June 5, 2017
In the 80s and even 90s, music portability came in the form of oversized boomboxes filled to the brim with D cell batteries. They were large, quite heavy, sounded pretty good, but ultimately were a pain in the ass. In the past few years portable speakers have hit the audio market in mass, and with each passing year the size and quality have improved. This year, JBL released their newest version of the flip, the Flip 4. Last year we got our hands on the Flip 3 with rave reviews, and though there are only minor upgrades in the JBL Flip 4, they make a huge impact.
So what’s new? The JBL Flip 4 is now fully waterproofed, the sound quality has been improved, and they made a few minor tweaks as well. We put the JBL Flip 4 to the same tests as the 3 over the course of a month, and perhaps just a few added dunk tests.
Features and Specs
Much like its predecessor, the JBL Flip 4 is a durable and portable bluetooth speaker. Unlike most others on the market, the price point is in the mid-tier range, but along with that comes better sound, actual bass, great battery life, and the ability to survive most of your outdoor adventures. From the pool to hiking, maybe even strapping it onto a bike, the JBL Flip 4 can handle it all. However, it’s not designed to take a full on beating, so you may want to stick with earbuds for your more rugged adventures (mudding, rock climbing, etc.).
As with most bluetooth technology, the Flip 4 is excellent for audio; however, you won’t want to rely on it for video playback. There is still the typical latency issues, so if you’re watching something more slow paced or filled with dialogue, you’ll see mouths moving and the audio trailing behind it. Fortunately, this is really designed for your outdoor fun anyways, and in most cases you just can’t move past the limitations of Bluetooth.
For improvements, the Flip 4 is louder than ever, features a more robust sound, and still has that excellent bass thanks to its dual external passive radiators (see gif above). While we already thought the Flip 3 had great sound, there is some relatively distinct improvements in the clarity, especially as the volume is increased. It’s also now fully waterproofed (IPX7) rather than water resistant. We fully submerged the JBL Flip 4 for about 10 minutes, and at about the 3 minute mark it started to have some Bluetooth lag and connection issues, but you’re probably not going to be listening to this while it’s underwater anyways. What this tells us is that if you drop it in the pool, ocean, river, mud, or other liquid substance, you should be totally fine and in most cases it will continue to play. When we tested the Flip 3 in a similar scenario the audio more or less would stop.
JBL also included a few additional improvements such as the removal of the physical speakerphone button in place of the voice assistant button, improved JBL Connect+, and the ability to connect two devices at the same time.
JBL Connect+ or the feature that allows you to connect more than 100 speakers simultaneously to create a synched sound system, has also broken a Guinness World Record. At the launch of the Flip 4, they connected 1000 speakers together using the new feature, which was more than any other before it. Perhaps for the next record they’ll try them all under water? Talk about a wave pool.
Overall the JBL Flip 4 boasts great sound, decent bass for the price point and size, and will likely survive any of your summer adventures.
- 12 hour battery life
- IPX7 waterproof rating
- Voice assistant button
- Durable enough for outdoor use
- Light and small enough for easy portability
- Crisp highs and mids
- Decent bass
Much like the features, JBL made some minor design tweaks to an already great speaker with the Flip 4. This version is slightly thinner and longer, and it also has a different casing/material to improve its waterproofing. As mentioned before, they also removed the physical voice call button in place of a voice assistant button. Now if you have an Android or iOS device connected, the button will trigger Siri or Ok Google. Like all devices that enable this (bluetooth), there is a bit of added lag.
The iconic dual external passive radiators – the parts that bounce when the bass is going – is back and works just as well as in the Flip 3. The JBL Flip 4 comes in six colors: black, white, teal, gray, red and blue.
Overall the design has only seen a slight refinement, but the waterproofing is still a great touch.
Pros and Cons
- Now fully waterproof
- Great sound quality
- Durable, but not designed for rugged outdoor use
Should you buy the JBL Flip 4? If you’re looking for great sound in a portable speaker, the JBL Flip 4 is the perfect solution. Between the price point, actual bass output, durability, waterproofing, and of course sound quality, this is easily a must-buy speaker for your outdoor activities.
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