Jabra Elite 4 review

    Many of the main smartphone manufacturers spring to mind when thinking about wireless earphones. Apple, Samsung, and Google all have their own versions, but audio specialists should not be overlooked.

    They include Jabra, a Danish firm that has been in business for almost four decades. Jabra sells a variety of wireless earbuds, but none are more cheap than the Elite series. The Elite 4 2023 features active noise cancellation (ANC) for the first time, but the price jumps to little under $100/£100.

    That still puts them in our budget category, but was it worthwhile, or would your money be better spent elsewhere? Finally, the answer to both of those questions is yes (for the vast majority of individuals), but let’s dig further.

    Design & Build

    • Premium bud design
    • Attractive but cheap case
    • Annoying on-bud controls

    When it comes to design, Jabra follows the ancient adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Elite 4 buds and case are virtually identical to last year’s Elite 3, right down to the four possible colors: gray, light beige, lilac, and navy blue.

    I tried the latter, which has a very light blue finish. Only by closely inspecting it will you be able to tell it different from the grey variant or other black buds. While I like the simple style, it’s wonderful to have a variety of alternatives.

    Jabra Elite 4 review

    The horizontal pillbox-style casing is still functional, with a strong hinge connecting the base to the lid. I have no reservations about its long-term durability, which isn’t usually a guarantee with low-cost buds.

    However, the plastic construction seems cheap. Any illusions that the Elite 4 is a high-end product are crushed the moment you take up the case. It’s also prone to scratch marks, so I’m convinced Jabra could’ve done better here.

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    One advantage of this design is its small weight: the case weighs only 33.4g when empty and 42.6g with both buds inside. As a result, they are extremely portable and may be taken anywhere.

    Apart from the Jabra logo, there isn’t much more to say about the case. The front has an LED charging/pairing indication light, and the back has a USB-C charging connector, however both are typical features.

    Any illusion of the Elite 4 being a high-end product is shattered as soon as you pick up the case

    Fortunately, the buds themselves feel far superior to the case. Instead of the standard short stem form, the Elite 4 has a larger rounder body that lies almost entirely within the ear. This strategy is often preferred by me since it generates a good seal that aids active noise cancellation.

    It takes some getting used to, and it’s crucial to pick the correct size of ear tips, which Jabra offers in the box. Even so, the Elite 4 aren’t the most comfy wireless earphones I’ve ever used. They don’t hurt, but they keep your ears in continual touch with harsh plastic.

    Jabra Elite 4 review

    As a result, I wouldn’t suggest these buds to someone who listens to music for several hours at a time on a daily basis. But for an hour or two here and there, it’s not a big deal.

    It’s wonderful to see the Elite 4 has a waterproofing rating, even if it’s just IP55. While this shields it from most dust, it is only rated to withstand low-pressure water jets. If you get caught in the rain, it’ll be alright, but that’s about it.

    In my Elite 3 review, I criticized Jabra’s approach to on-bud controls, and nothing has changed with its sequel. Rather from being engaged by touch, important functionalities must be activated by physically pressing the button on the exterior of each bud.

    This has the advantage of being more resistant to inadvertent presses, but the trade-offs aren’t worth it for me. The tip of the bud is pushed farther into your ear canal with each shift. It’s most annoying while utilizing the long press feature, but you’ll notice it every time.

    Jabra Elite 4 review

    This is a pity, because the variety of capability is excellent. Although it is simple to change ANC, access a virtual assistant, or manage music, I was hesitant to utilize them most of the time. Using your phone so often feels like a step backward, but it’s the least of two evils in this situation.

    The LED indication on each bud, which indicates battery, pairing, and charging status, is a more successful design option. Strong magnets lock the buds in place when in the case, making it nearly difficult to mistakenly stop charging them.

    Sound Quality

    • Impressive, versatile audio
    • Great for music or voices
    • No Hi-Res support

    The sound quality of any wireless earbuds is critical to their success, so I’m pleased to say that it’s one of the Jabra Elite 4’s primary assets. The buds provide outstanding audio in a variety of situations, however they aren’t exactly best-in-class in this regard.

    In general, the two 6mm drivers produce rich sound that is full of warmth and richness. That certainly helps music, since songs sound great regardless of genre.

    The buds offer impressive audio across a range of scenarios, even if they’re not quite best-in-class

    Taylor Swift fans will be pleased, as everything from ‘Shake It Off’ to ‘Anti-Hero’ sounds energetic and evocative. Other contemporary tunes include Portugal’s ‘Feel It Still’. Post Malone’s ‘The Man’ and ‘Better Now’ find an excellent mix between sharp vocals and complex backing beats.

    However, many legendary older songs are just as wonderful. The sophisticated background band of Earth, Wind & Fire’s ‘September’ complements Maurice White’s vocals admirably, without being overbearing.

    Jabra Elite 4 review

    The extended electric guitar solos in AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’ are still depicted in exquisite detail. Meanwhile, stripped-down tunes like ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon and ‘Someone Like You’ by Adele retain all of their power.

    Even if you love rap, country, or classical music, it’s difficult to find a genre that the Elite 4 don’t enjoy. Some tracks sound better than others, but the sound quality of every track I tried is more than enough for casual listening at this low price.

