JBL undoubtedly has one of the most prominent names in the world of consumer audio devices. In fact, both consumers and professionals alike have come familiar with their line-up.
Some of their most successful products in the consumer realm have been their portable speakers for their rugged durability and low price point.
Falling between the $100-200 point, the Flip and Charge series of speakers from JBL strike an amazing point between price and performance. The Flip, on its fourth iteration, falls around $100 while the Charge, on its third iteration, comes in slightly higher at around $150.
However, while the Flip is slightly smaller, both speakers hold similar specifications. Both have hands-free functionality as portable Bluetooth speakers, are waterproof, and feature a stereo source.
My key question: Does the extra performance of the Charge warrant the extra $50?
Quick Compare: Flip vs Charge
|JBL Flip 4||JBL Charge 3
|Frequency Response||70Hz – 20kHz||65Hz-20kHz|
|Transducer SIze||2 x 40mm||2 x 50mm|
|Power Output||2 x 8W||2 x 10W|
|Battery Life||up to 12 hours||up to 20 hours|
JBL Flip 4
The lower-ended JBL Flip 4 proves to be a no-frills speaker that performances where it needs to be in a compact package with no fluff. The $99.95 price point makes it an attractive option for those who want a solid speaker on the go.
Frequency Response and Sound
The Flip 4 comes in with a rated frequency response of 70Hz – 20kHz. For how high up the cut-off is, the Flip 4 cranks out a good amount of punch in the low-end. The punch down here seems like JBL focused on putting the cut-off higher up to tighten up the low-end instead of trying to reproduce subs with such a small speaker.
The two 40mm drivers are impressive in this regard. Their small size gives quite a bit of low-end response. However, this is impressive in context with their size, but not overall. If you’re looking for loads of low-end, the Flip 4 doesn’t make the cut. However, the punch is enough to satisfy most listeners.
Throughout the rest of the spectrum shows why JBL is such a widely recognized name in consumer audio. The speakers feel balanced, without the overpowering mids or tinny highs. In this regard, the speaker sounds, well, just plain good. It isn’t overhyped in any area, and the high cut-off provides a punch, but not empty, experience.
For $99.95, the Flip 4 gets pretty loud too. The 8 watts powering each of the 40mm drivers can put out quite a bit of sound. For the small 68 x 175 x 70 (mm) footprint, it gets pretty loud.
However, at this price, you can’t expect the speaker to truly fill a room. While it is nice for listening quietly at a party, it isn’t going to pump out enough quality sound for large groups.
If you do want to crank up the sound, the Flip 4 comes with JBL’s Connect+ which allows you to link up more than 100 JBL Connect+ enabled speakers to bring the volume up.
Battery Life and Durability
On the battery life side, the Flip 4 handles itself pretty well. The 3000mAh lithium-ion battery will grant up to 12 hours of audio playback depending on the volume and content of the audio. The battery life is a nice sweet spot, giving enough to last through a full day, but not so much that you forget to charge it when you need to.
Speaking of charging, the Flip 4 can be juiced up pretty quick. The battery takes 3.5 hours to charge up from the dead with a 5V1A source. If you have 2.7A output, the speaker sound charge back up in no time. While it still takes some time, charging up the Flip, even on the go, isn’t a chore at all.
And, on the go is where this speaker seems to live. The speaker is built with a combination of fabric and stiff rubber and feels solid in the hands. Tossed, kicked, and stomped, it seems the Flip 4 can stand up to almost any challenge.
While at first, the fabric may seem inferior to a metal housing, it’s a smart design choice considering that the speaker is waterproofed. The Flip 4 is IPX7 Waterproofed, meaning it can easily be handled by rain or spills and can even be fully submerged in water.
The JBL Flip 4 Overall
Overall, the Flip 4 is a pretty direct product. JBL made some smart design choices combined with excellent build quality to deliver a speaker that shows off in exactly the areas that matter without jacking up the cost.
The stand-out features are the ones that count. The excellent battery life, sound quality, and build quality make the Flip 4 an excellent speaker on a budget, with no frills to justify a penny more.
Frequently Asked Questions about the JBL Flip 4 (FAQ)
Question: Does the Flip 4 have a 3.5 mm jack?
Answer: Yes, it does!
Questions: Can you answer the phone via the Flip 4?
