Which external bluetooth speaker should you buy

JBL and Ultimate Ears or UE are no strangers to portable wireless Bluetooth speakers. Over the years, these two companies have produced a handful of popular and well-made speakers. While JBL Flip 5 is one of JBL’s newest speakers, the UE Boom 3 was launched in August 2018.

JBL Flip 5 vs UE Boom 3 Which external Bluetooth speaker should you buy

While the EU Boom 3 debuted in early 2019 and still reigns on the charts of the best recommendations. The booming 360-degree sound is always an advantage, and the IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating is the icing on the cake.

So how does it compare to the new JBL Flip 5? We will find this article today by comparing the new JBL Flip 5 with the old (and popular) UE Boom 3 to help you make an informed decision.

As this is going to be a long piece, let’s jump right in.

Design and portability

At first glance, there is not much about the Flip 5, it would set it apart from its predecessor. It has the same cylindrical design with a rubberized border.

It measures just 3.64 x 3.6 x 8.5 inches and weighs approximately 1.19 pounds (540g). Naturally, this small scale means that you can transport it easily, whether for a beach party or a hiking adventure.

JBL Flip 5 vs UE Boom 3 2 2

The enclosure has a solid construction and an impeccable finish. The layout of the buttons remains consistent like that of the predecessors of the same Flip range. You will find passive bass radiators at each end. An important change is the inclusion of a fast-charging USB-C port on the thin strip that extends the full length of the speaker.

Despite its cylindrical shape, you can place the Flip 5 both horizontally and vertically according to your preferences. It has an IPX7 waterproof rating and can be immersed in water (up to one meter) for 30 minutes. So even if it slips into the pool at your next party, it will come out in some form.

The Flip 5 is available in 14 different colors and the camouflage design is pretty cool. An interesting addition is that you can also customize the appearance of the outer case. Cool, right?

If Flip 5 is more about smooth edges, UE Boom 3 is about sharp edges. This cylindrical speaker, which measures approximately 2.9 x 2.9 x 7.25 inches, looks like a large can of soda with a flat top and slightly sharp edges. However, don’t let that deter you from getting this Bluetooth speaker. The flat design allows you to safely plant it in the can holder of your car or slip it into the bottle holder of your backpack.

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JBL Flip 5 vs UE Boom 3

Well, the cylindrical shape helps its 360-degree sound (more on that later).

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Not only is the Boom 3 durable, but it can also float in water. Speaking of water, this portable speaker is rated IP67 and is immersed in water for up to 30 minutes.

2. Controls and connectivity

Most EU speakers are recognized by their signature (and huge) Plus and Minus buttons on the front, and the Boom 3 is no different. The buttons are large and are distributed over the spine of the speaker. If you remember, the Boom 2 had a rubber band along the spine, and the buttons were embossed in addition.

The band is still there. However, this time it thinned out to make it look thinner. And, it also has a small hanging loop.

Sound comparison UE Boom 3 5

The subtle Plus and Minus buttons let you feel the buttons easily. “The volume controls on Boom 3 are much easier to find in the dark,” wrote one user.

So what sets the Boom 3 apart? Well, when it comes to commands, I would say it’s the magic button. This clever feature allows you to link the speaker to your favorite playlists (maximum 4). Cool, right? If you are an iPhone user, the app of choice is Apple Music (see YouTube Music vs Apple Music vs. Spotify) while Android users can use Deezer Premium.

Sorry, Spotify users.

JBL Flip 5 vs UE Boom 3 magic

As for the Flip 5, nothing has changed much. The controls are always in the same place – crossing the spine of the speaker. But don’t be fooled by the array of similar-looking buttons. There’s a new infinity button, and it’s the new PartyBoost button.

As the name suggests, it allows you to pair your speaker with other PartyBoost compatible speakers. You will be able to connect two compatible speakers in stereo and three or more in mono.

However, this feature sounds better on paper, as many critics on Amazon have expressed dissatisfaction with this feature which is not working as it should be. This feature is not supported on older models like the Flip 4.

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JBL Flip 5 vs UE Boom 3 partyboost

The function also exists in Ultimate Ears speakers, and you can connect up to 150 speakers. The best part is that the functionality is backward compatible. Now it’s a plus.

3. Sound quality

Now comes the most important part – how does the $ 099 JBL Flip 5 work?

Well, let me introduce it to you. The JBL Flip 5 offers medium punch and crisp, clean audio output. It is accompanied by a resonant bass deep enough to make you groove to the rhythm of the songs. Of course, it would be wrong to expect thunderous bass, but you get my drift.

Sound comparison UE Boom 3 3

Most importantly, this little speaker is loud enough to be used in any party or outdoor event. The good part is that the bass does not distort even at high volume. This was backed by harsh criticism as well as by the people at PC Mag. This is due to the improvement of the DSP which is responsible for the thinning of deep bass

If we talk about the hardware, the Flip 5 comes with 20 watt speakers and 44 by 80 mm drivers.

As far as the EU Boom 3 is concerned, the name says it all. Do not be fooled by the small scale because this speaker is powerful and noisy. It can easily become your reference speaker for pool parties. And when it comes to indoor events, rest assured that you will not increase the volume (it has a maximum volume of 90 decibels).

Sound comparison UE Boom 3 1

However, this speaker sacrifices quality for volume. The audio is not as sharp as you would have liked in a $ 150 speaker. That said, the overall quality is good as long as you don’t delve into the details. In addition, you have 360-degree sound, which allows for greater sound dispersion.

Speaking of equipment, this brings together a duo of 2-inch drivers and two passive 4-inch radiators.

4. Battery life

An outdoor speaker with a tiny battery life is no one’s idea of ​​a good speaker. Fortunately, in this area, the two speakers do not disappoint. While the JBL Flip 5 claims 12 hours of battery life, the UE Boom 3 offers 15 hours of playback time.

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Good SoundGuys employees tested this claim and found that the battery life was shortening a bit to around 9.3 hours. Likewise, Boom 3 was able to produce 8.3 hours on moderate volumes.

Sound comparison UE Boom 3 2
JBL Flip 5 battery life

Again, it’s perfect for a laid-back day on the beach or by the pool. However, if you expect music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, unfortunately, these speakers won’t cut it.

On the upside, the Flip 5 is upgradeable and includes a fast-charging USB-C port. It can recharge the Flip 5 in about 2.5 hours. In addition, there is a handy indicator on the side that lets you see how much juice is left.

JBL Flip 5 battery 2

Unlike him, the Boom 3 combines the old micro-USB port. So yes, you will have to hang on to the charging cable for fear of losing it.

If you’re in the mood to experiment, you can check out the internal Power Up wireless charging station, which can charge your wireless speaker.

Verdict: JBL Flip 5

When it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers, the JBL Flip 5 ticks all the right boxes. It encompasses both quality and volume. The battery life is also decent, as is the portability.

There are, however, some limitations. JBL has removed the speaker functionality. This means that you will not be able to connect your phone, or call Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri. Even the 3.5mm AUX port has also disappeared.

However, if you want booming sound with 360-degree surround sound, the UE Boom 3 is for you. The rounder body allows you to carry it easily and the waterproof design softens the case.

At the same time, it brings together some extras. For example, the application has an equalizer which allows you to modify the sound according to your taste. In addition, you can also save equalization presets. Well, you can connect it to other EU speakers (8 maximum) to create a party atmosphere. Cool, right?


Are Bluetooth codecs like SBC, LDAC and aptX Bluetooth Codec really important? Click the link below to find out all about them in the post below.

Last updated on June 7, 2020

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