The Jabra Elite Sport is a “truly wireless” pair of in-ear headphones. Till now, most “wireless” in-ear headphones we’ve reviewed have had a short cable linking the two earpieces to each other. The Elite Sport doesn’t have that cable, a design that’s similar to Apple’s AirPods and Samsung’s Gear IconX. The Elite Sport is geared towards fitness enthusiasts — it is waterproof, sweatproof, and it can measure your heart rate too. This gives it a leg up over the AirPods. We used the Jabra Elite Sport regularly during our workouts over 10 days to find out if it is indeed the best pair of wireless headphones for exercise.
Wired exercise headphones are quite inconvenient for fitness enthusiasts. The rigours of workouts often lead to wear and tear, and cables can break or get in the way. In-ear wireless headphones are great for workouts because they’re much lighter than their over-ear counterparts, and on paper at least, the Jabra Elite Sport seems to meet those requirements. In our tests, it shone in some aspects but fell short in others.
The Jabra Elite Sport ships with three sets each of fins, silicone tips, and foam tips. It has a rather bulky charging case that houses the two earpieces which themselves are a bit large. Jabra says that this pair of headphones can last for up to 4.5 hours on a single charge and the case supplies an additional 9 hours of battery life. This means that the Elite Sport’s battery life will certainly not stop people from buying it.
The first and most important aspect of any pair of headphones is the fit. We were able to get a secure fit with these headphones and at no point did we feel that they’d fall off — something we tested during commutes in local trains to office and during many long runs. The Jabra Elite Sport, unfortunately, is a bit too bulky for our comfort. If you have large ears, perhaps the Elite Sport would work for you, but in our experience, wearing these for extended periods was difficult. We wore the Elite Sport during a 15km run that took us 1 hour and 35 minutes to complete. Towards the end of the run, pressing any button would make our ears pain and we just had to take them off.
Apple AirPods (left) and Jabra Elite Sport
Both earpieces have two buttons each. One of them has volume controls while the other one can be used to begin and end recording workouts with the companion app.
There’s a lot to like about the Jabra Elite Sport. The charging case is a bit bulky, especially when you compare it against the AirPods charging case, but it does work very well. After you pair it to your smartphone at the beginning, it connects reliably and automatically every time you open the case. Battery life is exceptional — we never had to worry about charging them because the case provides so much additional battery power and our workouts didn’t exceed 4.5 hours. Sadly, if you want to pair the Elite Sport with another device, you have to go through the initial setup process again. We’re only stating this because those in the Apple ecosystem can get a pair of AirPods and they’ll instantly pair with all Apple devices after the initial setup.
Similar to Samsung’s Gear IconX, the Elite Sport also measures heart rate. We checked its measurements against the heart rate data shown on an Apple Watch Series 2, and found the Elite Sport to show similar numbers. It even allows you to measure your VO2 max (the maximum rate of oxygen consumption, which is an accurate way to describe fitness). All of these features, coupled with the Elite Sport being waterproof (IP67), would have made it an excellent recommendation for fitness enthusiasts, had it not been for the problems we had with comfort.
We were very pleased with these features but kept wishing for a better fit. In our review of the Jabra Sport Coach, we wrote about the Jabra Sport companion app too. The app is still the same — it provides in-ear coaching and connects with third-party fitness apps too. However, it doesn’t show how much battery life is left in each individual earpiece. A couple of times, the battery in the left one ran out but the right one continued to work, and we wished we could check their individual battery levels to avoid this issue. We also feel that the Jabra Coach app doesn’t look very good, and apps such as Strava, Apple Watch Workout, and Runtastic do a much better job with helping you train.
The sound quality of the Jabra Elite Sport obviously can’t match what you’d get with a good pair of wired in-ear headphones in this price range, but it isn’t disappointing either. We listened to workout-friendly tracks such as Eye of the Tiger, Stronger, and Seven Nation Army, among many others across various running playlists on Apple Music. We found that the Elite Sport handles bass-heavy tracks remarkably well, but otherwise has a mostly neutral sound signature. If you like your music to have a slight bass boost, then this won’t disappoint you.
It’s clear to us that Jabra has consulted a lot of fitness enthusiasts while designing the Elite Sport. We quite like this pair of headphones overall, but the extremely uncomfortable fit prevented us from using these for extended periods. At Rs. 18,990, the price of the Elite Sport is definitely on the higher side. Apple’s AirPods are an excellent purchase for iPhone owners and they cost a lot less too — available at around Rs. 12,900 at the time of writing. If you feel that fit will be an issue for you, we’d recommend the Jabra Sport Coach or even the Brainwavz Blu-200 as alternatives.
- Good battery life
- Secure fit
- Connects to Bluetooth devices immediately
- Good sound quality
- Painful to wear for long periods
- App lacks battery indicators for each earbud
Ratings (out of 5)
- Design: 3
- Performance: 4
- Value for money: 2
- Overall: 3