    It should also be noted that my testing was limited to Amazon Music’s’standard’ quality. This is a heavily compressed version of the original, but because it only supports SBC and Qualcomm aptX codecs, the Elite 4 cannot play Hi-Res audio.

    But if there’s one major flaw, it’s the bass. Lower-pitched noises are still heard, but not as powerful as with premium buds. There is also some distortion at higher levels, but at this price range, it’s difficult to complain about either too much.

    The audio may be customized with the Jabra Sound+ app, which includes equalization adjustments for the bass, mid-range, and treble. There are six presets provided if you don’t feel comfortable altering the sounds yourself.

    All have a noticeable effect on the audio, but not enough to fundamentally alter how it sounds. If you want complete customization, these aren’t the buds for you.

    Other than that, the Elite 4’s crystal-clear voices making it a terrific choice for both podcasts and phone conversations. With four microphones, audio input is adequate, albeit not as excellent as most connected headphones.

    Noise Cancelling & Smart Features

    • Impressive ANC performance
    • Can be customised via companion app
    • Transparency mode and virtual assistant support

    The Elite 4’s main new feature is active noise cancellation (ANC). It was the major reason I didn’t get the Elite 3, so I’m delighted Jabra has included it.

    The ANC may be used without downloading the Jabra Sound+ companion app, but it cannot be personalized. This entails deciding on the amount of noise reduction and balance (between the left and right earbuds) that is optimal for you.

    Both can have a fairly large impact on the ANC’s efficacy, so it’s worthwhile to try them both.

    Its implementation here is fantastic once it is set up. Even in noisy surroundings, the ANC does a decent job of filtering out most background noise.

    I occasionally love listening to music at a low intensity, where the function on most earbuds allows too many unpleasant noises to get through to make it useful. But not here, where I can contentedly listen to calm music while being entirely focused on what I’m doing.

    The ANC does a good job of drowning out most background noise, even in busy environments

    You can change the ANC via the Sound+ app at any moment, but it would be good to be able to control the intensity without having to go through the setup process every time. Sometimes I just want part of the background noise to go away, but it’s an all or nothing situation here.

    The Elite 4 buds’ snug fit also ensures that very little sound escapes into the room. I couldn’t hear anything even with the buds barely a few millimeters away from my ears. If, like me, you’re concerned about people around hearing what you’re playing, these earbuds are an excellent alternative.

    ‘HearThrough’ is the name given to Jabra’s transparency mode. It amplifies the sound around you quite well, making it ideal for crossing a crowded street or fast listening into a discussion. The main drawback is that there is no in-ear sensing, thus music will not cease automatically if the buds are removed.

    The Jabra Sound+ app is available on iOS and Android, with the virtual assistant varying based on the phone. By default, Siri and Google Assistant are activated with a double touch of the left earbud and reply in the same way. It’s a convenient choice to have.

    Battery Life & Charging

    • Up to 5.5 hours with ANC on
    • Further three charges from case
    • Decent USB-C charging speeds

    Jabra says that the Elite 4 buds can provide up to seven hours of listening time when ANC is switched off. With the functionality activated, which I recommend, this time is reduced to 5.5 hours.

    That basically corresponds to my experience, which suggests that only extensive listening sessions will completely drain the battery in one sitting. That’s quite common for current wireless earphones.

    Only marathon listening sessions will fully deplete the battery in one sitting

    Of course, while not in use, the buds will remain in the case. This adds three full charges, for a total of up to 28 hours with ANC turned off or 22 hours with it turned on. Based on my experience, the latter is a more reasonable amount that should translate to a full week for the majority of individuals.

    Better battery life can be found elsewhere, but it’s simple to put them in at the start of the week and not worry about running out of juice. If you just use earphones on occasion, the Elite 4 can last up to 75 days on standby. During testing, I was unable to validate this assertion, but they do seem to hold charge well.

    Even though just a USB-C to A connection is supplied in the package, the Elite 4 supports rapid charging. Although it takes about 3.5 hours to completely charge both the buds and case, Jabra’s estimate of 10 minutes plugged in bringing you nearly an hour of usage appears realistic.

    Price & Availability

    The Jabra Elite 4 are priced at the lower end of the wireless earbud market. They cost $99.99/£99.99 and are available from a range of shops in the US and UK, including directly from Jabra and through Amazon.

    There’s no doubting that the Jabra Elite 4 are still great value for money – they’re just not the only ones.


    The Elite 4 are Jabra’s most affordable wireless earbuds, but they still carry a punch.

    Combining ANC with superb sound quality is amazing at this price range, especially when combined with the lengthy battery life. The original earbud shape still looks good, and the accompanying software allows for some incredible customization.

    However, unless you want genuine buttons, you’ll have to put up with a cheap plastic cover and irritating controls on the buds themselves.

    At this price point, it’s easy to forgive these little annoyances, but the Elite 4 lacks any distinguishing features when compared to the huge choice of options.


    • Active Noise Cancellation
    • Wireless: Bluetooth 5.2, Qualcomm aptX, SBC
    • Voice control: Siri, Google Assistant
    • Touch controls: Yes
    • Battery life: 7 hours from buds, 28 hours including case (without ANC, claimed)
    • Charging: Up to 3.5 hours
    • Ear tips tips: Three sizes
    • Colors: Gray, Light Beige, Lilac, Navy Blue
    • Weight: 4.6g (each bud), 33.4g (case)

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