JBL Charge 5 vs Bose Soundlink Flex: Which is Better?

The JBL Charge 5 and the Bose Soundlink Flex are portable Bluetooth speakers designed to deliver loud sound performance with plenty of bass. Based on our side by side comparison, the JBL Charge 5 delivered much louder sound performance at 40W output while the Bose Soundlink Flex delivered 20Ws of output power. Having said that, both speakers deliver incredible bass performance with a really nice low-end punch, and both speakers are great for EDM or hip-hop music genres where they can really emphasize the highs and the low-end bass.

Compared to the Bose Soundlink Flex, the JBL Charge 5 is clearly the more powerful speaker with 40W of output power and larger dual passive bass radiators. The Charge 5 is designed to blast sound in both an indoor and outdoor setting. The Charge 5 speaker is equipped with a long excursion driver, separate tweeter and dual JBL bass radiators for deeper bass performance. It is also equipped with a long lasting battery that delivers up to 20 hours of playtime on a single charge, and it is fully waterproof with a IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating. You can read our full review of the JBL Charge 5 speaker here.

The Bose SoundLink Flex, by contrast, is designed to be more portable and can be easily carried inside a backpack. It also delivers really nice sound performance with a surprising amount of bass with good depth – the speaker is equipped with a custom-engineered transducer for deeper and immersive sound performance on the go. Although the speaker is smaller than the JBL Charge 5 (the Charge 5 weighs 2.1 lbs compared to the Bose SoundLink Flex’s 1.3 lbs), it delivers really nice bass performance with positional audio using Bose’s proprietary position Qtechnology (this allows the speaker to detect and optimize the sound quality depending on the speaker’s orientation). Similar to the Charge 5, the SoundLink Flex is IP67 waterproof and can even float on water if you drop it into the pool.

JBL Charge 5 vs Bose SoundLink Flex Comparison - the Charge 5 has a much larger width and is less portable than the SoundLink Flex

Comparing the Specs

SpecificationsJBL Charge 5Bose SoundLink Flex
BluetoothYes, version 5.1Yes, version 4.2
Wi-FiNoNo
Battery Capacity7500 mAhNot specified
Battery LifeUp to 20 hoursUp to 12 hours
Weight960 g (33.86 oz)600 g (1.3 lbs)
Dimensions (HxWxD)3.8 in x 8.78 in x 3.7 in7.92 in x 3.55 in x 2.05 in
Waterproof RatingIP67IP67
Bluetooth Range30 feet30 feet
USB PortYesYes (USB Type-C)
AUX ConnectivityNoNo
Built-in MicrophoneNoYes
Speakerphone FunctionNoYes
Number of SpeakersOne woofer and tweeterOne driver, two passive radiators
Wattage40 watts20 watts
Additional FeaturesPartyBoost, Built-in PowerbankRugged design, utility loop, built-in microphone, Bose SimpleSync

The JBL Charge 5 uses the more updated Bluetooth 5.1 version as compared to the Bose SoundLink Flex’s 4.2 version. It also comes with a larger battery life (based on our own tests) as compared to the Bose SoundLink Flex, and can even double as a portable power bank for your smartphone devices. Both speakers are IP67 waterproof but the JBL Charge 5 is twice as loud as the Bose SoundLink Flex with a total output of 40W compared to the Bose SoundLink Flex’s 20W.

Sound Performance

In terms of sound performance, the JBL Charge 5 delivers louder sound performance (up to 40W) as compared to the Bose SoundLink Flex. The Bose SoundLink Flex is not as loud, with a power output at 20W, but both speakers actually deliver really nice bass response on a side by side comparison. The Charge 5 speaker is obviously more boomy and delivers much more bass at higher volume level due to its dedicated woofer and dual bass radiators, but the bass from the Bose SoundLink Flex punches surprisingly deep and has plenty of depth.

Although the JBL Charge 5 sounds much louder than the Bose SoundLink Flex, the SoundLink Flex makes up for this with its really good sound performance; the sound is neither tinny nor too bass-heavy. You get crystal clear vocals and highs with the SoundLink Flex, and the bass that this speaker delivers feels tight and punchy with really nice tonal depth. We played a couple of live jazz performances such as Tony Bennett’s “Fly Me To the Moon” and “The Way You Look Tonight” and the vocals sounded really clean and bright with a good level of timbre. You can really hear tonal depth in the vocals and the SoundLink Flex delivers bass with a good level of depth and punch even at lower volume levels. Although the SoundLink Flex does not have as good a soundstage as the JBL Charge 5 speaker, the SoundLink Flex delivers really deep and clear sound performance that feels immersive.

Having said that, the JBL Charge 5 delivers much better volume and bass especially at higher volume levels and is a much better party speaker. The bass on the Charge 5 has plenty of depth and punches really deep – it sounds crystal clear without any muddiness and punches really deep. We liked the fact that you can push up the volume on the JBL Charge 5 and expect to get minimal distortion; the sound remains consistently clean and clear at every volume level. The speaker handles EDM and rock music performances particularly well, and JVKE’s “Golden Hour” sounded really crisp with very clean vocals and deep bass notes. The Charge 5 works great if you need to blast music outdoors and turn up the volume – it does not deliver any distortion and has consistent sound performance at every volume level.

The SoundLink Flex is a speaker that we would prefer for casual listening at home or at the office. It is highly portable, and delivers really clear sound performance with deep bass and does not occupy too much space on a desk. The speaker also has the capability of taking hands free calls (the call automatically transfers through the speaker and you can talk to the other person using the built-in microphone) which makes it really convenient to use.

If you are looking for a Bluetooth speaker for blasting music and has very loud volume output, we highly recommend the JBL Charge 5. The Bose SoundLink Flex is more suited for indoor listening and is not as large as the Charge 5, and delivers some really clean vocals and deep bass notes as well.

