality of the more compact JBL Flip 5 to the bulkier Charge 4 as the former’s smaller build puts it at a disadvantage. In terms of volume, the Flip 5 is almost on par with the Charge 4 despite its size. However, its sound separation and bass are not as wide and punchy as the Charge 4’s. Impressively, its booming bass doesn’t compromise the clarity of its mids and highs. 

While the JBL Flip 5 can’t compete with the Charge 4’s heavier bass and wider soundstage, it isn’t terrible either. Its mids are bright and its bass is lively, considering its size. Where both the JBL Flip 5 and Charge 4 slightly struggle is in their audio latency. They only support SBC and not AAC, thus there’s a slight, albeit almost unnoticeable, lag when they’re used for watching movies.  

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Set-Up and Controls

The JBL Flip 5 uses JBL PartyBoost for multiple speaker pairing while the Charge 4 pairs through JBL Connect+

JBL Flip 5 waterproof portable speakerJBL PartyBoost is JBL’s new pairing protocol that the Flip 5 (in photo) uses to connect with PartyBoost-compatible JBL speakers

Another significant factor to consider when choosing between the JBL Flip 5 and Charge 4 is their speaker pairing protocol. If you currently own a collection of JBL wireless speakers that pair using the older JBL Connect+, the JBL Charge 4 is a better addition to this ecosystem. The JBL Flip 5 uses JBL’s latest pairing technology dubbed PartyBoost and, unfortunately, they are not compatible with JBL wireless speakers that use the Connect+.  

JBL has not released a statement as to why there’s no backward compatibility for the Flip 5. What JBL announced is that there will be no firmware update on the Connect+ to make the older speakers compatible with PartyBoost-paired wireless speakers. While this is something to mull over for those with the older JBL ecosystem, those with the JBL Pulse 4 won’t find any issues pairing with the Flip 5.   

Battery and Additional Features

The JBL Charge 4  doubles as a power bank and boasts longer battery life than the Flip 5

jbl flip 5 vs charge 4 portable speakers (5)
Get up to 12 hours of music playback with the JBL Flip 5 (left) and 20 hours with the Charge 4 (right)

Thanks partly to its larger footprint, the JBL Charge 4 packs a 7,500 mAh battery that provides up to 20 hours of usage. The Charge 4 further doubles as a charger so you can charge your phone (see right photo) or other compatible devices if they’re running out of juice. Meanwhile, the Flip 5 offers up to 12 hours of usage through its 4,800 mAh. While this looks less than stellar compared to the Charge 4’s, 12 hours is more than sufficient to fuel even a day-long party. 

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Both models use USB-C for charging. However, it can only be used for charging and not for wired listening. Only the Charge 4 comes with a 3.5 mm audio jack input. While the lack of audio jack input is not a total dealbreaker for many, it would have been nice to still have this wired option on the Flip 5. 

Verdict

Go for the JBL Charge 4 if you want better sound quality when hosting bigger gatherings. Otherwise, the newer JBL Flip 5 is your safer bet. 

Its livelier bass and overall better audio, longer battery life, power bank feature, and pairing compatibility with more JBL wireless speakers make it easier to recommend the JBL Charge 4 over the Flip 5. If you need a waterproof portable speaker for hosting larger gatherings, the Charge 4 is better equipped for this job. It’s also the better choice if you’re looking for another JBL speaker to pair with your existing ones. The only major downside to the Charge 4 is its Connect+ pairing protocol won’t be compatible with the future PartyBoost-compatible speakers that JBL will release. 

In the end, the JBL Flip 5 is the safer bet if you want to pair the Flip 5 with other speakers that pair through the JBL PartyBoost. As the more portable speaker, the Flip 5 is also great for outdoor enthusiasts who need to pack light. While its audio quality is not as clean as the Charge 4‘s, it’s no slouch either as it gets loud enough to liven up any small party’s atmosphere. 

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.