Jabra Elite 3 evaluation: nailing the necessities for $80

Patrick

After establishing a robust repute with nice, reliable earbuds just like the Elite 75t, Jabra is overhauling its complete lineup with three new fashions. On the excessive finish are the $199 Elite 7 Professionals and $179 Elite 7 Energetic earbuds, which is able to hit cabinets in October. However for a lot of, probably the most thrilling a part of Jabra’s newest trio would be the Elite 3 earbuds, that are the corporate’s first true wi-fi earbuds to launch at a value below $100. They solely value $79.99, placing them in competitors with EarFun, Anker, JLab, and different firms which might be identified for high quality buds on a price range.

Jabra doesn’t shoot for the Moon with the Elite 3s; they lack energetic noise cancellation and so they sacrifice one function that’s turn into an indicator of Jabra earbuds: multipoint help. You possibly can solely pair these with one system at a time, whereas the corporate’s different merchandise can join to 2 audio sources concurrently. It stings, however it’s additionally a predictable omission at this asking value. What you’re left with is a set of earbuds that outshine sound high quality expectations, ship prolonged battery life, and above all else, come via with constant, dependable efficiency — which may’t all the time be mentioned of different sub-$100 earbuds.

From a design standpoint, the Elite 3s have advanced past the utilitarian look of the 65t / 75t / 85t and present slightly extra type. Jabra describes it as “a glossy Danish design.” My evaluation unit is the usual darkish grey, however there are lilac purple and beige choices if you need one thing brighter. As a substitute of the same old round button on the outside, these earbuds have extra of a teardrop form, and the mini stem with perforated mic holes from the corporate’s previous buds can also be gone.

However the Elite 3s really feel very acquainted as soon as seated in your ears; fortunately, they use spherical ear suggestions as an alternative of the oval-shaped suggestions that got here with the 85t buds, which by no means match as snugly as I’d’ve preferred. (Three sizes of silicone suggestions come within the field.) For those who preferred how the 75t buds match, you’ll be proper at residence with these, and their lighter weight makes for even higher consolation over longer intervals. I by no means felt any soreness when carrying the Elite 3s. A very good seal is essential for the very best passive noise isolation, and I used to be happy with how these buds managed to subdue exterior noise — even with out ANC. They could lack multipoint, however on the plus aspect, you need to use both earbud independently in mono mode. That hasn’t been the case for Jabra’s earlier earbuds, so it’s a welcome enchancment for the 2021 lineup.

These earbuds don’t protrude from the ear so far as Jabra’s others.

The charging case appears similar to Jabra’s others and stays properly compact. However the firm undoubtedly opted for a lighter, cheaper plastic this time; the lid has some creaking and a little bit of flex, and the case itself picks up scuffs fairly simply. Functionally, it does the job superb and holds the earbuds securely. And the battery standing LED is sensibly positioned on the entrance, not like older Jabra earbud circumstances the place it was round again. There’s no wi-fi charging right here — simply USB-C for wired recharges. For battery life, Jabra says the Elite 3s can hit as much as seven hours of steady taking part in time, and my expertise up to now provides me little purpose to doubt that estimate. The case holds sufficient juice for 3 recharges, so that you get 28 hours of listening time in all.

The case feels reasonably low-cost and scuffs simply.

The Elite 3s don’t sound like $80 earbuds, and I imply that in the absolute best means. Not like the fatiguing, inarticulate sound signature that’s all too frequent at this value, Jabra’s new price range buds have a properly balanced EQ that lends the bass some added punch, however to not objectionable ranges. The sound isn’t as full-bodied as with the Elite 75t or 85t buds, however it’s removed from muddy. Listening to Kacey Musgraves’ new album Star-Crossed, the Elite 3s did a fantastic job with each elaborate, reverb-heavy tracks like “Cherry Blossom” and the weak, acoustic “Hookup Scene.” Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” goes to indicate that the bass isn’t fairly as thumping as on Jabra’s different earbuds, nonetheless. Supported Bluetooth codecs embody commonplace AptX and SBC, however not Apple’s most well-liked AAC.

The Elite 3s lack guide EQ controls, not like Jabra’s different earbuds.

The Jabra Sound Plus app, accessible on each Android and iOS, presents a number of completely different EQ presets like bass and treble increase, although you lose the total slider controls which might be reserved for the corporate’s pricier earbuds. That feels slightly stingy to me, however I’ll take some EQ flexibility over none in any respect. You’re additionally caught with the default controls, although there’s not a lot I’d wish to change about them. The precise earbud handles audio controls, whereas the left summons your most well-liked voice assistant. (Jabra helps Amazon Alexa along with Siri or Google Assistant.) I actually like that the buttons now take up the total outer floor of the earbuds, making them easy to search out and press. And so they’ve obtained a pleasant click on. Nobody likes mushy buttons regardless of the value. On Android, Jabra helps Quick Pair for faster setup.

Jabra has redesigned its newest earbuds with a bit extra type.

The Elite 3s function a HearThrough transparency mode to present you some consciousness of your environment. But it surely’s muffled sufficient that I not often bothered toggling it on. The state of affairs the place it’s most useful is once you activate sidetone (which helps you to higher hear your individual voice) on calls. Talking of which, these earbuds carry out decently however aren’t going to boggle the thoughts. I by no means obtained any complaints about mic high quality on the cellphone or over Zoom, and everybody may clearly make out what I used to be saying, although they do have that talking-on-earbuds sound to them. For $80, that also checks off the “adequate” field for me. Jabra charges the sturdiness of the Elite 3s as IP55, which means they’re proof against on a regular basis mud and may deal with sweat and splashes of water, however shouldn’t be submerged.

Regardless of their interesting value and strong efficiency, I’ve nonetheless obtained some minor nitpicks: the Elite 3s use tones and beeps to point pairing standing and different features as an alternative of the unmistakable voice suggestions from Jabra’s prior earbuds. I actually hope this doesn’t carry over to the extra premium new fashions. There’s no auto-pause on the Elite 3s once you take away an earbud. And as we proceed to see energetic noise cancellation trickle down into extra inexpensive buds from firms like EarFun, Anker, and TCL, Jabra may need to get extra bold subsequent time round. Or a minimum of enhance the rinky-dink case.

However as the corporate’s first earbuds coming in below the $100 mark, the Jabra Elite 3s managed to impress me with their well-considered mixture of sound high quality, steadfast efficiency, straightforward controls, first rate name high quality, and prolonged battery life. There are different options you would possibly need for one purpose or one other, however I can’t consider a lot else I’d actually want for this type of cash.

Images by Chris Welch / The Verge

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