Home » Jabra Elite 5 review: Perfect balance of price and features

Jabra Elite 5 review: Perfect balance of price and features

by Mark Dylan


Pros

  • Extremely comfortable and secure fit
  • Reliable big physical buttons
  • Long battery life
  • Wireless charging case
  • Solid call quality
  • aptX support

Jabra has quite a collection of true wireless earbuds with the current offerings including the Elite 7 Pro, Elite 7 Active, Elite 4 Active, and Elite 3. Today, Jabra announced the Elite 5 model and I’ve been using them for the past couple of weeks.

Admittedly, it’s a bit of a challenge to figure out which Jabra Elite earbud is best for you, but I would start first with the price since they all perform very well. The Elite 5 starts at a price that is $50 less than where the Elite 7 Pro launched. However, there’s a “limited launch offer” from Jabra for $20 off, which puts them at the same price for now.  

After figuring out what your top price level is for a set, dive into some of the features and functions. The Elite 5 has a slightly shorter battery life and the water resistance level is just a bit lower than the Elite 7 Pro. Compared to the Elite 3, the Elite 5 has ANC and a wireless charging case so there are some feature differences between all of the models.

Specifications

Microphones Six microphones with wind noise reduction
Noise cancellation ANC powered by Qualcomm QCC3050
Speaker size 6mm driver
Dust/water resistance IP57
Audio codecs SBC, AAC, aptX
Battery life 7 hours with 21 more hours provided by charging case
Wireless connectivity Bluetooth multipoint with Google Fast Pair, Microsoft Swift Pair
Earbud weight TBD

Hardware

  • Secure charging case
  • Six microphones
  • Large control buttons

The retail package includes the two wireless earbuds, a charging case with an integrated battery, a short USB-A to USB-C cable, and silicone gel earbud tips in three sizes. You can charge up the earbuds case with any USB-C cable, which is nice when you have lots of USB-C mobile tech in your arsenal. It also supports Qi wireless charging so you can set it down on a charging pad and top it up without cables too.

Magnets help keep the earbuds secure in the case while also helping to align the earbuds into the correct orientation in the compartment. The magnets in the case are particularly strong and help you align and position the earbuds quickly and easily, almost pulling the earbuds away from your fingers. The lid on the earbuds compartment is also magnetized so it snaps shut securely and keeps the earbuds safe from falling out.

Also: Jabra Elite 7 Pro review: Buy for outstanding phone calls, not for ANC

Most of the time, I am sent standard black gear to review so I was pleased when Jabra sent along its Gold Beige color for testing. The light yellow/tan color is present on the case and the earbuds with gold color on the two large outer buttons on each earbud. Earbuds with some color are much easier to find when dropped too.

There are three mics mounted in each earbud with wind noise suppression technology that helps to improve call quality. I’ve been very satisfied with the call quality on the Elite 5 and it’s nice to trust that the person on the other end of the line can hear you clearly in most environments.

jabra-elite-5-2

Looking good in Gold Beige color

Matthew Miller/ZDNet

While not the longest battery life in the Jabra true wireless earbud stable, seven hours of battery life with another 21 hours provided by the charging case is plenty to get me through any scenario. The earbuds also support in-ear detection so if you remove an earbud the calls will be muted and music will pause. You can also enable auto-answering of calls so when one or both earbuds are put into your ears the call will pick up.

A large physical button is positioned on the outside surface of the Elite 5 and the button works flawlessly. I’m not a fan of companies using a stem pinch or tap for audio controls so I appreciate the simple and effective button solution on the Elite 5 earbuds. Button controls include play/pause, next track, restart track, answer/reject calls, mute, sound mode toggle, and voice assistant. There are no button options for volume control.

Also: Jabra Elite 3 review: Forget AirPods, these $80 earbuds offer more for less

Smartphone software

  • Needed for full experience
  • Extensive settings and options
  • Personalize the button controls

The Jabra Sound Plus app is used to manage all of your Jabra headsets. After pairing the Jabra Elite 5 and taking them out of the charging case, all of the capability of the app will be enabled. Battery status, percent and graphical icon for each earbud (they can be used independently) and the charging case is shown near the top of the display.

Three sound mode options are positioned below this with options for ANC, HearThrough, and off. A slider bar appears for ANC, but more on that next. Below the sound mode options is a section for the music equalizer with six preset options and the ability to create your own custom preset too. Lastly we find the Soundscape section where you can select from a wide range of nature sounds, background noise, or comfort ambience to listen to as you try to relax. These four widgets can be reordered or toggled on/off too with a tap of the Edit Widgets button at the bottom of the display.

To access more settings for the Elite 5, tap the gear icon in the upper right corner. This area will show you firmware updates, headset settings, personalization settings, voice assistant, Spotify Tap, find my Jabra, rate your Jabra Elite 5, register your Jabra Elite 5, Quick Start Guide, and the online user manual. You can select to use a voice assistant (Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby, Amazon Alexa, Siri) on the Elite 5. A press and hold on the right earbud activates your selected voice assistant and this default setting cannot be customized.

Within the headset settings are three options; audio experience, call experience, and headset configuration. Audio experience options include auto-pause and HearThrough settings. Call experiences include auto-answer toggle, auto-mute toggle, and Sidetone settings for active calls. Headset configuration settings include the sound modes to toggle through and wearing detection options.

There are three options available in the personalization section of the settings too, including personalizing the ANC, choosing button controls, and choosing your language. I found the ANC personalization a bit underwhelming and it is clear you need to be in an environment with noticeable background noise for the noise suppression slider bars to have any impact on audio performance. I traveled on an airplane so I could discern a very slight difference in ANC as I slid the slider bars around. However, in a quiet room environment I could not tell any difference as I moved the slider and I have very good hearing.

jabra-elite-5-1

Perfect, comfortable fit with silicone tips to fine tune audio experience

Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Bottom line

The Jabra Elite 7 Pro received a software update to address a couple of the issues I had before with that model and I also see the price for them is currently down to $129.99, a $70 reduction. The Elite 7 Pro fit a bit differently than the Elite 5 and while they are good for my ears, I prefer the fit of the Elite 5. The 7 Pro provides a bit longer battery life and are optimized for calling.

At $149.99 (currently marked down to $130), the Elite 5 is a solid earbud as long as you are not looking for a powerful and noticeable active noise-cancellation experience. While ANC is subtle, I listened to music and podcasts on a recent flight and the annoying airplane background noises were canceled out fairly well. In a quiet environment I did not notice much ANC, but then again some people may prefer not to have such strong ANC in their ears.

Battery life over the past couple of weeks has been as advertised, I love the Gold Beige color, the earbuds snap securely into the case, charging via a cable or wireless charging pad is great, music and movies have sounded awesome, and callers have been very satisfied with my audio quality.

Alternatives to consider

There are a few Jabra options available, including the Elite 7 Pro and Elite 3, but if you are looking for another wireless earbud brand then check out these other options.



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