Great bluetooth speaker, hands down.
- Good value for money
- Free case
- Solid sound
- Speaker phone capabilities
- Poor battery life
- Limited features
The JBL Flip is an excellent option for those looking for an all-round Bluetooth portable that manages to deliver at least decent quality in most aspects. Of course, there are better sounding portables on the market, but few boast the $100 price tag of the Flip, and when you add its undoubted quality to that price then it becomes a budget consumers dream.
JBL has a rich heritage in the audio electronics industry and is dedicated to sound technology, while the company has typically proven to be good value for money. JBL products tend to be no frills, with the focus very much centered on audio quality and delivering affordability in the market. The JBL Flip falls nicely into this ethos with its functional looks and audio aspirations, but does it live up to the brand reputation? Certainly, the $100 price tag meets the affordable end of the deal, but what about quality; can the Flip succeed as a budget portable?
What´s in the Box?
Aside from the Flip speaker itself you will also find an AC adaptor, warranty card, and quick start guide in the box. JBL has also saw fit to include a neoprene case for the portable, a nice addition considering the Flip´s humble price tag.
When the JBL Flip launched at the back end of 2012 it was one of the only round (quality) speakers in its price range. That has since changed, but the Flip manages to tread a thin line between being good looking and boring. Compared to more expensive products like Jawbone, Beats, or Bose, the Flip looks decidedly uninspiring, but next to most other $100 units it is rather fetching. The Flip is not sexy, but it is functional and small, while JBL sells the cab in a number of colors (white, black, blue, red, green, and purple).
Yours truly is only really a fan of the white and black versions, but others will surely appreciate the other color options available. The Flip can be stood vertically or horizontally (hence the name), but it looks more imposing lying flat with its four rubberized feet on a flat surface. Three quarters of the cylindrical shape are perforated, with the rear/bottom hard plastic, while on one can end there are the volume and power buttons. The Aux and headphone ports sit along the hard plastic rear. The included neoprene speaker is nothing to get too excited about, but as free goodies go it is pleasant to look at, is functional, and better than that is free.
The JBL Flip is suitably small, measuring just 6.2-inches long and 2 inches around. This has ramifications for the audio, but in terms of sheer portability the Flip is a winner, easily fitting into a pocket or bag.
Gone are the days where an affordable price tag meant consumers had to put up with poor workmanship in the manufacturing process. These days there is huge choice and companies have had to raise the game. That means despite costing just $99.99 the JBL Flip is very sturdy, has strong build quality and can fend off drops thanks to its small dimensions, light weight, and round shape.
You may think that $100 will not get you much in the way of features, and in some aspects you would be right, but in others the JBL Flip is quite surprising. It does come loaded with speaker phone capabilities, and this feature works well considering the cost of the unit.
The JBL Flip is really tiny and it is competitively priced, so one could be forgiven for thinking that sound quality would be subpar. However, JBL has been in the audio game long enough to know how to put together a solid sounding unit, no matter its price. That does not mean the small Flip is without fault, but for what it is, it proves to be something of a triumph.
While the tone is manageable at high volumes, the Flip just can´t really handle distortion levels when you crank it up, and it really is best used at moderate level. The good news is the speaker will fill a medium sized room at mid volume without a problem. Like all good portable speakers, the JBL Flip touts stereo audio, but as is usually the case this portable cannot back up the claim. Simply put the speaker digitizers are too close together for real stereo output, and while JBL has attempted wizardry in the electronics to sort that out the result is still not what would be deemed stereo quality.
Throw a bit of bass heavy music at the Flip and you will find the unit comes up short, unable to deal with those low down tones. There is also a problem with music sometimes coming out tinny and compressed, but admittedly that could well have been our Bluetooth connection. All in all the Flip suffers many of the issues all small portables have, and while it is not a match for some more expensive products, it is an extremely solid sounder for its price.
Pairing to the JBL Flip is as painless a task as any Bluetooth pairing process, although an included button on the actual speaker would have been nice. As is the norm in the market, the Flip is good for maintaining connection for up to 30 feet; although some issues may crop up the closer you get to that limit.
Any disappointments found regarding battery life must be tempered by the fact the JBL Flip has a small form factor. Despite that though the 5 hours of maximum juice in the speaker is hardly impressive compared to some rivals that pump out for over 10 hours.
JBL has crafted a solidly designed, well built, good sounding speaker in the Flip. Yes, it has issues, like poor battery life and limited features, but for the cost it is a very good effort that does a decent job in checking every box.