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Jabra Elite 4
What we like
What we don't like
Jabra Elite 4
When the consumer audio world took the path of AirPods mimicry, Jabra stayed true to itself, refusing to slap stems onto its earphones. Jabra’s efforts met great success with the Elite 75t series. Since then, though, the company has carried on with a spray-and-pray mission. Six sets of nearly indistinguishable wireless earbuds comprise its Elite roster. Now, the company has another pair of Elite earbuds, the Jabra Elite 4. The earbuds have active noise canceling (ANC) and a reasonable price — a rare combo. But are the Elite 4 earbuds actually elite, or like “pro,” has the term lost its meaning? Find out in our Jabra Elite 4 review.
Update, June 2, 2023: Added details about firmware 1.0.6, expanded pricing info, and ensured all information is current.
What you need to know about the Jabra Elite 4
- Jabra Elite 4: $99
On March 21, 2023, Jabra announced the Elite 4 wireless earbuds, seven months after the Jabra Elite 5 were released on September 2022. Before that, the Jabra Elite 3 hit the shelves on the last day of August 2021.
These rounded triangle-like earbuds fit into the squat, free-standing Elite 4 case. Qi wireless charging doesn’t work with the case, but it does accept USB-C for a wired recharge. An IP55 rating keeps the Elite 4 earbuds protected from dust and water sprays. You’ll find this same design and durability rating on the Elite 3 and 5, though, the Elite 5 case has wireless charging.
The Elite 4 receive the same SBC and aptX Bluetooth codec support as the Elite 3, but they have ANC like the Elite 5. Multipoint connectivity lets listeners connect the Elite 4 to two devices at once, again shared with the Elite 5 but absent from the 3. Venn diagramming the Elite 3, Elite 4, and Elite 5 forms a clear picture. Each set of buds is a minor upgrade from the last.
Like Jabra’s other Elite earbuds, the Elite 4 use Google Fast Pair with an Android phone. This is ostensibly the same as Apple’s one-step pairing with AirPods. PCs and Laptops running Windows 10 or later use Fast Pair to connect to the Elite 4. Siri or Google Assistant access is available via button controls.
The Jabra Elite 4 boast ANC, aptX, and great sound, making them a powerful set of earbuds for under $100.
The Jabra MySound+ app works with Android and iOS, and it hosts a custom EQ module for tailoring the sound. Jabra also includes EQ presets and the option to adjust “HearThrough” intensity. HearThrough is the opposite of ANC, actively letting noise in, rather than canceling it out. Spotify Tap is the only app feature exclusive to Android. A double-press of the left button plays a song from Spotify‘s recommended playlist. All operating systems benefit from firmware version 1.0.6 that Jabra released to fix a hissing noise emitted from the buds when you docked them.
With noise canceling on, the Elite 4 battery lasts five hours, 30 minutes. The earbuds’ battery life increases to seven hours with ANC off. The case provides an extra 16 hours, 30 minutes of playtime with ANC on. Meanwhile, keeping ANC off allows the case to provide an extra 21 hours of battery. It takes three hours, 30 minutes to complete a full recharge of the buds and case. If you’re in a pinch, you can fast-charge the earbuds. A quick 10 minutes in the case, and you’re off with an hour of music playback.
The Jabra Elite 4 are currently available to buy on Jabra’s website. There are four color options: Dark Grey, Navy, Light Beige, and Lilac.
The Jabra Elite 4 feature a compact, inoffensive design and the durable IP55 build protects the earbuds from dust and water splashes. Although the plastic doesn’t look particularly premium, I did drop the buds on the pavement a couple of times and they’ve survived without a scratch. Likewise, the Elite 4 case feels sturdy to me. The lid doesn’t squeak, and there’s minimal lateral play at the hinge.
Like most earbuds, the Elite 4 include three sets of silicone ear tips (small, medium, and large). Time and time again, I’ve found Jabra’s earbuds to be some of the most comfortable around. It would be nice to have stabilizing ear tips, but they fit my ears so well, I don’t miss them.
Jabra’s noise canceling isn’t the best, but featuring ANC for $99 makes the Elite 4 stand out. To test the ANC in a controlled space, I played the tracks Locomotive Train Sounds and Railway Express through my Massdrop x Sennheiser HD6XX while wearing the Elite 4. I could tell a moderate difference toggling ANC on/off, but my jaw didn’t hit the floor. For reference, the Elite 4 noise canceling sounded about half as effective under these conditions compared to the AirPods Pro (2nd generation).
