It’s no secret that we have become huge fans of fully wireless earbuds here at Ausdroid, and while that doesn’t mean some of us will ever get over the courage the OEMs had to make devices worse by removing the 3.5 mm headphone jack, these devices soften the pain.
Since fully wireless earbuds have been a thing, Jabra has been making them, late last year they released their latest variant of the popular elite series the Jabra Elite 85t true wireless earbuds.
I’ve had them in my ears for a while now and as expected they’re great. So what does the Elite 85t offer that might make them worth the upgrade? Read on to find out.
Hardware-wise wireless earbuds have fallen into a familiar hardware pattern, in the box you get the buds themselves, a charging case and a selection of different sized ear tips to get that perfect fit.
The 85t are the first Jabra fully wireless earbuds to launch with Active Noise Cancellation ANC (it has now been rolled out to the Elite 75t via firmware update) and wireless charging via Qi. The Elite 85t does however have a dedicated chip to control the ANC that the Elite 75t doesn’t have, and it does make a difference to the ANC quality.
Again I’m a fan of the physical button controls instead of the touch-sensitive competitors. I listen to a lot of audio either lying on a couch and in bed, and it’s nice to not have the controls go crazy when lying on my side.
Overall the Elite 85t are a little bit larger than the Elite 75t were, we suspect this is resulting from the larger drivers, ANC capabilities and perhaps a sniff bigger battery to power all of that. The case is quite a bit larger however but this is due to the inclusion of Qi charging, and it’s still a more than pocketable case.
Battery life remains more than adequate especially considering the size of the device. With ANC off you can get about 7 hours of playback from each charge with up to 31 total playtime when the case is fully charged. Using Qi charging it’s easy to keep the case topped up, and if you’re running low using USB C you can get 60 minutes just in 15 minutes of charging.
With ANC on those numbers drops sightly to 6 hours on a charge and 25 hours total playtime. In real-world usage I have and that I get very close to these figures, with one change of the buds lasting me a full day working in a workshop.
WHAT’S IT GOOD AT?
The upgraded 12mm drivers deliver improved audio performance over previous models and while we never had an issue with the audio quality before it’s nice to hear an improvement. The new drivers deliver an improved bass response and slightly fuller soundscape.
Compared to some of the more expensive fully wireless earbuds there is a difference in the overall audio quality, however on their own, I can’t fault the performance, and with a lower price tag, I think they represent the best bang for your Aussie buck.
Active Noise Cancellation
Anyone whose expecting over the ear headphone ANC from a set of fully wireless earbuds is going to be disappointed, no matter the device. Unfortunately due to a complete lack of air travel, I wasn’t able to give the Jabra Elite 85t the full ANC test.
Regardless of this, I can confirm that ANC does in fact work on the 85t’s, it falls somewhere between the noise isolation of shoving something into your ears, and the full ANC you get from larger headphones.
Toggling the ANC on and off, which is easy if you use the default controls, you definitely notice the overall reduction in ambient noise. Using the Jabra Sounds+ app you can customise how much noise cancellation you want letting you dial in that perfect blend of awareness and tranquillity.
WHAT’S IT LESS GOOD AT?
For me, there are still two features missing from the Jabra 85t, active location finding and independent Bluetooth connection to the Left and Right bud.
The Jabra Elite 85t do include the ability to find the last place your buds were powered down on a map, and if you happened to have left them/ misplaced the min that location then you can find them.
However, if you drop them or misplace them after closing the lid you’re essentially buggered. Now the entire real-world object finding space is in a state of flux at the moment, with Tile leading the consumer space, while OEMs like Samsung, Apple and even Amazon are looking at implementing their own.
Bluetooth certainly has range and battery use concerts for object tracking, however with a device like earbuds that a regularly recharged putting a Bluetooth beacon in the case wouldn’t affect battery life too much.
Ultra-wideband solutions are also in development, unfortunately, these all seem to be proprietary, and we don’t want Jabra rolling their own solution either. At this point in the market, it feels like a partnership with Tile is the best fit for Jabra.
Independent Bluetooth pairing
With the release of Bluetooth 5.0 fully wireless earbuds could be independently paired to the host device with separate channels for the left and right earbud. This means you can choose to only have one in your ear, something I actually do a lot.
The issue is depending on the situation I often want only the left earbud in, but with Jabra, the right earbud provides the primary connection to your phone, so there’s no option to only have the left bud in.
I have reviewed other devices with independent connections, I hope Jabra follows suit soon.
Overall I love the Jabra True Wireless Earbud range, while the Elite 75t were also great, the added Active noise cancellation and the ability to top up / charge with a Qi charger makes them a little better in my opinion.
Despite the slightly larger form factor I still found them a comfortable fit and once in I’d forget I was wearing them. Coming in at $349 RRP the Elite 85t represent great sound, well below the price of some of the more ‘audio’ focused brands.
Would I buy Jabra wireless earbuds? Yes, in fact, I regularly do as gifts, and if you want ANC and the oh so cool Qi charging then I can fully recommend the Jabra Elite 85t. You can grab the full range of Jabra True Wireless earbuds at Office Works, JB HiFi, Amazon, Jabra online and other electrical outlets.
Jabra sent us a review unit for the purpose of this review. Due to hygiene in ear products are not returned.