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Jabra Elite 5 review: Solid but not spectacular

Our Rating :
£142.11 from
Price when reviewed : £150
inc VAT

The Jabra Elite 5 offer good sound and lots of features, but the brand’s cluttered lineup leaves little room for them to stand out


  • Detailed and balanced audio
  • Decent battery life
  • Stacked with features


  • ANC could be better
  • Hit and miss EQ presets
  • Elite 7 Pro are often the same price

First unveiled as “mid-range heroes”, the Jabra Elite 5 enter into the brand’s true wireless earbuds lineup between last year’s budget Elite 3 and Elite 7 Pro. Rather than a pro version of the one or a lite model of the other, the Elite 5 seem to be a true Frankenstein’s monster mashup of the pair, taking a handful of features from each to try and create a best-of-both-worlds solution.

The wrinkle comes from the fact that the Elite 7 Pro, ostensibly the most high-end of the three, are often discounted down to around the same price as the Elite 5, so the pressure is on for the latter to justify their existence from the get-go. While they don’t make a watertight argument, there’s enough to like about the Jabra Elite 5 to make them worth considering, especially if the 7 Pro aren’t currently on sale.

Jabra Elite 5 review: What do you get for the money?

For £150, you can get the Jabra Elite 5 in either Titanium Black or Gold Beige (reviewed here). The buds operate over Bluetooth 5.2 with support for the SBC, AAC and aptX audio codecs, whereas the Elite 3 and Elite 7 Pro only support two out of the three apiece. Multipoint is also present here, allowing you to stay connected to two devices simultaneously – listening to music on your phone before quickly switching to take a Zoom call on your laptop, for instance.

Jabra has clearly found an earbud design that works, as the Elite 5 are pretty much identical to the Elite 3 and Elite 7 Pro. The moulded drums are tactically shaped to contour close to the curves of your ear, with three sets of silicone tips included in the box to help you achieve a comfortable fit. The buds bear the same IP55 rating as the Elite 3, meaning that they’re resistant to dust ingress and spurts of water from any direction but can’t survive a quick dunk like the IP57-rated Elite 7 Pro.

The case also takes design cues from the Elite 3, using the same rounded rectangle style, with the Jabra logo and a status LED on the front, but is slightly taller and a couple of grams heavier at 40g. That being said, it weighs less than the 44g of the Elite 7 Pro’s flat, pill-shaped case and is still very pocketable.

The extra space allows the Elite 5 to deliver better battery life than the Elite 3, managing nine hours in-ear and 36 overall with ANC disabled. Switch ANC on and these figures fall to seven hours in-ear and 28 total, which equals the ANC-free Elite 3’s total but falls some way behind the 30 hours of the Elite 7 Pro with ANC on. Wireless and fast charging are both supported, with the latter yielding an hour of playback from ten minutes plugged in.

On the noise cancellation front, you’ve got the standard three options – off, active noise cancellation and hear-through. Unlike the Elite 7 Pro, which only use feedforward microphones, the Elite 5 employ feedforward and feedback mics in a hybrid noise-cancelling setup to more effectively attenuate external sound. The benefits of the six microphone setup are also felt while on calls – they picked up my voice clearly and consistently during testing, even while on the move outdoors.

The ANC modes can be activated in the app or cycled through via the earbuds’ controls. In the same vein as the Elite 3 and Elite 7 Pro, the Jabra Elite 5 forgo touch controls in favour of physical push buttons. Rounded triangles on the outside of the drum mark the location to press, offering the usual slew of commands, including playing/pausing, skipping tracks and hailing your voice assistant.

The controls are fully customisable via Jabra’s Sound+ app. Here, you’ll also find the option to toggle wear detection, which will pause audio when an earbud is removed and resume when it’s put back, and pick your voice assistants, including both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. There are also a couple of neat quality of life features, including a Find My Jabra location function, a playlist of calming sounds for sleep aid and Spotify Tap, allowing you to easily jump back into your most recent playlist with a quick tap.

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Jabra Elite 5 review: What do we like about them?

As the Jabra Elite 5 were initially hailed as mid-range heroes, they deserve some music to match, so I’ve rounded up a selection of heroic tunes to put them through their paces. The 6mm drivers produce a pleasingly balanced sonic profile; the motley arrangement of drums and guitars in the opening of Foo Fighters’ “My Hero” complement each other nicely, without one ever overshadowing the other.

