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Jabra Elite 3 review: affordable TWS earbuds that get the basics right

Jabra Elite 3 are the first earbuds from the company’s revamped lineup. They join the Elite 2, Elite 7 Active and Elite 7 Pro as Jabra does away with old nomenclature for its devices. This is also the first time that Jabra is not focusing on the premium true wireless earbuds market. With the true wireless market growing rapidly, Jabra is making big changes to its product lineup.

Also Read: Nothing ear (1) review: unique design, comfortable fit

It all starts with Jabra Elite 3, an affordable pair of true wireless earbuds that are built on the core fundamentals of Jabra’s previous earbuds like the Elite 75t. With Elite 3, Jabra is moving from competing against Apple and Samsung to challenging OnePlus, OPPO and Nothing. Does it succeed or has it cut too many corners in its quest to make good affordable true wireless earbuds? Let’s find out.

Design and comfort

Jabra Elite 3 Review

The Elite 3 builds on the design of Jabra’s previous models with slightly smaller earbuds

I cannot emphasise this enough. True wireless earbuds are still mostly about a comfortable, wirefree listening experience than they are about impressive audio seen with wired headphones. So, the best place to start is design and comfort. The Elite 3, as mentioned above, build on the fundamental design that we first saw with the Elite 75t and Elite Active 75t.

This design parallel is only applicable to the case of the earbuds because the earbuds themselves have evolved. In comparison to the previous generation, the Elite 3 come with earbuds that are considerably smaller. They still don’t sit flush inside my ears like the OPPO Enco Buds but they also don’t stick out very much.

This is made possible using a triangular structure with an oval arc. It is a departure from the circular design seen with previous Jabra earbuds. Jabra has also ditched the mini stem with perforated mic holes. It is not a subtle change but Jabra goes out of its way to make it look like one and calls it “sleek Danish design”. The earbuds still have physical buttons for controlling playback and accepting calls. These buttons work better than touch controls and are particularly great when you are working out.

Jabra Elite 3 Review

The Elite 3 has a utilitarian design when compared to Nothing’s radical new design for the ear (1)

Jabra has added Spotify Connections to the earbuds this year which allows you to play a Spotify playlist with one press of the button. The Elite 3 is not just about eliminating old design cues but also bringing back the good ones. The oval ear tips from Elite 85t (review) have been dropped in favour of round ear tips. There are three sizes included with these earbuds and like with every other TWS earbuds, finding the perfect fit is of extreme importance.

Once I found the perfect seal, I have to say that Elite 3 felt home to me. I have used the Elite 75t extensively and these felt comfortable and due to the lightweight design, I was able to wear them for longer durations. Another thing that hasn’t changed is the charging case, which looks similar to the one seen with Elite 75t and Elite 85t.

The charging case lacks the heft of those earbuds, which hints at use of cheaper plastics. The case picks up scuffs easily and it is easy to notice on my dark grey review unit. There is also noticeable flex with the lid of the case but they don’t make me worry like the case of the OnePlus Buds Pro (review). The battery status is on the front while the USB Type-C charging port is on the back. This is a case that functions well and holds the earbuds securely.

Sound and voice calls

Jabra Elite 3 Review

Jabra Elite 3 cut down on features but don’t compromise on a balanced sound quality

In order to reach the price of Rs 5,999, Jabra made some changes to these earbuds. They don’t support Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) like Nothing ear (1) (review) but they do offer passive noise cancellation which is quite good at blocking outside noise. There is also Hearthrough support which allows you to listen to ambient sound through the earbuds.

While passive noise cancellation is effective, the Hearthrough feature needs work. During my time testing the device, I constantly heard a hissing sound that made Hearthrough unpleasant. I am yet to hear from Jabra whether it is an isolated incident or a future update could fix this issue, and I will update this review once I learn more from the company.

Apart from ANC, Jabra has also ditched multi-point support, a feature that made Elite 75t and 85t favourite among a lot of people. This is understandable for this price point. While it has ditched some features, it has not dropped the good audio experience. They have a balanced EQ with a sound signature that is not wide like the Elite 75t but also not muddy, a pain point in this price.

