JBL Flip 5 vs UE Boom 3: Which Exter­nal Blue­tooth Speak­er Should You Buy

Namrata Gogoi

Both JBL and Ultimate Ears or UE are no strangers to wireless portable Bluetooth speakers. Over the years, these two companies have churned out a handful of popular and well-made speakers. While JBL Flip 5 is one of the newest speakers from JBL, the UE Boom 3 is slightly older.

JBL Flip 5 vs UE Boom 3 Which External Bluetooth Speaker Should You Buy

The UE Boom 3 made a debut in early 2019 and still reigning on the charts of top recommendations. The 360-degree booming sound is still a plus and the IP67 waterproof and dust-proof rating is the cherry on top.

So how does it stack up against the new JBL Flip 5? We are going to find this post today as we compare the new JBL Flip 5 with the older (and popular) UE Boom 3 to help you make an informed decision.

As it's going to be a long piece, let's jump right in.

Design and Portability

At first glance, there isn’t much about the Flip 5 there would differentiate it from its predecessor. It packs the same cylindrical design with rubberized edging.

It measures just around 3.64 x 3.6 x 8.5 inches and weighs about 1.19 pounds (540g). Naturally, this small scale means you can carry it easily, whether it's to a beach party or a hiking adventure.

JBL Flip 5 vs UE Boom 3 2 2

The speaker has a solid build and has an impeccable finish. The button layout remains consistent as found in predecessors of the same Flip series lineup. You will find the passive bass radiators at either end. One significant change is the inclusion of a fast-charging USB-C port on the slim strip that runs the length of the speaker.

Despite its cylindrical shape, you can place the Flip 5 both horizontally and vertically as per your preference. It has an IPX7 waterproof rating and can be submerged in water (up to a meter) for 30 minutes. So, even if it slips into the pool at your next party, it'll come out in one shape.

The Flip 5 is available in 14 different colors and the camouflage-design is quite cool. One cool addition is that you can also customize the looks of the outer case. Cool, right?

If the Flip 5 is more about smooth edges, the UE Boom 3 is about sharp edges. This cylindrical speaker, which measures about 2.9 x 2.9 x 7.25 inches, resembles a tall soda can with a flat top and slightly sharp edges. However, let that not deter you from getting this Bluetooth speaker. The flat design ensures that you can plant it safely in the can-holder of your car or slip it into the bottle holder of your backpack.

JBL Flip 5 vs UE Boom 3

And well, the cylindrical shape helps its 360-degree sound (more on that later).

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Not only is the Boom 3 durable, but it can also float in water. Speaking of water, this portable speaker is rated IP67 and is immersible in water for up to 30 minutes.

2. Controls and Connectivity

Most UE speakers are recognized by their signature (and huge) Plus and Minus buttons at the front, and the Boom 3 is no different. The buttons are large and are splayed across the spine of the speaker. If you recollect, the Boom 2 had a rubber strip running down the spine, and the buttons were embossed on top of that.

The strip is still there. However, this time it has thinned down to give it a more slim look. And, it has a tiny hang loop as well.

UE Boom 3 sound comparison 5

The subtle Plus and Minus buttons mean you can feel the buttons easily. "The volume controls on Boom 3 are much nicer easy to find in the dark," writes one user.

So, what makes the Boom 3 stand out? Well, when it comes to the controls, I'd say it is the Magic Button. This nifty feature lets you link the speaker to your favorite playlists (maximum 4 ). Cool, right? If you are an iPhone user, the app of choice is Apple Music (see YouTube Music vs. Apple Music vs. Spo­ti­fy) while Android users can use Deezer Premium.

Sorry, Spotify users.

JBL Flip 5 vs UE Boom 3 magic

When it comes to the Flip 5, nothing much has changed. The controls are still at the same place — running across the spine of the speaker. But don't be fooled by the similar-looking array of buttons. There is a neat new infinity-shaped button, and that is the new PartyBoost button.

As suggestive of its name, it allows you to pair your speaker with other PartyBoost-enabled speakers. You will be able to connect two compatible speakers in stereo and three and more in mono.