Answer: Yes, by pressing the “Play” button when you are receiving a call you should be able to answer from your phone, assuming it is actively paired and within range.
JBL Charge 3
The JBL Charge 3 takes what the Flip 4 does right and expands upon it, making a speaker that’s overall heftier. In comparison, Flip 4 plays little brother (or sister) to the Charge 3. This speaker adds some useful features and beefs up the excellent design of the Flip 4 to create a fantastic speaker.
Frequency Response and Sound
The Charge 3 comes out extending the frequency response slightly of the Flip 4. The range covers from 65Hz to 20kHz. While only a 5Hz difference, this range is especially large at the low end of the frequency spectrum.
While 5Hz up at the top-end means nothing, this extra wiggle room in the low-end leads to a much more bass-rich experience, simulating sub frequencies with JBL’s side-mounted bass radiators without making the drivers do the heavy lifting.
This extra response is due to the extra room in the drivers. The Charge 3 sports two 50mm drivers as opposed to the 40mm ones on the Flip 4. Unlike the Flip 4, the bass here is impressive regardless of driver size. The punch is enough to satisfy most, if not all, bass-hungry listeners.
The rest of the frequency spectrum tells a similar story to the Flip 4 however. Highs and mids are kept in line, and thankfully the extended low-end doesn’t mask these areas.
The power output of the Charge 3 is beefed up as well. 10 watts now power the two 50mm drivers. Overall, the sound is that much louder than the Flip 4, but it’s enough to see why this speaker is $50 more expensive.
The larger 213 x 87 x 88.5 (mm) housing shows why this is the case as well, giving more physical space to reproduce quality audio at louder volumes (we are dealing with a physical force after all).
However, the speaker still falls short to pump out blasting tunes for a large party. Thankfully, the speaker also features JBL Connect to turn up the volume. It should be noted that this is the older version of JBL’s technology which doesn’t allow for the same number of devices as JBL Connect+. Still, you should have no problem connecting a few of these speakers together (who would need to connect 100+ of them to the same source?).
Battery Life and Durability
The battery life tells a similar story to the sound. JBL has doubled the capacity of the battery on the Charge 3, granting a 6000 mAh lithium-ion battery that can provide up to 20 hours of audio playback depending on the volume and content.
The stand-out feature of the Charge 3 is that this battery actually doubles as a power bank for your mobile device. You can simultaneously charge your device while streaming to the speaker via Bluetooth. This is really convenient, especially considering that Bluetooth can be a bit of a battery hog.
This extra battery comes at a cost in terms of charge time. Thankfully, that cost isn’t high. As opposed to the 3.5 hours that the Flip 4 takes to charge, the Charge 3 takes 4.5 hours. In context, I’d take the extra hour of charge time for 8 more hours of playback any day of the week.
Much like the Flip 4, the Charge 3 features the same cloth and stiff rubber construction meaning it can go anywhere you go and stand up to the task of it. Similarly, the IPX7 waterproofing grants full submission in water without damage.
The JBL Charge 3 Overall
The Charge 3 really does come out feeling like the big brother to the Flip 4. Everything has been turned up an extra notch, granting more battery life, extended frequency response, and a larger housing to prove it.
Of course, the big difference is that the Charge 3 doubles as a power bank which is excellent for those who are constantly on the go and don’t want to lug around a million devices.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Charge 3 (FAQ)
Here are some questions I’ve received over the years:
Question: Can you adjust the bass and treble settings?
Answer: Not directly from the device itself, but if you have the app you can adjust it there (among other settings).
Question: Can you connect the charger to your computer?
Answer: Yes, via a standard headphone jack (male to male). You can ALSO set up a Bluetooth connection, but that’s a bit more involved. You either need a computer that has built-in Bluetooth connectivity OR purchase a transmitter USB device to create a connection.
Conclusion: JBL Flip or Charge?
Of course, everything comes down to personal preference. However, for the money, the Charge 3 offers exponentially more value than the Flip 4. While both speakers are excellent, the extra $50 gives way to a larger battery, power bank functionality, and extended low-end.
It depends on your needs, however. For those just looking for a speaker to put out excellent audio, the Flip 4 is more than enough in this department. However, I’d put my money on the Charge 3 for how much it offers.
Other Portable Speakers to Consider
Here are a few other reviews and guides we have written that you might be interested in: