Tech reviews

Jabra Elite 3 review: At a sweet spot for price and performance

Gelo Gonzales
Jabra Elite 3 review: At a sweet spot for price and performance

ELITE 3. The Elite 3 earbuds from Danish audio equipment brand Jabra comes in dark grey, navy, lilac, and light beige

Gelo Gonzales/Rappler

At P4,800, the earbuds offer a real improvement in audio quality from the commonly tinny sound found in entry-level models

(Disclosure: Jabra lent a unit for this review.)

At about P4,800, the Jabra Elite 3 true wireless earbuds are good value for the money. There’s a real improvement in sound quality moving up from the true wireless earbuds in the entry-level P2,000-range. 

I think what’s lacking in entry-level models is that the sound can be tinny, lacking richness and body. The Elite 3 offers improvements on that front to a level that would satisfy the majority of music fans. 

The Elite 3 favors a more neutral audio profile. In fact, that’s the default setting for earbuds, as found on the accompanying Jabra Sound+ app. It demonstrates a nice, balanced-sounding profile across most genres under this setting. It does have a bass boost setting. Under this setting, you can certainly get that booming bass feel – great for workouts! – but don’t expect the kind of audio separation you get from more premium audio products. 

Certainly, you could go up the price ladder to find something that offers greater definition across the audio spectrum. But for most who just want a solid listening experience without having to spend more than necessary, the Jabra Elite 3 feels like it’s at a sweet spot. 

Jabra’s also always had a solid reputation too in the consumer audio industry. And with so many brands having jumped into the true wireless audio segment, it’s easier to go with a brand that has real history in making these products. 

I was also surprised how much I’ve started to prefer the physical control buttons on the device. I’ve been used to sensor-enabled earbuds, but the Elite 3 reminded me that seemingly less high-tech-feeling physical buttons can be easier to use at times. The main surface of the earbuds where the Jabra logo sits is actually a button that can be pressed. With physical buttons, I’ve found that I’ve had no more accidental button presses, which was my problem with sensor-enabled earbuds, which can sometimes be activated by the lightest touch, especially when you’re moving around while listening.

The Elite 3 features physical buttons on the earbuds

Skipping songs on wireless earbuds often needs multiple, consecutive taps on the earpiece – often two taps to go forward, and three taps to go backwards on a playlist. With physical buttons, it’s easier to get every tap to register. Sometimes, I need multiple tries to skip successfully on sensor-enabled earbuds. 

I also found the earbuds’ fit to be very secure, and had no instances of them falling out of the ear. It also has an IP55 water and dustproof rating, meaning you can take it for sweaty workouts and even allow for some rain. We didn’t dunk it in water though but the Jabra site says it offers “IP55 rainproof protection” and that “whether it’s a light drizzle or a sudden downpour, you’re all good.”

Using the app, the left earbud can also be mapped to either activate Spotify automatically or activate a digital assistant (Amazon Alexa or Android) with a double-tap. 

One little complaint about the Elite 3: the build of the earpieces and the charging case could be a little more premium. We don’t expect something high-end, and sound-quality matters more, but we feel like the quality or the physical feel of the product could be improved to feel more like a P5,000 product. 

If you’re looking for active noise cancellation, there are some offerings in this price range from Huawei and OPPO; the Elite 3 doesn’t have it, and offers passive noise cancellation, meaning it’s the ear tips that are physically keeping outside noises out. It’s enough for most use cases.

Battery life is at a standard level: 7 hours of use with the charging case holding an extra 28 hours of charge. Fully charging the case and the earbuds takes 3.5 hours. But it also has a quick charge feature: earbuds with low battery can be charged for 10 minutes in the charging case for 60 minutes of playing time. The charging case needs to have at least 30% battery to perform the quick charge. 

With a solid brand reputation in this space, and sitting at a sweet spot for price vis-a-vis sound quality, the Elite 3 is a great place to start if you’re looking for a new true wireless pair. Higher up the price ladder, you do get better audio definition, and below, you can probably save a little while sacrificing some audio richness. – 

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.