There are a couple of accessories that are becoming a must have with smart devices; fast chargers, good cables, battery packs and of course headphones. Furthermore, with OEMs seemingly content to be user hostile and remove the headphone jack, wireless headphones will soon be a necessity.
With this is mind I set out to find the perfect everyday wireless headphones. I wanted something that would include controls for media playback, good sound quality, comfortable fit and all day battery life.
I was also interested in having something minimal and hopefully something I wouldn’t lose, like the several bluetooth earbuds I’ve lost over the past few years. I decided to try a set of in-ear untethered earbuds. I’ve been interested in these for a while and figured the right set of these might meet all my criteria.
What I found was the Jabra Elite Sport wireless earbuds– spoiler, I loved them. These compact in-ear bluetooth earbuds hit all of my wish list and did so in an ear fitting, user pleasing manner.
Jabra Elite Sport Hardware
The Jabra Elite Sport comes as two separate in-ear earbuds each about 27 x 30 x 22.5 mm in size. Both had two control buttons, two pogo pins for charging and two microphones on each unit.
With the Elite Sport, Jabra include a portable charger case providing nine hours of playback when fully charged, 3 hours from the earbuds and six more hours (or two charges) in the carry case. The small soft touch case provides both a safe home for your earbuds but a source of constant top-ups throughout the day.
Along with the left and right earbuds and the case, you also get 3 adjustable ear wings and 6 pairs of ear tips to configure the Elite Sport to fit your ears. Unlike many configurable ear phones I’ve tried, I found a perfect configuration that was comfortable, sounded great and actually kept the earbuds in my ear, even when active.
In addition to being simple ear buds the Elite Sport also contain a heart rate sensor that tracks your heart rate while you work out, or while you rest. Unfortunately, there’s currently no way of syncing these measurements to Google Fit; we’ve definitely given that feedback so you never know!
Using the Jabra Sport app you can set up a training plan, monitor activity and even complete a VO2 max fitness test — no I won’t be sharing my score, let’s just say I need to use the fitness programs a few more times. I tested the guide workout mode and it was great having my own digital trainer in my ear!
Jabra Elite Sport Features and use
Pairing the earbuds is simple and once you’ve got a connection all you have to do is open the carry case and they instantly start to pair to your phone. When you put them back in the case, they immediately switch off and disconnect. Unless there’s no charge left in the box, at which point you have to manually turn them off, which is simple.
The right earbud is the “primary” device, this is the one that pairs to your phone and is the only earbud that can be used on it’s own. Using the two buttons you can play/pause, activate voice command/ Google Assistant, launch the app, power on/ off, start the training assistant and activate hear through (more on this later).
The left earbud controls volume up/down and skip forward/backward. The left bud is always a “slave” to the right ear bud and can’t be used independently. This is because of how Bluetooth works, the only way around that would be to make the case part of the Bluetooth connection which would mean you always have to carry it and would introduce a point of reception issues.
“Hear through” is an audio pass-through mode that uses the microphone on each bud to pickup local audio and play it through the headphones. You can even activate hear through when listening to audio on the headphones. I found this useful to remain aware of my surroundings as with the earbuds well configured they block out a lot of noise – and they’re not even noise canceling.
I found the heart rate sensor fairly accurate, I compared my resting heart rate reading to a clinical grade monitor and it was close enough to make no difference. Due to the lack of an anaesthetic machine at my house I never actually check my active heart rate, but it felt accurate to manual palpation.
From an appearance perspective there’s no escaping the fact that you’ve got a hunk of black plastic hanging out of your ear. However judging by the number of confused looks I got when on phone calls I think many people never noticed them.
I’m a nerd, and I don’t mind looking like a nerd, and as a result I walked around with these in my ears for major parts of my day. However if you’re a little more self concision the carry case is always a handy way of getting them around.
