Jabra Elite 85t Review, Comparison to 75t & Specifications
Here is a quick review of the 2020-21 iteration of the Jabra Elite 85t truly wireless earbuds, followed further down by more details and specs – for those of you who want that.
The Jabra Elite 85t is one of the best options for audio sources on iOS or Android smartphone right now and they’re even OK for casual sports usage…wait for the Active version in January if ACTIVE describes you.
Jabra Elite 85t Review and Comparison to 75t/65t
Price - 75%75%
Audio Quality - 85%85%
Build Quality & Design - 95%95%
Features, Including App - 90%90%
Jabra Elite 85t Verdict
Jabra has established itself as a premium audio earbud supplier for the mass market with a series of great products, culminating in the improved Elite 85t. This is a 4th generation product for Jabra and the numerous subtle improvements over 5 years have delivered a well-balanced set of earbuds. Sure they’re expensive and they’re not perfect for everyone but they’re good. Really good.
Compared to listening to music, you’ll spend less time using these for home automation control and taking calls but rest assured that you get good call quality (not great) and Siri/Google all are suitably obedient.
The ‘fit’ of all the Jabra Elite models is different from last year and I slightly prefer the fit of the earlier models for my ears. Your ears are definitely different to mine so you’ll have to try them out! I have fairly small ears and my partner has really small ears that NO earbuds fit! My partner instead uses AfterShokz.
Finally, the free Jabra Sound+ app has improved over the years and one standout feature now is the audio test when you pair the 85t. This tests the audio frequencies and volumes you can hear and makes presets accordingly. Handy! We’re not all the same when it comes to hearing. Other app-based features include the ability for a group of friends to synchronise the playback timing of the same song, thereby enjoying listening to the same thing at the same time.
- Calls, playback and home automation control all work well
- Not for intensely active sports usage (get the ACTIVE 85t version)
Jabra Elite 85t – What’s Changed? What’s New?
Jabra will soon release the Elite ACTIVE 85t to complement this Elite 85t model; last year’s equivalent model was the Elite 75t + active version, and the prior year’s version was the Elite 65t + active model. The active models have superior dust- and waterproof-ratings, plus an anti-slip coating. They are otherwise identical.
Turning to this year’s improvements over last year, the Active 85t model is slightly better and comes with a highly similar technical spec to last year’s 75t. If you want that in techy-speak, here you go…
- Audio performance is improved with the 85t having a larger driver (speaker) than the 75t/65t – 12mm vs. 6mm
- The earbud has 5.5 hours of battery (unchanged) but the new charge case has 19.5 hours of boost (up from 18.5)
- With noise correct (ANC) disabled, battery life is boosted to 7 hours on the buds plus 24 hours from the case (down from 7.5 hours and 20.5 hours in a similar mode on the 75t)
- Fast charge time unchanged at 1 hour
- Full charging time to 3 hours, down from 2 hours 20
- auto power-off time decreased to 30 minutes from 60 minutes (when not in use)
- IPX4 rated (was IP55, now lower) – ie IPX4 protects from splashing
- Earbud size is very slightly larger to accommodate the larger speaker (LxWxH) 23.1 x 19.0 x 16.2 mm / 0.91 x 0.75 x 0.64 in, was 21.9 x 19.4 x 16.2 mm / 0.86 x 0.76 x 0.64 in
- Charging case is very slightly larger (LxWxH) 64.8 x 41.1 x 28.5 mm / 2.55 x 1.62 x 1.12 in, was (LxWxH) 62.4 x 37.8 x 27.0 mm / 2.46 x 1.49 x 1.06 in
- There are now 6 microphones (up from 4) and 4 of these (up from 2) are involved in Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) during calls.
- ANC adjustments are now possible which might boost battery life
- We now have Bluetooth 5.1 (from 5.0)
- The app is improved with new features, I’m not sure if all the new app features work on the older earbud models
Whilst some of the physical specs appear to have rolled back slightly, my sense is that this masks the improved, longterm reliability of the electronics.
