Bose SoundLink Micro vs. JBL Flip 4: Cool Form Or Better Sound?

Cam Secore
Updated 10/14/2018

After weeks of testing, I determined JBL Flip 4 is a better speaker than Bose SoundLink Micro because of its superior overall sound quality. Bose SoundLink Micro sounds fantastic for its size, has more bass, and comes in a cool form factor, but it’s substantially quieter and more expensive.

I’ll compare and contrast these two portable speakers (Bose SoundLink Micro vs. JBL Flip 4) by evaluating five categories: sound, design, durability, power, and software.

JBL Flip 4

7
  • Sound: It has exceptional volume and adequate bass. It can easily fill a medium-sized room.
  • Design: It doesn’t have a base, the ports are hard to access, and it weighs twice as much as Bose.
  • Durability: It’s fully waterproof and can withstand drops.
  • Power: You’ll get 12 hours at low volumes (according to JBL) or 6 hours at 60% volume.
  • Software: The app is useless, but the Bluetooth range gives an extra 5 feet.

Best for you if...

You want a speaker that can fill a medium-sized room with crisp sound. While JBL Flip 4 is a better value than Bose SoundLink Micro, it’s not a great investment because JBL Charge 3 (Flip’s big brother), has far superior sound and is only two inches longer than the Flip 4. Flip 4 is great until you hear Charge 3 side-by-side. If you’re leaning towards JBL, get Charge 3 for the extra $30.

Bose SoundLink Micro

6
  • Sound: The sound is crisp with amazing bass for its size, but it struggles outdoors and at volumes higher than 65%.
  • Design: It straps to anything, is extremely portable, and has an easily accessible charging port.
  • Durability: It’s fully waterproof and can withstand impact.
  • Power: Bose undersells its battery life; you’ll get 7 hours while at 60% volume.
  • Software: You can manage devices, customize options, and there are firmware updates.

Best for you if...

You want amazing sound and bass from a speaker that fits in a pocket. It's best for personal use, rather than with friends, due to its low volume, directional sound, and distortion at high volumes. In theory, it should be good for hikers and bikers, but the sound gets lost while outside. It's a substantial upgrade over phone or laptop speakers and an excellent pick for college dorm rooms.


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    soundlink or flip

    JBL Flip 4

    7

    Sound (C+):

    • It delivers stereo sound with dual passive radiators, which is one of its most significant differentiators from Bose. You can see the radiators bounce as music plays.
    • The bass is sufficient, but not as heavy as SoundLink Micro. The sound is always clean, but some will want more bass.
    • I played a wide range of music, and it consistently impressed me with its mids and highs.
    • While it doesn’t deliver omnidirectional sound, it sounds surprisingly crisp outside relative to its size. It’s a good choice for a casual cookout.
    • My biggest problem with Flip 4 is that Charge 3 is much better and only $30 more. Flip 4 seems great until you hear JBL Charge 3.

    Design (B):

    • It weighs a little over one pound and is about seven inches long.
    • It has a rope strap, but it’s not as practical as Bose’s rubber strap.
    • It comes in Black, Blue, Gray, Red, Teal, and White.
    • Flip 4 can sit vertically, but it’s meant to lay horizontally, even though there isn’t a base for it for sit on. It rolls until it hits the rubber control pad and stops moving. It’s not a terrible design but an interesting compromise. Listening in the car is a challenge because the sound is compromised as the speaker rolls.
    • The port cover is there to protect it from water, but it’s hard to open.
    • You can use an old-school iPod directly without Bluetooth because there’s a 3.5mm input.
    • It looks cool when the side radiators bounce as music plays.
    • The tactile buttons make it clear when you’ve activated them.
    • You choose the function of the triangle button. It can be a skip button or voice assistant button. It’d be nice to have both, like Bose, but voice assistants on portable speakers (via the phone) are useless due to the lag.
    • It has the same listed 30-foot Bluetooth range, but I got an extra five feet compared to Bose.

    Durability (B+):

    • The only meaningful difference from Flip 4 and its predecessor (JBL Flip 3) is the IPX7 rating. It can be submerged under a meter of water for 30 minutes, but it won’t float. If waterproofing isn’t a necessity, consider Flip 3 for a better price.
    • This is a durable speaker. It can be dropped without issues, but based on personal experience, it’s not as durable as Bose due to the exposed radiators on the side.

    Power (B):

    • JBL lists a playback time of 12 hours, but once the volume goes higher than 60-70%, the battery drastically decreases. You’re looking at close to four hours at max volume according to my tests, which produced six hours at 60% volume.
    • It has a 3.5 hour recharge time.

    Software (D):

    • The JBL Connect app is the worst. They shouldn’t have bothered. You can’t change an equalizer, manage devices, get firmware updates or get an accurate battery indicator. The only thing you can do is control the function of the triangle button.
    • You can have two devices connected simultaneously.
    • You can connect up to 100 new generation JBL speakers together that use Connect+. You can pair the speakers to be in “stereo” or “party” mode. This occasional works, but you don’t need the app to do it. JBL speakers made previously that use Connect (not Connect+) can’t pair together.
     

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