JBL Flip 2 Review – Is It A Good Portable Speaker?
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The Flip 2 from JBL is a rough and tumble Bluetooth speaker for those who want their music with them anywhere, ideal for outdoor parties, picnics or when just out in the wilds. The original Flip brought some ruggedness to the portable speaker market, but not a massive amount in the way of audio quality.
The Flip 2 has some new internals to improve the sonic vibrance, with a bit more oomph to boost power and quality. It comes in a range of colors to suit your taste and has a decent storage case to keep it safe.
Key Features of the JBL Flip 2
The new elements to the Flip 2 start with that case, which is a bit more stylish and protective than the cheap bag that came with the previous model. This should help keep it better shape when travelling, not there’s the much that could dent the rubberized Flip 2.
The coating has had a bit of a makeover too, feeling a little softer, pliable and more bouncy than the previous model. We’re not going to drop test it, but it should survive plenty of rough and tumble. It is available in black, red, white or blue to suit and comes with a 6 volt lithium ion battery for around five hours of playback.
It has a USB charging port (lead provided) and an audio in jack, if you want to plug a music device in directly. You can also hook it up to your PC or any Android charger. Five small lights show the remaining power and the volume controls are on the top, if you play with it standing upright, but it also plays just as well flat.
All you need to do is tap to pair the device with your smartphone or iPod, or you can use Bluetooth to automatically pair with a device. You can control the volume with the integrated buttons (so you can use it even if your hands are wet) on the top, and turn off Bluetooth or phone mode.
Pros of the JBL Flip 2
- Can Be Horizontal or Vertical: The Flip 2 can be used vertically or horizontally as your go to music system when out and about. It has a slight lean in the vertical position to keep it stable, and the weight means it shouldn’t go flying off anywhere.
- Can be Used as Speakerphone: As a bonus, you can also use it as a speakerphone, but that’s hardly its main purpose in life, although the feature works fine with good voice quality at both ends.
- Good All Around Audio: What you really want though is the JBL drivers and bass port kicking away with your favorite tunes. To that end it works pretty well, with a pair of six-watt speakers, up a watt on the original model, providing decent treble and mid-range sounds.
- Flexible for Most Music Genres: Depending on the track, it plays most music well, with only busy riff heavy all-out rock really suffering through loud playback, most dynamic but structured dance, pop or classical comes out as nature intended, given the limitations of the streaming or source material, but that’s hardly the fault of the Flip 2.
- Can be Paired with Multiple Devices: It can be paired to more than one device if you want to have people throwing tunes at it, and can play while being charged, if you’re near a power point (and remembered to bring the charger that doesn’t fit in the case).
Cons of the JBL Flip 2
- Not Waterproof: Note, that despite being rugged, the Flip 2 isn’t water or splash proof. You need the newer splash proof Flip 3 or Xtreme models for that feature. However, if you’re just chilling by a quiet pool it provides enough output that you won’t need it by the water’s edge.
- Not Amazing Bass: The bass won’t rattle anyone’s teeth, which could be considered a plus, but it is hard to get decent bass of out this or any of its rivals due to the space constraints, the Flip 2 is just a little bigger than a soft drink can. Talking of space there’s no room in the case for the charger, just so you know.
- Grill Can Get Dirty: The grill around the front makes it looks pretty much like a high quality speaker and it remains pretty clean unless it accidentally gets rolled in some pastry, but I guess that depends on the kind of party you take it to.
- Doesn’t Stand Out: In what is a pretty crowded market now, there are also lots of competitors offering similar performance and maybe the odd killer feature for you, at around the same price point, so do shop around.
- Battery Life [My Main Objection]: Perhaps the main problem is the low battery life of just five hours, which is the same as the previous model. That’s hardly a decent day out and JBL needs to invest in some smarter tech to eek out the amps.
Final Recommendation: Should You Invest in it Today?
The JBL Flip 2 originally came out at the $129 price point, but you can now find it for around $80 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) from most online retailers. It felt a little pricey at the launch but is not pretty much a snap purchase for music lovers on the go.
With plenty of rivals on the market, the audio quality is pretty good, and certainly a step up from its predecessor. If you had one of those cheaper portable speakers kicking around, then the difference is highly noticeable.
However, the Flip 2 has been on the market for a year, and will be replaced by the splashproof (as long as it doesn’t get submerged, it should be fine) and bigger battery-carrying Flip 3 any time now. JBL claim some 10 hours of play time from the new models, so you might just want to hold on and see what prices they come out at.