If you are looking at Jabra Elite for the first time then you’ll be reassured that you still have these key levels of spec
- The same SBAC and AAC audio CODECs are used (that’s what you want for normal iOS and Android, other HD codecs are not supported, like AptX HD)
- You can still save a pairing for up to 8 devices
- Still has adjustable hear-through and in-ear pressure relief
- S/M/L ear gels are included
- Speaker bandwidth/frequencies for calls and music is unchanged and match the human auditory range.
- Wind noise protection stays
- Wireless/QI charging plus charging via USB-C cable
- Key bluetooth profiles are supported: HSP v1.2, HFP v1.7, A2DP v1.3, AVRCP v1.6, SPP v1.2 eg HFP=HandsFree profile
- The overall aesthetic feel of the 85t is the same as the 75t but both differ slightly in looks from the 65t.
Detailed Comparison: Download PDF
Storage Case-cum-Battery Pack
The new charging case, above, shown on the left is only a tad larger than last year, it charges with either a certified QI charger or the supplied USB-C cable.
It’s designed well and stands up on its own (unlike the 65t version) and inside the case, the earbuds are REALLY sucked into position by magnets before you close the lid. If anything, they are then quite hard to pull out. The magnets are strong…you won’t lose the earbuds when you open the case! Similarly, the magnets can be used to make the earbuds ‘stick’ together for example when you leave them on your desk #Handy.
Jabra Elite 85t Music Playback
I had no problems with playback to the Elite 85t earbuds. I tested them out an iPhone XR (iOS 14.2), a Garmin Forerunner 945 and an Apple Watch 6 – all were good with pairing, playback and microphone usage.
The playback quality is great. I repeatedly switched between these and the 75t/65t versions through the same song and the ‘quality’, clarity and level of bass are all perceptibly improved. If anything, the default bass level was a tad too high for me and I used the equaliser in the app to tone in down a bit.
As with many other earbuds, when running it’s best to wear your watch or smartphone, on your RIGHT WRIST as the receiver on earbuds is also on that side. That said, in normal, stationary usage, it didn’t seem to make any difference where the music source was, although it obviously had to be within a 10m range.
Jabra Active 85t vs Active 75t vs the 65t
You can see the 3 iterations are all broadly similar to look at with the two more recent versions appearing to be identical, in fact, the 85t is up to 2mm larger. The ‘blob’ that goes in your ear is a different shape on the 85t/75t compared to the 65t – that’s neither here nor there but I’m just pointing it out.
My only real gripe is with the pointed microphone ‘protrusion’ on the 65t…I liked that design and it felt more secure when worn and the older design was easier to re-insert.
Jabra Elite ACTIVE 85t Specs
Here are links to all the spec sheets for those of you who can’t get to sleep tonight. The key facts are summarised above.
- Jabra Elite 85t User Manual
- Jabra Elite 85t Techsheet
- Jabra Elite Active 65t Tech Sheet
- Jabra Elite 75t Data Sheet
- Jabra Elite 75t Tech Spec
Buy Jabra Elite 85t – Discounts, Review, Availability
The Jabra Elite 85t earbuds are now available to buy now on Amazon. Here are links to the latest and lowest Amazon prices in your local Amazon store. The rrp at launch is $229/Eu229/£219 and each year the rrp has gone up by about $/Eu/£60. If you want the best audio quality then you have to go for the 85t, if that’s of less concern to you then the two previous models are perfectly fine. Indeed the 2-year-old 65t will be about $/£/Eu70 in the Black Friday sales.
- UK/USA/EU Jabra Elite 85t (for best audio, get these)
- UK/USA/EU Jabra Elite Active 75t
- UK/USA/EU Jabra Elite 65t
- UK/USA/EU Jabra Elite Active 65t (if battery life is no concern, get these)
- UK/USA/EU Jabra Elite SPORT