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Jabra Elite 85t review: impressive noise cancellation, premium price

On: January 26, 2021

Jabra Elite 85t are the first true wireless earbuds from the company to support active noise cancellation and include a wireless charging case in the box. However, I don’t think these are the real USP of this device. The most useful feature of the Jabra Elite 85t, like it’s predecessor, is Bluetooth multipoint.

Also Read: OPPO Enco W51 review: ANC on a budget

When Jabra launched the Elite 75t last year, it was clearly one of the best true wireless earbuds in the market. However, Jabra soon found itself competing against devices with ANC and wireless charging at a similar price point. Jabra’s answer to the competition is the Elite 85t and is it better than its predecessor. Let’s find out why in our review.

Design and comfort

Jabra Elite 85t Review

Jabra Elite 85t feels familiar to its predecessor

The first thing that struck me when I got the Jabra Elite 85t was the packaging. With the Elite 85t, Jabra is finally adopting compact packaging. When you open the box, you will find a charging case that is identical to its predecessor. It is not a bad thing since that charging case was compact and perfect in terms of shape and form factor.

The Jabra Elite 85t can still easily slide inside the coin pocket of your jeans. At the front of the case, there is Jabra branding and the LED charging light. At the back, you will find the USB Type-C port for charging.

The case itself now supports Qi wireless charging. When you open the lid, you will see the changes that Jabra has brought to the table. I won’t say the earbuds are completely redesigned but they do include changes. The earbuds now have a “semi-open” design and use oval eartips.

Jabra Elite 85t Review

The case is compact enough to go inside your coin pocket

This could be because of the new larger 12mm driver and included ANC chip. I personally think that Jabra Elite 75t did fit better in my ear canals. These did stay put, but not at all times. Once during cycling, one earbud fell out of my ear. Not all ear shapes are the same and your experience might be different. However, the plus point is that earbuds did not exert any kind of pressure when worn.

I could wear these for a longer duration than their predecessor. Both the earbuds also have circular buttons that remain very responsive and are better than touch controls on other earbuds. If there is a downside then it has to be the IPX4 rating, which does not mean much in terms of dust or water resistance. Overall, these earbuds nail the basics of design with a compact case that does not compromise on endurance, and earbuds that don’t stick out of your ears like Bose.

ANC, sound quality and Sound+ app

Jabra Elite 85t Review

Jabra Elite 85t focuses on balance with its new design

Let’s talk about active noise cancellation, one of the headlining features of these earbuds. During my time with these earbuds, I was pleasantly surprised by the effectiveness of ANC. The earbuds were able to cancel out low frequency sound very well. It was even able to block sound coming from the TV in another room. Voices in the room on the other hand are not blocked as well as on the Jabra Elite 85h.

Jabra claims to offer 11 levels of adjustable noise cancellation but the current version of the Sound+ app only lets you choose between five different levels. It is the most effective when you dial it all the way up and play some music for good measure. The ANC feature is complemented by HearThrough, which lets you hear ambient sound.

I didn’t find HearThrough that useful at home but it would come handy at work for quick conversations. Another thing to note about HearThrough mode is that the ambient sound is digital and it falls short of transparency mode on the AirPods Pro. One area where Jabra seems to have tried to stay true to its name is sound quality.

There is a distinct sound profile that you can expect from a Jabra branded audio device. With the use of a new 12mm driver, the Elite 85t delivers sound that seems more present than the Elite 75t. When you listen to Easy by Troye Sivan, the soundstage seems wider and details are well presented. This also seems to eliminate a slight coarseness seen with treble on the Elite 75t.

Jabra Elite 85t Review

Jabra Sound+ is an excellent companion app

When you play Wilderness by Explosions In The Sky, it becomes clear that Jabra has tuned these for balance. The semi-open design means that bass is not as prominent as the Elite 75t. The bass is present but it doesn’t deliver a kick. If you want the best sound quality then you should look at Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 and prepare to spend a lot more.

Jabra Sound+ app is one of the best companion apps for TWS earbuds. With the app, you can create custom moments with different ANC or HearThrough settings. You can also tweak the equalizer or play white noise when you want to focus. It lacks features like like Spatial Audio or Voice Detect feature, but you can create your own hearing profile.

Connectivity and battery life

Jabra Elite 85t Review

The case now supports wireless charging

The standout feature of Jabra Elite 85t is Bluetooth multipoint. I had this connected to my iPad and Android phone at all times. Whenever I was watching a video on iPad and a call came in, the video would pause automatically and I could continue the call on my phone. It baffles me that such a feature is not available on TWS earbuds from Sony, Sennheiser and Bose.

During the past two weeks, I never once faced any connectivity issue and the connection was reliable even when connected to two devices. It has received the Bluetooth 5.1 firmware update for power efficiency, but Bluetooth codec support is limited to SBC and AAC.

Jabra Elite 85t is rated to last for 7 hours with ANC turned off and around 5.5 hours with ANC enabled. The case can add another three rounds of charge for a total listening time of 25 hours. I can report that these claims are accurate and I have been able to go without charging these earbuds for a week now.

You can get even more endurance out of these earbuds by disabling ANC more often. It takes more than two hours to fully charge the case over USB Type-C port while wireless charging takes an hour longer. I hope Jabra brings faster charging with the next model.

Bottomline

Jabra Elite 85t Review

Jabra Elite 85t finds itself in a market where competition offers lot more for its price

Jabra Elite 85t builds on the fundamentals of Elite 75t and adds new features like ANC and wireless charging to the mix. It is a marked improvement and arguably Jabra’s best true wireless earbuds yet. However, that alone does not make it a worthy purchase. The Elite 75t are now available at Rs 9,999, and come with comfortable design and excellent passive noise isolation.

The Elite 85t is particularly for those who want ANC and can’t spend north of 20,000 on best earbuds from Apple, Bose and Sennheiser. For all others, the choices continue to grow in this extremely competitive TWS earbuds market. From OPPO Enco X to Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, the choices are plenty and the buck stops at your wallet. At Rs 17,990, Jabra Elite 85t’s biggest flaw could be its price.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8/10

What works

  • Bluetooth multipoint
  • Effective ANC
  • Sounds+ app is useful

What doesn’t

  • HearThrough is not natural
  • Bass is lacking
  • Price can be a deterrent for some
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