True wireless earphones from Jabra have gained quite a following. As a result, the firm has regularly produced some of the most reliable buds that can do practically everything. Another option was an inexpensive set of headphones that offered good sound, useful tools, and good battery life for less than a $100 investment. That’s exactly what the Elite 3 does, and it’s perhaps the best wireless product the firm has ever made.
The three new Elite models from Jabra feature a completely new design and are all smaller than the company’s prior models. The Elite 75t was previously the smallest set of earphones from the brand. Nevertheless, Jabra’s new Elite 3 headphones are more comfortable than the Elite 75t, thanks to their smaller size and redesigned shape, which better mimics the contours of your ear. The shape of the ear was created using over 62,000 ear scans, according to Jabra. The Elite 3 and its more expensive siblings feature a rounded triangular casing instead of being more round.
Up until the Elite 85t, Jabra’s earbuds had an on-board control button that was shaped like a circle. Microphones were located in a little triangular elbow that pointed at your face. There is now a triangle-shaped button on the Elite 3 that covers the full outside surface of the device. Close to your face and high above your head, the microphones are all situated around the perimeter of the screen. The earbuds still have the nozzle-like design that Jabra has utilized in the past on the inside of the earpieces. So, much like the competition, you’ll find that the majority of each bud is lodged within your ear canal.
The on-board controls on the new Jabra devices are still physical buttons, rather than touch displays like on prior generations. In order to use them, you’ll have to press them, but they’re also more reliable. Single-press play/pause, double-press play/pause, double-press play/pause, triple-press play/pause, and triple-press volume up/down are all available on the right side (press and hold). Same operations on the left cover turning ambient sound on/off (single), activating your voice assistant (double) and lowering the volume (single) (press and hold). The triple press on the left earbud does nothing. It’s possible to go to Spotify in a matter of seconds on Android, but you’ll have to give up the ability to summon your personal assistant.
You don’t even have to take your phone out of your pocket to use the on-board controls that are already on the earbuds. The Elite 3’s dust and water resistance (IP55) means that you can easily push a button and go right back to your exercise when you need it most. Automatic pauses are the only thing needed here. Although it can be a nuisance, I wouldn’t classify it as a deal breaker for this price point.
There is a similar charging case provided with the Elite 75t. Compact and easy to fit in a tiny pocket, it’s a good choice for travel. The materials used in the Elite 3 case, on the other hand, are of a lower quality and appear to have been cut corners. There is a problem with the lid, in particular. There won’t be many complaints about the case, of course, if it protects and constantly charges your headphones.
Sub-$100 earbuds often produce muted, muffled sound that lacks any depth or bassy punch in the sound. Now, you can add Jabra to the list of exceptions with Anker’s Soundcore line. It didn’t take me long to get enamored with the sound quality of the Elite 3. There is a good balance in the tuning, but when it’s needed, the low-end tone really comes through. In rock, the kick drum is deep and dynamic, whereas in hip-hop and electronic music, the beats are frenetic. CHVRCHES’s “How Not To Drown” and John Mayer’s “Last Train Home” are examples of songs that were recorded to sound open and airy. Compressed sound can be found in any well-tuned earphones, but that is not the case with Elite 3.
The sound signature of Jabra here also excels at drawing attention to finer points. The snare drum rattle is clearly audible on the CHVRCHES track referred to before. Chris Stapelton’s Starting Over is enriched by subtle touches like string noise and gritty guitar distortion. In spite of the few presets provided by Jabra, the Elite 3 outperforms its more expensive rivals in terms of sound quality because to its combination of balanced tuning, strong bass, superb clarity, and appealing depth.
But even though Jabra’s HearThrough feature is included in the Elite 3, the audio quality here isn’t as high compared to some more expensive headsets. But don’t get me wrong, when you activate it, it does exactly what it’s supposed to. However, the earphones only pick up your voice when you’re making a phone conversation, and the sound is distorted (sidetone). As a result, even when you’re trying to be open, you still find yourself shouting when you’re having a one-on-one conversation in person.
The Jabra Elite 3 promises “crystal-clear calls,” like many other headsets. In the same way that much of the competition’s claims don’t hold up, so too does this one. Phone and video calls work fine, although these earphones aren’t quite “crystal clear.” In the end, your voice sounds like it’s coming from a speakerphone, and there’s always a low rumble in the background. How well does it perform? Yes. Do you have a good voice? No. However, Jabra has a few useful features to make up for its drawbacks.
As a first step, the Elite 3 automatically changes to HearThrough mode when making a call, and you may enable sidetone to pipe in even more of your sound. The earbuds have a convenient mute switch that turns off the microphones with a single touch on either side. As a final convenience, Jabra has included a mono mode, which allows you to use one of the headphones while the other is charging.
A lot of Jabra’s products are supported by the Sound+ app, however this time around, the possibilities are rather limited. In addition to the standard battery percentage, there is a HearThrough (ambient sound) option and a selection of six audio presets on the primary screen. No manual EQ and obviously no noise cancellation options are available in this model. Unlike some of the company’s other earbuds, HearThrough mode does not have a slider.
Find My Jabra may be used to locate a lost earbud and the Elite 3 has a sidetone feature that lets you listen in on the conversation and monitor your own volume. During a phone call, the sidetone control will appear on the main screen so that you may quickly adjust the volume. The on-board controls, on the other hand, are preconfigured and cannot be changed. Fortunately, Jabra has already taken care of the fundamentals, so you don’t need to do anything else. The only difference between the Android and iOS apps is that Android has a few more control choices for the on-board controls. The Elite 3 is also compatible with Google Fast Pair, which makes connecting to your phone a breeze on Android devices.
The earbuds themselves have a battery life of up to seven hours, and the charging case has three extra charges. In today’s competitive market, this is a little better than many of the other options, which typically clock in at around five hours. Wireless charging isn’t supported by the case, however it does have a 10 minute fast-charging capability. A single Elite 3 bud failed to live for seven hours during my tests, while the other lasted 20 minutes more than the claimed period. A full day’s worth of work should be no problem if you’re docking these a few times.
Many big-name wireless competitors have been undercut by Jabra, which retails for $80. Cheapest AirPods are $159, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 are $150 and Sony’s WF-XB700 is $130. As long as those aren’t on sale, of course. However, at full price, the “main three” inexpensive choices are all more expensive than Jabra.
Anker’s Soundcore Spirit Dot 2 is an excellent alternative to the Elite 3. In a small, comfortable form factor, they have the same price as Jabra’s latest, but with a punchier bass, on-board controls, and an IPX7 rating. Even though I only got roughly four and a half hours out of the Spirit Dot 2 during my testing, the device’s battery life is advertised as five and a half hours. Another potential deal-breaker is that there are no volume controls on the device itself. Fortunately, Anker provides a wide variety of alternative inexpensive wireless headphones, like the updated noise-cancelling Liberty Air 2 Pro, which looks more like Apple’s AirPods.
It’s rare for me to be startled by a pair of earphones after studying the audio industry for so long. Predicted expectations are usually accurate, and spec sheets rarely undersell products such as these. Jabra has exceeded my expectations with the Elite 3 headset. The sound quality is greater than some of the competition that costs twice as much, and the all-new design is both small and comfortable. This is an incredible value for the price.