Bose SoundLink Flex and JBL Charge 5 side by side comparison

Design

Both the JBL Charge 5 and the Bose SoundLink Flex speakers are IP67 waterproof and can be fully submerged to a depth of 1m for 30 minutes without any issues. Comparing both speakers side by side, the Bose SoundLink Flex is more compact and portable with a dimension of 7.9 x 3.6 x 2.1” which is sleeker than the JBL Charge 5’s 8.8 x 3.8 x 3.7” dimensions. The Charge 5 is also heavier than the SoundLink Flex with a weight of 2.1 lbs which is much heavier compared to the SoundLink Flex’s 1.3 lbs. The Bose SoundLink Flex is much more portable than the Charge 5 and can be easily carried around inside a backpack or carry-on, while the Charge 5 is much bulkier and heavier to carry. Both speakers use USB-C charging and both speakers take approximately 4 hours to reach a full charge.

Having said that, the JBL Charge 5 does come with a few advantages over the Bose SoundLink Flex. It uses Bluetooth 5.1 which is more stable than the SoundLink Flex’s Bluetooth 4.2 technology, and supports both A2DP 1.3 and AVRCP 1.6 audio codecs. The biggest advantage is its 7500 mAh battery that delivers a massive 20 hours of playtime on a single charge (which is much longer than the SoundLink Flex’s 12 hours), and the JBL Charge 5 also doubles as a portable power bank for your smartphone devices which is an added plus.

The Bose SoundLink Flex is designed for portability and looks more sleek than the JBL Charge 5. It also comes with the Bose Connect app which allows you to pair two Bose SoundLink Flex speakers together for a wider soundstage using stereo mode, or you can also use “party mode” to chain multiple speakers together. The SoundLink Flex also uses a USB-C to USB-A cable for charging and has a 12 hour battery life, although it does take 4 hours to reach a full charge which is rather long considering that this speaker is much smaller and has less battery capacity than the Charge 5.

Overall, the Bose SoundLink Flex is a sleeker looking speaker that can be placed on a desk or office table and delivers really clean sound performance. It’s not as rugged or designed for heavy-duty performance as the JBL Charge 5, and it delivers surprisingly good bass considering how compact the speaker actually is. The SoundLink Flex also has an integrated microphone and doubles as a speakerphone which is very convenient if you need to take calls while listening to music.

JBL Charge 5 vs Bose SoundLink Flex
The JBL Charge 5 delivers louder volume and more bass for outdoor parties, but the SoundLink Flex also provides strong bass and very clean sound

Specifications

The JBL Charge 5 comes with a few features that are not present in the Bose SoundLink Flex such as dual passive bass radiators which help to enhance the deeper low-end bass response. It has a loud volume output of 80dB and a wide frequency range from 65 Hz to 20 kHz, which is much wider than the SoundLink Flex’s frequency range which is around 85 Hz to 20 kHz, with the lowest bass frequency ranges peaking around 80 Hz for the SoundLink Flex. This means that the Charge 5 can deliver much more pronounced and deeper bass performance.

One of the things that we also preferred in the JBL Charge 5 is the JBL PartyBoost feature which allows you to pair multiple Charge 5 speakers to create a much wider listening field, which is ideal if you want to blast music in an outdoor party. The Bose SoundLink Flex also comes with a similar feature using the Bose Connect app, allowing you to connect to another Bose speaker by holding the Bluetooth and Volume up buttons simulanteously. The SoundLink Flex also comes with Bose’s proprietary position Qtechnology which automatically detects the position of the Bose speaker and optimizes the sound performance accordingly.

One advantage that the Bose SoundLink Flex has over the Charge 5 is that it comes with a built-in microphone which allows you to take hands-free calls on the go – you can also access your phone’s smart assistant functions with Siri or Google Assistant voice input which is a really convenient option. The JBL Charge 5, by contrast, does not come with a built-in microphone and you can’t take any hands free calls on the speaker, which is rather inconvenient considering that the Charge 5 was designed as an outdoor portable speaker. The Bose SoundLink Flex also comes equipped with PositionIQ technology which detects the speaker’s orientation and and automatically adjusts the EQ to deliver high-fidelity sound (regardless of whether it is in a horizontal or vertical position).

The Verdict?

If you are looking for a portable speaker for indoor listening, the Bose SoundLink Flex would be a better option. This speaker delivers really nice sound performance with crystal clear highs, good midranges and really solid bass performance which sounds deep and has plenty of depth. The SoundLink Flex is equipped with a custom-engineered transducer which delivers deeper and clearer audio performance on the go, and is the kind of speaker that you can listen to while studying or use it to play music on a computer desk. The SoundLink Flex is also IP67 waterproof and highly portable, and is great for casual listening and bringing around with you with its 12 hours of listening time.

Both the JBL Charge 5 and the Bose SoundLink Flex speakers deliver really solid bass performance and consistently clean volume output. Both speakers can also get really loud without any distortion,

The JBL Charge 5 is designed for outdoor parties and blasting music, and delivers much better sound performance if you need a speaker to blast music in an outdoor setting. This speaker delivers a massive 40W of output power and you also have the option of linking multiple JBL Charge 5 speakers together for a much wider soundstage using the JBL PartyBoost functionality. Perhaps the biggest advantage that the Charge 5 speaker has over the Bose SoundLink Flex is its massive battery life (20 hours) that doubles as a portable power-bank and allows you to charge your smartphone devices on the go. If you are thinking of getting a portable outdoor speaker for large parties, the JBL Charge 5 is definitely the better choice. Otherwise, the Bose SoundLink Flex is a pretty solid choice if you want to get a portable speaker for casual listening with really good bass performance.