The JBL Flip 6 is a small speaker, yes, but it packs in some serious punch for its size. Just make sure you don’t push it super hard and you’re in for a good time.
Sounds pretty good
Small and rugged
Distorts at high volume
Very reliant on the bass
Not sure you’d want to trust the lanyard with its weight
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There are loads of small Bluetooth speakers out there, with some big, established brands offering some great options. One such compact option is the JBL Flip 6, a sound cylinder that for both its size and price packs in some cool features and solid sound quality.
We’ve had some time to get to know the Flip 6, and now we’re going to take a look at what we thought about the speaker and its outdoor listening credentials. Is this one of the best Bluetooth speakers? Let's find out.
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JBL Flip 6: Price and availability
The Flip 6 is priced super well – you can pick one up for almost all the major retail outlets for $129/£99. That’s a solid price, and it means that it's one of the cheaper Bluetooth speaker options from one of the bigger, more recognizable brands.
That puts it squarely in the sights of the likes of the Boom 3, a speaker from Logitech’s UE line that costs $149. That’ll be a larger and louder speaker, but you’ll pay slightly more. The JBL remains a very good, slightly lower-cost option.
JBL Flip 6: What I liked
This thing feels dense in my hand. More so than any other speaker at this price that I’ve tried, it feels really solid and really rugged. That goes with the IP67 dust and water resistance, so you’ll be able to drop it in a stream and not worry about it getting broken – although you’ll probably not want to leave it submerged for too long.
It looks nice too, with its fun bass radiators on the side that bounce when you’re listening to music and its almost complete covering in a sound-transparent mesh. It comes in some cool colors to make it even jazzier, like a cool red, a camouflage, or a kind of salmon pink. There are a total of nine colors overall, and you can find them all on the JBL website. The version we have here is black, and rather fetching it is too. I’d call it stealth.
Within that cool-looking exterior lie some pretty impressive internals. There’s enough battery for what JBL says is 12 hours. My testing has given me just under that, at around 10 hours, but I was just above mid-volume so the componentry inside was likely sipping more juice than they might otherwise. You can hook the speaker up to the decent JBL portable app, and then you can connect two or more speakers together with the PartyBoost button on top. I, alas, was not able to test out this feature, so I am unable to comment on its efficacy.
I can, however, comment on how good it sounds – and I’m happy to report that it’s pretty good. Now, I wasn’t expecting world-changing sound here, but I’m pleased enough with the slightly bass-heavy sound profile that the speaker has. That means that outside it will have more punch and presence, and it makes the small speaker feel bigger than it actually is, allowing it to be more flexible than other speakers.
Playing Drum & Bass on the speaker really shows off some of its strengths, and there’s no better than High Contrasts’ Racing green. The track builds perfectly, and the focus on the bass frequencies adds in the vital kick that the track needs. It could be a touch more sparkly to add some more of those tinkling cymbals in, but it’s otherwise a stellar performance.
Switch gears to Kendrick Lamar’s XXX and the Flip 6 continues to impress with all that low-end grunt. The lack of high-end becomes less of a problem now, and the speaker has a great time with the rap track.
Once you’ve listened to your 12 hours of music, you can charge it with the USB C port on the back. That will charge it up in 2 hours 30 minutes– no fast charge, unfortunately, but it doesn’t take that long.
JBL Flip 6: What I didn’t like
While there’s plenty of volume headroom here, you might not want to use it. The higher the volume goes, the more the music becomes distorted, and a little less nice to listen to. Keep it under about 8 o’clock, and you’ll be fine, but it’s annoying that it has to be said. It's no worse than other small, portable speakers.
For some genres, the reliance on the lower register can also be a problem. Jazz becomes overly bassy and loses its detail, and rock and metal can be a little too drowned out in the mix. It’s not awful, but it's noticeable.
Finally, the lanyard on the speaker is good and fun, but it doesn’t feel particularly trustworthy. I’m not sure I’d want to slip it on a loop on my bag, and it takes some of the luster off the rest of the sturdiness of the speaker.
JBL Flip 6: Competition
We’ve reviewed the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore, another rugged outdoors option. It’s a more luxurious option that sounds better, although it's a fair bit more expensive. If you want something that doesn’t go super loud and sounds incredible, then that's a good option, but for price and volume go for this option.
We are still yet to review the UE Boom 3, but it’s a nice speaker that has excellent amounts of volume. It does cost a little more, however.
JBL Flip 6: Should you buy this?
You should buy this if:
- You want a solid speaker for under $100
- You love bassy music
- You want something rugged
You should not buy this…
- You like to max out the volume
- You like more restrained music
- You don’t need a speaker for the outdoors
JBL Flip 6: Verdict
The Flip 6 is an excellent little speaker for the price, with good enough sound quality for most people, and a cool rugged exterior. It’s not perfect, and audiophiles aren't going to be big fans, but it is a great option for almost everyone else.
Small but powerful
We loved the JBL Flip 6, with its outdoorsy fun and solid build. It doesn’t sound the most refined, but it’s a very good little speaker at a great price.
As the Buying Guides and Deals writer for iMore, Tammy puts over a decade of experience in finding the best prices of Apple products to work, helping you save money on the equipment that you want. An audiophile at heart, she loves all things audio and visual, but you’ll also find her drooling over the latest Macs and MacBooks. With a Masters in screenwriting, Tammy likes to spend her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays or driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.
By Tammy Rogers