Harman has taken the wraps off of a brand new entry in the JBL Flip line of portable speakers set to be available on JBL's website and retailers this spring following demonstrations at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas at CES 2019. Called the JBL Flip 5, the speaker will be available in eleven colors including Desert Sand, Mustard Yellow, Dusty Pink, Grey Stone, River Teal, Fiesta Red, Ocean Blue, Midnight Black, Steel White, Forest Green, and Squad. Building on prior versions, Harman says that in addition to a wide array of color choices the JBL Flip 5 will feature up to 12 hours of playback provided via a 4800mAh rechargeable battery. Its new 'racetrack shaped' driver will deliver crisper audio, including deeper bass tones than previous variants and that it will recharge more quickly via USB Type-C at 5V/3A.
Streaming will still take place via Bluetooth while physical interactions and controls such as speakerphone functionality are supported via on-device buttons. No indication is given as to which version of Bluetooth is in use here. That's all packed into an IPX7 waterproof rubber housing that's been further ruggedized with other 'durable materials' to prevent damage from spills and similar environmental hazards all the way up to full submersion in water.
A legacy of sound
Both Harman and its JBL subsidiary are well-known brands in the world of sound and the biggest new feature of the new JBL Flip 5 seems to be its iterative improvements over the previous JBL Flip 4. Specifically, that device was launched in 2017 and focus for that design was centered around ruggedization. Minor changes and improvements to that have undoubtedly been made with the JBL Flip 5 but sound quality and level are paramount for JBL products. Harman says that the new accessory is small enough to fit in a suitcase or take anywhere but that the racetrack audio driver has been completely reworked with an increased cone area and excursion. The result should be that it's able to provide better and more clearly-defined amplification of auditory tones streamed through the device from a smartphone or other source.
USB Type-C is another major improvement with this year's JBL Flip 5 since it supports a much higher rate of transfer than previous USB variants. Harman hasn't given any details away with regard to those metrics just yet and that won't have any impact on the sound quality since audio is streamed with this device. But will bring substantial improvements to charging speeds and stability. That's on top of its reversible nature, making it more convenient and easier to plug the cylindrical portable speaker in, to begin with.
Priced to sell
Pricing for the JBL Flip 5 will be set at $99.95 when it lands this spring. That sets costs at exactly the same as was initially in place with the new speaker's predecessor. There's still plenty of information missing with regard to the size of the speaker's driver or drivers and exactly how much output can be expected from the JBL Flip 5. Harman's decision to redirect efforts away from ruggedization and ignore trends in AI-enhanced offerings, for the time being, does seem to indicate that it wants this to be a high-value but basic offering. That doesn't mean that the audio quality improvements won't match the tone set by the company's announcement, however. More details will likely become available as its launch date approaches or when it begins to hit the shelves sometime after CES 2019.