Farewell to Nokia PlayUp and hello to JBL Flip 6

For the past ten years, the primary source of audio at my home was the trusty Nokia PlayUp portable BT speaker. Well, you might wonder why didn’t I get a better and more powerful stereo system, but when you get married, you’ll know. This speaker was introduced in 2012 (actually at IFA 2012) to follow Nokia’s latest Windows Phone-powered Lumia series, and Nokia was eager to follow their smartphones with audio accessories of excellent quality. That is why they partnered with JBL to make Play 360 a year before and Nokia PlayUp a year after.

This speaker had three drivers and a passive subwoofer system that was able to create an incredibly rich and powerful tone that would fill up your room as a more powerful setup. However, if you check the specs, and it had output of just 3 Watts but JBL did some 360 sound radiating acoustics magic which made me love this speaker. I also loved it since it was portable and I could swap its 1430mAh battery with many others I had at home. I remember that Nokia 5800XM had the same battery so, in a case of a party, I would have 2 batteries and approximately a 20 hours of play time.

But, all that is good needs to come to an end and that is what happened with my cyan PlayUp speaker. I needed to say farewell to it since for some reason it was still connecting to my phone by simply taping to the NFC area, and I could control the sound and everything, but the speaker wasn’t giving sound. I even reached JBL to get some insights into the problem and if they can help me solve it but their customer service directed me to Nokia :). After reaching for the PlayUp box and going through the manuals, I decided that I need to part with the speaker and get a new one.

So, I started searching for a new speaker and I was again checking what JBL (now owned by Harman) has to offer but other speakers from Sony, Sonos, Bose and Ultimate Ears were accounted for.

Now I got used to the portability factor of my audio source and the fact that I have a friend with an excellent surround system fixed in his living room that he turns on once a year now with kids told me not to search for a proper sound system. What I wanted is a speaker that can deliver great deep tones (subwoofer needs to be present), has a fast and reliable BT connectivity and can play for at least 10 hours of music. Also, I didn’t need a smart speaker with Alexa or Google assistant nor a speaker to do calls so a mic was out of the question.

After checking all that is available here in Croatia, the choice fell on JBL Flip 6 Bluetooth speaker. I must say that I chose well and I can recommend it to all that are searching for a good quality BT speaker. JBL Flip 6 is coming with a 30W speaker power, out of which 20 W is dedicated to the subwoofer and 10W goes for the tweeter. This is enough power to produce a rich sound. The speaker is outputting mono sound but you can get two Flips 6 and create a stereo sound over the JBL app.

I was briefly going for JBL Charge 5 because of the slightly powerful speakers but I really didn’t have a need for the 7000 power bank since I have my trusty 10000 mAh Anker. Also, 20 hours of playtime isn’t a dealbreaker for me since I find 10 to 12 hours that Flip 6 can deliver just perfect. Also, both Flip 6 and Charge 5 have an IP67 rating so both are cool in that particular aspect. The price change was just huge for just a bit more powerful speaker and battery.

Flip 6 has a 4800 mAh battery which is charged for about 2 or 2.5 hours over the USB-c cable which means you can charge it with your mobile phone charger (if a phone has USB-C of course). You are getting a USB-c cable anyway in the box so you can use it for charging your phone. The ends are made of silicone so it will stay firmly on slippery surfaces and won’t get damaged on cement floors. The controls on the speaker are easily reachable and can be used to play/pause or change the volume. There is even a LED notification light that will show you the battery level.

I was trying to get it in blue but black was the only option here, unfortunately. Well, there was a white one available but I reckon that one would get all the dirt quickly so the black isn’t that bad.

The one thing I do miss on Flip 6 that Play Up had is NFC quick connection feature, but Flip 6 is coming with a quick BT connection setting which is doing its job perfectly. The one thing I don’t miss, but some might, is a 3.5 mm jack for the aux sound input, but nowadays all the music I listen to is coming through a BT connection either with a BT speaker, earbuds or car radio that also has BT connection. Well, you can’t beat wire in delivering the best sound quality there is, but BT5.1 has nice compression codecs which should guarantee the best sound transmission there is now.

All in all, I find JBL Flip 6 to be a good substitute for my now late Nokia Play Up speaker and hopefully, it will serve me for another 10 years. I bought this speaker for 130 € which is the same price I gave for JBL PlayUp back in 2012. Although Flip 6 is bringing fewer features than PlayUp (exchangeable battery, no NFC, no 3.5 port and hidden 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable), it did bring me waterproofness, more powerful audio, and an active subwoofer.