A quick look 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 big 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 can come in handy if you’re traveling off-grid. It’s also worth noting that the Charge 5 has a What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winner, which is real kudos.
So, which of these JBL speakers is best for you? Below is our full and candid comparison, 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 water and dust resistance
- Bluetooth 5.1 gives both a greater range than their predecessors
- Both sound good, but the Charge 5 is more powerful
JBL Charge 5 vs Flip 6: price
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 and cost £130 / $130 / AU$200.
So the prices are almost identical. But as we’ll see, the Charge 5 delivers a little more bang for your buck…
JBL Charge 5 vs Flip 6: design
JBL Bluetooth speakers have a clean look – one shared by both the Flip 6 and Charge 5.
We put the JBL Flip 6 next to the Charge 5, and from the outside it’s a matter of spot-the-difference. While the logo on the Flip 5 was an understated affair, it’s gotten 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 of 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 versus 960g). That might be worth bearing in mind if you’re planning on taking this speaker on a long walk.
Finally, they both come in the same nine color schemes: Dusty Pink, Gray Stone, River Teal, Fiesta Red, Ocean Blue, Midnight Black, Steel White, Forest Green, and Squad. So you have 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 playtime. It even has a USB-A port that can be used to charge your mobile devices – handy if you find yourself far from home with a low battery.
The Flip 6 has no such skills. The battery is also smaller, delivering 12 hours of runtime before needing to be charged.
Both have the same robust construction and the same IP67 rating – this means they are dust tight and can withstand submersion in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. So if you go to the beach, the pool or, er, the desert, they can happily ride along.
They both also have impressive audio specs. Both have separate bass drivers and tweeters, and both have the same PartyBoost feature (which lets you pair them wirelessly with other JBL speakers for louder sound). We hit the PartyBoost button on the Charge 5 and on the Flip 6, and the sound dutifully comes out of both, clear and with no noticeable lag. It’s a nice feature, though some existing JBL owners might be annoyed by PartyBoost’s lack of support for JBL’s older Connect+ technology.
Both speakers have the same Bluetooth 5.1 wireless technology, up from Bluetooth 4.2 on their predecessors. This increases the wireless range from 10 meters to about 40 meters, which is quite an improvement.
JBL Charge 5 vs Flip 6: Sound quality
Which Hi-Fi? test regularly tests the world’s most advanced (and most expensive) hi-fi speakers, so we know a thing or two about exceptional sound.
Having spent many hours with both the Charge and Flip 6, we can vouch for their capabilities, although there are some subtle differences…
The Charge 5 delivers a deft sonic performance – songs have plenty of impact, vocals are energetic and feel well placed in what is an expansive mix for a portable speaker of this size.
We cling British Navy‘s melancholic soundscape, tiger king, and are treated to detailed and accurate cymbals and drum crashes, proving that the Charge 5 is capable of delicacy and nuance, as well as oomph and bass power.
The Flip 6 gives us a snappy, nimble and fun show. There’s plenty of punch and energy across the frequencies, with any perceived puffiness melting away once the speaker has been properly broken in at night to reveal a surprisingly full low end.
At the beginning of the Amateur Theater Group Feed me to the lions there’s a pleasant three-dimensional feel to the pensive keys, kick drum and lilting guitar. During Curtainsthe Flip 6 also gives a surprisingly accurate sense of each band member’s position within the soundstage.
Overall, the heavier, more powerful Charge 5 sounds so 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 beautiful prospects. The Flip 6 and Charge 5 are very similar: they are very similar, have similar sound components and are equally resistant to the elements. They also share many of the same skills, 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 your mobile or tablet and richer sound, the Charge 5 is for you. If 12 hours of battery life is enough and you have a portable charger, the lighter Flip 6 might be a better option.
How we test Bluetooth speakers
Which Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products each year at our state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath. We have full control over the testing process from start to finish and we review products as a team rather than individually, so no opinion goes unheard.
Our team is made up of some of the audio industry’s foremost experts, with over 100 years of review experience combined, and they work tirelessly to judge each product on its merits – without bias.
In addition to the sound quality of a Bluetooth speaker, which we test with every music genre from classical to hip-hop, we examine every aspect of the design, including battery life, the robustness of the 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 doesn’t change whether we’re evaluating a basic, low-cost Bluetooth speaker from an unknown brand or a high-end premium model from a leading brand.
All products are rated on a performance per pound basis and, as part of the process, compared against the current class leader(s) at that price to see how they compare and to help us settle for a star rating. After all, there’s no point in making a Bluetooth speaker that sounds incredible but costs five times as much as the closest competition.
Finally, there is no input from PR firms or our sales team when it comes to the verdict, with What Hi-Fi? proud to have provided honest, unbiased reviews for decades. In short, we do all the hard work and research for you, so you can always rely on our buying advice.
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 figure? Best Bluetooth Speakers