Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker
JBL FLIP 4 - Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker - Black
I was in need of a new Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker, and like many of you, I was a little overwhelmed after doing an Amazon search and finding literally tens of thousands of options to choose from. It’s especially frustrating because probably the most important part of the product — how good it sounds — is not something you can really evaluate until after you physically have it. So I picked four speakers to compare: Cambridge Soundworks OontZ Angle 3 Plus, Anker SoundCore Sport XL, Geek Beats Jolt5, and the JBL Flip 4.
First, the Cambridge SoundWorks OontZ Angle 3 PLUS Bluetooth Speaker with 30-Hour Playtime – Richer Bass Greater Sound Quality & 10W+ Loud Volume, Water Resistant Splashproof, Portable Wireless Speaker, is a slightly larger version of the best-selling speaker on Amazon with over 17,000 reviews and a $30 price tag, and this only costs $5 more, so why not give it a shot? I chose Anker SoundCore Sport XL Outdoor Portable Bluetooth Speaker – 16W Output and 2 Subwoofers, IP67 Waterproof & Dustproof, Shockproof, 66ft Bluetooth Range, 15H Playtime, Built-in Mic, USB Charging Port, partially because I have other Anker products that I’m pretty happy with, but also because the 66-foot advertised range seemed like it could come in handy if I were working in the backyard with my phone in my pocket and the speaker sitting on the porch. I selected the GEEK BEATS JOLT5 10W X-Bass Wireless Portable Bluetooth Speaker and USB Power Bank – Green. IP65 Water and Dust Resistant with 5200mAh Samsung Battery. because it’s the same price as the Anker, it has an average of 4.9 stars (wow!), and it can be used as a battery to charge your phone. And finally, I chose the JBL Flip 4 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker (Black) because in my search, I kept seeing the JBL Flip 3 pop up in reviews for other speakers, and this is the newest (and supposedly slightly better) version of that speaker.
Sound Comparison: Sitting in my living room and swapping around between the four options, it’s clear that the Flip 4 is the most, well, clear. Considering it’s also the most expensive, I kinda expected that to be the result. Surprisingly, the OontZ was a solid second place with a bit more rumble in its bass compared to the Flip 4 but at the cost of less clarity. The Anker and Jolt5 were noticeably flatter in their sound, seeming to favor the lows instead of an overall range, and this caused some distortion at higher volumes. When I took the speakers outside, it’s a slightly different story. With the speakers on the patio, I walked into the yard about 25 feet and compared the sound quality again, and again I’d put the Flip 4 in the top spot. This time, however, I’d actually say the Anker was a solid number 2. At this distance, the distortion from having the volume up the whole way was not very noticeable and didn’t detract from the music I was playing, and the Anker is a bit louder than the OontZ. The Jolt5 is a distant last place being not only flat but also not as loud. It’s comparable to listening to the radio on a boombox from the 90s.
Bluetooth Range: With the speakers inside, all four started cutting in and out around the same spot about 30 feet away. It’s around a corner, so having a wall in the way seems to even the odds here. Having an open space outside didn’t seem to make a difference to the Jolt5, though, as it still broke up around 30 feet. The product page on Amazon says 33 feet, so that’s pretty accurate. The OontZ fared a bit better and almost made it to the back gate about 60 feet away. The Anker is pretty spot on with its advertised 66-foot range as it went a bit further than the OontZ, even onto the other side of the gate and almost into the road. The Flip 4 was still going strong when I got to the other side of the road and couldn’t go any further in a straight line, maybe 75 feet.
Other Things: Depending on what exactly you plan on using your speaker for, and just for comparison’s sake, there are some differences that may be worth note:
— All four speakers come with a mini-USB to USB charging cable but not the plug. If you’ve charged a cell phone in the last 10 years or so, however, you should probably already have one.
— The Jolt5 and OontZ come with a 3.5mm cable so you can plug your phone right into it instead of using bluetooth (though all four speakers have this option, just not the cable).
— The Anker and Jolt5 have a USB port so they can be used as a portable battery to charge your phone.
— The Anker, Flip 4, and Jolt5 have hand straps. The OontZ does not come with one nor have a place to attach one.
— The Anker, Flip 4, and Jolt5 have audible cues when they power on or off. The OontZ is silent. All four speakers do, however, make a noise when you successfully pair a device through bluetooth.
— All four speakers are splash resistant, but only the Anker and Flip 4 are likely to live if they fall into the water (submersible up to 30 minutes)
– The Anker and Jolt5 are shock resistant, so they likely won’t shatter if you drop them
— The OontZ has the longest battery life (30 hours) and the Flip 4 has the shortest (12 hours)
— The Flip 4 can be paired with other Flip 4’s (through an app) to provide a wireless multi-speaker experience. There are Bluetooth adapters that would allow you to do this with the other speakers if you wanted, as well as physically connecting them with 3.5mm cables.
— The Flip 4 comes in a variety of colors.
— They are all roughly the same size, just differently shaped (see pics)
Conclusion: The best bang for your buck is the OontZ Angle 3 Plus. It’s a measly $35 and sounds almost as good as the $100 Flip 4, especially inside. In addition to being inexpensive, you can literally keep it blaring music for an entire day. It’s not quite as loud outside as the Anker or Flip 4, but it’s also half the price. If you’re willing to pay for premium sound, go with the Flip 4 or even the Flip 3 if you want to save 20 bucks. Supposedly the sound is comparable, just the Flip 4 has a longer playtime. It really is noticeably clearer compared to the other options, so if you were using it with a projector to watch a movie, for example, the rumbling and distortion aren’t going to drown out the dialogue, and likewise vocals on a music track don’t get lost in the rest of the noise. If you’re planning on a bunch of outside activities, like mountain biking or camping, the ruggedness of the Anker and ability for it to charge your phone makes it your best bet. I didn’t do a drop test with any of these, but the Anker feels like a rubberized brick and would probably survive a fall. Other than battery life, there’s no reason to ever choose the Jolt5 over the Anker, especially considering they are the same price. The Jolt5 is just worse in every way, and I honestly don’t understand its 4.9 rating.
The Jolt5 is going back. The Flip 4 is staying. I’m still debating between the Anker and OontZ and may keep them both since the cost combined is still less than a Flip 4.
EDIT: After further testing, the Anker is going back and I’m keeping the OontZ. When plugged in with a 3.5mm cable, the sound is dramatically better with way more bass and a louder volume. And it’s still somehow the cheapest one.
— On a budget? Cambridge SoundWorks OontZ Angle 3 Plus
— Best sound? JBL Flip 4 (though I do wish it had a bit more bass)
— Most likely to survive your abuse? Anker SoundCore Sport XLPromised Review By D L