Price: $129 / £129 / AU$169
Colors: Black, white, blue, green, red, gray, teal, squad
Size: 7 x 2.6 x 2.8 inches
Weight: 19.36 ounces
Battery life (rated): 12 hours
The JBL Flip 6 portable Bluetooth speaker moves things on from its predecessor with upgrades that boost Bluetooth connectivity to 5.1 and incremental improvements to ruggedness and sound quality. From an external point of view, the Flip 6 introduces a branding refresh with a larger JBL motif embedded into the woven speaker grille, rather than the smaller JBL logo badge sported by previous versions.
Other than that things look pretty much the same, and I'd recommend looking at the Flip 5 also, one of the best waterproof speakers, which is still available from the JBL website and online retailers like Amazon, where it's currently discounted to $99.
What, then, does the Flip 6 bring to the table? A higher price, for one thing, though this is balanced out by stronger connectivity, enhanced sound quality, and stronger durability. While these might not be significant upgrades for existing Flip speaker owners, if you’re new to the scene and want something small and sweet-sounding, this makes a very decent start. Keep reading our JBL Flip 6 review to find out why.
JBL Flip 6 review: Price and availability
The JBL Flip 6 portable Bluetooth speaker retails for $129 / £129 / AU$169, which is $10 more than the list price for the Flip 5 version. The 6 is available in eight color options including black, white, green, blue, red, gray, teal, and squad, although color choices vary between territories. You can buy the Flip 6 directly from the JBL website or via online retailers such as Amazon where it is currently discounted to $89. It's also available at Best Buy and Walmart.
JBL Flip 6 review: Design
Externally, the Flip 6 introduces a makeover with a large JBL motif embedded in the woven cloth grille that wraps around the cylindrical speaker — there’s no doubt about who made this speaker. Also, the carry strap is now a seamless loop rather than a bootlace with a fancy knot fastening the two ends together.
Measuring 7 x 2.6 x 2.8 inches and weighing 1.2 pounds (around 19 ounces), the new Flip retains the 5's dimensions, and is pretty similar in size to the more affordable and angular Anker Soundcore 3 Bluetooth speaker priced at $51, measuring 6.75 x 2.25 x 2.25 inches.
Inside, the Flip 6 is a 2-way speaker system with racetrack-shaped main driver and a separate tweeter. There are bass radiators at both ends of the tube-shaped speaker cabinet.
Dust and waterproofing are now rated at IP67 (up from waterproof-only IP7 for the Flip 5), meaning the Flip 6 is protected from dust and can be submerged in up to 3 feet of water. Although I didn't feel inclined to test the waterproofing out by submerging it in water, I did regularly take the Flip 6 into a shower room where it played without any issues. How well it stands up to dust, though, only time will tell.
JBL Flip 6 review: Controls and connectivity
Physical controls on the Flip 6 speaker provide essential functionality including play/pause, volume up/down, and PartyBoost, which links it with another JBL speaker. At the back there's a power button, Bluetooth pairing and a USB-C port for charging. An LED strip indicates the battery level. There are no auxiliary jacks or ports for external inputs, so you can only connect via Bluetooth.
Downloading the JBL Portable app to a mobile device provides access to the latest firmware update and allows users to boost or cut bass, mid, and treble frequency levels to tailor the sound to fit with their tastes and surroundings. It's a nice addition for anyone such as myself who likes to tweak the settings to get the best sound output possible. The PartyBoost tab enables you to pair it with another JBL speaker to either mirror the sound, or assign speakers as a left/right stereo pair. JBL says you can pair up to 100 of its speakers.
The Flip 6 paired easily via Bluetooth 5.1 with my iPhone 12 Pro and maintained a strong signal around my home without drop out. I was able to play and select tracks from whichever music streaming service I was using on my phone from other parts of the house without any connection issues.
Despite there being no voice assistant integrated into the speaker itself, I found that Siri voice assistant was able to play/pause tracks on the JBL Flip 6 without any issues.
JBL Flip 6 review: Sound quality
As with the Flip 5 Bluetooth speaker before it, the Flip 6 delivers a very good sound overall, with impressive bass for a speaker this size. I haven't got a Flip 5 to compare it to, but nevertheless the Flip 6 has a good amount of energy to keep me playing track after track in my home office. Bass levels were surprisingly strong for such a compact speaker, which is no doubt due to the passive radiators firing out mid/bass sounds at either end of the tube-shaped speaker.
The Flip doesn't quite manage to throw the sound outside of its physical dimensions in quite the same was as the Anker Soundcore 3 does, but the balance of frequencies it produces was richer and more finessed than the speaker's tiny dimensions might suggest.
Adele's main vocal sat clearly above the pounding drums, piano, hand claps and rhythms on "Rolling in the Deep". The layered track was a lot more engaging than I anticipated on the JBL, and I was able to follow specific instruments and strands of the mix with ease. Percussive sounds harden up a little at higher volume levels, but the sound balance remains impressive overall, and the Flip 6 goes far louder than it has any right to given its compact size.
Playing Daft Punk's "Get Lucky", I could hear the energy in Nile Rodgers' characteristic guitar playing and there was plenty of funk on show. All the layers of the track were expertly played out by the Flip 6, and even though it can't quite produce the bass depth I know this track to have when played through a larger speaker system, the JBL makes a fair stab at delivering this feel-good song with plenty of punch to keep anyone that's listening entertained.
JBL Flip 6 review: Battery life
JBL says you can play the Flip 6 for 12 hours on a full charge (the same as the Flip 5), but that seems to underestimate its actual ability. After using it for more than 5 hours at mostly low volume, it still had ¾ of the full charge according to the battery level display on the back of the speaker.
Recharge time goes from dead to full charge in 2.5 hours, which is respectable. A USB-C charging cable is provided but you'll need a wall charger.
JBL Flip 6 review: Verdict
JBL's Flip Bluetooth speaker has been through several incarnations over the years, and each version has been consistently rated as one of the best Bluetooth speakers. The Flip 6 continues the run, and does just enough to keep it among the leaders. It combines an easy-to-carry design and delivers a sound that belies its size, and with better-than-average bass. The price increase reflects the times, but this is still a great value portable Bluetooth speaker with strong performance. It can regularly be found for less than its MSRP, which makes it even more of a bargain.