Jabra Elite 85t Review: Most complete package so far?

You have heard me mention it both once and twice before. Jabra gets far too little praise in the headphone market. Now they are back again and with them they have their latest true wireless earbuds the Jabra Elite 85t. And unlike Fitbit, for example, who didn’t want me to compare their watches with each other, Jabra actually sent me the Elite 75t and said “here compare with these and you will understand how good the Elite 85t is”. But how well do these headphones stand up to the biggest competitors? Let’s find out.

Design

With the Elite 75t last year, the company redesigned its true wireless earbuds from the ground. They were significantly smaller, lighter and all-around sleeker than the Elite 65t. The Elite 85t are almost identical outside, except that the microphone holes are a bit smaller on the 85t. The 85t is only slightly larger than the 75t mainly because of ANC components, and of course, this means they sticks out of your ear a little further, but the shape is the same and, at least in terms of how they sit in your ear, the Elite 85t offers a very comfortable fit. 

One small, but significant design change is the location of the charging indicator on the case. Previously, the LED was situated around back, beside the USB-C port. Now it’s around front, where you can see it when you open and close the case, which makes a lot more sense.

(Image credit: Jabra)

Active noise cancellation

The Elite 85t have the type of Active Noise Cancellation where a dedicated noise-cancelling chip allows you to adjust the extent to which you want to block out your surroundings. Software-wise, the system consists of separate sliders inside the company’s Sound+ app that control the level of noise cancellation and HearThrough, or ambient sound, much as you can do on the Sony WF-1000XM3. During my use of the earbuds, I tried to encounter different types of noise, and I found out that the Jabra Elite 85h does a good job at hushing keyboard clicks but can’t quite combat engine roars and the like. Overall though, the ANC performs well and it’s definitely up there with the best.

Sound quality

It’s definitely above average, but it’s not the best. With the Elite 85t, Jabra has improved things a bit, starting with larger 12mm speakers – twice the size of those on the 75t. That brings deeper bass and a slightly wider soundstage, so everything seems to have a bit more depth.

Low-end tones throughout the mix of hip-hop, metal, country, electronic and indie rock was plenty during mys tests, and I really like the clear and balanced sound. Maybe only defeated in depth delivered by Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 2.

Battery

Jabra claims five and a half hours of listening time with the Elite 85t on the earbuds themselves. That’s with the ANC turned on. If you decide to disable that feature, battery life increases to seven hours. The case gives you an extra 19,5 hours, for a total of 25 hours of battery life.

Also, The 85t offers Qi wireless charging which means that they’re compatible with all Qi-certified chargers. If you own a Qi charging mat, all you would have to do is place the pair on top and it should start charging. This is especially useful for those who already utilize wireless charging for their phone as you wouldn’t have to worry about carrying a cable just for your wireless earbuds.

Competition and price

I feel I must mention the fact that alongside the Elite 85t, Jabra also rolled out an software update to the Elite 75t and Elite Active 75t that adds active noise cancellation to those as well. While this does give the previous generation a substantial upgrade, the Elite 75t models don’t have a dedicated ANC chip. This means that they don’t have the fully adjustable noise cancellation or ambient sound that the Elite 85t offers. They are about 500 SEK ( $50) less however, which is enough of a discount to consider. 

The Elite 85t costs 2500 SEK putting them up there with the expensive ones.The closest competitors Bose QuietComfort Earbuds costs 3000 SEK while you can get the Sony WF-1000XM3 for just 1800 SEK.

Verdict

With the Elite 85t Jabra now has a flagship true wireless model with a powerful ANC that rivals some of the best units I’ve tested. In fact, when you factor in comfort and design, Jabra might have the most complete package. Sure, you can find more refined sound and fine-tuned noise cancellation elsewhere, but the combination of features, performance and the wearing experience, the Elite 85t is at the very least on the same level as the more expensive alternative from Bose.

PROS

  • Great ANC
  • Comfortable
  • Wireless charging

CONS

  • Tiny bit larger than before
  • Too expensive

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