JBL is no stranger to the audio game and is known to produce accessories that cater to a diverse array of use-cases. One of the popular categories is its range of portable wireless Bluetooth speakers, and the JBL Flip 5 and the JBL Charge 4 fall in this category. These audio accessories have long battery life and double up as the perfect companion for outdoor events, beach parties, or any informal meet.
They aren't heavy, and the IPX7 rating makes the deal sweeter. Simultaneously, they are easy to carry, thanks to the cylindrical design, which makes it easier to grip them.
However, when it comes to the price-point, things are not so similar. While the older JBL Charge costs around $179, the Flip 5 carries a price tag of $120. So, it begets the question, if the $60 price difference is worth it.
And that's what we are going to find in this post as we compare the newer JBL Flip 5 against the JBL Charge 4, and find which portable Bluetooth speaker is better for their price-point, and if it's worth investing.
When it comes to the design, both the JBL Flip 5 and Charge 4 look almost the same. They have the same cylindrical build with side-firing passive radiators on the edges. The lightweight and the elongated design makes it easy to toss them in a backpack or a tote bag.
The Charge 4 is slightly heavier at almost 965g, but nothing you can't carry for a short duration. However, if you want to carry it on your hiking adventures or camping, the weight may add up in the long run. In short, the weight doesn't help the portability of the product.
Other than that, you will find the buttons at the top of the device. They are responsive and give off a tactile response when pressed. Oddly enough, Charge 4 doesn't have a Back button.
As noted earlier, Charge 4 has a rating of IPX7, meaning it can stay submerged in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
Interestingly, it even floats in water for a bit giving you enough time to rescue it should you drop it accidentally (if you are looking for a floating speaker, you should check out the UE Boom 3).
Do note that the Charge speaker doesn't have a mic, meaning if you do have your phone connected to the speaker, you will have to attend to it on your phone. Again, that may not matter to many people. I do not like attending to calls on a speaker. And hey, the 3.5mm headphone jack is still intact.
Interestingly, the Charge 4 has a feature called JBL Connect+, which you can use to wirelessly connect to other compatible JBL speakers to amplify the music volume. The best part is that you can pair it with a secondary speaker to create a stereo effect. Quite naturally, you will find it handy when it comes to outdoor usage, especially in parties.
As we noted earlier, the newer Flip 5 has a similar design. But when you place them next to each other, you will find that Flip 5 has a more streamlined appearance. It doesn't have the subtle base at the bottom like the Charge 4. Instead, Flip 5 has a neat spine running the speaker's length with the buttons and the battery indicator in place.
This design ensures you can seamlessly place it in a bike's bottle handle, among other places. Apart from axing the speakerphone functionality (no mic), JBL has skipped adding a 3.5mm headphone jack. Yep, it's all wireless business here.
Being a newer device, the JBL Flip 5 does away with JBL Connect+. Instead, it packs a newer tech named PartyBoost. This one enables you to pair your speaker with other PartyBoost-enabled speakers to amplify the sound.
When it comes to real-world usage, this feature doesn't have many happy users. For instance, quite a few users have stated in their Amazon reviews that it doesn't work as it should. And since this feature is not supported on older models like the Flip 4, you will have to buy newer models to get amplified sound.
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2. Battery Life
The crux of the Charge 4 is its charging power, and hence its name. This speaker can also double up a neat power bank and charge your gadgets like phones and earphones on the go. Yep, you read that right!
It has a whopping 7500mAh battery unit, and well, it can play music for a good 20 hours before needing a top-up. And the USB-C port means you can easily use your phone's charging cable in place of the original one should you misplace the latter.
Last but not least, it takes only about 4.5 hours to top it up fully. That's quite decent given the sheer size of the battery. If you have a party planned, just make sure to hook it up and it will be prepared for the long haul.
On the other hand, the Flip 5 doesn't bundle any such fancy features. Its battery is meant for one and only one thing — charging the speaker. The run-time is around 12 hours, which is around 8 hours less than the Charge 4.
Thankfully, both the speakers have a neat battery indicator at the top, which lets you know the amount of juice left.
3. Sound Quality
So, how's the sound quality of these two speakers? Let's start with the newer Flip 5. This 20W speaker packs a punch. The audio is crisp and clear and a resonating bass further accompanies it.
The Flip 5 bundles an upgraded driver that enhances the low-end frequencies a bit, and that translates into a distortion-free bass at high volumes. Several professional reviews back that. Compared to Flip 5, the Charge 4 packs peak power of 30W and delivers powerful audio. While the volume levels of both the speakers are almost at par, it's the overall clarity and quality which pushes the Charge 4 ahead of its Flip counterpart.
The bass is wider and more pronounced and more importantly, the audio has clarity. In short, you get better quality with the Charge 4.
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Charge the Way
It goes without a doubt that the JBL Charge 4 is heavier and bigger than its counterpart, undermining the portability factor. However, the improved soundstage and the sound clarity along with the powerful bass should be reason enough for you to buy this product.
The Flip 5 is more a compact product that you can take out for your hikes and other outdoor adventures. The weight won't feel like you are lugging a big rock at the end of the day.
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