Hands-on Gear Review

Jabra Elite 65t Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $170 List | $169.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Great sound quality, secure fit, great for working out
Cons:  Expensive, relatively short battery life
Bottom line:  The best sounding and most comfortable buds we've found for working out
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight (oz):  0.4
Microphone Yes/No:  Yes
Claimed Battery Life (hours):  5
Manufacturer:   Jabra

Our Verdict

The Jabra Elite 65t is by far the best pair of truly wireless earbuds we've come across. Taking cues from the Apple AirPods with a convenient charging/carrying case, then adding superior sound, water resistance, and a more secure fit, these earbuds can handle everything from long runs to relaxing on the couch. The Elite 65t also employs multiple microphones to make phone calls sound superb. If you're looking for truly wireless earbuds we still think th lack of rubber on the Apple AirPods makes them more comfortable for wearing on long plane rides. But if you want a truly wireless pair that can keep up with your workout, or just aren't satisfied with teh sound quality of Apple earbuds, the Elite 65t is clearly superior.



RELATED REVIEW: Best Bluetooth Earbuds of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Max Mutter and Steven Tata

Last Updated:
Tuesday
July 24, 2018

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The Jabra Elite 65t are the first truly wireless earbuds we've found that provide a confidence inspiring, snug fit that can stand up to hard workouts and running. They also sound better than any other pair of earbuds we've tested.

The Jabra Elite 65t  the best sounding buds we reviewed.
The Jabra Elite 65t, the best sounding buds we reviewed.

Should I Get the standard Elite 65t or the Active Version?


The Jabra Elite 65t comes in a standard version ($170) and an active version ($190). The more expensive Active model comes with three minor upgrades: a slightly gripper finish on the outside of the buds, an accelerometer, and a higher water resistance rating. Currently the accelerometer feels like a throwaway, as all it can do is track your steps in the Jabra app (which requires the use of a phone that likely has a native step tracking app anyway). There is the chance that Jabra could add more accelerometer capabilities with future software updates, but as it stands now we don't find this to be a compelling feature.

As far as water resistance goes, the standard Jabra Elite is rated IPX5 (which is essentially very water resistant) and the Jabra Active Elite is rated IPX6 (which is essentially very very water resistant, but not quite waterproof). The standard definition for IPX5 is, "Protected from low pressure water streams at any angle," so unless you tend to produce high pressure, projectile sweat, we don't think the higher IPX6 rating is needed. However, if you do sweat a lot and a higher rating would lend some peace of mind, it may be worth the extra $20.

The Jabra Elite 65t is available in a standard and Active version. We think the standard version still works well for working out.
The Jabra Elite 65t is available in a standard and Active version. We think the standard version still works well for working out.

Should I Get the Jabra Elite 65t or Apple AirPods?


This really comes down to what you plan on using your earbuds for. For working out and running we found the Jabra Elite 65t to feel infinitely more secure. That's not to say you can't use the AirPods for athletic pursuits. We never had them fall out during a run, and we even know of someone that ran the Boston Marathon with a pair of AirPods. However, the Jabra Elite certainly felt more secure and left us feeling more confident that they wouldn't fall out while on the road.

The Jabra Elite also sounds better, with better clarity and slightly better bass. This is partially due to the fact that the rubber earpieces effectively block out most outside noise, something the all plastic Apple AirPods don't do. This noise blocking can be a problem if you're running on busy streets, however. Jabra gets around this problem by offering a HearThrough feature that lets you adjust how much noise seeps in through the earbuds. Just remember, this feature utilizes the microphones, so you can expect a drop in battery life when it is turned on.

The main advantage of the AirPods is the slightly smaller carrying case and the looser, less constrictive fit. Both of these things are great for travel (the secure, ear canal blocking fit of the Jabra Elite can be uncomfortable for long periods). Bottom line, we reach for the AirPods when we're heading for the airport, and the Jabra Elite 65t when we're heading for the gym.


What About the Bose SoundSport Free?


