Initially, JBL’s Flip 4 Bluetooth lightweight speaker looks nearly the same as 2016’s Flip 3. But looks could be deceiving: that it is a slightly bigger speaker, weighing 1.14 lbs (517 g) — 0.14 pound a lot more than its predecessor — and it’s really covered in stronger fabric with a tighter weave. Within that external design change, the Flip 4 gets some changes inside, including new drivers and a presumably bigger battery that gives 12 hours of battery life rather than the Flip 3’s 10 hours. The speaker can be now fully waterproof rather than just splashproof.

Just like the Flip 3, the Flip 4 could be stood up vertically or laid down horizontally — thus its Flip moniker — and has a removable lanyard which allows you to hold the speaker from a shower head, a branch outside or a loop on your own backpack. Obtainable in six colors, it costs $100 or £120. Official Australia availability isn’t yet known, but that US price converts to about AU$140.

So, just how much better may be the Flip 4 and how does it build up against the wireless mini Bluetooth speaker competition as of this price point?

The short response to the first question is that it is actually a substantial upgrade over the Flip 3. Not merely does it play just a little louder, nonetheless it sounds better, with improved bass response and slightly better clarity.

I compared this speaker to Ultimate Ears’ similarly priced Wonderboom and the more costly UE Boom 2. The Wonderboom is shorter and squatter and offers more bass; it comes off as a bigger speaker compared to the Flip 4. However, with some tracks the Flip 4 sounded more natural, particularly in the midrange, and I recommended its sound when hearing certain songs.

Among the problems of reviewing the performance of the small Bluetooth speakers is that their sound quality isn’t consistent. With some tracks they sound quite good, and with others they appear to be a tiny speaker that’s getting pushed a touch too hard and straining itself.

Overall the Wonderboom does turn out at the top for sound quality, but it’s a close race, and because of its size and price, the Flip 4 is an extremely good performer and has such extras as an integral microphone, so that it works as a speakerphone (the Wonderboom does not have any speakerphone or auxiliary input).

Although it doesn’t play quite as loud or have nearly as good battery life as the UE Boom 2 (which is nearly the precise same decoration), it’s an excellent option to that speaker if you are looking to save just a little money. And hopefully, with time, this speaker should come down in price, so that it is an even less expensive. It’s easily the very best Flip yet.

JBL Flip 4 features
Wireless Bluetooth streaming: Wirelessly hook up up to two phones or tablets to the speaker and take turns playing music
Built-in 3,000mAh rechargeable lithium ion battery supports up to 12 hours of playtime at moderate volume levels
IPX7 waterproof (could be fully submerged in water to 3 meters for thirty minutes)
Connect a lot more than 100 JBL Connect+ enabled speakers together to amplify the listening experience
Speakerphone with noise- and echo-canceling
Voice assistant integration: Access Siri or Google Now from your own JBL speaker with a button press
New fabric covering and rugged rubber housing make the Flip 4 stronger than previous model
JBL Bass Radiator: Dual external passive radiators help deliver more bass
Price: $100, £120
Six color options: black, white, teal, gray, red and blue