Bluetooth speakers have reached a point of saturation in the market where there seems to be an infinite number of options from $10 mini speakers to big boombox size ones that are hundreds of dollars. To stand out from the crowd, experienced audio company JBL has been continuously refining and expanding a full range of its own for a number of years. The JBL Flip 4 falls somewhat in the middle of their line, offering a lot of sound in a speaker the size of a water bottle. The Flip 4 brings a couple of great features in addition to great sound including IPX7 waterproofing, voice assistant integration, a speakerphone, and a unique ability to connect multiple devices for synchronized sound. How does it all add up? Find out below in our JBL Flip 4 speaker review.
JBL Flip 4 Design: Portability, Waterproofing and Solid Build
The Flip 4 is about the size of a typical 20 oz drink bottle and this makes it easy to throw in bags of all sizes when you’re on the go. The exact dimensions are 2.6 x 6.9 x 2.7 (inches). There are obviously smaller and larger options out there but I think the Flip 4 falls into a really nice sweet spot. It’s no big deal to take it with you on a hike, to the beach, to a campsite, etc, but still big enough to offer solid output. The speaker is very well made and has a nice feel to it with a combination of hard and soft rubber and mesh covering. A small design element I appreciate is how the ends of the speaker aren’t perfectly flat, which prevents the output from being muffled.
A portable speaker is something that can end up in a lot of places and the more protected from the elements it is, the better. The JBL Flip 4 thankfully has IPX7 waterproofing , which is good enough for getting caught in the rain, keeping in a cooler, dropping in a puddle or stream, and even being submerged for up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water. I actually brought it into the shower with me to listen to a podcast and loved that I could have great sound without having to blast a speaker in the bathroom. The Flip 4’s waterproofing is also a great insurance policy when you have it next to a hot tub or pool and it gets knocked in by accident.
Connectivity and Features:
JBL put a lot of thought into how they could make a simple Bluetooth speaker into something more and the Flip 4 has a range of added features. The JBL Flip 4 can function as a speakerphone when paired with your phone and it does a really nice as such, offering great output and an echo-cancelling microphone. People I called couldn’t tell I was on a speakerphone and said I came in loud and clear. Another great inclusion is integration with Apple and Google’s voice assistants, which are tools that I use regularly. With a simple press of a button on the speaker, you can activate Apple’s Siri or Android’s Google Assistant and ask your question or set a reminder, etc. This is nice to have and gives you a little bit of the functionality of a Google Home or Amazon Echo without purchasing an additional device.
JBL’s Connect + is a feature that really sets the newest generation of their speakers apart from competitors and while I didn’t get to review it, having only one speaker, if it works as advertised, it is a game changer for battery powered speakers. Connect+ allows you to link up to 100 speakers together playing the same source which means you can play music throughout a house, office, campsite, etc without needing one really loud speaker. Or you could use the feature to amplify your music with multiple speakers in the same place. Either way, it’s a functionality that is great to have available. JBL is working on updates for some of their older speakers to be compatible with Connect + as well.
The battery life has been pretty outstanding with the JBL Flip 4. With a 3000 mah battery, JBL promises up to 12 hours of longevity and while I haven’t done scientific testing of this number, I wouldn’t doubt it at all. I used the speaker over the course of the week, listening while camping, listening in the shower, and listening a bit at home and the battery life bar still had a dot left. Basically, you won’t have to worry about it running out of juice in most of the scenarios you would bring something this size. I did run into one strange issue and that was the included usb charging cable being faulty. I plugged it into an iPhone charging brick and the speaker only filled up 4 of the 6 charging level bars, no matter how long I left it on the charger. I tried using another micro-usb cable and it worked fine so I’m left believing the cable was defective. JBL will replace it but that was a bummer. Speaking of bummers, my one other gripe is the fact that the company doesn’t include a charging brick in the package with the Flip 4. I’m a bit torn on this because I like the idea of reduced waste but at the same time, I can see people getting angry about a $100 speaker not being able to charge without procuring an additional piece of gear.
The Heart of a Speaker: JBL Flip 4 Sound Output
In two words, the output of the JBL Flip 4 is outstanding and surprising. I was truly amazed the first time I connected it to my phone and fired up Spotify. The music is full and the clarity is excellent for something this size and even for speakers much larger. High end treble and vocals in the mid range are very well balanced and I didn’t feel like I needed to tune anything with an equalizer. Small speakers tend to struggle most with low and bass notes because those are best addressed with large drivers like a subwoofer. That said, the Flip 4 was able to put out some nice bass that rounds out the sound and gives it depth. It’s not groundshaking by any means, but it is impressive and full. Moving on to the volume level, this little speaker the size of a tallboy PBR gets shockingly loud and can easily fill a room at even 2/3rds of its maximum. I’d say that it could keep a party going at its top volume with 20-30 people in the room. Even better than having a high volume is that the sound quality stays very clean all the way to the top, giving up only a little bit of clarity compared to its sweetspot. You truly won’t be disappointed with the volume and quality of the Flip 4’s speaker output and will probably be quite surprised by its capabilities.
JBL Flip 4 Review Conclusion: A Truly Standout Portable Bluetooth Speaker
The JBL Flip 4 is really an amazing little bit of technology, combining great sound, impressive volume, versatility in the form of IPX7 waterproofing, and useful features like voice assistant integration, a speakerphone, and the ability to link multiple speakers together. All this adds up to an exceptional option that makes it one of the best portable bluetooth speakers available today. At between $90 and $100 depending on where you pick it up, the Flip 4 is more expensive then a lot of the Chinese brands you’ll find on Amazon but the payback is a full featured product backed by a company with a lot of experience in the audio industry and I believe it’s worth the money. Find out more at JBL.com.