JBL Flip Review

Updated February 28, 2014
cs-product-header
JBL Flip
Bottom Line

The JBL Flip can't match the sound performance of the Bose SoundLink Mini (Est. $200) , but it offers quite good sound quality for half the price. It also has a speakerphone function and a neoprene carrying case, two features that are much missed on the SoundLink Mini. The speaker's weakest point is its five-hour battery life. We read some complaints about unreliable streaming performance, but those problems seem to have been resolved.

Performance

Sounds good for its size. Both professional reviewers and owners say the JBL Flip delivers surprisingly good (and loud) sound for its small size. Jeremy Horwitz of iLounge compares it favorably to the larger Jawbone Jambox , saying its sounds "crisper and more detailed." Other reviewers, however, point out its limitations. CNET says there's not much stereo separation and it doesn't sound great at top volume, while many reviewers at Amazon.com find the bass a bit weak. A much bigger problem, however, is the Flip's five-hour battery life, which is weak even for a mini speaker.

ProsGood sound quality, Very compact, Speakerphone feature, Low priceConsPoor battery life, Problems with signal on older units

Ease of use

Minimal features. Aside from the much-appreciated speakerphone function, the JBL doesn't offer a lot of features. There are only four buttons on the speaker itself, and it doesn't include a remote control. We also read some complaints about problems with the Flip's ability to stream through Bluetooth. Both professionals and users report problems such as limited range and breaks in the music stream. However, an Amazon.com reviewer contacted JBL about this problem and reports that it has been corrected on newer units. More recent reviews report no problems with pairing and say that the Bluetooth range is a normal 30 feet.

Design

Clever design. The Flip takes its name from its unique design: a cylindrical speaker that can be flipped between horizontal and vertical positions. Reviewers note, however, that the control buttons are only easy to reach when the speaker is vertical. Aside from that quirk, reviewers generally like the design, which Horwitz calls "handsome and substantial-feeling." At 6.3 inches tall (or wide) and weighing less than a pound, the Flip is very easy to transport, especially with the included carrying pouch.

image
Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $179.00   
Average Customer Review:  

Our Sources

1. CNET

JBL Flip Review: Portable Bluetooth Speaker Stands Tall, David Carnoy, Dec. 21, 2012

Carnoy gives the JBL Flip 4 stars out of a possible 5. He likes its portable, versatile design and says it has good sound quality and volume for its size. However, it doesn't handle bass very well, and the five-hour battery life is "only OK."

2. DigitalTrends.com

JBL Flip Review, Ryan Waniata, Jan. 28, 2013

Digital Trends awards the JBL Flip 4 stars out 5, saying, "Its clear dominance in sound and $100 price tag make it a serious contender for king-of-the-hill." Though reviewer Ryan Waniata likes the Flip's "compact and original design," he's disappointed by its poor battery life and lack of accessories.

3. iLounge.com

JBL Flip Portable Wireless Loudspeaker, Jeremy Horwitz, Oct. 17, 2012

The JBL Flip earns the very rare "Highly Recommended" label at iLounge, with a grade of A. Reviewer Jeremy Horwitz calls it "one of the best speakers we've ever tested, period," praising its attractive design, compact size and great performance.

4. Amazon.com

JBL Flip Wireless Bluetooth Speaker (Black), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2014

There are more than 700 reviews for the JBL Flip at Amazon.com, with ratings averaging 4.5 stars out of 5. Owners praise its good volume, compact design and overall sound quality. There are some complaints about unreliable Bluetooth connections, but this problem seems to have been resolved on new units.

5. BestBuy.com

JBL - Flip Portable Stereo Speaker for Most Bluetooth-Enabled Devices - Black, Contributors to BestBuy.com, As of March 2014

The JBL Flip has about 100 reviews from users at BestBuy.com. It earns 4.5 stars out of 5 overall, with 9 out of 10 reviewers recommending it. Owners praise its sound quality, compact size and low price, but they're disappointed with its battery life, and a few find it unreliable.

6. Crutchfield.com

JBL Flip, Contributors to Crutchfield.com, As of March 2014

About 30 owners review the JBL Flip at this online audio retailer, giving it 4.5 stars out of 5 overall. Here, as at other sites, users love the speaker's small size, sound quality and low price, but they dislike its short battery life.