Jabra Elite 3 review: Forget AirPods, these $80 earbuds offer more for less

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As I walk around the city and look at commuters on the train, it seems that Apple’s AirPods are the default for wireless earbuds. Don’t always settle for Apple’s latest as it often comes with a premium price and its products aren’t always the best. Jabra has been in the headset business for many years and is well-known for high-quality audio experiences with amazing technology and design.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the years with Jabra’s greatest headsets and for the past couple of weeks I have been testing its newest wireless earbuds and am still stunned they are priced at just $79.99. The Jabra Elite 3 exceeded my expectations and only compromises in a couple of areas when compared to the Jabra Elite 7 Pro that is priced at 2.5 times the price. If you are looking for a rock solid, high-performing, and extremely comfortable pair of wireless earbuds for under $100 then go right now and pick up a pair of the Jabra Elite 3.

Also: Jabra Elite 85t review: Powerful ANC in an earbuds form factor, six mics for calls

The Jabra Elite 3 will appeal to everyone with a compact earbud form factor that is engineered to fit well in every size of ear opening. The earbuds are available in Lilac, Dark Grey, Light Beige, and Navy Blue too so you can even find a color to match your style. We tested out the Dark Grey color for our review.

Specifications

  • Microphones: Two MEMS mics in each earbud
  • Speaker size: 6mm driver
  • Dust/water resistance: IP57 rating
  • Audio codecs supported: Qualcomm aptX and SBC
  • Battery life: Up to 7 hours of play from each earbud. The charging case provides another 21 hours of battery life. 10 minutes of charging provides up to one hour of battery life.
  • Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
  • Earbud weight: 4.6 grams each

A couple of specs found on earbuds that are priced twice as much include ANC and a wireless charging case. As you can see, you don’t give up much for the Jabra Elite 3. Looking at the Apple AirPods, the Elite 3 offers a more ergonomic and customizable personal fit, longer battery life, newer version of Bluetooth, and advanced Android functionality.

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Hardware

The retail package includes the two wireless earbuds, a charging case with an integrated battery (weighing in at just 33.4 grams), a short USB-A to USB-C cable, and small/medium/large silicone gel earbud tips. You can charge up the earbuds case with any USB-C cable, which is nice when you have lots of USB-C mobile tech in your arsenal. The charging case is the same color as the earbuds.

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Magnets help keep the earbuds secure in the case while also helping to align the earbuds into the correct orientation in the compartment. The first thing I noticed was the large physical button on the outside of each earbud that works consistently well in playing/pausing and advancing your music. Pressing the button does not push it further into your ears either.

The Jabra Elite 3 form is designed to fit well in your ears with three silicone eargel options for the right size tip. I tried out the medium and large tips to see which fit best and then went running without experiencing even a millimeter of movement.

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There are two mics on each earbud and callers said I sounded great on their side of the call. Jabra is known for its high-quality calling technology and its nice to see it did not compromise much in this area to launch at an affordable price.

Jabra offers two more hours of battery life than Apple on the standard AirPods with another 21 hours (three full charges) provided by the charging case. My experiences confirm the battery life estimate is accurate. With just 10 minutes of charging via USB-C you can also get another hour of playback. Each earbud also works independently so you can extend the battery life with single earbud use and coordinated charging with the case.

Large physical buttons compose most of the outside surface of the Elite 3 and the button works flawlessly and reliably. I’m not a fan of companies using a stem pinch or tap for audio controls so appreciate the simple and effective button solution on the Elite 3 earbuds. Button controls include play/pause, next track, restart track, answer/reject calls, mute, and volume down.

Jabra advertises the Elite 3 with “Danish design”, referring to the styling of the earbuds that fit comfortably for hours and hours. The design was one of the first things I noticed about the earbuds as they are unlike what you may be used to with other Jabra earbuds. They look and feel great.

Also: Jabra Elite 75t wireless earbuds review: Solid audio and call quality with long battery life

Smartphone software

While you can certainly use the earbuds via Bluetooth without installing the Jabra Sound Plus application, you gain functionality and the ability to update the earbuds firmware so you should definitely install the app on your iPhone or Android smartphone. The Elie 3 supports Google Fast Pair so as soon as you open up the case a pop-up should appear on your Android smartphone to facilitate pairing.

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The Jabra Sound Plus app is used to manage all of your Jabra headsets, once the Jabra Elite 3 is connected you will notice there are not as many options available as seen on the more expensive Jabra headset. HearThrough is supported so you can listen to audio around you with a tap on this toggle.

Preset equalizer settings are available, including bass boost (my default). These are the only two widgets available for the Elite 3.

To access more settings for the Elite 3, tap the gear icon in the upper right corner. Firmware updates, find my Jabra, product registration, manual access, and voice assistant settings are managed here. You can select to use a voice assistant (Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Siri) or Spotify on the Elite 3. A double-tap on the left earbud activates your selected voice assistant.

Daily usage experiences and conclusion

When Jabra announced its new Elite line of products, I have to say I wasn’t even thinking I would be interested in the entry level Elite 3. I decided to try them out because the $80 price is very appealing and after a couple of weeks of use I am very impressed and am thankful I had the chance to take them for a spin.

I enjoy music when I run and never turn on the ANC while out on the road, trail, or track for safety reasons. I did not once miss ANC on the Jabra Elite 3 and even while using them on my commute or in the office the sound isolation provided by the perfect fit and eargels kept sound out so I could enjoy the audio experience.

With such an affordable price, you might think Jabra had to give up a lot in the audio performance. Thankfully, it did not as these earbuds maintain a very good level of bass with clear, high-quality audio playback. Calls also sounded good on both ends and I can’t wait to hear what others think when they put them in and test them out.

The Jabra Elite 3 remained in my ears while running at fast speeds with lots of sweat and a little rain. I have larger ear canals and also sweat a lot when I run so if an earbud can stay in position without me touching it during a run then it likely won’t fall out of any ears. The earbuds are not too large either so people with smaller ears should find them comfortable too.

Jabra did an excellent job with the new Elite 3 and if you are looking for a high-quality pair of earbuds and want to stay under the $100 level then I highly recommend these.

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