Jabra Elite 5: cheap enough, pretty enough, good enough

When it comes to true wireless ANC earbuds, Jabra makes checking boxes an art form.

by Justin Choo

The Jabra Elite 5 has the specs that make it an ideal middle-of-the-road true wireless earbuds. Does it deliver the goods though?

From the get-go, the Elite 5 makes a good first impression. Our unit came in a rather fetching champagne gold–one of those safe, lifestyle-ish colours that go well with many shades of colour.

Unfortunately, it’s probably the only thing that stands out and there isn’t really much to talk about otherwise. The Elite 5 feels just like any other pair of Jabra earbuds in their catalogue, so a lot of it comes down to the matter of price matching. The good thing about Jabra’s earbuds is that they don’t overstretch themselves and are pretty safe bets. I guess I’m damning them with faint praise but in my book that it’s not always a bad thing.

Like most Jabra true wireless earbuds, the fit on the Elite 5 seems to be pretty good. They feel lightweight so you can comfortably wear these all day, and they’re IP55 water and dust-resistant. You can bring them on runs without worrying about sweat or that they’ll fall out. The Elite 5 uses physical buttons in place of touch sensors, and I like them all the better for it.

When it comes to sound quality, the Elite 5 are competent and yet somewhat pedestrian. I find them more enjoyable with a slight bass boost but that’s a matter of taste, I guess. What I appreciate about their by-the-numbers approach is that the app is chockful of tweakable options including call handling, EQ, and fine-tuning ANC levels. Not many earbuds do software this intuitively and this well.

The ANC is commensurate with the price in the sense that there’s nothing to shout home about. It’s measured and what comes through sounds soothing to the ears–voices still come through though. The microphone cuts out wind noise well enough, but it picks up voices in the background. The upside is at least it sounds somewhat natural and is less annoying to the ear. Sidetone (you can hear yourself when ANC is on) is not listed as a feature for the Jabra Elite 5 so I was surprised to see that the Jabra Sound app shows the option for it.  But it doesn’t quite work, so I guess that they forgot to grey it out or remove that option. Sidetone is a feature that allows you to hear yourself better during calls when ANC is turned on. It’s quite subtle here, and it does reduce that muffled effect a little. But I do think Sidetone is a little a bit too subtle in this case even when at maximum level and the improvement is marginal.

One thing we do love about Jabra is that you can more or less expect AAC and aptX support, which means there’s most iOS and Android users are taken care of with access to a high-resolution codec.

Battery life is pretty–yes, you guessed it–average, and the earbuds last at least six hours typically with ANC switched on. It charges up relatively quickly and supports Qi wireless charging.

The Elite 5 has all the essentials you’d want from a pair of true wireless earbuds with ANC. It’s priced at $228–which is OK–but you can easily buy one for $187 at Amazon.sg. For $187, I think these are a no-brainer if you don’t have any specific requirements.

The Jabra Elite 5 is pretty ‘average’ and there aren’t many things that you can effusively praise; there aren’t many flaws you can nitpick either. They look stylish, sound decent enough and are pretty reliable. But maybe that’s precisely the whole point.

Edit: Apologies, it turns out the unit I have is likely a prototype and Sidetone wasn’t working right. Updated with thoughts on Sidetone, everything else remains the same.

Summary

Price $178 on Amazon.sg, U.P. $228

Features
✅✅✅✅✅✅✅☐☐☐
Value Proposition
✅✅✅✅✅✅✅☐☐☐
Performance
✅✅✅✅✅✅✅☐☐☐
Design & Build Quality
✅✅✅✅✅✅✅☐☐☐

The Jabra Elite 5 is a good example of earbuds that has all the key features and a fair price.

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