JBL Flip 2 portable Bluetooth speaker review: Top portable speaker takes it up a notch

Performance
The Flip was one of the better sounding Bluetooth speakers for its size and the Flip 2 takes things up a notch. It's not a big notch, but it's noticeable. The Flip 2 handles bass a little better at higher volumes and has a little bit smoother, cleaner sound. It can also play slightly louder, though you will encounter some harshness when you raise the volume above 70 percent (all these speakers do better at more modest volume levels).

The midrange is pretty forward, so vocals get accentuated, and there's a little treble push. I did throw some techno and rap at this little guy, and the bass comes off a little restrained (as you might expect), but the speaker does have more kick than many competing models. That said, the more expensive UE Boom delivers more bass.

The speaker charges via Micro-USB instead of requiring a separate AC adapter. Sarah Tew/CNET

The Flip 2 beats some other popular Bluetooth speakers in this price class, including the UE Mini Boom and both the original Jambox and more expensive Mini Jambox. It also sounds fuller and more powerful than the smaller and less expensive Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz speakers, though like all these compact Bluetooth speakers that have their twin drivers so close together, there's really no stereo separation.

Speakerphone performance was good (callers' voices sounded very loud and they said they could hear me fine). No complaints there.

Alas, JBL hasn't improved the new model's battery life -- it's still rated at 5 hours, which is only so-so. You can do a little better by playing your music at quieter volume levels. And you'll fall short of 5 hours if you really crank your tunes.

If you're looking for better battery life, JBL also has the Charge, which currently retails for around $120 -- roughly the same price as the Flip 2. TDK Life on Record A33 Wireless Weatherproof speaker is also a good option, but it's significantly larger than the Flip 2.

A USB cable and power adapter are included along with a nice carrying case. Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion
My only real gripe with the Flip 2 is its middling battery life. Otherwise, the tweaks to the design, slightly improved sound, and the ability charge via USB are nice upgrades over the original.

This speaker does cost a little more at $129.99 (the original Flip sells for less than $100), but relatively speaking, it remains a decent value, especially if you can pick it up at a slightly discounted price. The Flip 2 has its limitations, but the fact that it can play as big as it does (and sound fairly decent) for a small, highly portable speaker, makes it easy to recommend.

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Where to Buy See all prices

JBL Flip 2 (black)

Part Number: FLIP2BLKJN Released: Jan 7, 2014
Low Price: $98.95 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jan 7, 2014
  • Color black
  • Amplification Type active
  • Connectivity Technology wired
    wireless