JBL Flip 4 Review

by Reads (6,400)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 10
      • Features
      • 9
      • Performance
      • 10
      • Durability
      • 10
      • Total Score:
      • 9.75
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Loud and full sound
    • Durable, waterproof design
    • Available in different colors
    • Built-in microphone
    • Well-priced for everything you get
  • Cons

    • Wall charger not included, just the USB cable

JBL has been producing Bluetooth speakers for some time now. The JBL Flip 4 is (you guessed it) the fourth iteration of this cylindrical battery-powered wireless speaker. Retailing for $99, the Flip 4 improves on the Flip 3 by carrying an IPX7 waterproof rating, all while occupying the same price point. Let’s dive in and see how it does.

JBL Flip 4 Design

The Flip 4 is available in six different colors. Besides the red of our review unit, you can also choose from black, blue, gray, white, and turquoise. A color-matched string lanyard is included. The lanyard has a big enough loop that you can put your hand through it.

The Flip 4 has a fair amount of heft when you pick it up. The total weight is just over 1.1 pounds (515 grams). It’s 6.9 inches long, and has a 2.8-inch diameter. That’s small enough to throw into a bag or backpack without second thought. The Flip 4 doesn’t include a carry case, but it feels durable enough that we think getting is probably unnecessary. A quick search on Amazon showed a number of aftermarket cases available to fit the Flip 4, should you feel the need.

The outside bumpers of the device are soft-touch plastic, while the perforated section that covers most of the device is fabric. The red of our review unit will likely do a good job of hiding dirt and grit, though we wonder how well the lighter colors will hold up.

The whole device has a great feel in the hand. We think it sounds best when situated horizontally, as shown in the picture, but you can also stand it on either end. The circular pieces covering each end of the body vibrate while music is playing, as the center of the device is a passive bass chamber.

The Flip 4 carries an IPX7 waterproof rating. That’s another way of saying it can be completely submerged, up to 1 meter below the surface, for 30 minutes. It floats, too, in case you’re wondering. We thoroughly tested the waterproof nature of the Flip 4, and can say it’s certainly safe to expose to a rainstorm or a day at the beach. The sound becomes muffled and unclear after the Flip 4 has been exposed to a lot of water, but that’s easy to remedy by turning it JBL logo-side down, and shaking out the water. The waterproofing is undeniably a great feature, even if you don’t intend on using it in a watery environment. If you get invited to a pool party, go to the beach, or spend a day on the water, or anywhere the elements might catch up with you, it gives a great sense of security. Even a lot of water won’t stop the party with the Flip 4.

JBL Flip 4 Sound Quality

There are two 8-watt speakers inside the Flip 4, along with the passive bass chamber that goes through the middle. At about half volume, this setup produces enough sound to fill a living room. If you’re hearing it for the first time, you’re bound to be impressed at how much sound can come from a device this size, and how full it sounds.

As for the sound quality itself, we think it’s commendable for what this device is designed to be, though with some limitations. Because the twin speakers are so close to one another, there’s no sense of surround or spaciousness. You won’t hear something go from left to right, for example; you would need speakers spaced further apart for your ears to perceive that kind of effect. We don’t necessarily hold this against the Flip 4.

Bass is strong at all volume levels. It has a greater effect if the Flip 4 is sitting on a solid surface. The mid-tones sound slightly recessed, but that’s not unexpected with a device this size. There seems to be some bias in the sounds towards high notes, also characteristic of small speaker tuning. However, combined with the solid bass of the Flip 4, the sound is well balanced.

There’s a limit to how loud this device can get. We felt, although there was little distortion, that the sound was a bit strained once past about 60 percent volume, depending on the song. You can increase the volume past that point, but to us, it didn’t seem to get all that much louder. Of course, it depends on the song, too. You can probably squeeze more volume out of a classic rock song, than you can the latest bass-heavy party anthem.

JBL Flip 4 Connectivity

The JBL Flip 4 uses Bluetooth technology to wirelessly connect to your devices. Two devices – that is, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and the like – can be connected simultaneously. To connect a device, hold down the Bluetooth logo on the fabric portion of the device until there’s an audible tone. Your smartphone and other devices should then be able to see it. We had no trouble getting the Flip 4 connected to an iPhone 6 and a Windows 10-based desktop.

On close inspection, you might notice a second Bluetooth button on the Flip 4’s rubber spine. Pressing this button engages the JBL Connect+ technology, which allows the Flip 4 to connected to more than 100 other Connect+ enabled devices, such as other Flip 4 speakers. You could use this feature to fill your whole house with sound with bunch of Flip 4s. We didn’t have another Flip 4 on hand to try this out, but we have no reason to think it wouldn’t work as advertised.

When connected to a smartphone, you can answer a call on the Flip 4 by pressing the Play button, located on the device’s aft end. It has a built-in microphone, too, so don’t worry about getting up and finding your phone. You can also use the microphone to talk to Siri on an iPhone, or Google Now on an Android device.

While playing music, a single press of the Play button stops or resumes playback. Press it twice to skip to the next song. It’s a great feature, as you don’t need to be near your phone. Considering the waterproof nature of the Flip 4, you might very well find yourself in the middle of a pool and not exactly wanting your smartphone to be near you, anyway.

The rubber spine on the back of the Flip 4 holds its power button, which illuminates in blue when the device is on and connected. Below it are five white LEDs that indicate the remaining battery level. At the bottom is a rubber flap, under which is the USB charging port, and the headphone jack. You can plug in a non-Bluetooth device here via the 3.5mm auxiliary-in jack, and use the Flip 4 as a standard speaker, as well.

JBL Flip 4 Battery Life

The Flip 4 is powered by a 3.7V 3000mAh battery. JBL says that it can go for up to 12 hours of continuous audio playback, but we found this was optimistic. It might be possible to get that kind of life with lower volume levels. But if you’re at a party, or just want it loud, you’re looking at a couple of hours of life. The type of music you play will also vary the battery life. Listening to classic rock without a lot of bass requires less power than bass-heavy hip-hop.

JBL says the Flip 4 has a 3.5 hour charge time. That’s a while, but then again, its battery pack is rather large to begin with. No wall charger is included, just a USB cable. This connects under the rubber flap on the back of the device. The other end of it is a standard USB Type-A connector. You can charge the Flip 4 with your laptop, or any USB Type-A port that supplies power, but a wall charger will allow it to charge in much less time.

JBL Flip 4 Final Thoughts

We think the JBL Flip 4’s combination of style, sound quality, and durable waterproof design makes it well worth its asking price of $99. This speaker produces enough sound to fill a living room with full, clear sound. The waterproof nature is an undeniable asset at pool parties, the beach, and in the event you’re not as careful with your devices as you want to be.

Other features we liked about the JBL Flip 4 include its ability to take calls, thanks to a built-in microphone, and the media playback controls on the speaker itself. We didn’t get a chance to test it, but the JBL Connect+ technology theoretically allows you to connect over 100 Flip 4 speakers together.

Overall, the JBL Flip 4 is one device we’re glad to recommend.

Pros:

  • Loud and full sound
  • Durable, waterproof design
  • Available in different colors
  • Built-in microphone
  • Well-priced for everything you get

Cons:

  • Wall charger not included, just the USB cable



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