I turned ANC off to see how well the earbuds passively blocked out the sound of my mechanical keyboard. With the earbuds in, the clacking sounds of my mechanical keyboard were much quieter. Passive isolation seemed a bit better with the Elite 4 than with the AirPods Pro 2.
The Jabra Elite 4 sound great for all music genres and support the aptX Bluetooth codec for high-quality audio on Android. Bass is present but doesn’t make it hard to hear harmonic detail from strings or cymbals. During testing, I listened to the song Goodnight Chicago by Rainbow Kitten surprise. Here, all instrumentation came through clearly. The kick drum never made it hard to hear Sam Melo’s vocals while propelling the song through its verses. Cymbal hits sounded pleasant during the pre-choruses, which were too quiet on earbuds like the Sony WF-1000XM4.
If anything, listeners may want a touch more bass out of the Elite 4 earbuds. The Jabra Sound+ app (Android/iOS) makes this easy with its five-band custom EQ. If you don’t feel equipped to experiment yourself, there are six EQ presets to cycle through.
Jabra's shallow ear tips fit comfortably and the Elite 4 stayed in no matter how vigorously I shook my head.
Whether you use an Android phone or an iPhone, you get access to the app’s few features. You can use Find My Jabra to locate your earbuds on a map and view the battery life of each bud. The app also lets you enable sidetone, so you can hear your voice during a call. I like this feature as it prevents me from speaking too loud on the phone, but others find it unsettling or grating.
Listeners can toggle between the noise canceling, off, and HearThrough modes. Jabra’s HearThrough amplifies ambient noise through the earbuds. You can also customize the active noise canceling with a manual test in the app and view the controls.
Like noise canceling, Bluetooth multipoint is a rare feature found on the Jabra Elite 4. This lets me connect the Jabra Elite 4 to my Google Pixel 6 and iPhone 12 Mini at the same time. I was able to stream video from the Pixel 6 but answer an incoming call on my iPhone without skipping a beat. The Elite 4 automatically reconnected to the Pixel 6 and iPhone 12 Mini the next time I used them, which was a nice surprise.
Jabra’s microphone quality isn’t amazing, but it is pretty good. Even when I took phone calls from noisy spaces, the person on the other line could hear every word I spoke. You can get a sense of this in the microphone demo below, where I was speaking from a Whole Foods store with the Elite 4. The microphones transmit a static sound the whole time, along with typical din, but my voice never cuts out in the recording.
Jabra Elite 4 microphone demo (Non-standardized):
How does the microphone sound to you?
What’s not so good?
The Jabra Elite 4 earbuds are slippery. Remember when I mentioned dropping them a few times? That wasn’t intentional for testing purposes. The buds are that slick. Anyone who’s a bit of a butterfingers may find themselves fumbling to remove the buds or keep them in hand.
Jabra integrates onboard controls replete with volume adjustments, but you can’t really customize these controls beyond selecting sound modes to cycle through. During testing, I also ran into Siri issues. No matter how many times I double-pressed the left earbud, I could never wake Apple’s voice assistant. When trying to pair the Elite 4 to a Pixel 6, Google Fast Pair didn’t work either. We reached out to Jabra about these issues and will update this review if we receive more information.
Android phones can send high-quality audio to the Elite 4, but iPhones can't do this.
Jabra’s earbuds don’t support high-quality audio from iPhones because iPhones don’t support the aptX Bluetooth codec. The Elite 4 still stream iPhone audio over SBC, but this isn’t as high-quality as AAC. Android phone owners will rejoice in this aptX support. Meanwhile, Phone owners will need to pay an extra $50 for the AAC-supporting Jabra Elite 5 ($132 at Amazon).
Most of the things you can get from the Elite 4, you can get from the Elite 5 or Elite 3 series earphones. Jabra is overcomplicating things. The Elite 4 overlap so heavily with other Jabra buds that many people will throw up their hands at the thought of analyzing the differences between all the buds. This is why people end up going with Apple or Google. Love or hate them, these companies do a great job of simplifying their audio offerings.