Jabra Elite 3 Review

The case picks up scuff easily on our dark grey review unit

The earbuds do not offer an agile bass like the Elite 75t but the bass is still present. When you listen to Marian Hill’s Differently, your earlobes will definitely wobble and cue themselves for the next beat. The midrange is also very good which makes it ideal for listening to vocal heavy music. Whether you are listening to Blue Bannisters by Lana Del Rey, Star Crossed by Kacey Musgraves or Yohani’s Manike Mage Hithe, there is enough clarity and vocal lines remain prominent.

The Elite 3 can also get really loud and I found them enjoyable at 60-70 percent volume. At peak sound, the treble gets coarse and it can hurt your ears. Overall, there is a fine balance between detail, rhythm and subtlety. The Elite 3 were not supposed to be technically superior but they do nail all the essentials.

Calling has always been a strong feature of Jabra’s true wireless earbuds. I am happy to report that Elite 3 performs well and none of my callers had issues hearing me whether on phone calls, WhatsApp calls or on Zoom. You can enable sidetone to better hear your own voice on calls and even use only one earbud thanks to support for Mono mode. Finally. While none of my friends complained about the mic performance, they did make out that I was talking through earbuds.

Battery life and Sound+ app

Jabra Elite 3 Review

The Elite 3 relies on USB Type-C for charging and it also supports fast charging

With the Elite 3, Jabra claims that the earbuds can last up to 7 hours and you can get additional three charges from the charging case for a total of 28 hours. In my experience, the earbuds hit close to that mark. I averaged between 6 and 6.5 hours from the earbuds and averaged a total of 24-26 hours with the case. These earbuds definitely stay on for longer than Jabra Elite 75t did and at half the price.

There is no wireless charging, a feature seen on Nothing ear (1), but there is a USB Type-C port on the back of the case. It charges rather quickly and the earbuds themselves support fast charging. With 10 minutes inside the case, the earbuds can give one hour of playback. It is not only a respectable figure but also a reliable one.

Jabra Elite 3 Review

The Sound+ is one of the best companion apps but is stripped down in the case of Elite 3

I think Jabra engineers were listening to Liam Payne’s Strip That Down while designing these earbuds. The stripping down of features also extends to the Sound+ app. With the Elite 3, the Sound+ app shows the battery level of the earbuds but does not show the battery level of the case. This could be similar to Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 which lacks a Bluetooth communicator to indicate battery life.

The battery life is followed by Sound modes which lets you toggle Hearthrough On or Off. Then you get equaliser presets allowing you to tweak the sound. A preset like Speech is effective when listening to podcasts like Wondery’s Against The Odds. There is no Soundscape which lets you playback pink noise or focus sound and the options for customising the controls on the earbuds are also limited.

Bottomline

Jabra Elite 3 Review

The Elite 3 succeeds in delivering on fundamentals without costing a lot of money

With Elite 3, Jabra built a device that nailed all the essentials while ditching some features that don’t hinder the overall experience. To a large extent, Jabra has succeeded in its effort to build a feature-packed affordable TWS earbuds. That said, they are still not a complete package.

For instance, the lack of proximity sensor for auto-pause feature is something I missed a lot. When you leave these earbuds out for a long duration, they turn off automatically after some time. While earlier you could press one of the earbuds to wake them, you need to press both the earbuds in the case of Elite 3 to get them working again. Also the use of tone instead of voice feedback for actions like pairing and other functions is a step down.

Jabra Elite 3 are priced at Rs 5,999 and you can get them for Rs 5,499 with the bank offer on Amazon India. At that price, the Elite 3 do not offer the standout design or fancy features like ANC and in-ear detection found on Nothing ear (1), but they meet quality standards, offer good sound quality, long battery life, a decent calling experience and IP55 rating for workouts. While it gets the basics right, it will have competition with the launch of new models like the OnePlus Buds Z2.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8/10

What works

  • Improved lightweight design
  • Good sound quality
  • Long-lasting battery life
  • Easy to use controls
  • IP55 rating

What doesn’t

  • No auto-pause
  • Build quality of charging case could have been better
  • Limited app features
  • Lack of multipoint
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Karthekayan Iyer

Karthekayan is an Assistant Editor at Pricebaba. He covers consumer technology for Pricebaba and leads the development of the deals section. With a degree in Instrumentation Engineering, Karthekayan spent three years working for an engineering firm before becoming a tech reporter. He writes news, features and reviews the latest gadgets. He has over 8 years' experience and has worked with Indian Express, Digit.in and BGR India in the past.