In recent times JBL has found their muse with speakers designed with panache, and making the experience work within the confines (and limitations) of Bluetooth connectivity. For reference the previous Flip speakers I reviewed left me impressed with its size, brevity, and not-so-shocking price. I praised it as a bedroom blaster, but now there’s a new one.
It goes by the name of Flip 2 and it’s called that because its exactly that – the sequel. Yeah, pretty obvious I know, but JBL’s follow-up does bring enough improvements to warrant the updated name. It sports the same 24 oz. Tall Boy design on the outside, but inside it’s clearly a step above from clarity to connectivity.
On the outside not a whole lot has changed for the Flip 2. There’s several colors to match your taste (mine came in pastel blue and stands out nicely but options also include black, white, red, yellow). The basic style is still cylindrical with a few notable changes. The controls on top are more discrete with buttons integrated into the unit and mapped by icons, there’s also a Bluetooth button that chimes when pairing manually or directly with NFC tapping. Around back, status lights are added and let you know how much juice is left. Finally, the rubber inserts are now softer to the touch but the feet for horizontal orientation are strangely absent and rolls quite a bit on flat surfaces.
Other well-wishes such as a micro-USB cable and power adapter are included, and a molded carrying case replaces the neoprene one from before. Speaking of which, JBL has wisely ditched the proprietary power connections for USB, and this small change makes a big difference for charging and overall versatility. You no longer have to fret over the adapter or fear of the Flip 2 becoming a paperweight if you happen to lose the cable either.
The internals are upgraded with two 6W amplifiers and dual 40mm drivers. With a Nexus 9 tablet to test. The results, like the previous version hits its mark at mid-upper volume levels where everything from modern rock to pop music has a fuller presentation. The improvements, though modest are good enough to play louder in medium-sized rooms.
For midrange acoustics, vocals and treble are emphasized rather than weighty bass, with the latter being restrained and somewhat harsher at higher volumes. This thing has a lot of kick and you get the sneaking suspicion there might be more power than the compact body can handle, in that respect it’s almost a pity that you’ll have to keep the sound a few notches down in order to maintain that balance. As a speakerphone though there was nothing to complain about, and comes across cleanly for conversations.
The only real grievance I have, yet again, is the battery life. If you like your sound to fill a room you’re only going to get five hours out of this Bluetooth speaker, it’s so-so and you can squeeze another 120 minutes out if you keep the noise at more appropriate levels – it’s not wholly disappointing but I was just expecting a little more, that’s all.
But when all is said and done, the JBL Flip 2 is a load of great sound in a very tight cylinder. It addresses some of the gripes I had before, and for the price that’s all I really want and expect compared to other competitors (Logitech UE Mini Boom and Jawbone Mini Jambox). If you can look past the middling battery performance you’ll enjoy the portability and powerful delivery.