The Jabra Elite Active 65t ($190) are the company’s newest truly wireless earbuds. Released in late May 2018, the Jabra Elite 65t Active are the next evolution of the company’s other truly wireless earbuds, the Jabra Elite 65t, which I reviewed early this year. They’re virtually the same as the Jabra Elite 65t, but are enhanced in three ways. 1.) They have a grippier outer layer so they stay in your ears better. 2.) They’re slightly more sweatproof (IP56 vs IP55). And 3.) they have an integrated motion sensor (aka accelerometer) that adds more tracking features. Essentially, the Jabra Elite Active 65t are more sports-focused (and more expensive) versions of their excellent predecessors.
Fun fact: the “65” is the highest number, and therefore the most premium, earbuds in Jabra’s Elite line. The “t” stands for truly wireless. The “e” in last year’s Elite 45e stands for earbuds since they are technically wireless neckbuds, connected by a wire.
The Good: The Jabra Elite Active 65t earbuds sound just as good as the Elite 65t earbuds that came before it — same drivers, same fit — and that’s notable because they’re some of the loudest and most accurate-sounding truly wireless earbuds that I’ve tested. The Sound+ app comes with some nifty features that allow you to adjust the EQ or find your earbuds if they’re misplaced. You can also turn on HearThrough (lets you hear ambient sounds) too, which works very well and is a good safety feature for those commuting to work. In the app, there’s a “Find My Earbuds” feature, which shows you the last place your earbuds were located (in case their battery is dead). The four-mic array (two in each earbud) means that these are among the best truly wireless earbuds for talking on the phone. The charging case is compact and well designed. They’re more sweat-proof than the original Jabra Elite 65t earbuds.
(Note: The IP55-rating of the Jabra Elite 65t means that the earbuds are good against dust and water. The IP56-rating is good against dust, water and sweat. According to Jabra, salt leads to corrosion and the Jabra Elite Active 65t are specifically designed to fight that.)
Who They’re For: Anybody who wants the best-sounding, non-AirPod truly wireless earbuds, and is willing to pay a little extra for them. Also, these are very versatile earbuds, adept for every day use and working out. (AirPods are not sweat-resistant, so even though I see many people working out and running with them, I wouldn’t recommend it.)
Watch Out For: There are very few truly wireless earbuds that are more expensive than the Jabra Elite Active 65t, and if you’re not going to exercise with them, there’s really little reason to buy them rather than the Jabra Elite 65t earbuds. The fit is tight and they don’t come with adjustable silicone ear-wings (which are different from silicone ear tips), like the Sony WF-SP700N, so some people might find them uncomfortable to wear for long listening sessions.
Alternatives: For running and working out, my three favorite truly wireless earbuds are still the Sony WF-SP700Ns, the Samsung IconX (2018), and the Jaybird Run. None of those offer the same level of sound quality as the Jabra Elite Active 65t, but they’re more comfortable in my opinion, and they come with more silicone earbud and ear-wing options, meaning you can get a more customizable fit.
Review: I cringe everytime that I see somebody running with AirPods. Why? I’ve ruined too many pairs of EarPods by doing just that, and AirPods and EarPods have virtually the same housings — neither is sweatproof. Apple is rumored to be making sweat-proof AirPods, but those won’t be released until 2019, earliest, which is why, even you love your AirPods, you should really consider getting a pair of sweat-proof earbuds to run with.
The Jabra Elite Active 65t are designed as full-on AirPod replacements. They’re more expensive, granted, but you wear them commuting to work and working out. They don’t have the easy pairing that the W1 chip provides for iPhone owners, but so what? One you pair these to your iPhone (or Android), they’ll automatically pair to your phone again when you take them out of their charging case. And they’re way more feature packed than Apple’s truly wireless earbuds. The app offers everything you’d want (aside from Google Translate), from an ambient mode to tweaking the EQ so that the audio sounds best for you, to quick access to Siri (or Alexa) and other on-ear controls (physical buttons instead of swipe gestures).
Some of its features I found superfluous, however. One of the things that differentiate these from their non-Active siblings is the Jabra Elite Active 65t’s built-in motion sensor. The sensor essentially counts your steps, which you can turn on/off in the Sound+ app. There’s no built-in GPS, so it’s difficult to know how accurate the step counter is; and since there’s no built-in heart-rate sensor, which several of Jabra’s wired in-ear headphones have, the Jabra Elite Active 65t aren’t able to measure calories burned, which many exercise enthusiasts would probably want.
It’s a little thing, I know, but when you’re paying an extra $20 bucks (compared to the Jabra Elite 65t) for a feature that you probably won’t use, it’s a tough sell. The Jabra Elite Active 65t earbuds also have a slightly grippier outer layer than their predecessor, which I was able to sense. They felt slightly more secure in my ears while running, but if I’m being honest, both pairs of earbuds stayed pretty snug.
Verdict: The Jabra Elite Active 65t earbuds are exactly as advertised: more sweatproof versions of the Jabra Elite 65t truly wireless earbuds. Essentially, these are the perfect truly wireless earbuds for the active professional. They sound better than most other alternatives, with accurate midrange and highs, and they’re able to produce a sound that feels big, which is partly due to their snug fit and natural noise isolation. They work well for taking calls and exercising, too. Some people won’t like their very snug fit, but I’m guessing most people will actually like it since there is less likelihood of them falling out.
If you like the style and the fit of the Jabra Elite 65t, and are cool paying the extra $20, which is essentially just an insurance policy against sweat, then these are great. Otherwise, you could buy the non-active alternatives and love them just the same.
What Others Are Saying:
• “As I said about the Elite 65t, I didn’t find much to complain about with these earphones — they’re as good as you’ll get for a truly wireless headphone at this time. Are they worth $20 more than the standard Elite 65t? They are if you plan on sweating on them a lot, but otherwise not. The quick-charge feature has some appeal but the motion sensor doesn’t seem like a must-have at the moment. Perhaps if Jabra ties additional features to it I’d see more value in it.” — David Carnoy, CNET
• “Where many fully wireless headsets settle for mediocre fidelity, the Elite Active 65t actually sound quite good — akin to a set of wired headphones that cost about half the price. Nothing has changed between the Elite Active and original model, both of which showcase the deep and punchy bass and shimmery treble we already enjoyed earlier this year.” — Parker Hall, Digital Trends
• “One area where the Jabras stand head and shoulders above the Bose and the Sony buds is in on-ear controls: it has very nice push-button controls for things like pause, fast forward, rewind and Siri/Google assistant activation. Bose has more limited controls that are woefully difficult to use; Sony has limited controls (no volume or Google Assistant) that can be a little difficult to use..” — John Davidson, The Australian Financial Review
Battery: five-hour per earbud, 10 hours from the charging case
Support: Siri, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Battery: five hours per earbud; 15 total hours with charging case
Water Resistance: IP56
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