A quick glance at our list of best Bluetooth speakers will tell you that JBL is one of the heaviest-hitting brands when it comes to turning out the best options. Here we're pitting two of its finest head to head: the JBL Charge 5 vs the JBL Flip 6?
Both speakers are brand new, and both boast a similar spec sheet. But which is worth your hard-earned cash? Let's run down the differences and see.
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
JBL Charge 5 vs Flip 6: price
The Charge 5 launched recently with a price tag of £159 ($180, AU$199). That's a little pricier than the Flip 6's price of £129 ($129, about AU$175). But, as we'll see, the Charge 5 does deliver a little more bang, which deservedly commands a little more buck.
Because both speakers are so new (the Flip 6 isn't out until November), you're unlikely to find a deal on either. Still, it's worth keeping an eye out come Black Friday. You never know your luck...
JBL Charge 5 vs Flip 6: design
JBL Bluetooth speakers have a definite look, one that is shared by both the Flip 6 and Charge 5. But being so new, both bear recent changes that JBL has brought to its design language.
For starters, the logo has changed. Whereas on the Flip 5, the JBL logo 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 and rubberised elements. The Charge is a bit fatter than the Flip 6 though, with the latter maintaining its slim profile for its entire length.
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
The main selling point of the Charge 5 is its battery. It gives you enough juice for 20 hours of playing time. It's so big, in fact, it can be used to charge up your mobile phone – 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). PartyBoost is very similar to JBL's older Connect+ feature, but sadly the two aren't compatible, so you can't pair either the Flip 6 or Charge 5 with their previous-generation incarnations. You can pair them with each other, however, and with a possible daisy chain of up to 100 speakers at your disposal, you could have quite a party.
And they both 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
Of course this all doesn't mean much if the speakers don't sound good. Thankfully they do. Or at least the one we've tested does (we'll have a review of the Flip 6 as close to its November launch date as possible).
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. Any brightness in the tweeter melts away once the speaker is run in, leaving only clean, clear treble frequencies to enjoy.
We're yet to put the Flip 6 through its paces. But the Flip 5 previously topped our list of best Bluetooth speakers, and you don't get there without excellent sound quality. We can't wait to give the Flip 6 a listen.
JBL Charge 5 vs Flip 6: verdict
Two new 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.
Really it comes down to battery. If you want eight hours more battery life, and the ability to charge up your mobile or tablet when out and about, the Charge 5 is for you. If 12 hours of battery life suffices, and you have a portable charger, save your money and opt for the Flip 6.
We've mentioned it already, but it's worth reiterating – we haven't tested the Flip 6 yet. We'll update this once we have.
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