This is the third generation and the cheapest of the current JBL Flip series.
This kind of rugged and robust go-anywhere Bluetooth speaker is becoming increasingly popular. There are plenty of new players, but JBL, who’ve been at the party from the start, continues to improve and develop the Flip line.
The latest Flip 3 has seen some significant improvements over the Flip 2. It now comes with more volume and a better battery life. But is this enough to persuade you to part with your hard-earned cash?
Let’s get this JBL Flip 3 Review underway and find out…
Features & Specifications
The JBL Flip 3 has the latest Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity, so pairing up to yours or your friends’ devices will be easy. The headline distance to maintain a connection is 30 feet. This is more than realistic, and in fact, on occasions, we managed to stay connected to almost 50 feet.
We’re sure you’ll agree that a Bluetooth connection at only 30 feet is a little low. This level of connectivity can be easily beaten by a lot of competitors in this segment fo the market. A distance of 100 feet to maintain a Bluetooth connection is not uncommon these days.
Although the connection distance isn’t as long as we’d like, when a connection is made, the good news is that it’s rock-solid. In all our testing, we never lost the signal. Not even one.
Connections can be made with up to three other devices. This allows you to easily switch between devices to play and select music. Additionally, you can also hook up to other JBL devices to use as external speakers to really pump up the volume.
It feels that these days anyone that isn’t using wireless connections is a bit old-fashioned. There’s no doubt that Bluetooth and Wireless are leading the way for connectivity. But we strongly believe that wired connections still have their place and will continue to do so for a while.
The JBL Flip 3 has thankfully retained it’s 3.5 mm auxiliary input. We’ve seen a lot of similar units do away with an auxiliary input, and we think it’s a mistake. The 3.5 mm auxiliary input has a lot of life left in it still.
The only other connection is a micro USB, which is used for charging the device. The USB charging cable is included. Happily, they’ve provided a 3-foot cable instead of one of those annoying super-short ones.
Thanks for that, JBL.
Onboard controls on the JBL Flip 3 are intuitive and easy to use.
The JBL can be used as a speaker for your phone by simply pressing the button at the end of the device. There is also a built-in microphone allowing you to operate your call easily and hassle-free. The quality of the mic and the speaker are more than adequate to take calls so you can hear and be heard with no difficulty.
When you’re not on a call, you can also use the call button to play tracks. Press once for play, twice to skip, and three times to skip back. It’s a neat design and functions the same as the buttons we now regularly see on modern urban headphones.
The battery life has been extended on the Flip 3. It previously had a battery life of just five hours, which we’re sure you’ll agree really wasn’t enough. The good news is that this has now been increased to 10 hours. The bad news is that we couldn’t get ours to get past eight hours in practical use.
We don’t think either 8 or 10 hours are particularly bad, and it’s certainly al lot better than it was, but we think this could still be better. For example, speakers such as the Ultimate Ears Boom 2 are able to provide 15 hours of battery life.
The time to achieve a full charge is 3.5 hours. It’s OK, but it’s nothing to get too excited about. Again, we think that this could also be better.
Build Quality & Design
The JBL Flip3 is a splash-proof speaker.
But first, once you’re finished either charging up your battery via the USB port, or you old people have taken out the auxiliary cable, there’s a sealable flap that you’ll need to engage. Once you’ve done that, the speaker will take a good level of splashing. In fact, you can even run it under the tap to clean it. Though it’s not something, we’d recommend.
It should be noted that this speaker is not waterproof. It doesn’t have IPX7 certification, unlike the JBL Flip 4 Waterproof. If for some reason, you want to throw your device into a meter of water, and again we don’t recommend it, you should go for the Flip 4 Waterproof. There’s not a big difference in the price if you think you really think you’re going to need this level of water protection.
Other than being splashproof, the JBL is also resilient to being dropped and to general rough treatment. Like its predecessors, it’s been built to be taken out and about. It’s been built for heavy use.