However, this feature sounds better on paper as quite a few reviewers on Amazon have expressed their displeasure over this feature not working as it should be. That feature is not supported on older models like the Flip 4.

JBL Flip 5 vs UE Boom 3 partyboost

The feature exists in the Ultimate Ears speakers as well, and you can connect up to 150 speakers. The best part is that the feature is backward-compatible. Now, that's a plus.

3. Sound Quality

Now comes the most important part - how does the $99 JBL Flip 5 perform?

Well, let me put it out there for you. The JBL Flip 5 packs a mean punch and has a clear and crisp audio output. It is accompanied by a resonating bass that is deep enough to have you grooving to the beats of songs. Of course, it would be wrong to expect thunderous bass, but you get my drift.

UE Boom 3 sound comparison 3

More importantly, this tiny speaker is loud enough to be used in any party or outdoor event. The good part is that the bass doesn't distort even at high volume. That has been backed by several reviews as well as the folks at PC Mag. That is due to the improved DSP which is responsible for thinning out deep lows

If we talk of the hardware, the Flip 5 comes with 20-watt speakers and 44-by-80mm drivers.

When it comes to the UE Boom 3, the name says it all. Don't let the small scale fool you for this speaker is powerful and loud. It can easily double as your go-to speaker for pool parties. And when it comes to indoor events, rest assured that you won't be winding up the volume (it has a maximum volume of 90 decibels).

UE Boom 3 sound comparison 1

However, the Boom 3 sacrifices quality for the loudness. The audio is not sharp as you would have wanted in a $150 speaker. That said, the overall quality is good as long as you do not dive into the details. Plus, you have 360-degree audio, which allows more sound dispersion.

Speaking of the hardware, this one bundles a duo of 2-inch drivers and two 4-inch passive radiators.

4. Battery Life

An outdoor speaker with teeny-tiny battery life is not anyone's idea of a good speaker. Thankfully, in this area, both the speakers do not disappoint. While the JBL Flip 5 claims a battery life of 12 hours, the UE Boom 3 offers a playback time of 15 hours.

The good folks at SoundGuys tested this claim and found that the battery life falls a little short at around 9.3 hours. Similarly, Boom 3 was able to churn out 8.3 hours on moderate volumes.

UE Boom 3 sound comparison 2
Battery Life of the JBL Flip 5

Again, this is great for a casual day on the beach or by the pool. However, if you are expecting 24x7 nonstop music, then sadly these speakers won't cut it.

On the upside, the Flip 5 is future-proof and bundles a fast-charging USB-C port. It can top up the Flip 5 in around 2.5 hours. Plus, there's a handy indicator at the side which lets you see the amount of juice left.

JBL Flip 5 battery 2

As opposed to it, the Boom 3 bundles the older micro-USB port. So yeah, you will have to hold on to the charging cable dearly lest you misplace it.

If you are in a mood to experiment, you can check out the in-house Power Up Wireless Charging Dock, which can wirelessly juice your speaker.

Verdict: JBL Flip 5

When it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers, the JBL Flip 5 checks all the right boxes. It encompasses both quality and loudness. The battery life is also decent and so is the portability.

There are some limitations though. JBL has removed the speakerphone functionality. That means you won't be able to connect your phone, neither would be able to call up Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri. Even the 3.5mm AUX port is also gone.

However, if you want a booming audio with a 360-degree surround sound, the UE Boom 3 is the one for you. The rounder body lets you carry it easily and the waterproof design sweetens the deal.

At the same time, it bundles a few extras. For example, the app has an equalizer which allows you to tweak the sound as per your liking. Plus, you can also save EQ presets. And well, you can link it with other UE speakers (8 maximum) to create a party atmosphere. Cool, right?

Next up: Do Bluetooth codecs like SBC, LDAC, and aptX Bluetooth Codec really matter? Click on the link below to find all about them in the post below.


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Namrata loves writing about products and gadgets. She has been working for Guiding Tech since 2017 and has around three years of experience writing features, how-tos, buying guides, and explainers. Previously she worked as an IT Analyst at TCS, but she found her calling elsewhere.