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Jabra Elite 3 wireless earbuds review: Buds on a budget
True wireless for a truly great price.
Jabra Elite 3 price
Jabra has been around for a long time now, and they’ve been producing wireless earbuds for the last five years to rave reviews. However, most of the Danish audio brand’s previous models have sat firmly within the mid-range or even top-end of the market. The Elite 3 represent Jabra’s first real budget-minded true wireless offering, retailing at just $119.
Of course, that lower price does come with a few compromises (which we’ll get into a bit later), but it’s still hard to argue with that price, which comes in well below most of the major competitors.
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Pricing accurate as of 25 October 2021.
Jabra Elite 3 sound quality
Jabra has had to make a few sacrifices to keep the Elite 3’s price low, but thankfully, sound quality isn’t one of them. Jabra is known for its audio quality, and the Elite 3 is no exception, packing surprisingly punchy bass and well-rounded sound into an affordable, lightweight package. Sure, they’re not quite AirPods Pro or Sony’s industry-leading WF-1000 XM4s, but they’re still a joy to listen to.
As you’d probably expect given the price tag, you won’t find active noise cancelling (ANC) in the Jabra Elite 3. That said, they do a great job of blocking out most of the background noise even without ANC. You’ll still hear mumbles of conversation on the train and some background chatter in the office, but it’s dulled enough that most distractions are filtered out.
There’s also what Jabra calls ‘HearThrough’ mode, which is kind of like transparency mode on other earbuds, which allows you to better hear ambient noise (like train announcements, for example).
There’s also a neat feature for those who like to leave an ear out for any important announcements (or juicy gossip) - mono mode. Essentially, mono mode allows you to use one earbud as usual and keep one in the charging case without breaking connectivity. Remove it from the charging case, and the Elite 3s will automatically return to stereo mode.
On the downside, there’s no equaliser to adjust sound - you’re basically stuck with what you get. Otherwise, from the Jabra Sound+ app, you can choose from a handful of music presets to choose from (including “bass boost”, “treble boost” and “energise”).
Jabra Elite 3 design
Now for the compromises. The Jabra Elite 3 aren’t the prettiest earbuds we’ve ever seen. The plastic build feels a little cheap, and you’re either going to love the blocky design of the buds or long for AirPod-esque stems. We tried out the standard dark grey colour, but they’re also available in navy, light beige and lilac.
That said, what the Elite 3 lack in aesthetic appeal, they make up for in function. The charging case is compact and lightweight. Likewise, the buds are small and unobtrusive enough to be comfortable even for long periods. They’re also IP55 water and dust resistant, so while they might not survive an accidental dip in the bath, a bit of sweat or a drop or two of rain shouldn’t hurt them.
It’s also nice to see that Jabra hasn’t caved to the trend of ditching buttons in favour of touch gestures. There’s still a button on each earbud, allowing for accurate controls.
Jabra Elite 3 controls
|Play/pause music||Press right button|
|Answer call||Press left or right button|
|End/reject call||Double-press left or right button|
|Volume up||Press and hold right button|
|Volume down||Press and hold left button|
|Mute/unmute microphone||While on a call, press the left or right button|
|Next track||Double-press right button (when not on a call)|
|Restart track or previous track||Triple-press right button|
Jabra Elite 3 battery life
Jabra claims the Elite 3 earbuds as having up to seven hours of battery life per earbud, with a total of 28 hours with the charging case. Having used them as my main earbuds for the last few weeks, I can say that claim is pretty spot on. It’s definitely impressive for this price bracket, though not having ANC does cut down significantly on battery drain.
Unsurprisingly, the Jabra Elite 3 do not support wireless charging, and charging by USB-C is a relatively slow process, taking more than three hours to fully charge from empty. Still, charging the buds in the charging case itself is quite speedy, with a 10-minute juice giving you around an hour of listening time.
Are they worth it?
The Jabra Elite 3 has all the essentials down-pat. They’re not the kind of earbuds that are going to knock the AirPods Pro off their pedestal, but for this price, you wouldn’t expect them to. In terms of fundamentals, like great quality sound, comfort, and good battery life, these buds have it all. The build is a little cheap-feeling, and there’s no ANC, but for that budget price tag, those are two sacrifices most people will be willing to make.