Jabra Elite 4 specs
|Jabra Elite 4|
Earbuds: 20.1 x 27.2 x 20.8mm
Case: 64.2 x 28.5 x 34.6mm
Personalized spatial audio with head tracking
Jabra Sound+ (Android/iOS)
Earbuds (ANC on): 5.5 hours
Case and earbuds (ANC on): 22 hours
Earbuds (ANC off): 7 hours
Case and earbuds (ANC off): 28 hours
Earbuds: 10 minutes of charging in case provides 60 minutes of listening
Jabra Elite 4 review: The verdict
Despite harping on the Elite 4 for being too much like the Elite 3 and 5, the Jabra Elite 4 are worthy of your consideration. If Jabra pared its offerings, the Elite 4 would stand out more. Currently, there’s a chance the Elite 4 will get lost in Jabra’s crowded portfolio. Yet decent noise canceling plus aptX support, paired with a great sound and fit, make the Elite 4 solid Android earbuds at a reasonable price.
Aside from an inability to stand out, these buds have some notable shortcomings. Siri access on iPhone doesn’t work, nor does Google Fast Pair (at least not with a Pixel 6). Jabra should be able to remedy these issues with a firmware update, but it’s frustrating nonetheless. No one should have to buy a product and hope for a firmware update to resolve its issues.
If you aren’t quite satisfied with the Jabra Elite 4, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 ($99 at Amazon) are great earbuds for Android. Samsung phone owners will reap special benefits like the Samsung Seamless Codec, Samsung 360 Audio, and automatic device switching. They have much better ANC than the Elite 4 and sound great too. The earbuds often go on sale for $99, too.
The Jabra Elite 4 boast ANC, aptX, and great sound, making them a powerful set of earbuds for under $100, especially for Android users.
Google phone owners who don’t need ANC may want to check out the Google Pixel Buds A Series ($94 at Amazon). These earbuds feature an IPX4 rating with a grippable plastic design. Google offers an automatic volume EQ and a few EQ presets. Pairing the Pixel Buds A Series to an Android phone lets you access Google Assistant by saying, “Hey, Google.”
Alternatively, the Sony WF-C500 ($98 at Amazon) sound very good. The Headphones Connect app (Android/iOS) lets you customize the sound. Sony’s 10-hour battery life on the WF-C500 is much longer than the Elite 4. iPhone users will appreciate the AAC support, but there’s no aptX for Android. Unlike other earbuds in this price bracket, you get custom Sony 360 Reality Audio from better spatial audio playback.
Finally, the Bose Sport Earbuds ($165 at Amazon) are great for athletes who want water-resistant earbuds with a better fit. The Sport Earbuds’ IPX4 rating isn’t as impervious to splashes as the Elite 4, but it’s standard for workout earbuds. You probably don’t need a dust-resistant build unless you run on the beach or rock climb.
Top Jabra Elite 4 questions and answers
Spotify Tap on the Jabra Elite 4 automatically plays music from Spotify when you double-press the left earbud. If Spotify is open on your phone, Spotify Tap will play a Spotify recommended song. This only works with the left earbud in mono mode.
The Jabra Elite 4 earbuds cost $99, while the Elite 4 Active ($79 at Amazon). The Elite 4 Active have an MSRP of $119, but you can often find them on sale. Generally speaking, though, that extra $20 gets you a more durable IP57 rating with the Elite 4 Active. The Elite 4 and Elite 4 Active are otherwise the same, with aptX and SBC support, noise canceling, and Spotify Tap.
The Jabra Elite 4 battery lasts five hours, 30 minutes with ANC on and seven hours with ANC off. You’ll get an extra 16 hours, 30 minutes from the case with ANC on. Turning ANC off completely nets an extra 21 hours from the case.
Since the Elite 4 support Google Fast Pair, pairing the buds to an Android phone is a breeze. To pair the Jabra Elite 4 to an Android phone for the first time, follow these steps:
- Place the case near your phone. The earbuds must be in the case.
- Open the case.
- A pop-up will appear with an image of your earbuds.
- Tap Connect.
- A notification will let you know the connection worked.
If you’re pairing the earbuds to a secondary device for Bluetooth multipoint, follow these steps:
- Place the earbuds in the case.
- Put the case near your phone, and open the case.
- Remove the earbuds from the case.
- Press and hold the left and right buttons at the same time.
- Hold these buttons for three seconds.
- Open your phone’s settings and navigate to the Bluetooth menu. (This is usually Settings > Connections > Bluetooth.)
- Turn Bluetooth on.
- Wait for your phone to discover the Jabra Elite 4.
- Tap Elite 4.
- Your earbuds are connected to your phone.