While the soundstage isn’t the widest, there’s generally enough space for everything to land impactfully. The energy and urgency behind Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero”, for instance, are translated well here; dynamic shifts rise and fall with bouncing agility and effective stereo separation sends the cascading series of drum beats thundering around behind your head as you’re thrown into the chorus.

If all of this focus on the instrumental arrangements has got you thinking that vocals are left out in the cold, allow me to assuage your concerns. The crisp and clear articulation of vocal frequencies may in fact be the Elite 5’s most successful aspect. This is especially noticeable in balladic tracks like Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero”, where the vocals sit front and centre in the mix. Even when the music swells and the pitch heightens, no detail is lost and treble remains clean and free from distortion.

All of these assessments were made on the Neutral audio profile, as I found it to be the best for the widest range of genres. Speech has its place as the go-to choice for podcast listening, and both Bass boost and Treble boost highlight their respective elements, albeit at the expense of the rest of the mix. I wasn’t that impressed by either the Smooth or the Energize profiles, but if you find that they work for you, I’d suggest tweaking the five-band graphic equaliser slightly to throw more weight into the mids.

Custom EQ was something that we missed on the Jabra Elite 3, so it’s great to see it here, alongside a slew of other customisation options. Most impressive is the level of personalisation you get over the controls, offering different settings for audio and calls, and even the option to turn them off completely. Between that and the sleep sounds, the Find My Jabra function and the wear detection toggle, Sound+ is easily one of the most user-friendly and intuitive companion apps I’ve tested. And it’s still got one more card to play.

Spotify Tap is one of my favourite features that’s still a relative rarity in the earbuds game, so its presence here is definitely worth celebrating. In practice it works excellently – a quick double-tap on the left earbud dropped me back into my playlist, while doing so again switches over to a playlist that Spotify thinks I’d like, based on my listening history. It’s a terrific way to explore new music – or hand over the reins to an algorithm if you don’t have the time or patience to trawl through endless playlists yourself.

Jabra Elite 5 review: What could be improved?

It’s with a little reluctance that I place ANC in this section, as it does a couple of things really well. Most notably, in addition to offering five levels for both ANC and hear-through, the Sound+ app also has a personalisation setup that helps create the best noise-cancelling for your hearing. It’s a neat inclusion and I noticed the difference immediately.

The problem is that, even with these measures, the end result isn’t as strong as I’d want it to be for this price. I found that the identically-priced 1MORE EVO, our current favourite mid-range earbuds, negated a broader range of frequencies than the Elite 5 when tested near a busy road. In the same price bracket, there are the House of Marley Redemption ANC 2, which weren’t quite as effective as the EVO, allowing a faint, low rumble in between songs, but still pipped the Elite 5 overall.

Otherwise, the Jabra Elite 5 don’t do all that much wrong: audio quality is decent, the battery life is long enough for most users and the list of features is commendable. The problem is that the Elite 7 Pro offers all of these things and more, delivering better battery life with ANC on, slightly nippier fast charging that manages an hour of playback from just five minutes plugged in, and improved water resistance.

That’s not to say that the Elite 5 don’t have a few advantages: aptX support is welcome and something you don’t get with the Elite 7 Pro, while Spotify Tap makes a very welcome return to the Elite line after being omitted from the Elite 7 series. Plus, and this is admittedly a personal preference, the Elite 5’s case feels sleeker and easier to open one-handed than the Elite 7 Pro’s clamshell-style case.

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Jabra Elite 5 review: Should you buy them?

The Elite 5 are capable earbuds that tick most of the key boxes. They’re comfortable, audio quality is good, as is battery life, and they incorporate plenty of useful features. But their hybrid noise cancellation isn’t as impressive as some other similarly priced options we’ve tested this year.

They also suffer from the fact that, at the time of writing, their stablemates the Elite 7 Pro can be picked up for the same price. This muddies the waters, as the 7 Pro offer Jabra’s best call quality, slightly longer battery life and greater personalisation options. Unless you can’t live without Spotify Tap or aptX support, they’re probably the better choice for most people. But if and when the Elite 7 Pro return to their RRP, the Elite 5 will have the mid-range to their own and in those circumstances are a perfectly solid, though not spectacular, option.

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