JBL Charge 5 vs Flip 6: which Bluetooth speaker is better?

JBL Charge 5 vs Flip 6: which Bluetooth speaker is better?
(Image credit: Future / JBL)

A quick glance at our list of the best Bluetooth speakers will tell you that JBL makes two of the best models on the market – the JBL Charge 5 and the JBL Flip 6

We've tested both speakers extensively and are pleased to report that the Charge 5 and Flip 6 sound great for the money. Not a great surprise – JBL is a premium brand (owned by US audio giant Harman) that typically delivers performance-per-pound value.

One of the big differences between the Charge 5 and Flip 6 is that the former has a built-in phone charger, which could come in handy when travelling off-grid. It's also worth noting that the Charge 5 is a What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winner, which is a real feather in its cap.

So, which of these JBL speakers is best for you? You'll find our full and frank comparison below, including pricing, weight, build-quality, audio performance and more...

JBL Charge 5 vs Flip 6: at a glance 

  • The Charge 5 has a much longer battery life than the Flip 6
  • It can also be used to charge a mobile device
  • They both have the same waterproof and dustproof rating
  • Bluetooth 5.1 gives both greater range than their predecessors
  • Both sound good but the Charge 5 is more powerful

JBL Charge 5 vs Flip 6: price

JBL Flip 6 vs Charge 5: price

(Image credit: JBL)

The Charge 5 arrived in April 2021 with a price tag of £160 / $180 / AU$200. As of December 2022, it was widely available for around £130 / $150. 

The Flip 6 is one of JBL's newer and cheaper models. It made its debut in November 2022 priced at £130 / $130 / AU$200.

So, prices are nearly identical. But as we'll see, the Charge 5 does deliver a little more bang for your buck...

JBL Charge 5 vs Flip 6: design

JBL Flip 6 vs Charge 5: design

(Image credit: JBL)

JBL Bluetooth speakers have a definite look – one that is shared by both the Flip 6 and Charge 5. 

We place the JBL Flip 6 next to the Charge 5, and, externally at least, it’s a case of spot-the-difference. While the logo on the Flip 5 was a subdued affair, it's got a lot bigger and bolder on the Flip 6. The Charge 5 shares this new look, along with the same tubular design.

The latest-generation Flip has passive bass radiators that feel cool, textured and metallic rather than smooth and rubbery. It's also noticeably lighter than the Charge 5 (550g vs 960g). That could be worth bearing in mind if you're planning to take this speaker on a long hike.

Finally, they both come in the same nine colour schemes: Dusty Pink, Grey Stone, River Teal, Fiesta Red, Ocean Blue, Midnight Black, Steel White, Forest Green and Squad. Which gives you plenty of choice.

JBL Charge 5 vs Flip 6: features

JBL Flip 6 vs Charge 5: features

(Image credit: JBL)

The main selling point of the Charge 5 is its battery. It gives you enough juice for 20 hours of playing time. It even has a USB-A port that can be used to charge up your mobile devices – handy if you get caught with a low battery far from home.

The Flip 6 has no such skills. Its battery is also smaller, delivering 12 hours of run time before needing a charge.

Both share the same rugged build and the same IP67 rating – this means they're dust-tight, and can withstand being submerged in up to 1m of water for 30 minutes. So if you're heading to the beach, pool, or, er, desert, they can happily go along for the ride.

They both have impressive audio specs, too. Both feature separate bass drivers and tweeters, and both have the same PartyBoost feature (which lets you wirelessly pair them with other JBL speakers for a louder sound).  We press the PartyBoost button on the Charge 5 and on the Flip 6, and sound dutifully comes from both, clearly and with no notable lag. It’s a neat feature, although some existing JBL owners may be irked by PartyBoost’s lack of support for JBL's older Connect+ tech.

Both speakers have the same Bluetooth 5.1 wireless tech, up from Bluetooth 4.2 on their predecessors. This expands the wireless range from 10 metres to about 40, which is quite some improvement.

JBL Charge 5 vs Flip 6: sound quality

What Hi-Fi? test regularly tests the world's most advanced (and expensive) hi-fi loudspeakers, so we know a thing or two about exceptional sound. 

