Recently, many manufacturers have begun to produce wireless Bluetooth earbuds, which we traditionally call mid-ranger – without many additional features and capabilities, but with a high-quality implementation of the main ones. Now Jabra also has a Jabra Elite 3 Bluetooth wireless earbuds. Overall, Jabra’s Elite series has gathered a lot of positive reviews, and some have called the flagship almost the best Bluetooth earphones in its segment in the face of the Elite 85t.
But the flagship Bluetooth Earbuds wireless models cost significantly more, plus many people are unwilling to pay for features they use little or not at all – Not everyone needs active noise cancellation, “advanced” sound settings, and so on. There is nothing extra in the new Jabra Elite 3, while it has interesting features of its own: Take at least IP55 protection, an extended warranty, or an ergonomic design of the case that provides a comfortable and secure fit, plus a surprisingly good level of passive noise isolation…at the same time, the headset costs much less – almost twice. So let’s see what else he might surprise us with within this Jabra Elite review.
Jabra Elite 3 specifications
- Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- Driver size: ∅6 mm
- Connection: Bluetooth 5.2
- Codec support: SBC, aptX
- Control: touch, Jabra Sound+ software
- Microphones: 4×MEMS
- Microphone frequency range: 100-8000 Hz
- Features: Active noise cancellation, IP55 protection, HearThrough function, Google Fast Pair
- Battery life: up to 7 hours (each earbud), up to 28 hours with charging case
- Full charge time: ≈3.5 hours
- Fast charging: 10 minutes for an hour of work
- Charging connector: USB Type C
- Case dimensions: 64×28×35mm
- Earbud dimensions: 20×27×21 mm
- Weight of one earbud: 4.3 g
- Case weight; 33 g
Unboxing and accessories
The wireless headphones are delivered in a box made of medium-density cardboard, with illustrations and brief specifications depicted on it. The cover is folded to the left, another one is found under it, which folds back to the right. The last has a brief instruction on how to connect.
The case with the Bluetooth wireless headphones and a set of additional silicone tips are held in place by a cardboard cradle. By the way, all packaging is made of recyclable cardboard, which is indicated in a separate line on the box.
The box includes the Jabra Elite 3 themselves in a charging case, two pairs of interchangeable ear pads, a manual, and a USB-A-USB-C cable for charging 20 cm long. The earpads have a standard mount, it is possible to find a replacement for them. But it is better to use the complete ones anyway – the earbuds have a fine fit, and a wonderful level of passive noise isolation, the shape of all the details is well thought out – there’s no point in changing something. Now we return to the relevant chapter of the Jabra Elite 3 review.
Design and build quality
The Bluetooth wireless Earbuds are available in four colors: Dark Grey, Lilac, Light Beige, and Navy. Our Jabra Elite 3 review unit is in Navy color.
The case is medium in size – 64x28x35mm and fits perfectly into the small front pocket of jeans. It is made of scratch-resistant and very pleasant to the touch matte plastic. Unfortunately, the material can be scratched quite easily – the case should be covered separately from various hard objects.
On the front panel, there is a small LED indicator showing the charge level of the built-in battery. The manufacturer’s logo is applied above the indicator, which is quite noticeable due to the glossy surface on a matte background, but at the same time, it is not too striking.
There is a USB Type C charging port on the back with a loop visible on the top that allows the opening and closing of the lid. The gap between the lid and the body of the case is noticeable, but not so large as to cause criticism.
The lid opens with a little effort. In the closed position, the lid is held securely in place by a magnet located on its interior. It also partially assumes the function of closer when closing the case.
The wireless Bluetooth earbuds are held inside also with the help of magnets. The mount is as tight and reliable as possible – even if you specifically shake the case, they remain in place and do not make a sound. It is very easy to take them out – just pull them slightly towards you. But you will have to get used to the position in which they should be placed back – at first, it’s a little inconvenient, but worth trying a couple of times, and you start doing it easily and without hesitation.
Inside the earbuds slots, spring-loaded charging contacts are visible, which are located close to the surface and are easily accessible for cleaning. Logos of certification systems are applied on the inner surface.
The earbuds themselves are compact – 20 × 27 × 21 mm, they are made of non-staining matte plastic. The device looks concise, but at the same time stylish – quite in the spirit of other Jabra Bluetooth earbuds wireless models, including flagship ones.
One of the key features of the Bluetooth wireless earbuds is their very original shape, which provides a secure fit. The first thing that attracts attention is the curved sound guide. The inner part of the case has a complex shape, which gives reliable and comfortable support to the cavity of the auricle.
The joint between the two halves of the case is clearly visible in the photo, in reality, it is not so visible, and when worn, it is completely invisible. On the side of the case, looking down and slightly forward when wearing headphones, there are holes for microphones for voice communication.
On the outside of the case are large mechanical control keys with the manufacturer’s logo highlighted in color. The surface of the buttons has a rough texture, it is very pleasant to touch them, and even slightly damp fingers do not slip. In one corner of the outer panel is a small LED status indicator indicating battery level, pairing activation, etc.