On unexpected bonus of leaving at least one earbud in was constant access to Google Assistant. If it was sending a message, opening my garage door, or asking what time shop XYZ was open it was really very convenient having one button access to the Assistant with audio response at all times.
This experience actually made me wonder about a wearable that perhaps sat behind the ear with bone conduction to provide this constantly connected experience. Until then I can tell you I greatly enjoy having access to Google in my ear via these little guys
Jabra Elite Sport Audio and Battery
It great to have a beautiful set of earbuds but if their audio isn’t up to scratch they’re not much use; this isn’t an issue with the Elite Sport. The volume was adequate in all but the noisiest environments, and only then was it an issue when the audio was mixed to a low volume. I often find this issue with some podcasts that seem to be mastered at a lower volume and I can never get them loud enough.
As for audio quality, for my 40 year old ears the Elite Sport were great. The audio was warm and rich even at louder volumes. I played a few of my favourite albums and was fully immersed in the audio experience. These occlusion style earbuds can really produce excellent all-encompassing audio experience.
How about that nine hour battery life? Well I was going to painstakingly time them, but then I routinely got two days use out of one charge and simply stopped caring how long they really last — they lasted long enough. With my nightly charging routine I’m used to charging my wireless headphones along with my two phones, smartwatch and tablet anyway so lasting a full day with a little spare in the tank is all I need.
Getting two days out of one change lets me forget to charge them for one night, I’m happy with that. That said I couldn’t get three days without the case going flat and the auto disconnect feature not working, but even then the actual headphones did last through that third day.
One important consideration is I also never had the opportunity to listen to the earphones for long enough to actually run them flat. For me that indicates that the three hours of continuous playback is more than I need for my normal use.
However, if you used these on a long flight for example they may go flat on you and the only way to charge them is in the case, at which point you can’t use them for around two hours (for a full charge). This is a common issue with many wireless headphones, just know your use patterns before you rely on them.
When using the earbuds I found I quickly got in the habit of putting them in their case to carry and as a result they were almost always fully charged. This is indicated by the colour of the LED on the case, an audio prompt when they turn on as well as displayed in the app, so you’re never left to guess how much juice is in the tank.
Due to this “top up” mechanism, I found I was never worried like I am with some other Bluetooth headphones I’ve used that they may go flat before I get them charged. It was great not having any battery life angst.
Jabra Elite Sport Connectivity
I may have mentioned this before but Bluetooth sucks. Lucky Jabra have done a good job with the Elite Sport and on devices that don’t have their own Bluetooth issues I got perfect pairing, excellent quality and fairly amazing range for such a small device.
I did occasionally have an issue where the left earbud wasn’t connecting to the right control bud. However, quickly popping them both back into the charging case resolved this 100% of the time. I didn’t bother trying to figure out what was happening because it happened so infrequently.
Overall the Bluetooth connectivity on the Jabra was far more reliable than I’ve come to expect from many Android phones, so no complaints there.
Jabra Elite Sport Conclusion
I set out originally to find a great set of everyday headphones as well as test the new style of wireless in-ear earbuds. I am very happy I chose the Jabra Elite Sport as my test subject.
From the packaging and design to the fit of the earbuds all the way through to the audio quality and battery performance. the Elite Sport were as close to faultless as I could ever ask for. I used them day in, day out for weeks and thoroughly enjoyed them.
Unlike wired headphones they somehow just blend into the background and I seem to forget about them, both physically and metaphysically. However with the Elite Sport I was always aware that I was using, and enjoying, these wireless earbuds.
For someone who spends all of their spare time listening to audio, I found the Elite Sport to be a fantastic accessory to my phone. The convenient carry case was always with me and as a result I never forgot them nor do I feel like I’ll lose them, and as earbuds they were fantastic.
If you’ve been looking for a set of wireless in-ear earbuds and have a spare $329 AUD RRP I highly recommend the Jabra Elite Sport wireless earbuds.
Jabra has allowed Ausdroid to retain the headphones as it would be unhygienic to re-use them for further review.