Jabra Elite 65t review: Third time's the charm
- Great sound
- Great microphone
- Poor isolation
- Weak software
Though a few caveats apply, this is almost everything we wanted out of the second-gen Elite Sport earbuds and a solid product that cements Jabra’s reputation on the frontlines of the true wireless arms race.
After the largely-iterative update delivered by their second-gen Elite Sport earbuds, Jabra have now expanded their true wireless portfolio again with the Elite 65t earbuds.
Pitched as a more professional (or least professional-looking) option, they manage to harnesses together not only the strengths of their predecessors but also offer up exactly the leap forward for Jabra that we had hoped to get out of the second-gen Elite Sport earbuds.
Dimensions: 27mm x 30mm x 22.5mm
Weight: Right headset: 6.5g - Left headset: 5.8 g - Charging case: 67 g
Speaker Size: 6.0 mm × 5.1 mm
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Built-in Microphone: Yes. 4 x MEMS.
Durability: IP56. Jabra also offer a 2 year warranty against dust and water damage.
Pack Ins: Charging case, Micro USB cable, 3 sets of silicon eargels
Battery Life: 5 hours per charge, 15 hours in total.
Voice Assistants: Alexa, Siri, Google
In terms of design, the Elite 65ts look strikingly different from the Elite Sport earbuds but they don’t really make too bold of a departure from Jabra’s usual playbook. Aesthetically - they look nice and clean. Black, grey and silver with an ergonomic twist when it comes to form-factor, they fit right in with the rest of Jabra’s usual enterprise-targeted offerings (for example, the Evolve range) whilst simultaneously taking advantage of the molded form-factor established by the Elite Sport.
Like the latter, the 65t also relies a slightly refined but still pretty bare-bones set of physical controls. The right earbud can be pressed to pause/play and held down to summon your voice assistant. Meanwhile, the left can be used to modify the volume and skip tracks. In practice, this approach still falls prey to a lot of the same issues to its predecessors (it’s never fun to poke at your head whenever you want to pause your music) but does seem like a step in the right direction. It certainly feels more intuitive and responsive.
[Related Content: Which 2018 True Wireless Earbuds Should You Buy?]
Still, the most-immediate difference here between the Elite Sport and the 65ts is that the latter boast a grill-laced microphones that arc out from the body of each earbud. This microphone is probably the biggest and most-significant addition that Jabra have made to the formula here. It’s looks a lot more inconspicuous than something like the AirPod’s build-in microphone and - unsurprisingly, given Jabra’s track record - sounds quite good in practice.
The carry case is another area where obvious improvements have been made. It’s slimmer and lighter than the carry case for the Elite Sport but lives up to the same high-level of build quality. All told, it’s probably one of the slimmest carry/charger-cases we’ve encountered in the true wireless space yet. It feels really nice to hold and the squeezable-latch design makes for a case that feels really secure. In practice, it’ll keep the earbuds in place should you throw the case in a bag or one of your pockets. However, disappointingly, it doesn’t do an especially great job of keeping a grip on them when dropped.
Rather than use Jabra’s usual fitness focused software, the 65t relies on the more audio-centric Audio+ app. This allows you to mess with equalizer settings, configure how much sound you want to let through and toggle which voice-assistant you want to use to summon when you tap the shortcuts. It's reasonably useful but audiophiles might come away at the limitations.
Unfortunately, this software actually emerges as one of the Elite 65ts’ biggest weak-spots. The Audio+ app was super finicky when it came to actually detecting that our earbuds were connected - even when we actively using them to listen to music at the time - and even once you do have everything connected the degree of customization we wanted out the app just wasn’t there. It all felt a little too basic, limited and not really worth the extra download.
That said, these shortcomings do sometimes feel a little bit like semantics in light of the 65t's solid sound capabilities. After a few weeks messing with them, I’d easily say they sit in the same ballpark as Zolo’s Liberty+ earbuds - which also use Bluetooth 5.0 - for both audio quality and connectivity.
In fact, Elite 65ts might be the most reliable true wireless earbuds we’ve ever tested. Far from the messy teenage years of the first-gen Elite Sport earbuds, de-syncs with the 65t were non-existent and I can only think of one or two moments when the audio dropped for a second before auto-correcting. The earbuds also do this real neat thing where it can detect whenever you remove one of the earbuds, and pauses the music in response.
If anything, the most significant point-of-difference here is one of sound isolation. The 65ts sound really crisp but they don’t do quite as good a job of keeping out outside and ambient noise as the Liberty+ or Sony WF-1000X earbuds do. As a result, listening experiences were sometimes briefly punctuated by outside noise - even when configured using the app to let the least amount of outside noise through.
Last but not least, there’s the battery life.
The Elite 65t set a new bar for Jabra personally with 5 hour per charge, but don’t really come close to the reigning champions of the true wireless space when it comes to the number of extra charges offered by the carry-case. Still, in Jabra’s defence, there is a reasonably-compelling case to be made here that five hours per charge is probably going to be just fine for the majority of the people using this product.
The Bottom Line
Jabra’s latest leap forward in the true wireless space doesn’t necessarily hit all its marks but it hits just enough to emerge as a solid contender nonetheless. Though a few caveats apply, specifically on the software side, it’s almost exactly everything we wanted out of the second-gen Elite Sport earbuds and a solid product that cements Jabra’s reputation and place on the front-lines of the true wireless arms race.
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