Jabra Elite Sport wireless earbuds review
- Multiple fitting options
- Powerful running companion
- Post-workout analytics
- In-ear audio coaching
- Decent audio quality
- Integrated heart rate monitor
Could be better
- Buttons are awkward to press
- No integration with digital assistants
- Battery life could be better
- Significantly pricier than other wireless earbud options
Jabra wants to inspire your fitness with these high-tech yet compact wireless earbuds.
You would be forgiven for thinking that Jabra had gone out of its way to create a direct rival to the Apple AirPods with its Elite Sport earbuds. After all, there are a number of remarkable similarities between the two, from the pair of individual cordless earbuds to the compact charge case that charges the buds while keeping them safe.
But Jabra has been firmly focused on the sports market for its earphone products for a number of years now, and the comparisons to the AirPods really don't go much further than those mentioned above. Jabra's version manages to squeeze in an in-ear heart rate monitor, and the buds also come with a 3 year limited warranty against failure due to sweat, making them much more targeted to the fitness market.
Jabra also bundles in a fairly powerful training app, which becomes the main focus for the earbuds to work with, rather than the multi-functioned partnership with Siri that Apple's AirPods offer.
Jabra Elite Sport earbuds specifications
|Jabra||Elite Sport earbuds|
|Battery life||3 hours, 9 hours with battery case|
|Charge time||20 minutes for 1hr charge|
|Heart Rate monitor||Yes|
Upsides: Why you'd want the Jabra Elite Sport
- Multiple fitting options. The Elite Sport comes with three "Earwing" sizes and three sizes for the gels that go inside your ears in two different styles. The idea is to try and create the perfect fit for comfort and sound quality for your ear. It takes a little bit of time and experimentation to get it right, but the end result is a pair of secure earbuds that don't feel like they're going to fall out no matter how far you run.
- Powerful running companion. The first thing Jabra's bundled app prompts you to do after your phone is partnered with the earbuds is go for a 15-minute run. This sets a baseline for your fitness level, which is then used to create a custom training plan to improve your fitness level. This training plan will adjust after each workout based on how hard your body works – Jabra will compare your distance, performance, heart rate with information on your height, weight and age to help come up with the best option, and takes into account your training load over the month to ensure you get enough rest as well.
- Post-workout analytics. Want to see how your heart rate went over the course of a workout? How long you spent in each heart rate zone? The partner app offers in depth analysis of your performance, which is a key partner to your own personal improvement.
- In-ear audio coaching. She may not have a name, but Jabra's British voice assistant is always in your ear to help you throughout the workout, offering updates on almost every element of your workout, from pace and distance to time and heart rate. While some third-party apps offer similar function, Jabra's version feels more personal.
- Decent audio quality. Given the size of each individual earbud, it's not a surprise that the bass levels here are a little underwhelming. But if you can handle a lack of bass, the overall quality of music playback is solid on the mid and high range, with no real distortion or popping. There are four mics that help cut out wind noise when using the Elite Sport to make and receive phone calls as well, which works remarkably well.
- Integrated heart rate monitor. The Elite Sport's heart rate monitor is quick to work and feels accurate, at least as much as a wrist-mounted fitness tracker like the Fitbit Charge 2.
Downsides: Why you might not want the Jabra Elite Sport wireless earbuds
- Buttons are awkward to press. The physical buttons on each earbud are rather tough to press, and while they work as described, pushing them involves a fair amount of discomfort in the ear. Especially for long press functions (skipping/rewinding tracks, or starting a workout), and double taps (the speak-through function).
- No integration with digital assistants. Where Apple's AirPods are designed to be an ear-mounted conduit to Siri, the Jabra Elite Sport doesn't integrate with either Siri or Google Assistant, instead focusing entirely on its fitness app integration.
- Battery life could be better. You get about three hours of music playback from a single charge. The case can supply another two full charges, but the fact is that three hours isn't a huge amount of playback time. Given the Jabra app said it would take me about 4.5 hours to run a marathon after my initial fitness test (probably overestimating my ability a bit), you would hope the earbuds could stick with you for that amount of time.
- Significantly pricier than other wireless earbud options. Launching at an RRP of $329, the Jabra Sport Elite earbuds have a $100 premium over the Apple AirPods, which already had a premium price attached. While that doesn't necessarily feel unreasonable in use, you really need to be committed to fitness in order to justify the expense.
Who is it best suited for? What are my other alternatives?
If you are 100% committed to either improving or maintaining your fitness levels and are looking for some technology to help you with this goal, then the Jabra Elite Sport could be a useful tool in your arsenal. The bundled app and the integrated heart rate monitor combine well to create a custom training system that is more comprehensive than many of the fitness trackers on the market.
If you're looking for an alternative to the Apple AirPods that will allow you to control your phone from your ear, but without the glossy white finish, these earbuds are not for you. They are definitively a fitness tool, and are more akin to combining a Fitbit with a pair of bluetooth earphones like the Plantronics Backbeat Fit or Bose SoundSport. And to be fair, you could probably buy both of those devices for less than the cost of the Jabras, which makes it an investment for the committed fitness enthusiast.
Where can I get them?
The Jabra Sport Elite wireless earbuds are available for $329, exclusively through Harvey Norman.
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