Jabra Elite 85t Review | The Best Earbuds got a Bit Better

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Jabra Elite 85t Review SpecificationsJabra 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%
86%

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.

Pros

  • Calls, playback and home automation control all work well

Cons

  • Not for intensely active sports usage (get the ACTIVE 85t version)

Jabra Elite 85t Review Specifications

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.

 

Jabra Elite 85t Review Specifications

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

 

Elite 85t, vs 75t, vs 65t

 

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 85t Review Specifications
Left to right: Elite 85t, vs 75t, vs 65t

 

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.

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.

 

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13 thoughts on “Jabra Elite 85t Review | The Best Earbuds got a Bit Better

  1. Good review. Some of the newer headphones have a feature where each headphone can be used independently and they both listen in on the bluetooth connection independently instead of one talking to the other through your head. I’ve found this the only type that I don’t get drop outs from (maybe my thick head), plus you can double battery life by using one at a time.

    Wish these had that, but sounds like not from your last sentence in the music section? I don’t think I can buy another pair without it from now on.

    1. if you keep the earbuds within 10″ of each other then you could share them. #impractical
      you might think you can use MONO mode but that is for using only one bud by yourself
      that said: these go inside the ear canal and I would have thought it is unhygienic to share these kinds of buds in any way with someone else.

  2. The big difference (other than the price) is the fact that compared to the 65t and 75t the design has changed from “closed” (so very isolating) to “semi-open” (so low isolating), I’m surprised you didn’t notice that ? 😉 Mind you it’s not necessarily a bad thing as it (somewhat) reduces the dreaded runner’s “thud” when your foot hits the ground. The only way to get rid of that is to use “open” (non isolating) designs like the EarPods/AirPods 1&2. It has the advantage of making you aware of incoming traffic too.

    1. I have the Jbird Vista that are “open design” too, this means, as you explain, that they don’t enter very deep in the ear canal and that they allow more noise (sound) from the outside to the inside of the ear. With the Vista I had not the problem of the dreaded runner2a “thud”. The only problem is that I always had problems with the Vista when I wanted to switch from a source to another. At least before they functioned very good with the Garmin FR945, now with the newest Garmin firmware they disconnect every 5 minutes 🙁
      I wish that two years ago I had bought the Jabra 65t instead of the Vista. Very disappointed of the Vista. No support and the firmware didn’t update since at least one year

  3. You’re going to have to pry my Active 65t from my cold dead…ears? If you want me to upgrade. I’m going on my third season using this pair and it shows no signs of dying at all. In fact, when they do finally die, i’m just going to pick up another pair at a vastly discounted price.

      1. I have my 65t charging case plugged into a Morphie case that has a 60 hr battery charge life. My headphones never die.

        I can’t really compare, but the sound on the 65t for me has been great, with my only gripe being a tad bit of bass distortion when using at higher volumes. That could just be an issues with my sliders, but I also use it through a Note 20 Ultra and set the levels to my ears (which traditionally works well for me).

  4. Your persistence on praising the earbuds with the worst connectivity in the market all these years maybe a good reason for loosing your reliability as a site.

    1. not sure.
      the chip used in last year’s model supported AptX https://www.qualcomm.com/products/qcc5126. Jabra chose not to use aptx either last year or, I assume, this year. I hear there are arguments that aptxhd would cause extra power drain for little noticeable advantage in earbuds that are not designed for extreme fidelity. ie “AAC on iOS should be good enough for most people” i think is the gist of it.
      maybe there are licencing issues/costs?

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