Bold and detailed sound
Intuitive and stylish
More battery would be nice
About the JBL Flip 6
Here are the Flip 6’s main attributes at a glance:
- Price: $129.95
- Width x Height x Depth: 7 x 2.7 x 2.9 inches
- Weight: 1.21 pounds
- Colors: Gray, Blue, Black Matte, Teal, Pink (available at time of publication)
- Battery life: Up to 12 hours
- Wireless connection: Bluetooth 5.1
- Charging: USB-C
- Dust/water resistance: IP67
- Additional features: PartyBoost
The Flip 6 arrives in a nearly identical box to its predecessor (a common theme), which is advertised as eco-friendly packaging that includes soy ink for the marketing. Accessories include a USB-C to USB-A cable, and basic quick-start instructions.
What we like
Stylish, go-anywhere design
The Flip 6 is a dead ringer for the previous model, but again, why change what’s working? With six generations to tweak, what you pull from the Flip 6 box is a meticulously engineered sonic device that brilliantly blends form and function—with no space wasted. A grippy log of sound, the Flip’s namesake indicates its ability to sit lengthwise (which corresponds with the dimensions listed above) or sit tall on its rubberized ends to allow for multiple use cases.
Speaking of those rubberized end caps, they guard durable bass radiators that buzz along with the sound when the drivers inside the Flip 6 start pushing air. It’s a common design for Bluetooth speakers, but as we’ll get into below, it works well to generate bass here and, surprisingly, sound quality is hardly affected even when the speaker sits on its radiating end.
Rubberized control keys along the Flip 6’s grippy exterior make it equally easy to control from the device itself or your phone. At the back, you’ll find recognizable power and Bluetooth keys, a battery indicator bar, the USB-C charging port, and a handy drawstring for hanging the speaker. The Flip 6 is a fair bit smaller than popular models like the UE Megaboom 3 or JBL’s own Charge, making it all the easier to bring along.
When compared to the Flip 5, the only real differences you’ll notice include some minor design tweaks like more heavily emphasized JBL branding and a new backstop interrupting the mesh exterior to make the speaker less likely to roll away while set on its side. As usual, the speaker comes in a wide array of snazzy colors, with more options sure to arrive.
Improved weather protection
You’ll see IP ratings for most electronics to indicate dust and waterproofing, but they’re especially important for portable speakers which have become increasingly weatherized with each passing year. The Flip 6 holds the same water resistance as the Flip 5 (IPX7). The “7” means the speaker is certified to last for 30 minutes in one meter of water, so it’ll survive a dunk in the pool or a quick rinse with ease.
But the Flip 6 goes a step further with an IP67 rating. The “6” represents maximum “ingress” protection to keep out sand and dust. That’s great for the beach, of course, but the “dust-tight” design should also make the speaker more resilient so it lasts longer in general.
Big and bold sound on demand
Intuitive and rugged design is a hallmark of the Flip family, but it’s the sound that’s always set this speaker above much of the portable crowd, and there’s no back-stepping for the latest model. Powered by a racetrack driver, a separate tweeter, and those buzzing bass radiators, the Flip 6 offers plenty of balance, impressive detail—especially in the midrange—and enough bass to give your favorite tracks a fair representation even at the beach or local park.
While the sound isn’t as powerful as the Charge or Megaboom speakers mentioned earlier, both of those speakers generally cost more and take up more space, too. You’ll find purer, more natural treble in the similarly portable Sonos Roam, but the Flip finds its own niche among those titans—especially masterful when it comes to instruments in the meatier frequencies like vocals, guitar, synths, and even percussion.
One issue I’ve taken with previous Flip speakers is that the attack of instruments like snare drums and clangy cymbals tend to come off as inordinately flinty and metallic. While it’s tough to notice without an A/B test between the Flip 5 and Flip 6, the latest version seems to smooth out some of that sibilance, offering some added warmth and accessibility. It’s subtle, and the speaker seems to lose a tinge of presence in the process but it’s an improvement to my ears, however minor.
