After several weeks of testing, I’ve determined that JBL Flip 5 wins the battle against Bose SoundLink Micro due to its superior sound quality. Bose SoundLink Micro sounds impressive for its size. It also has more bass and a cool design, but it’s quieter and more expensive. Read on and I’ll compare Bose SoundLink Micro vs JBL Flip 5 in five categories: sound, design, durability, power, and software.
Neither are as good as other portable speakers I’ve tested, but in this faceoff I have to give the win to JBL Flip 5. It’s a narrow victory though and comes down to how loud you have the speakers.
The Flip 5 has a single 44mm driver (compared to the dual on Flip 4), which gives it the edge over Bose SoundLink Micro. The side radiators bounce whenever you play music. The sound is clean and the bass is good, but not as strong as SoundLink. However, it’s impressive with highs and lows for most music genres. Flip 5 lacks omnidirectional sound, but sounds good for its size. As I said before, neither speaker here is fantastic. If you’re willing to spend $30 more, then you can get the superior JBL Charge 3.
Bose SoundLink Micro is very impressive for its size, especially its bass. While there’s only one passive radiator and a mono transducer, the sound is balanced and rich. It’s best for indoor use and when standing in front of it. The volume is lacking and the sound quality reduces over 60% volume. While it’s louder than laptop or smartphone speakers, I can’t recommend it for outdoor use. Make sure the Bose logo is facing you for the best sound quality.
At low volumes, I actually prefer SoundLink Micro. However, at normal volumes, Flip 5 sounds better and is the clear winner. It’s close, but I have to give the win to JBL Flip 5.
Sound Winner: JBL Flip 5
This is another close category, but I think the Bose SoundLink Micro has the better looking and more functional design.
The Flip 5 weighs 1.2 lbs and is 7 inches long. While it has a rope strap for carrying, it’s not as useful as Bose’s rubber strange. You can choose from 11 different colors. While it can stand vertically, it’s really meant to lay horizontally. Confusingly enough, there isn’t a base for it. This means the speaker can roll around until the rubber control pads prevent it from moving. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either. Sound quality can differ based on how it rolls.
I like seeing the radiators bounce as music plays. I also like the tactile buttons as it’s clear when you pushed them correctly. There’s a triangle button and you can choose to make it either skip songs or as a voice assistant, but not both. Bose gives you both. Voice assistants are fairly useless due to the lag. While it and Bose are listed as having a 30-foot Bluetooth range, I got 5 extra feet from Flip 5.
The Flip 5 has a USB-C Quick Charge port compared to the micro USB with the SoundLink Micro.
Bose SoundLink Micro weighs only 10oz and is 4” x 4”. It looks like an Echo Dot and I loved the form factor. It comes in three colors: Black, Bright Orange, and Midnight Blue. You can charge it via a micro USB port. Another thing I love is the internal waterproofing. It doesn’t have a hard-to-remove flap covering like Flip 5 or most other portable speakers. However, it lacks a 3.5mm port.
The tear-resistant elastic strap makes it simple to carry the portable speaker, and it’s much sturdier than it looks. You can even strap it to coolers, backpacks, bikes, and more. The multifunction button allows you to skip songs with a quick double tap, pause with a single tap, or connect to your device’s voice assistant with a long press. However, while the buttons are more useful, they don’t give much feedback.
With its great form factor, light weight, more useful strap, and better buttons, I have to give the win to Bose SoundLink Micro.
Design winner: Bose SoundLink Micro
The durability is almost identical between them. I believe SoundLink Micro is somewhat more durable, but there isn’t a significant difference in this category.
Flip 5 has an IPX7 waterproof rating and it floats. It can be submerged in a meter of water for 30 minutes. Flip 5 is a durable speaker and can usually be dropped without any problems. However, the exposed radiators can be a weak spot.
Bose SoundLink Micro also has an IPX7 rating. It also won’t float, but can be submerged for 30 minutes in a meter of water. While it isn’t officially shockproof, you can see that it’s built to take a beating. It has no problem withstanding drop tests, and the soft silicone rubber shell keeps it safe, plus there are no obvious weak spots.
Durability winner: Bose SoundLink Micro
Looking at the listed battery life, you would expect JBL Flip 5 to win. However, in my tests, I have to give the win to SoundLink Micro.
Flip 5 lists the battery life as 12 hours, but I’ve noticed that the battery life lasts a fraction of that at 60-70% volume or higher. It lasts about 6 hours at 60% and 4 hours at max volume. It takes 3.5 hours to fully charge.
Bose surprisingly undersold the battery life. They list the battery life as 6 hours, but it was actually 7 hours at 60% volume and 12 hours at 30% volume. It’s refreshing to get a surprise like this. It takes 4 hours to fully charge.
While it would be easy to say that Flip 5 wins because it lists better battery life, my tests revealed the exact opposite.
Power winner: Bose SoundLink Micro
The Bose software is OK while Flip 5 is pretty bad. Neither are the best in this category, but the win goes to SoundLink Micro, especially because the app is actually useful.
The JBL Connect app is one of the worst I’ve seen for portable speakers. You can’t manage the device, change the equalizer, check battery life, or even get firmware updates. The only thing it does is change the function of the terrible triangle button. Up to two devices can be connected to the same speaker.
You can connect 100 JBL speakers via the Connect+ feature and use them in either Stereo or Party mode. You don’t need the app for this. However, older JBL speakers with Connect can’t pair together.
Bose allows you to connect two SoundLink Micros to generate stereo sound, or use Party Mode and they’ll play the same music. Pairing is simple and one of the best with Bluetooth speakers. However, pairing these to other types of speakers can get difficult. Be sure to disconnect all devices before trying this.
The speaker will audibly tell you the battery life along with connected devices whenever you turn it on. This can be nice, and you can disable it via the app. While you can’t change the equalizer in the app, Bose does great at making automatic sound choices, and you can change the auto-standby timer. There are firmware updates, but they can take over an hour to install, and sometimes they fail.
It has a 30-foot Bluetooth range, and two devices can be connected simultaneously. The Bose app remembers up to eight devices. You can also manage which two devices are active in the Bose app.
It should be easy to see that SoundLink Micro offers more features and has a working app, making it the winner here.
Software winner: Bose SoundLink Micro
It might come as a surprise since Bose SoundLink Micro won nearly every category, but I still give the overall win to JBL Flip 5. It really comes down to the sound quality and better volume. I want to say that SoundLink Micro is better because it is in every other way, but it’s just too quiet and doesn’t sound good at higher volumes.