JBL Flip Essential vs. Flip 5 – Which to Buy?

Updated on: October 12, 2023

JBL Flip 5 and Flip Essential are two renowned Bluetooth speakers by JBL known for their audio and build quality. However, you might be wondering which one is a better deal and whether you should upgrade from JBL Flip 5 to Flip Essential or vice versa.

Let’s compare the two Bluetooth speakers to determine which one is superior.

Quick Answer: In my experience and rigorous testing, the JBL Flip 5 is a better option than the Flip Essential. It has elongated sound drivers and a powerful audio output of 20 watts, which is loud enough to fill a room. Also, it supports the Partyboost feature, allowing the speaker to connect to a daisy chain of speakers for simultaneous audio playback in multiple rooms. Furthermore, due to its impressive frequency response of 65 to 20 KHz, it can deliver audio with deep and rich bass. With a long battery life of 8-10 hours, this speaker makes a great choice for outdoor adventures.


Quick Comparison

FeaturesFlip EssentialFlip 5
Weight470 grams540 grams
Power Output16 Watts20 Watts
Frequency response80 Hz-20 KHz65 Hz-20 KHz
Bluetooth Version4.14.2
AUX inputYesNo
Water ResistanceIPX7IPX7
Dust ResistanceNoNo
Battery Life6-8 hours8-10 hours
Charging Time3.5 hours2.6 hours
Voice AssistantNoNo
Price75 to 80$70 – 80$
Companion AppJBL Portable AppJBL Portable App
Multiple Device PairingNoYes (2 devices)

Which One’s Better: JBL Flip Essential Vs. JBL Flip 5?

Build Quality and Durability:

jbl flip essential  and  flip 5 design

Both the speakers have a durable cylindrical design, with Flip 5 weighing about 0.5 kg and Flip Essential 0.47 kg. Both are made of plastic with a durable fabric wrapped around their edges to protect them. Furthermore, these speakers come with a strap to carry them around easily.

The speakers are highly portable because of their small design and sturdy build. I tested the sturdiness of their materials by conducting a drop test on both speakers. Both the speakers were dropped from 4 feet on the concrete floor to see if they could survive. The speakers’ mesh fabric and rubberized sides protected them from major damage. So, both the speakers are equally sturdy.

Water and Dust Resistance:

JBL Flip Essential JBL Flip 5 ip rating

JBL Flip 5 and Flip Essential are IPX7 certified, which means they are resistant to water splashes and rain. However, they do not offer any protection against dust, which makes them unsuitable for dusty or sandy areas.

I tested their water resistance by splashing water on both speakers while playing music, and both continued to play without any damage. Furthermore, I also tried using both speakers in the rain, where they sustained working without any damage.

Sound Quality:

Both the speakers have passive radiators on the sides for handling the bass. Flip 5 has a 20 Watts power output, whereas Flip Essential has a power output of 16 Watts, which means Flip 5 is louder and more suitable for filling an average-sized room. 

I performed a sound test of both speakers and observed that Flip 5 has a relatively wider soundstage because of its passable frequency response. It can deliver good bass with balanced mids that make it suitable for different types of audio content. However, I noticed some glitches in the audio when playing heavy bass music, especially with Hip-Hop tracks.

The trebles crack slightly for higher volumes, distorting the overall audio quality. However, this speaker is great with 50-80% volume and music content with balanced frequency. 

In a similar sound test, the JBL Flip Essential was not as loud as Flip 5, and the speaker had acceptable bass delivery, clear dialogues, and mids. However, with bass-heavy content, I noticed distortion, and the high-frequency notes became piercing at higher volumes.

Overall, in my opinion, Flip 5 has a better sound signature as compared to Flip Essential.

Bluetooth and Other Connectivity Options:

JBL Flip 5 uses Bluetooth 4.2, while Flip Essential uses 4.1. Practically, there isn’t a significant difference between the two Bluetooth versions, despite what’s advertised. However, I tested the Connectivity range of both speakers by moving the audio source away from the speaker to see when the signals started to crack.

In my connectivity range test, the audio from both speakers started cutting off after a distance of 15-16 feet. Furthermore,  the JBL Flip Essential has an extra Aux input to connect to an audio source via a wired connection and has a micro-USB for charging the speakers. Whereas the Flip 5 comes with a USB-C port for charging and doesn’t have any AUX input.

Battery Life:

Battery Life is an important factor to consider when comparing the two speakers. The advertised battery life of the JBL Flip 5 is about 12 hours; however, in a battery life test of the speaker, with continuous audio playback at a volume of 50-60%, the speaker’s battery lasted a little above 8 hours, i.e., 8.5 hours. For volume above 80-90%, the battery life lasted only for 4-5 hours.

On the other hand, in a similar battery life test, the JBL Flip Essential Battery on a volume of 50-60% lasted for only 5 hours, whereas the advertised battery life is 10 hours at the maximum. Furthermore, after increasing the volume from 80-90%, the JBL Flip Essential battery life lasted for 2-3 hours at the maximum.

So, in terms of battery life, the JBL Flip 5 is a better option.

