JBL has successfully managed to tap into the mobile speaker market with a diverse array of products catering to different budgets. It has to cope with stiff competition in Sony and Ultimate Ears, but due to its wide presence in virtually every brick and mortar electronics store in India, the business has managed to hold its ground.

This brand new Bluetooth speaker offers complete waterproofing, so it may be submerged in water, unlike its predecessor, which may only handle splashes. There’s also a new shortcut which enables you to get Siri or Google Assitant with a single button press. JBL has priced the Flip 4 at Rs. 9,999, and it competes with Sony’s SRS-XB30 and the Ultimate Ears Boom 2. Let us see how it great it truly is.

JBL Flip 4 design and attributes

The Flip 4 carries forward the same cylindrical design as its predecessors, and is available in multiple colors. Nearly the entire body is covered in a mesh fabric but for the advantages and a silicone strip that runs across the length of the speaker. The Flip 4 is designed to be utilized in a horizontal position since there are passive radiators on either end.

There are buttons for controlling music playback and Bluetooth pairing. They’ve a nice clicky feel to them however they are not illuminated. Despite the cylindrical design, the Flip 4 does not roll around, since the silicone strip bulges out a bit, providing nice foundation for your speaker to break on.

In the back, the Flip 4 has a backlit power button, five LED dots to show you the battery level, and a backlit Connect+ button, which enables you to link over 100 Flip 4 units together. Next to these is a rubber enclosure to protect the Micro-USB port along with a 3.5mm auxiliary connector. The Flip 4 also has a loop with a pre-installed lanyard so you can hang the speaker on something if you don’t have a suitable coating for it to stand on.

The JBL Flip 4 is quite similar to the outgoing model when it comes to specifications. The Bluetooth version has been upped to 4.2 but it still has two 40mm full-range drivers which deliver a total power output of 16W. You get a 3000mAh battery, which is good for a rated 12 hours of continuous playback, and a microphone so it is possible to answer calls. There are not any additional frills like NFC or aptX HD support here. In the box, you get some documentation and a matching Micro-USB cable. The big update here is that the addition of IPX7 certification, which makes the Flip 4 submersible up to 1m of water for up to thirty minutes.

JBL Flip 4 performance and battery life

The Flip 4 may manage two active Bluetooth connections in the same time, which helpful, especially when you’re having a party and wish to share DJing duties with someone else. The speaker feels pretty rugged and seems like it could take a tumble or two without shattering, even though it doesn’t meet any formal criteria for ruggedness. The diffused LED lights on the speaker are not annoyingly bright in the dim, but we wish the controllers lit up too. As great as the build quality could possibly be, that the Flip 4 will have one design flaw in our books, and that is the vulnerable passive radiators on either side. From an aesthetic standpoint, it looks extremely cool to see them vibrating furiously when playing music, but this also makes them vulnerable to damage from small objects like keys and pens in your tote. A detachable cover of a sort could have been nice.

The Flip 4 is simple enough to set up. You receive audio cues for when it’s powered on or off and when it’s paired with a device. The JBL Connect app for iOS and Android lets you sync multiple Flip 4s in ‘party mode’ to fill up a huge area, or utilize two units in a stereo configuration. The program also shows you the battery level of the speaker and allows you to change its name. Besides this, you may use the program to change the Play button’s functionality to either play/ pause the current track, or phone up the assistant (Siri or Google Assistant) in your device. It is possible to activate your phone’s assistant with a long-press of the same button anyway, but this way, you save a few seconds. It’s a thoughtful addition for people who actually use voice assistants through a Bluetooth speaker, but in doing so, you lose the ability to pause music directly, which is we do not believe is worth the tradeoff. Another odd thing we discovered is that there’s no way to go to the previous track, only a double tap of the Play button to skip to the next track.

Audio performance is really impressive considering the size of this speaker. The advantage of this Flip 4 design is that good bass isn’t determined by any surface to reflect sound off. The bass is punchy and may be felt even at moderate volume levels (approximately 50 percent). In tracks like Long Road To Forgiveness by Jason Mraz and Brett Dennen, vocals are delivered crisply with all the subtle bass clearly audible in the background. You can not feel the sub-bass as much in bass-heavy monitors like The Weeknd’s Starboy, and the bass starts sounding level above the 85-90 percent volume level. Still, it doesn’t get boomy, and as long as you stick to some 70-80 percent quantity level, you should be useful. This is well shown with the track Lock Doh by Giggs.

Highs are reproduced nicely without sounding piercing. The soundstage is great but it does not quite have the same effect as you’d get from an omnidirectional Bluetooth speaker. We analyzed the Flip 4 mostly with an iPhone 6s Plus but also streamed music and movies from a MacBook Air. It can pull off speakerphone duties when needed but we found that we had to be pretty close to the speaker for the caller to listen to us correctly, or we would need to shout.

Waterproofing appears to function well. We tried dunking the Flip 4 in water and it continued working just fine. Bluetooth range is really good too, and we didn’t face any significant sync issues even if 15-20 feet from the device, without a clear line of sight. We also didn’t think there was a lot of an audible sound difference when switching to a wired connection.

JBL speeds the battery life at 12 hours, but naturally, this amount is achieved only in ideal conditions. During actual use, we performed music for five straight hours (largely at 60 percent volume) and took a few calls in between, and managed to knock off just two of those five battery dots. After about 10 hours, we had been down to one dot, which brought us pretty close to the rated battery life. When it’s actually low, the last dot flashes red. The dots only light up when you press any of those buttons. We were able to bill it from about 10 percent to 100 per cent in 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Verdict

The Flip 4 is a mighty celebrity given its tiny size, and is yet another solid option in the sub-Rs. 10,000 segment. Its noise isn’t perfect, as the mid-range isn’t distinct enough, and vocals could be overpowering. But, it does deliver good bass, provided you maintain the volume amount below 90 percent. We are not too pleased with the exposed radiators, which we feel could be ruined too easily.

The UE Boom two has dropped in price since it established last year, and is available for a little more than Rs. 10,000 online. Compared to the UE Boom two, the Flip 4 offers greater user-friendly controls along with a much more compact design, which makes it a good alternative.

Price : Rs. 9,999

Advantages

Compact and rocky
IPX7 waterproofing
Warm sound with great bass
Good battery life

Disadvantages

Exposed radiators
Mid-range suffers a bit

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