The JBL Flip 3 measures just 7.5 x 4.5 x 3.9 inches and weighs slightly less than one pound. And the latest design of the Flip 3 has stayed true to the original. It is a cylindrical shape that’s mostly covered in a fabric mesh. The fabric mesh does an excellent job of both protecting the speaker and allowing the sound to get through. We’ll look at the sound shortly.
The size and weight make it an absolute delight to take out and about. It’s so easy to carry around. It’s also something you never have to worry about or be over delicate with.
We like most of its modern design; however, there is one thing we find a bit annoying. The fact is that if the Flip gets dirty, the fabric mesh design means it can take a bit of cleaning to get off all the muck. We accept that it’s part of the price you pay for it being so durable, but it’s annoying never the less.
Finally, the JBL Flip 3 is available in some vibrant and interesting colors though we got stuck with a black one. Our least favorite as it happens. Out of the other seven colors available, we’d go for the Teal.
Also see: Jabra Elite 65T Review
This is the loudest of the previous JBL Flip speakers. The first Flip started out with two drivers pushing out 5 watts each. The second version was bumped up to 6 watts per driver. This version has gone all the way up to 8 watts per driver.
This is yes to both.
Firstly, there is quite a marked increase in the volume. An increase of just a couple of watts for each driver doesn’t sound much. However, in real life, the difference is large. The Flip 2 always felt like it was struggling to push out sufficient volume in an outdoor environment. Now, the JBL Flip 3 sounds not only louder but also a lot more composed.
Pushing the Flip 3 up to higher volumes not only creates more noise but creates less distortion and more accurate sound than with the Flip 2. We still don’t think it creates as much volume or sound dispersion as Ultimate Ears Boom 2, but it’s a lot closer now than it was.
So, What About The Sound Quality?
Firstly, the bass. Speakers this size are never going to be able to produce a great lower end. The drivers are just too small. We get that, and JBL clearly does as well. We like the way JBL have approached this problem by not overly playing their hand in the bass department.
What they’ve done is to keep the bass really well-balanced in the mix. They’ve not over colored the lower frequencies with an artificial boost. It works well, and the speaker doesn’t overreach itself to excess.
Sure, you still get distortion at lower frequencies and higher volumes. However, it’s much less than a lot of comparable speakers that try to do way too much with their bass despite the limited size of the drivers.
The mids feel like they have room to breathe in the mix. The mids are forward sounding but pleasantly so. Vocals have the opportunity to punch through, though without overly dominating the sound. It’s good to hear vocals, even male voices in the lower mid-range, come through so clearly.
Trebles are generally less of a challenge in a smaller speaker. So unsurprisingly, the trebles come through nice and clear with a good amount of detail. Along with the mids, they sit well in the mix. The only downside is that if you push the speaker to its limits, they can sound a bit shrill.
Overall, considering the speaker’s size and cost, the JBL Flip3 sounds pretty good. It sounds well-balanced. Admittedly, it’s never going to be able to accurately play heavy bass-driven music at loud volumes clearly and without distortion. But none of these kinds of Bluetooth speakers can either.
JBL Flip 3 Pros & Cons
- Good connectivity.
- Well-balanced sound.
- It’s not waterproof.
Looking for a few more Bluetooth Speaker options? If so, check out our reviews of the Best Bluetooth Speakers with Radio and the Best Solar Powered Bluetooth Speakers on the market. As well as our in-depth review of the Ultimate Ears Boom 2.
All in all, the JBL Flip 3 is one of the best value small transportable speakers currently on sale.
There are certainly ones with better water-resistant qualities and ones that offer more power. However, it does a lot for the money, and it does most of it very well indeed. It’s rugged, it has plenty of modern-day connectivity, it’s light, and what’s more, it sounds great for the price.
We think that the latest JBL Flip 3 has improved enough to be well worth your consideration if you’re currently looking for this kind of speaker. If you’re looking for something with more water resistance, better battery life, and more output, it’s worth checking out some of the other JBL Bluetooth portable speakers.