If you're choosing between the Jabra Elite 65t and the Bose SoundSport Free, we wholeheartedly recommend the Jabra Elite 65t. These buds sound better, fit more securely, have better battery life, and are slightly less expensive. We don't think it's a competition at all.

Performance Comparison


The Jabra Elite 65t reigned supreme over all of our other earbuds, earning the top overall score.

Sound Quality


These Jabra Elite 65t was the best sounding pair of earbuds we tested, earning the top score of 9 out of 10.


The exceptional clarity is what really set these buds apart from the pack, making everything from podcasts to crowded instrumental compositions sound great. The bass is also decently powerful, leading to a very full and engrossing overall sound. The tight fit of these earbuds blocks out most ambient noise, making them great for noisy environments. If you want to hear what's going on around you (if you're running on the road, perhaps) you can use the HearThrough feature to let some sound in. However, this feature does drain the battery a bit faster as it requires the use of the microphones. The app also lets you adjust the EQ of the buds. If you're picky about sound quality, these are the earbuds for you.

These are the best sounding earbuds we've tested.
These are the best sounding earbuds we've tested.

Call Quality


These earbuds pack a microphone into each bud, leading to crystal clear calls and solid filtering of ambient noise, meaning whoever you call likely won't be able to hear all the cars driving by you while you talk.

Comfort


The Jabra Elite 65t's snug, noise isolating fit is comfortable and secure, but can feel constricting when worn for multiple hours. This earned the buds a score of 7 out of 10.


The Elite 65t offers three different sizes of earpiece. In our testing we found that this range was able to accommodate pretty much all ear sizes. There are no ear fins, but the rubber earpieces themselves fit so snugly that they feel incredibly stable, even without ear fins. While the fit is nice, the noise blocking, earplug like nature of the rubber earpieces can start to feel less than comfortable after an hour or more. Bottom line, the fit is great for workouts and runs, but we probably wouldn't want to watch an entire movie wearing these buds.

We found the Elite 65t to fit snugly and comfortably  though they felt a bit abrasive when worn for multiple hours.
We found the Elite 65t to fit snugly and comfortably, though they felt a bit abrasive when worn for multiple hours.

Athletic Performance


The Elite 65t are our favorite earbuds for working out. They picked up the top score of 9 out of 10.


Theses earbuds stick in your ears like white on rice, and they're so light that even high impact trail runs don't cause them to bounce around. They are also rated IPX5 water resistant, meaning you don't have to worry about sweat gunking up the inner workings. You can even upgrade to the Jabra Elite Active 65t for an extra $20. This ups the water resistance rating a bit and adds a step counting accelerometer. We don't think teh extra waterproofing is really needed unless you plan on shooting your earbuds with a squirt gun, and step counting is available on almost every smartphone. Therefore, we don't think it's necessary to upgrade unless you want a future proof pair earbuds, in case Jabra adds software support for more advanced accelerometer features in the future.

Portability


These earbuds are tiny and come with a convenient carrying case. This pushed them towards the top of the portability leaderboard with a score of 8 out of 10.


These earbuds weight just 0.4 ounces, and the included carrying case is quite light as well. Though the case is slightly larger than the case of the Apple AirPods, it is still small enough that you won't notice it in your pocket.

The included carrying/charging case.
The included carrying/charging case.

Battery Life


This is really the only area where the Jabra Elite 65t didn't excel. The buds themselves lasted 5.25 hours in our battery test. However, the storage case has a battery and can charge the buds a couple of times, extending the life out to about 16 hours with some pauses to recharge.


Value


Listing for $170, the Jabra Elite 65t certainly is not cheap. However, if you're looking for the best possible sound quality, or truly wireless earbuds that won't cause any problems during your workout, they are worth the premium price.

Conclusion


Offering top notch sound quality and the best athletic performance we've come across, the Jabra Elite 65t are the best earbuds around, but with a correspondingly high price tag.

Max Mutter and Steven Tata

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