For a princely sum of Rs 5,999, the Jabra Elite 3’s are some of the best value-for-money true wireless earbuds in the market today. For the most part, Jabra has been providing earbuds, that are priced out of most peoples’ reach. With the launch of the Elite 3, they are trying to change that.
I’ve been using the first budget earbuds from Jabra for almost two weeks now. They may not have all the bells and whistles of its big brothers, the Elite 85t (or the newly launched Elite 7 Pro), but they still have plenty on offer and can stand their ground against the mighty competition.
Lightweight & comfortable with a few features missing
With the Elite 3’s, Jabra is giving up one feature that has been synonymous with the brand; multipoint. This means that you can only pair them with one device at a time. Given the pricing, they’ve also chosen to go without active noise cancellation (ANC), another omission that stings but is understandable. One smaller feature that is missing is auto-pause. Don’t go expecting the music to pause when you take one of the earbuds out.
The Elite 3’s provide a not-too-chunky build that feels a little plasticky compared to its pricier and more premium siblings. The Elite 3’s offer an in-canal fit which helps provide the much needed passive noise isolation. This makes up for the lack of ANC. There are physical buttons on each of the earbuds that come with a reassuring click. They are easy to press and don’t at all set off any sort of wobble. The earbuds are lightweight, and the fit is supremely comfortable, even after many hours of continuous usage.
The right earbud handles the audio controls, and the left will bring up the voice assistant (Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant). The Elite 3’s also support Fast Pair for a quicker setup on Android.
The Elite 3’s use round tips as opposed to the oval-shaped tips on the Elite 85t’s. One bonus for the Elite 3’s is that you can use each earbud individually in mono mode, something that has been missing from the company’s lineup for a very long time.
The charging case offers a bit of flex, and can easily pick up fingerprints and scruffs (especially those from a pair of keys). There’s a battery LED light on the front, unlike the old Jabra’s, which is a welcome change. The case supports USB-C charging, which has become standard these days.
As far as battery life goes, well I can say I wasn’t disappointed. Jabra says the Elite 3’s offer about 7 hours of playback time and the case has enough for juice for three additional charges (28 hours in total). In my two weeks, I’ve had zero reasons to doubt this.
The Elite 3’s are waterproof up to IP55 and are available in Lilac, Light Beige, Dark Grey, and Navy colour options.
Excellent sound quality with a lasting impression
The Elite 3’s support the company’s Sound+ app that provides six audio presets - (that can be tweaked) with many more to come via software updates. The current six are Neutral, Speech, Bass boost, Treble boost, Smooth and Energize.
On the app, one can also active HearThrough mode (or by clicking the left earbud once). This is Jabra’s transparency mode that uses the built-in mics to raise the external sounds’ volume, hence making it easier to hear things like announcements. The feature shouldn’t be used to hold a lengthy conversation though as, at times, it’s hard to make out some of the words being said.
The Elite 3 comes with 6mm drivers for a richer and fuller bass experience. The Elite 3’s offer a balanced sound that is somewhat noticeably tinnier and not as full-bodied as its siblings. Jabra’s earbuds have been providing a sound that doesn’t overshadow the vocals. With the Elite 3’s that has been retained.
Whether it is listening to Amit Trivedi’s DhayanChand song or Dave Brubeck’s Take Five, each instrument can be sussed out individually, for the most part. With a rich and clear sound, the songs have some peppy energy to them. It isn’t the thumping bass you may expect if you’ve used any of Jabra’s earbuds before but for just Rs 6,000, no one can complain.
The call quality was pretty good on the Elite 3’s thanks to the four built-in microphones. My voice came along loud and clear for the most part, and background noise was kept to a minimum. That meant that I could have a free-flowing discussion without any distractions.
Should you buy the Jabra Elite 3’s?
The Jabra Elite 3’s are an impressive pair of budget earbuds. For the company’s first venture into the budget range of earbuds, they do a fine job of maintaining the high standards that the company is known for.
The company may be setting the bar high for the competition but it is falling behind in some aspects. Samsung, OnePlus, Oppo and others provide ANC for Rs 6,000 and under. Some of them also come with more premium cases, as compared to one alongside the Elite 3.
The Elite 3’s provide a good mixture of a good sound signature, great battery life, quick access to my favourite virtual assistant and the Find My Jabra feature (this allows me to quickly find the earbuds when I think I’ve lost them around the house).
For the amount of money it commands, the Elite 3’s exceed their asking price with excellent sound quality. There are certain features you may want with your earbuds, and the competition may offer it, but as an overall package, the Elite 3’s are hard to beat.
There’s just the small hope that Jabra listens to feedback and provides at least 2 or 3 of the missing features in its next set of budget earbuds.
(Sahil Bhalla is a freelance journalist with a keen interest in culture and consumer technology).