Jabra Elite 4 active true wireless earbuds Review

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Erin Lawrence

Jabra Elite 4 reviewEarbuds are great for all kinds of situations; they’re super portable, discrete and let you focus on music, podcasts or videos. Jabra has been making earbuds and headphones for a long time and every time they release a new iteration, it often comes with improvements, extra features, or a little bit of both.  In this post we’ll take a look at the newer Jabra Elite 4 earbuds, which Jabra calls ‘essential ear buds for work and life’ (there’s also a sport pair option called Jabra Elite 4 Active which is slightly more water/sweatproof) to see what’s new, how they sound, what key features they have, including noise cancelling, plus we’ll delve into battery life and I’ll let you know if I can recommend these to you or not.

Jabra Elite 4
4.5

Summary

Bottom line is these are great headphones that give you all the key features for a decent price.

Pros

  • Great sound
  • Active Noise Cancelling and Hear Through
  • Excellent bass
  • Can connect two devices (multipoint)
  • Compact

Cons

  • Dated design
  • ANC and Hear Through not adjustable
  • Battery life could be better

Review: Jabra Elite 4

When I had my time with the Jabra Elite 3, I thought Jabra balanced the price nicely with the features it offered. Did Jabra rock the boat too much with this price increase? To get answers, I went fishing for the improvements and it didn’t take me long to find them.

Active Noise Cancelation & Hear Through

Good news for folks who just don’t find noise isolation enough; the Jabra Elite 4 finally delivers the Active Noise Cancelation (ANC) goods (Elite 3 was missing this feature). The technology works by digitally blocking out most ambient noise allowing you to focus and avoid distractions. Having ANC in a midrange product is very welcoming. The HearThrough mode  is kind of the opposite of ANC, and it allows you to let some ambient noise bleed in through the earbuds; important when you need to hear the doorbell, dog or kids.  While these features are great, you don’t get to customize the level of sound bleed or ANC, as you do with pricier Jabra earbuds. If you want more fine tuning, you can easily increase your budget and upgrade to a pair with adjustable ANC and Hear Through. (As an aside I have seen places, including on Jabra’s website where it says these buds do have adjustable hear through, but on my app it was not possible.

The Jabra Elite 4 also maintains its IP55 water and sweat resistance rating.

Bluetooth & pairing Improvements

Jabra also threw a bone to the folks like me who like pairing their earbuds to multiple devices, like the phone and the laptop, or phone and tablet.

Jabra Elite 4 reviewDespite having the same Bluetooth 5.2 specification, the Jabra Elite 4 supports Bluetooth Multipoint so you can pair a second device and switch between them. Worth noting is that you can be connected to both devices but it will only play to one at a time and you have to manually make the switch in Bluetooth.

Pairing the Jabra Elite 4 with your Windows and Android devices is a lot easier too as the earbuds support both Microsoft Swift Pair and Google Fast Pair. These proprietary pairing technologies may sound trivial but once you experience just how faster the pairing process is, it will feel harder to go back to earbuds that lack the support.

My hands-on video review

What’s in the Box?

Those hoping for some visual improvements over the Jabra Elite 3 will be a bit disappointed. When it comes to looks, everything about the Jabra Elite 4 looks exactly the same as its predecessor.

Other things you get in the box include a charging case, a trio of ear tips in 3 different sizes and a USB-A to USB-C cable.

Battery Life

Jabra Elite 4 reviewThe Jabra Elite 4 earbuds promise up to 5.5 hours of battery life in the buds, which is a drop over the Elite 3’s 7 hours. There’s a further 16.5 hours of juice in the case and up to 28 hours if you don’t use the ANC.  I’m not sure why they shrunk the battery, but I guess something had to give with the addition of ANC. Even so the addition of fast charging helps, as you can get an hour worth of listen time just by fast charging for 10 minutes.  I found the battery life and charging time was consistent with Jabra’s promises.

Single Bud use

Another handy feature Jabra has enabled here is single bud listening. You can use either bud to tune into your audio while the other charges up, which can also help stretch the battery life.

Touch controls on earbuds

Small physical buttons on the side of each bud lets you have fast access to common controls like play/pause (quick press), volume (long press and hold) and turning ANC on/off (quick press on left bud)

Find my Jabra

Jabra Elite 4 reviewYou can also enable the find my Jabra feature where you can take a look at the last place your headphones were seen or connected.

Sound quality

Jabra’s sound quality has always been top notch. With the Elite 4 I was most impressed by the bass. It was strong and thumping, whether I was listening to ambient chill while working, or some more pop-style beats after a long workday. Vocals are clear and crisp and overall the headphones are quite well balanced.

Jabra touts these earbuds for work from home types or business commuters with 4 mics to ensure clear calls. I took a few conference calls on these an asked my callers how I sounded and there were no complaints whether I was indoors or out.

Overall review: Jabra Elite 4 truly wireless earbuds

On a technical standpoint, the Jabra Elite 4 is a small improvement over its predecessor. Jabra managed to tack on extras without affecting the rest except for the price. This makes the Jabra Elite 4 as a name a little confusing because feels more like a Jabra Elite 3+ or Jabra Elite 3 ANC edition.

Jabra Elite 4 reviewI believe it’s important for you to know this distinction because the Jabra Elite 3 looks like an outdated product as it is nearly 2 years old at the time of writing. Outdated is simply the incorrect word because you can really save $20 if you do not need the ANC and Multipoint features and enjoy the same listening experience as the Elite 4. Keep that in mind especially if you see extra discounts tacked onto the Jabra Elite 3.

The missing features I noted in my Jabra Elite 3 review remain applicable here. Wireless charging is still absent and you don’t get wind resistance. Fortunately, the Jabra Elite 5 launched a couple of months back and filled those gaps while adding an extra price premium. Jabra is making it clear that these extra features do cost money and it’s ultimately up to you to decide which features matter to you. At least it’s nice to see Jabra providing options even though their naming can be a bit confusing.

Bottom line is these are great headphones that give you all the key features for a decent price.

On the pro side, the sound quality is great, I like being able to have two connected devices even if I do have to manually swap between them. They’re compact and can charge quickly in a pinch.

On the con side, the battery life is good but a bit lackluster compared to what other brands are doing. Some folks may also be disappointed by the plain design or the lack of adjustability on ANC and Hear Through. But I like them and I can recommend them for you.

Jabra Elite 4 sell for about $135CAD/$119US and you can get them from Jabra or Amazon.

If these earbuds aren’t wowing you, how about a pair of pricey Bowers and Wilkins… or see what I think about the Apple AirPods Pro.

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