On the inside of the case, we see the designations of the right and left earbuds, as well as the charging contacts. Silicone tips are very securely held with a deep groove on the sound guide nose, but removing and returning them is not difficult.
The sound guide hole is not protected in any way, which is a bit of a pity, of course. Inside, a mesh is visible that protects the speaker, but it will be difficult to remove dirt from it if necessary.
Connectivity and setup
Connecting your Jabra Elite 3 to your Android devices is simple and easy as it supports Google Fast Pair. We take out the headset, wait a bit – it tries to connect to “familiar” devices, then activates the pairing mode. Next, we see a pop-up window with a proposal to connect, we agree – and you’re done. Well, if something didn’t work, you can always use the “classic” method – through the corresponding menu.
We note right away that the Bluetooth wireless headphones are optimized for working with Android devices, it can be seen even in codecs – only SBC and aptX, there is no AAC insight. We traditionally received a complete list of supported codecs and their modes using the Bluetooth Tweaker utility.
Unfortunately, there’s no support for multipoint here, unlike the manufacturer’s best Bluetooth earphones models. For many users who are accustomed to parallel operation of the headset with a laptop and a smartphone, for example, this can be almost the main disadvantage of the Jabra Elite 3. But the work in mono mode is fully supported by both headphones. There are no questions about the stability of the connection either – during the entire testing period, playback was only interrupted a couple of times on the street in places with a high level of interference, where many tested headphones behave in this way.
There were no “out of syncs” of sound and picture during video playback, but in games that are demanding on smartphone resources, they periodically appeared, the forced transition to the SBC codec did not solve the problem completely, but made it not too noticeable – it was possible to play quite comfortably and without irritation. Further configuration is carried out through the Jabra Sound+ application.
As mentioned above, the headset is controlled using mechanical buttons on the outer panel of the earbuds. They are pressed with little effort and a distinct click – without forcing the user to “press” the headphones deep into the ear or hold them with their fingers. Unlike sensors, they give clear feedback, always work and provide excellent protection against accidental clicks. This is especially important in terms of training, jogging, physical exertion, and other activities.
Controls are not customizable – you’ll need to purchase one of Jabra’s flagship headsets to get this feature. The default profile is quite logical, but not without nuances. So, for example, double-clicking the left button leads to the launch of Spotify or the voice assistant, so to go to the previous track, we had to use a triple right-click. But this is still not the most frequently used function – you can easily get used to it. Here’s what the playback controls look like:
The call, of course, can also be controlled. Everything is simple and logical here – like most headsets. To answer the call any button needs to be pressed – also any, but pressed twice to end the call. During a call, with a single click, you can turn the microphone on and off – very convenient during various online conferences. And finally, the volume control with a long press also works.
Comfort fit and features
One of the most interesting features of the Jabra headsets in general and the Elite 3, in particular, is, of course, an extremely secure and comfortable fit. To be honest, in this parameter they are almost the best of those that we have ever reviewed. But here, we immediately notice that everyone’s ears are different, and it may not suit someone. During this Jabra Elite 3 review, we asked five people to try it – everyone noted that they sit just fine. The circle of five people is undoubtedly very small, but usually, at least one person out of five finds reason to criticize.
The wireless headphones are light – weighing only 4.3 g while being very compact, therefore they are almost not felt in the ears. The inner part of the case has a rather complex ergonomic shape that provides excellent contact with the ear cavity. It is better to put on the headphones by slightly “twisting” them into the ear until the moment when the fit is the tightest and comfortable – it is worth trying to do this a couple of times, as it becomes clear what is at stake.
At the same time, the sound guide of the Elite 3 is slightly longer than most headsets and sinks quite deeply into the ear canal – several users can be uncomfortable with this. True, they are usually aware of such a feature for a long time and prefer either “inserts” or overhead solutions. So in general we can say that in terms of reliability and landing comfort, Jabra again with its Elite 3 is almost ahead of the rest.
It is a pleasure to train with them, there is not even a suspicion that they may fall out. Moreover, regardless of the exercise: from jogging to jumping rope, from twisting to strength training … And, of course, protection against dust and moisture IP55 pleases – the headset is not afraid of drops of sweat or splashes of rain. Moreover, the manufacturer even promises a two-year warranty against malfunctions in case of water and dust ingress.
Another consequence of the tight fit is a remarkable level of passive noise isolation, which makes the lack of active noise cancellation, not such a big deal. It is so high that the manufacturer even equipped the headphones with the HearThrough function, which is also often called “sound transparency”. When activated with a single press of the left button, the microphones pick up external sounds and transmit them to the speakers, making it easy to answer a question from a passerby, chat with a cashier in a store or listen to an announcement on public transport.
During voice calls, the headset also performs well. Four microphones provide high-quality voice transmission, which sounds legible and without distortion. The Elite 3 also copes with interactions in noisy environments: background voices are heard by the interlocutors, but this does not prevent them from understanding what was said – even when talking in a crowded room, you do not need to raise or repeat your voice. The Sidetone feature allows you to hear yourself during a call – this is not always necessary, but during long online conferences, it helps a lot.
