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Jabra Elite 4 Active review: durable earbuds priced well

Jabra revamped its true wireless earbuds lineup last year. The Danish audio company dropped double digit naming in favour of a simplified branding and introduced Elite 2, Elite 3, Elite 7 Active, and Elite 7 Pro. As a change, Jabra also catered to the affordable price point for the first time. At CES 2022, Jabra expanded that lineup with the launch of Elite 4 Active. The Elite 4 Active wants to be the happy medium between the Elite 3 and Elite 7 Pro.

Also Read: OnePlus Buds Pro review: doesn’t settle

The Elite 4 Active is not as affordable as the Elite 3 but at the same time, not premium priced like the Elite 7 Pro. It also brings the ruggedness and durability you expect from a Jabra earbuds with Active branding at the end. Priced at Rs 9,999 and available for under Rs 9,000 on Amazon India, the Elite 4 Active is squarely aimed at consumers looking for something they can use to complement their active lifestyle and also be used as a regular earbuds. However, with competition like the OnePlus Buds Pro and Amazon Echo Buds (2nd gen), is this a better purchase? Let’s find out.

Design and Comfort

Jabra Elite 4 Active Review

The Elite 4 Active builds on the design language of Elite 7 Pro by retaining some design from Elite 75t

With the Elite 4 Active, Jabra probably did the most sensible thing it could do in terms of design. It borrows the sharper design language seen with the earbuds like the Elite 3 (review) and the Elite 7 Pro and a case that dates back at least a few generations. The case seems to have a bit more heft because of that IP57 rating compared to Elite 3. The resulting product is a design that is familiar from the exterior but different from the inside if you are coming from say the Elite 85t or the Elite 75t.

Like I wrote in my review of Elite 3, these earbuds feature a triangular shape with an oval arc that has allowed Jabra to shrink them in size. These earbuds don’t sit out of your ears as much as Elite 75t or 85t but they are not extremely compact either. There was a time when Jabra TWS could be identified from a distance because of their size and how much they popped out of your ears. That is no longer the case with the new design language adopted by the Danish company.

Jabra Elite 4 Active Review

The buttons on the earbuds are tactite but some may find it discomforting due the tight seal

Complementing these earbuds are the buttons that act as your control for playing or pausing music, switching between various sound profiles, receiving voice calls, playing Spotify playlist, or enabling voice commands. I still think this implementation to be better than the touch controls found on some devices and make more sense in a fitness-centric device where touch sensors fail with sweaty fingers but not these tactile buttons.

Jabra has also managed to reduce the pressure that you feel when you press these buttons since these earbuds tend to go in a bit deeper with that action. The round ear tips supplied with these earbuds are not the most comfortable of the pack but they are definitely better than the oval ones seen on the Elite 85t (review). My review unit came in navy colour but there are options like black and mint. The battery indicator is on the front of the case while USB Type-C sits on the back.

Sound and voice calls

Jabra Elite 4 Active Review

The Elite 4 Active try to balance the sound output and aim to appeal to a large userbase

The Elite 4 Active, out of the box, sounded very much similar to its affordable sibling – the Elite 3. This puts it in the competitive sphere of other earbuds like the Nothing ear (1), OnePlus Buds Pro (review), and even Google Pixel Buds A-Series. It does not try to under or over emphasise any frequency across the audible range and is designed with the target customer in mind.

Since these are being pitched as workout earbuds, there is an attempt to bring out the sub-bass notes. This is immediately evident when you listen to 808 bass and there is also not much compromise on heavy bass. A heavy bass line at 174bpm does not sound distorted or lacks clarity. With an uptempo bass drum in loop, you get the fun rhythmic progression that is expected from such a product.

Jabra Elite 4 Active Review

There is ANC which acts as an extension to the passive isolation provided by tight seal and in-ear design

However, when you move to mid-range frequency, where vocals reside, they sound quieter. I am not sure if it is by purpose but Jabra does offer a number of EQ presets to bring out the best. For instance, while listening to Lana Del Rey’s Watercolor Eyes, you can change the preset to treble boost and get better results. I even found the “Energize” preset to be a great fit for a wide range of audio genres and Jabra has made sure that highs don’t feel overbearing or painful.

The Elite 4 Active does not aim for sonic excellence but instead aims to deliver a sound profile that would appeal to a large audience. The ANC is also good for this price point and aids the passive isolation provided by the tight seal. Paired with a microphone that is ideal for voice calls and not necessarily for recording yourself, the Elite 4 Active tries to cut a balanced package.

Battery life and App

Jabra Elite 4 Active Review

The Sound+ app lets you customise EQ and even has toggle HearThrough option

Jabra Elite 4 Active delivers an above average battery life and I often managed to get 7 hours of listening from the earbuds, which is in-line with the company’s claim. The charging case can add another three rounds, which translates to a total battery life of up to 28 hours. I found these earbuds to definitely last longer than the competition but the total endurance figure is in the same ballpark as others in this price range.

The Elite 4 Active misses out on wireless charging, a feature found not only on the OnePlus Buds Pro but also on Nothing ear (1) (review), which has gone on sale for as low as Rs 4,999. You will need a USB Type-C cable to charge these earbuds and you can get up to 60 minutes of playback with just 10 minutes of fast charging inside the case.

Jabra Elite 4 Active Review

The Elite 4 Active supports one click access to Spotify but the earbuds control cannot be customised

These earbuds also get a more comprehensive suite of features on the Sound+ app compared to Elite 3. I have been using the Elite 4 Active for nearly two months and when I first got the device, the Sound+ app only showed battery percentage of both the earbuds. However, a followup update started showing battery life of the charging case as well. It is immediately followed by access to sound modes, which includes ANC, HearThrough and option to turn off these modes.

It is then followed by custom equaliser and music presets. Like other recent Elite models, there is an option to update the firmware of these earbuds via Discover tab while you can click on Settings to change things like the default option for voice assistant or Spotify. The real downside here is the lack of customisation options for the buttons. The Sound+ app has been about immediate access to useful controls while granular controls are buried away and it works.

Bottomline

Jabra Elite 4 Active Review

The case is compact enough to fit inside the coin pocket

With the Elite 4 Active, the premise is very simple – to offer true wireless earbuds that you can wear to gym but also while travelling in a metro or in a cab or at home. In that effort, Jabra succeeds with a really good overall product. The build quality alone gives you a reassurance that is not easily seen in this price segment and the case is compact enough to fit inside the coin pocket of your denim.

The fact that it is IP57 rated and Jabra is offering two-year warranty protection against water and dust when you register the device with the Sound+ app just makes this a better proposition. There are some glaring omissions like in-ear detection, customisable earbuds control or Bluetooth multipoint support. Even the ANC is not the most effective you will find and some users might find the buttons to cause discomfort.

Jabra Elite 4 Active Review

It lacks wireless charging and the USB-C port is on the back side of the charging case

The Elite 4 Active only supports Bluetooth 5.2 with aptX and SBC but lacks AAC, which hurts their performance on Apple devices. I could not test Google Fast Pair but overall, these earbuds offer good sound quality, unmatched durability in this price point, and an overall package that is designed with athletes in mind but equally delivers for those who don’t have an active lifestyle. It is hard to find such a package in this price segment and if you find these earbuds at further discount or on sale, you should grab them without thinking twice.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8/10

What works

  • IP57 rating
  • Durability and warranty
  • Good sound quality
  • Long-lasting battery life

What doesn’t

  • Lack of in-ear detection
  • Buttons could cause discomfort
  • No AAC support
  • The earbuds control can’t be customised
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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.