Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

Jabra Elite 3 review: Super comfy, no-frills earbuds

Andy White
11 Jan 2022
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
80
inc VAT

The Jabra Elite 3 get the basics right and are super comfortable but fall behind some rivals when it comes to advanced features

Pros 
Great fit
Warm, engaging sound
Both earbuds usable in mono mode
Cons 
No ANC
No wear detection
No custom EQ
Advertisement

Jabra is an established name in the world of true wireless audio so it’s perhaps a little surprising that the Jabra Elite 3 are its first foray into the highly competitive sub-£100 market.

Part of a September 2021 refresh to Jabra’s true wireless lineup that also includes the top-of-the-range Elite 7 Pro and sports-focused Elite 7 Active, the Elite 3 are entry-level earbuds that seek to nail the basics rather than deliver a comprehensive set of fancy features.

They certainly succeed when it comes to comfort and controls, and their audio presentation is impressive for the money. However, the Jabra Elite 3 fall slightly short of the standards set by our favourite true wireless earbuds in this highly competitive price bracket.

Jabra Elite 3 review: What do you get for the money?

That’s not to say the Elite 3 are lacking when it comes to features. Indeed, they operate wirelessly over the latest version of Bluetooth (5.2) and support Qualcomm’s aptX codec in addition to bog-standard SBC.

There’s no support for Apple’s AAC codec, however, making them a better choice for owners of Android phones than the iPhone contingent. And that fact is further reinforced by the inclusion of three Android-specific features: Google Fast Pair, one-touch Spotify playback and Alexa support.

Those that don’t favour Alexa can use either Siri or Google Assistant, and all three voice assistants can be summoned swiftly using the Elite 3’s controls, which take the form of physical buttons rather than touch-sensitive surfaces.

The Elite 3 are equally proficient when it comes to protection from dust and water. An IP55 rating certifies them able to withstand water jets from all directions, ensuring they’re more than capable of handling a particularly sweaty workout or torrential downpour.

If you wish to pipe in a bit of external sound during said workout or downpour, the Elite 3 have a “HearThrough” mode designed to help increase awareness of your surroundings.

The final noteworthy feature – “Find My Jabra” – can only be accessed via the Jabra Sound+ companion app. This reports the location (using your phone’s GPS) of the earbuds when they were last disconnected. If you lose the Elite 3, you can quickly check this location within the app, although if they’ve been moved since being disconnected you're out of luck as the buds themselves don’t have GPS.

Battery life of the earbuds clocks in at up to seven hours at moderate volume, while the charging case provides a further three full charges, bringing total battery life to roughly 28 hours. Ten minutes in the case will give the buds an hour’s worth of juice, and when you need to top up the charging case itself, you can do so via the included USB-A to USB-C charging cable.

READ NEXT: Our favourite in-, on- and over-ear Bluetooth headphones 

Jabra Elite 3 review: What do we like about them?

The Jabra Elite 3 are some of the best-fitting and most comfortable silicone-tip earbuds I’ve tested over the past 12 months. In that time, only the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 have felt as secure and snug in my ears without putting undue pressure on my ear canals.

This is down to a combination of two factors. The earbud housings are shaped in such a way that they match the contours of my ears very neatly, while the earbud nozzles that fill your ear canals are relatively shallow and narrow. Those elements, combined with a choice of three different-sized pairs of eartips, should ensure they’re as comfortable for others as they were for me.

Once in my ears, the Elite 3 stayed there no matter what I was doing, making them a fine choice for use while exercising. I also experienced no aching or discomfort during prolonged use. Another big tick.

One more area of strength are the on-earbud controls. By opting for physical buttons rather than touch controls, they avoid the problems touch-sensitive controls sometimes have with accidental activation. The buttons have just the right level of resistance, too, and I found pushing didn’t have a negative effect on fit or comfort.

While they don’t deliver quite as much detail as the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus – the best-sounding earbuds under £100 – there’s very little to dislike about the way the Elite 3 sound for the price.

Their 6mm dynamic drivers offer a well-balanced, engaging listening experience. It leans a little towards the warm end of the spectrum but bass reproduction is impressive, with lows rich and full-bodied without being overwhelming.

Vocals are communicated crisply and there are five EQ presets (Bass boost, Treble boost, Smooth, Energise and Speech) available in the Sound+ app in addition to the default Neutral profile. I went out of my way to switch to the “Speech” option when listening to podcasts, but otherwise stuck to Neutral as it sounded cleanest across the widest range of genres.

I also want to draw attention to the fact that either one of the Elite 3’s buds can be used independently in mono mode. This isn’t groundbreaking by any means – most true wireless earbuds can be used in this way – but one of the complaints I had with the Jabra Elite Active 75t was that the left bud couldn’t be used on its own. That annoying constraint has been rectified in the Elite 3 and it’s a very good thing.

READ NEXT: The best wireless earbuds on the market today

Jabra Elite 3 review: What could be better?

While I have praised the Elite 3’s physical controls, there’s no way to change or customise them.

A single press on the left bud toggles HearThrough mode on and off, double pressing it hails your voice assistant and pressing and holding it decreases volume. The same actions on the right bud play/pause audio, skip to the next track, and increase volume, respectively, while a triple press will restart the current track. 

That pretty much covers every base, but anyone who likes to be able to allocate specific actions to certain commands may find the lack of customisation a sticking point.

The same can be said for the EQ options. There’s nothing wrong with the six presets provided by Jabra, but that figure pales in comparison with the huge number offered by the Creative Outlier Air V3 and Anker Soundcore Life P3.

Both of those products also allow you to create and save your own EQ presets, which is not something the Elite 3 is able to do. Such an option may be added in the future, however, with Jabra’s product page for the Elite 3 stating “further updates coming soon” when referencing audio customisation.

Although the HearThrough mode is an appealing inclusion, I didn’t find it particularly effective. To be able to get a decent sense of what was going on around me I had to drop the volume well below 50%; anything higher and ambient sound struggled to stand out against the backdrop of whatever I was listening to.

The final area for improvement is one that often crops up in my reviews of earbuds, and not only those at the budget end of the market: wear detection. The Elite 3 automatically turn off after 15 minutes of inactivity but don’t auto-pause when taken out of your ears. This is one feature I really miss when it’s omitted.

Jabra Elite 3 review: Should you buy them?

The Jabra Elite 3 are a solid pair of affordable earbuds from a reputable manufacturer, and very few earbuds under £100 match them when it comes to in-ear comfort and surety of fit.

They sound good for the money, too, but currently lack the audio and control customisation options offered by similarly priced alternatives such as the Anker Soundcore Life P3 and Creative Outlier Air V3.

Both of those options use touch controls, however, so if those aren’t your cup of tea and a super-comfy fit appeals more than the superior audio offered by the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus, the Jabra Elite 3 will serve you well. They’re £10 cheaper, too, which is a bonus.

Read more

Reviews