Like each Flip before it, there’s plenty of vitality and fun packed into the Flip 6’s sound signature, especially when compared to smaller speakers, like Sony’s SRS-XB13. Whether auditioning the dark groove of The Weeknd’s “Starboy,” the glorious string buzzes of Nickel Creek’s “Out of the Woods” or the clear dialogue of your favorite podcast, the Flip 6 delivers the goods with plenty of punch and no discernable distortion.
Party Boost is increasingly useful
Having reviewed Bluetooth speakers for a decade at this point, I’ve come to collect a fair few JBL speakers in my home. While I’ve never previously utilized JBL’s Party Boost, which lets you chain up to 100 compatible JBL speakers, trying it with the Flip 5 and 6 underscored how much fun it can be for get-togethers.
The process is incredibly smooth with the JBL Portable app. Simply pair to one speaker, and the app will find any others you’ve paired with once they’re powered on. From there you can just connect them via Party Boost, and suddenly you’ve got extra amplified tunes. The app has a few other useful features as well, including a three-band EQ (better than you’ll find on some pricey soundbars) as well as a battery indicator and firmware updater.
What we don’t like
Not a ton of extras
If you’ve done your research, you’ll know there are all sorts of add-on features for Bluetooth speakers these days, from a microphone for conference calls to the ability to charge your phone from the speaker directly (you can probably guess how the Charge got its name). The latest Flip once again skips these add-ons, which is something to consider if you find them useful.
Personally, I don’t want to use my speaker as a conference phone—more than once this feature has caused an issue while listening to my tunes. Unlike smart speakers that connect to the internet, you’ll also get no smart assistant access with the Flip, but that’s the case for the majority of such speakers outside the Sonos Roam. One thing that is slightly annoying is you can’t use the Flip 5 and Flip 6 as a stereo pair—the speakers must be the same. I get that this is to preserve the sound signature, but it should still be an option.
Better battery life would be appreciated
For the slight premium you’ll pay over the aging Flip 5 (at full price, the Flip 6 is $10 more), it would have been nice if the Flip 6 added more playback time per charge. It also takes a full 2.5 hours to juice up the speaker to full capacity. On the other hand, 12 hours is still pretty impressive, so it’s a minor complaint at best.
Should you buy the Flip 6?
Yes, especially once the Flip 5 goes away
The Flip 6 offers all the benefits of its predecessors, with a few extra tweaks that ensure it’s still a fantastic value. You’ll get bold and accessible sound that’s better than the majority of speakers in its class, a simple and intuitive app, and solid battery life. JBL speakers also just work well, with intuitive usability and instant pairing. It’s a great little package that’s hard to beat for the money.
In fact, it’s arguable that the Flip 6’s biggest competition is JBL’s own Flip 5 which is a fantastic deal on sale. That said, there are a few others to consider. If you want bigger sound and some extra features, including the ability to charge your device on the go, you’ll want to consider the bigger, pricier JBL Charge. Ultimate Ears also makes some excellent speakers, like the Boom and Megaboom 3, but again, both usually cost a bit more and are also a bit harder to take along. For tons of extras, there’s also the excellent Sonos Roam, which adds Wi-Fi streaming, smart features, and the best sound quality you’ll find in a portable its size.
Otherwise, it's tough to steer away from the Flip, which is why it occupies a cushy spot on our best Bluetooth speakers list as the best value for your money. Whether you snatch up the 5th-gen or go for the latest model, dollar for dollar, the Flip line is very tough to beat.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Managing Editor - Electronics@ryanwaniata
Hailing originally from Montana, Ryan parlayed his time working as a musician and audio engineer into a career in digital media in 2012. Since then he's had extensive experience as a writer and editor, including everything from op-eds and features to reviews on TVs, audio gear, smart home devices, and more.
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