Additional Features:

As we compare the two speakers, you may as well consider the additional features each one offers, making them unique. Both the speakers have a companion app, which allows the user to adjust the volume and handle other controls; however, Flip 5 has a special feature of Partyboost, which allows it to connect to multiple Partyboost compatible speakers for playing music in multiple rooms or simultaneous audio playback.

JBL Flip Essential, on the other hand, doesn’t have any partyboost feature, but it does come with an AUX input which allows it to connect to another speaker and form a stereo speaker pair.

Users Opinions about JBL Flip Essential and Flip 5

  1. Sound Quality and Features:
    • Many users appreciate the bass quality of the Flip 5, noting that it’s impressive for its size. One user mentioned that the bass is good and the speaker is loud, making it hard to believe that such a robust sound can come from a compact device.
    • Some users have observed that while the Flip 5 has better bass, the Flip Essential offers clearer sound, especially in the mids and highs. One user specifically mentioned that the Flip Essential sounds less muffled compared to the Flip 5.
    • A point of contention among users is the mono output of the Flip 5. Some users prefer the stereo sound of the Flip Essential, noting that certain songs don’t play correctly on the Flip 5 due to its mono output.
  2. Design and Build:
    • Users have commented on the design preferences, with some preferring the look of the Flip Essential over the Flip 5. However, the general consensus is that both speakers are durable and well-built.
    • One user mentioned that the Flip Essential leaks air on every edge, which might be a concern for some.
  3. Price and Value:
    • Price is a significant factor for many users. Some have mentioned that the Flip 5 is priced slightly higher than the Flip Essential, but they believe it’s worth the extra cost given its features and sound quality.
    • However, others feel that the Flip Essential offers better value for money, especially when considering its stereo output.
  4. Connectivity and Additional Features:
    • The Partyboost feature of the Flip 5 has been highlighted by users, noting that it allows the speaker to connect with other JBL devices like the Flip 6, Charge 5, Xtreme 3, and Boombox 2.
    • Some users have mentioned that the Flip Essential lacks certain features like Partyboost and Connect+, but it compensates with its stereo sound and clarity.
  5. General Recommendations:
    • Users have varied opinions on which speaker is better. While some firmly believe that the Flip 5 is superior due to its bass and additional features, others lean towards the Flip Essential for its clarity and stereo sound.
    • One user mentioned that the Flip Essential 2 sounds more like the Flip 5 than the Flip 4, indicating that the differences between the models might not be as pronounced as some believe.

Usability: JBL Flip Essential Vs. Flip 5

Outdoor Gatherings

Both speakers have an IPX7 rating and sturdy design; however, the JBL Flip 5 is a better option for outdoor use because of its extended frequency response and better audio output of 20 Watts. It can deliver better audio to an average-sized space than the other.

Furthermore, this speaker has a partyboost feature, which you can use to connect multiple partyboost compatible speakers for a better audio effect.

Bonefire and Beach Parties

JBL Flip 5 and Flip Essential can work well in these situations; however, since Flip 5 offers better audio quality than Flip Essential and has a Partyboost feature, it works out better. I tested both speakers in these scenarios; although the Flip Essential works great when paired with another speaker in a stereo pair, it’s only suitable for indoor gatherings.

For outdoor gatherings, JBL Flip 5 does a better job.

Hiking Trips

You need a sturdy speaker for hiking trips to sustain rain without damage. Furthermore, it has to be small and lightweight for easy carrying. Both speakers have been tested to have an amazing IPX7 water resistance rating and a drop test of up to 5 feet. 

However, for outdoor spaces, the JBL Flip 5 is a better option due to its louder sound and superior battery life compared to the JBL Flip Essential.

Indoor Settings

I tested both speakers in indoor settings to evaluate their efficiency. I observed that Flip Essential works out well in a smaller room when paired with another speaker in a stereo pair. However, for larger-sized rooms, the speaker’s audio seemed a little suppressed and could not be heard in the other corner of the room.

For such scenarios, I recommend the JBL Flip 5 due to its louder audio output that can fill an average-sized room, and its Partyboost feature truly makes a difference.

Which One’s Better?

The choice of the speaker depends entirely on personal preferences, usability, and budget. However, I found the JBL Flip 5 a better choice after rigorous testing and observation. Although it’s more expensive than the Flip Essential, it’s worth spending.

This speaker boasts a balanced audio signature with pronounced bass and clear dialogue delivery. It offers a loud audio output, impressive battery life of 8-9 hours, water resistance, and the Partyboost feature for enhanced audio playback.

JBL Flip Essential, on the other hand, is a great alternative but doesn’t have the same audio quality and features as its competitor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I charge my phone using JBL Flip Essential and Flip 5?

No, JBL Flip Essential and Flip 5 do not offer the built-in power bank feature that allows user to charge their phones from the speaker.

Do these speakers have a built-in microphone for hands-free calling?

No, both JBL Flip 5 and Flip Essential do not offer the feature of hands-free calling because of the absence of a microphone. 

Can I connect Wifi to Flip 5 and Flip Essential?

No, you cannot connect these speakers with Wifi for streaming music. To connect them to the companion app you need to use the devices’ Bluetooth connection.

I’m Shaun Conroy, an audiophile & founder of HiFi Audios. Holding a Bachelor’s in Sound Engineering, I bring deep expertise in audio devices and offer insights & recommendations to fellow enthusiasts.

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