It's no secret that we love a good Bluetooth speaker here at What Hi-Fi?. More specifically, we're particularly keen on JBL's current lineup of superb portable speakers, from its Award-winning Charge 5 to the burly goodness of the Xtreme 3 boombox. They look good, they sound great, and they'll be your lasting companion through wind, sleet, snow and volcanic eruptions. Ok, maybe not the last one.
One of our favourite members of the extensive JBL family is the excellent JBL Flip 6, the sequel to the equally excellent Flip 5 and one of the finest examples of its type and price available on the market today. If you have around £100 / $100 to spend on a Bluetooth speaker and you don't choose the JBL, you've maybe made a bit of an error.
Where, though, is the long-awaited sequel? While still going strong, the Flip 6 has actually been around since 2021, meaning we're coming up to three(!) years since it arrived in our testing rooms. It's time for an upgrade, and we're here to speculate when, and in what form, this bright young thing could potentially arrive.
JBL Flip 7: release date speculation
At this point, you could almost call the Flip 7 "overdue". We saw a trio of new Bluetooth speakers - the Go 4, the Clip 5 and the Xtreme 4 - all revealed at this year's CES showcase, but no sighting of the JBL Flip 7. That came as rather crushing disappointment to many on the team.
Considering JBL's overall release schedule, it was also something of a surprise. Studying the US brand's general pattern of releases reveals most major speaker lines drop a new iteration once every two years: the Flip 5 arrived at the beginning of August 2019, while the current Flip 6 was unveiled at the end of 2021.
Given the above, it makes sense to assume that a Flip 7 is due any day now given that 2024 is now well underway. Maybe JBL is taking its time to ensure that the prospective unit is as good as it possibly can be.
JBL Flip 7: expected price
We can speculate as to how much the Flip 7 will cost, but there's little set in stone right now.
Let's go back in time a bit and try to establish some sort of a pattern. 2017's Flip 4 launched at £120 / $110, a pretty reasonable price for what then was becoming a truly refined little product. A few years later, the Flip 5 arrived, and we tested the five-star unit at £100 / $100 / AU$139, a welcome drop in price from its predecessor.
Then came the Flip 6, sporting an increased price tag of £130 / $130 / AU$200. That does seem to indicate some fluctuations, although we'd be shocked if the price for the seventh-gen model went down rather than up. Inflation and financial instability are hitting everyone, including audio manufacturers, so it's unlikely that JBL can afford to drop prices down from the Flip 6's £130ish benchmark.
Not only that, but there may have been a concerted effort to offer the Flip 5 at a slightly lower price than the four-star Flip 4 in a bid to entice customers. Now that the fifth and six-gen models have both earned strong reviews and five-star ratings, JBL may feel justified in charging extra for a class-leading product.
A price range of £100-140 / $100-150 seems likely, although we'd guess JBL will be pushing towards the upper end of that price spectrum.
JBL Flip 7: the 5 things we'd like to see
1. A more forgiving sound
There's not a huge amount we'd frankly change about the sound of the current Flip 6. It's snappy, full-bodied and deeply energetic, with an audio profile that feels propulsive and musically adept. Things aren't all perfect, though.
We stated in our review that, while the Flip 5 was quite forgiving and easygoing through the higher frequencies, the Flip 6 "certainly exposes the harshness of some recordings." That sonic "honesty", shall we say, could be smoothed over at the top end to make for a truly well-balanced, uniformly pleasing listen when the new model finally arrives.
2. Additional nifty features
The Flip 6 isn't badly stocked in the features department, but it doesn't quite have it all. There's room for improvement, and considering that JBL is bringing in Auracast to many of its upcoming models, including in the cheaper and smaller Go 4 and Clip 5 models, we'd like to see it implemented with the seventh-gen Flip, too.
That doesn't have to be the end of it. Rival Ultimate Ears' "Outdoor Boost" is a handy way of boosting its speakers' sound when not inside (see the Epicboom), a version of which a Flip 7 model could similarly employ. We also lamented not being able to make phone calls using the Flip 6 (alas, no built-in mics) and the lack of a 3.5mm aux input for wired listening when the battery is flat, so those are additions we would be excited to see. After all, the aux input isn't dead yet, is it?!
3. Refine the design
Certain areas of the Flip line can't really be changed. A bigger size, for instance, isn't recommendable as it would go against its portable design ethos, and any smaller would compromise the size of the drivers used in the Flip. If you want a bigger-sized speaker (and more performance), you can always go for the Charge 5 or the Xtreme 3.
That isn't to say the design of the Flip 6 can't be refined upon. There's a small risk of the entire series going a little stale, so maybe a few visual and practical tweaks, such as more on-unit controls or more exciting colourways, would add some visual flair to an already pleasing composition. The unit's IP rating isn't perfect – the Flip 6's IPX7 rating doesn't factor in dust ingress to the unit, so making design changes so it can be certified to IP67 (or similar) would be desirable, especially to give peace of mind to users when they take the Flip 7 down to the beach.
4. Bolster the battery life
This is an easy one. Perhaps they've hit upon the right number, but the Flip line has now offered a total battery life of 12 hours for the last three generations: Flip 4, Flip 5 and Flip 6.
The likely danger is that JBL would have to make the entire unit bigger to incorporate a larger battery to get those numbers significantly higher. Still, any gains in battery life are welcome, especially given that this has been an area of stagnation for the entire series for a good while.
5. Fast charging would be a boost
If the current battery life is perfectly judged and we're not getting any more hours here, can we please cut down on how much time it takes to charge up the future Flip 7? The Flip 6's 2.5-hour total charging time isn't ideal when you just want to get up and out there with your favourite tunes, so being able to get an hour or two from a short 10-minute burst would be mightily handy.
Read our original JBL Flip 6 review
Which is best? Read our JBL Charge 5 vs JBL Flip 6 Bluetooth speaker battle
Best Bluetooth speakers: portable speakers for every budget