Having spend many hours with both the Charge and Flip 6, we can vouch for their abilities, although there are some subtle differences...

The Charge 5 delivers an agile sonic performance – tracks have plenty of impact, vocals are energised and feel well-placed in what is an expansive mix for a portable speaker of this size.

We cue up British Sea Power’s melancholy soundscape, Tiger King, an are treated to detailed and accurate cymbals and drum crashes, proving the Charge 5 is capable of delicacy and nuance as well as oomph and bass clout.

The Flip 6 puts on a zippy, agile and fun show for us. There’s plenty of oomph and energy across the frequencies, with any perceived bloatedness melting away once the speaker has been properly run in overnight to reveal a surprisingly full-bodied low end.

At the outset of Amateur Theatre Group’s Feed Me To The Lions there’s a pleasingly three-dimensional feel to the pensive keys, kick drum and lilting guitar. During Curtains, the Flip 6 presents a surprisingly accurate sense of each band member’s position within the soundstage, too. 

Overall, the heftier, more powerful Charge 5 sounds that much richer and is more forgiving when it comes to the top end.

JBL Charge 5 vs Flip 6: verdict

Two JBL Bluetooth speakers; two mighty fine prospects. The Flip 6 and Charge 5 are very much alike – they look very similar, have similar sonic components, and will withstand the elements to the same degree. They share a lot of the same skills too, with Bluetooth 5.1 and PartyBoost present and correct on both devices.

But if you want eight hours more battery life, the ability to charge up your mobile or tablet and richer sound, the Charge 5 is for you. If 12 hours of battery life suffices, and you have a portable charger, then the lighter Flip 6 might be a better option.

How we test Bluetooth speakers

At What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year at our state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath. We have complete control over the testing process from start to finish, and we review products as a team as opposed to individually, ensuring that no opinion goes unheard.

Our team is filled with some of the most notable experts in the audio world, with over 100 combined years of reviewing experience between them, and they work tirelessly to assess each product on its merits – without prejudice.

Besides the sound quality of a Bluetooth speaker, which we test with every genre of music from classical to hip-hop, we scrutinise every aspects of its design, including battery life, the robustness of its Bluetooth connection, how easy it is to use and set up, and finally how well built it is. 

More importantly, our review philosophy or process does not change whether we're evaluating a basic, budget Bluetooth speaker from an unknown brand or a high-end, premium model from a class-leading brand.

All products are judged on a performance-per-pound basis and, as part of the process, put up against the current class leader(s) at that price point to see how they compare and to help us settle on a star rating. After all, there's no point making a Bluetooth speaker that sounds incredible but costs five times as much as the closest competition.

Finally, there's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to the verdict, with What Hi-Fi? proud of having delivered honest, unbiased reviews for decades. In short, we do all the hard work and research for you, so that you can always trust our buying advice.

MORE:

Another JBL head to head: JBL Charge 5 vs Charge 4: which Bluetooth speaker is better?

These are the best wireless speakers

What else makes the grade? Best Bluetooth speakers

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.

  • whtuser
    JBL_Flip_5 Review said:
    "Better" for whom? When the port on my JBL_Flip_6 loosens up and stops charging all else becomes irrelevant. Unlike your other mobile devices repair and parts are purposefully unavailable. Right out of the box the battery lasts little over ONE HOUR which I've tested and re-confirmed on multiple JBL_Flip devices per generation over half a decade. As with other disgustingly oversized electronics conglomerates Samsung_JBL deflects complaints through third party call centers so there is never resolution to monetary loss nor ecological damage caused by Samsung, (a company owned by insurance companies and chaired by notable billionaire convict Lee_Jae_Yong) . They know your JBL_Flip_6 will be dead in a year and they're happy about it. This is probably the only instance in which I would suggest that short of abstaining from sound, buying a knock-off or fake of the exact same design would be the politically correct thing to do. They're all made in the same place before they're branded and if it lasts you a year you know you got the real thing.

    Hello. Was your problem resolved? What is your opinion about Flip 6 now?
    I saw that there is not even a single other review mentioning the same issue as yours. Maybe you were dealt a bad hand?
    Do you recommend this now?
    Reply