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JBL Flip 5 vs UE BOOM 3 (2021): Which Is the Better Waterproof Portable Speaker?

JBL and Ultimate Ears (UE) are two of the industry-leaders in the speaker market, and while you can’t go wrong with either brand, they have distinguishing features that make users gravitate to one over the other. We compare their bestselling mid-tier portable speakers–the JBL Flip 5 and the UE BOOM 3— to find out how they stack up against each other. Both are waterproof, compact, and, if you catch the BOOM 3 on sale, even their price difference becomes negligible. Here’s a closer look at their specs and features to help you identify which speaker best fits your needs. 

JBL Flip 5 vs UE BOOM 3 Portable Speakers Comparison Chart

ModelJBL Flip 5Ultimate Ears (UE) BOOM 3
 JBL Flip 5UE Boom 3 Ultimate Ears
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at Amazon.com

Dimensions

18.1 x 6.9 x 7.4 cm

(7.1″ x 2.7″ x 2.9″)

18.4 x 7.3 cm 

(7.2″ x 2.8″)

Weight

1.19 lbs / 540 g

1.34 lbs / 608 g
BluetoothVersion 4.2Version 4.1
WaterproofIPX7 / Up to 3 ftIP67
RuntimeUp to 12 hoursUp to 15 hours
Wireless ChargingNoYes
USB PortUSB-CMicro USB
3.5 mm Audio InputNoNo
Drivers1 (20W RMS)
Customizable EQNoYes
Multiple Speaker PairingJBL PartyBoostUltimate Ears (UE)
Voice Assistant IntegrationNoNo
Color Options117
Year of Release20192017

Design and Build Quality

TheΒ  JBL Flip 5 is slightly lighter, but the UE BOOM 3 is slimmer and sleeker design and build quality

Both speaker models house clickable buttons for controls, but the JBL Flip 5‘s (left and top) are slightly more responsive than the UE BOOM 3’s (right and bottom)

Both the JBL Flip 5 and UE BOOM 3 are compact, lightweight, and have a tough exterior that protects the speaker from accidental drops and spills. As they are both portable, their slight weight and size difference is almost unnoticeable. When it comes to aesthetics, however, the UE BOOM 3 takes the prize. Its high-grade fabric grille, flat top and bottom, and elegant colors work together to give the UE BOOM 3 a sleek, modern look. JBL’s Flip 5 looks outdated when compared side by side with the UE BOOM 3.

With an IPX7 rating, the JBL Flip is waterproof in up to 3 feet for up to 30 minutes. Similarly, the IP67-rated UE BOOM 3 can endure submersion for up to 30 minutes and is also dustproof. Ultimate Ears kicks it up a notch by designing the BOOM 3 to float. You can drop the UE BOOM 3 into the pool and watch it float back to the surface. In contrast, you risk damaging your Flip 5 speaker if it gets submerged deeper than 3 feet. 

Audio Quality

The Ultimate Ears (UE) BOOM 3 can get louder and delivers slightly deeper bass than the JBL Flip 5

jbl flip 5 vs ue boom 3
Unlike the JBL Flip 5 (left), the UE BOOM 3 (right) allows EQ customization

While their audio quality is great for their price, we can’t expect the same stunning audio from high-end speakers such as the Bose SoundLink series. Having said that, both the JBL Flip 5 and UE BOOM3 pack rich, powerful sound in their small footprint. They deliver crisp, immersive audio and remain among the best-sounding waterproof portable speakers at their price points.

Between the two, the UE BOOM 3 can get louder than the JBL Flip 5 and its bass is slightly deeper. On top of that, the EQ settings on the UE BOOM 3 are customizable. However, adjusting the low-ends on the BOOM 3 tends to muddle the treble a bit and its clarity declines as the volume gets louder. 

If you’re after cleaner bass and undistorted highs and mids, the JBL Flip 5 checks these boxes. As both have stable Bluetooth connectivity, using either the JBL Flip 5 or the UE BOOM 3 for watching videos won’t be an issue. There are rare instances where there’s a slight latency period when using the Flip 5, but you will hardly notice the delay unless you concentrate hard on the audio.  

Deal Finder
UE BOOM 3

The Ultimate Ears (UE) BOOM 3 packs powerful sound and deep bass in its sleek, buoyant frame. With up to 15 hours of battery life and an IP67 rating, the UE BOOM 3 is an excellent outdoor or pool party companion.