Battery and charging
The manufacturer promises up to 7 hours of headphone operation from a single battery charge. This is exactly what happened. A safe sound pressure level for listening to music is considered to be 75 dB, but in practice, most listeners prefer a level of 90-100 dB. We broadcast white noise into the headphones, fixing the SPL level around 95 dB, immediately after the start of playback we start recording the signal from the measuring stand – by the length of the resulting track, it is easy to understand how long each of the headphones worked.
The earbuds are discharged unevenly: the right one works a little more than the left one. An extremely small number of listeners use headsets in mono mode, most often turning off one of them is a reason to put both in the charging case. Therefore, when determining the average battery, we will focus on the earpiece that has worked less. Let’s summarize all the results in a table.
In general, the earbuds will work for just over 7 hours, plus the case can fully charge them 3 more times – as a result, we have even a little more than the declared 28 hours of battery, you will have to charge the headset with active use every 3-4 days. Fast charging is stated, after one hour in the case, the headphones should have worked for 1 hour in playback mode. We got a little more – 1 hour 15 minutes. In general, the user is not threatened to be left without music for a long time, you just need to remember to periodically put the earbuds back in the case.
The Jabra Elite 3 sound is exactly what we expect from a headset for all sorts of activities. The bass is brought forward, but quite moderately – sometimes there is a slight rumble, but in general, the low-frequency range sounds tight and does not interfere with the perception of the tracks as a whole. The mid-range is fairly neutral, but a slight dip in its central part can cause the sound of solo instruments and vocals to fade into the background a bit – in dance tracks or hip-hop this can even come in handy, but in jazz or rock music will be a little annoying. But it is unlikely that during a walk or training someone will pay attention to such nuance.
The upper frequencies are perceived well, but are served without unnecessary accents, which eliminates problems with sibilants and cymbal “clicking”. In general, the headset sounds somewhat less impressive than several tested flagships, but in its segment, it can feel more than confident. Traditionally, we will illustrate everything that has been said with the help of frequency response graphs.
We draw the attention of readers to the fact that the frequency response graphs are given solely as an illustration, which allows us to demonstrate the main features of the sound of the tested headphones. You should not conclude about the quality of a particular model. The actual experience of each listener depends on many factors, ranging from the structure of the hearing organs to the silicone tips used.
Everything described above is perfectly noticeable: both an accentuated bass and a small dip in the middle … The frequency response graph is shown against the background of the IDF (IEM diffuse-field compensation) curve provided by the manufacturer of the stand used. Its task is to help compensate for the resonant phenomena in the simulated auditory canal and the features of the equipment used, creating a “sound profile” that most correctly illustrates how the sound of the headphones is perceived by the listener. It can be seen as a device-specific analog of the so-called “Harman Curve” created by the Harman International team led by Dr. Sean Oliva. Compensate the resulting frequency response graph following the IDF curve.
The Bass Boost preset, as the name suggests, brings the bass forward quite a bit while dropping the mids a bit. “Smooth”, on the contrary, focuses on the midrange, achieving slightly greater intelligibility of vocals and solo instruments. In the “Speech” preset, the bass and lower mids are heavily pulled back. “High-frequency enhancement” also occurs mainly due to the weakening of the middle and low-frequency register. And finally, “Energetic” noticeably raises the level of bass and lower mids – fans of dance music may like this.
As you can easily see from the Jabra Elite 3 review, the new wireless Bluetooth earbuds made the most favorable impression on us. Its sound corresponds to the price segment, but at the same time, it is quite balanced and devoid of annoying nuances and is suitable for everyday listening. There is no full-fledged equalizer, but the existing presets work quite effectively and will help you customize it for yourself.
Some users may be surprised by the lack of support for the AAC codec, but “apple growers” are known to have their own toys, so the manufacturer’s focus on Android device owners is quite understandable. But the multipoint is not enough: if you are used to using the headset in parallel with a smartphone and laptop, for example, you will have to put up with the inconvenience or look for another solution, and not necessarily from another manufacturer. Let’s say the Jabra Elite 85t communicates with two devices – however, it costs a couple of times more.
But the fit snugly in the ears is truly worthy of praise – not only is it comfortable, but it’s also surprisingly reliable. Although once again, we note that everyone’s ears are different – it may not suit someone. Together with IP55 protection and an optional two-year warranty against water or dust ingress, the fit makes the Jabra Elite 3 a great headset for sports and activities. By the way, the price also plays a significant role here – nevertheless, dropping a headset worth up to $80 while jogging is somehow less offensive than two or three times more expensive.
Well, a secure fit provides a good level of passive sound insulation, forcing you to almost forget about the lack of active noise cancellation. Some people like mechanical buttons, some don’t. But here it is implemented remarkably, plus it is during various kinds of activities that clear triggers with a noticeable click can be very useful. For conversations, the Elite 3 is also suitable – four microphones do the job quite well. The operating time on a single battery charge is again pleased. In general, we found a couple of reasons for criticism, but in general, Jabra turned out to be the best Bluetooth earphones given the cost of $79.99 on Amazon.com, Bestbuy.com, and Amazon.co.uk, just excellent.