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Set-Up and Controls

The UE BOOM 3 can be paired with a wider range of Ultimate Ears speakers

jbl flip 5 vs ue boom 3 (2) Pair the UE BOOM 3Β  with more than 150 MEGABOOM and BOOM portable speakers

The more speakers, the merrier. If you own other Ultimate Ears speakers, you can pair the UE BOOM 3 with other BOOM and MEGABOOM speakers to fuel any party. Even the older BOOM and WONDERBOOM models can be paired with the BOOM 3 without issues.

The same cannot be said about the JBL Flip 5. To the disappointment of many, JBL updated its pairing protocol, making the PartyBoost-enabled Flip 5 incompatible with older JBL speakers that pair using the JBL Connect+. As of May 2020, the only other JBL speaker that pairs through PartyBoost is the JBL Pulse 4. This may not be an issue if you don’t plan on taking advantage of multiple-speaker pairing, but it is something to consider otherwise. 

Both the JBL Flip 5 and UE BOOM 3 offer a solid Bluetooth connection and pair seamlessly with compatible speakers. However, the Flip 5 slightly edges out the BOOM 3 when it comes to their Bluetooth range. The UE BOOM3’s range is around 65 to 85 feet while the Flip 5’s connection doesn’t drop until you are 85 to 90 feet away from the speaker. 

Battery and Additional Features

The JBL Flip 5 uses a USB-C for charging while the UE BOOM 3 can be charged wirelessly

battery life and other features of the jbl flip 5 vs ue boom 3
Unlike the JBL Flip 5 (left), the UE BOOM 3 (right) is compatible with a wireless charging dock

Get the music going for hours with the impressive battery life of the JBL Flip 5 and UE BOOM 3. The Flip 5 and the BOOM 3 have a listed runtime of up to 12 and 15 hours, respectively. Having said that, expect these numbers to vary depending on your speaker settings. 

Another feature that might make you choose one over the other is their charging functionalities. The JBL Flip 5 is equipped with a USB-C port for more efficient charging while the UE BOOM 3 still uses micro USB. Where the BOOM 3 trumps the Flip 5 is in its wireless charging capability. While this may not be a major decision-making factor for many, certain users prefer having the charging option to simply dock the speaker on its base without fussing over cables. 

Verdict

You’ll get more bang for your buck with the JBL Flip 5, but the UE BOOM 3’s added features make it worth the small price jump

Deal Finder
UE BOOM 3

The Ultimate Ears (UE) BOOM 3 packs powerful sound and deep bass in its sleek, buoyant frame. With up to 15 hours of battery life and an IP67 rating, the UE BOOM 3 is an excellent outdoor or pool party companion.

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As the speaker with a cleaner, more balanced profile and a more attractive price point, our favor tips slightly for the JBL Flip 5 in this comparison. It features a USB-C charging port to boot. Having said that, the Flip 5 only wins by a hair. The UE BOOM 3′s sleek, modern aesthetics, louder volume, wider pairing compatibility, and wireless charging option are its key features that are hard to ignore. On top of that, its buoyant frame makes it the better pool and beach companion. 

FAQs

πŸ“Œ Which is better, the UE BOOM 3 or the JBL Flip 5?

It’s a close match between the JBL Flip 5 and UE BOOM 3, but we’ll have to go for the Flip 5 for its cleaner sound and more attractive price. If you don’t mind spending a bit more, the UE BOOM 3’s sleek design and buoyant frame make it worth the slight price jump.

πŸ“Œ Is the UE BOOM 3 worth it?

If we’re talking about the UE BOOM 3 and the JBL Flip 5, the latter is the more worthwhile purchase. However, if you’re looking for a waterproof speaker for pool parties, it’s worth investing in the UE BOOM 3 as it can float in the water and has longer battery life.

πŸ“Œ How long does a UE BOOM 3 last?

Depending on your volume and pairing settings, the UE BOOM 3 can last for up to 15 hours.

πŸ“Œ Is the UE BOOM 3 loud?

Yes, the UE BOOM 3 is loud enough so you can liven up small indoor and outdoor parties without issues. In fact, it can get louder than the JBL Flip 5. The UE BOOM 3 can also be paired easily with other Ultimate Ears speakers.

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Rhodaline Escala-Phelps

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