Battle of the best workout buds: Beats Powerbeats Pro vs. Jabra Elite Active 65t

Jabra Elite Active 65t review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Ever since we first spent time with the Jabra Elite Active 65t in 2018, we’ve been absolutely smitten with the small, sweatproof earbuds, which have long ranked among the best you can buy.

But now that Apple-owned Beats has launched its very own true wireless model, the Powerbeats Pro, there’s stiffer competition for our longtime favorites.

So how does the older Jabra model do against the latest and greatest from Beats? Read on to find out.

Design and fit

At first glance, you’ll notice that there are pretty big aesthetic differences between the Powerbeats Pro and the Jabra Elite Active 65t. For one thing, the Powerbeats Pro have earhooks that extend around your ears to hold them in place, where the Elite Active 65t are more compact and designed to fit inside your ear.

Both headphones are very comfortable to wear, featuring silicone eartips to guarantee a good seal from the outside world. Still, we like the fact that the Elite Active 65t are more discreet for everyday listening, with the trunk-like microphone sections on the front of each earphone designed to pick up your voice on calls, but not bulky enough to make the headphones look weird in your ears.

Winner: Jabra Elite Active 65t

Features and controls

Most of the features in the Powerbeats Pro revolve around Apple’s H1 chip — the same chip used in the company’s AirPods. That chip allows iOS users to simply say, “Hey Siri,” to adjust volume, change songs, and even perform more advanced queries like texting, calling, or asking for the weather. The headphones also feature multifunction buttons on each side, allowing you to remove one and still use the other, or to adjust things like volume manually without speaking aloud. They also have a built-in sensor that knows when the headphones are in your ears, allowing them to auto-pause music when you remove one or both of the headphones.

The Jabra model offers essentially the same features (including auto-pausing), save the ability to speak to activate your voice assistant — you have to press a button to do that. We do think that the Jabra model has better microphones for calls, but Beats did install two beamforming microphones and a speech-detecting accelerometer to ensure call quality is still high.

Both headphone models feature sweatproofing, with the Jabra offering an IP56 rating and the Powerbeats Pro an IPX4 rating. In any case, both should be great for sweaty workouts and long walks in the rain.

What gives the Elite Active 65t the slight edge here is that they have the ability to pipe in sound from the outside world when you’re working out, which we consider an essential safety feature when running or biking with our headphones in.

In terms of non-workout use, which one is better for you will depend a lot on what OS your phone runs; the features on the Powerbeats Pro will be better if you have iOS, whereas the features in the Jabra Elite Active 65t will be better on Android. Still, without the ability to listen to the outside world and our music at the same time on the Powerbeats Pro, we’ve got to give this one to Jabra.

Winner: Jabra Elite Active 65t

Battery Life

With 9 hours of playback per charge, the larger Powerbeats Pro are the clear winner in this battle, unless you’re concerned about the size of the charging case. The case that comes with the Powerbeats Pro holds a hefty 18 hours of reserve battery, but is among the bigger cases on the market due to the sheer size of the headphones themselves.

The Jabra Elite Active 65t offer a still-solid 5 hours per charge, and have a compact charging case that offers two full recharges, for a total of 10 hours from the case. These numbers aren’t bad, but they are worse than the Powerbeats Pro, so we’ve got to hand it to the bigger buds.

Winner: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Sound Quality

Both headphones feature silicone eartips that keep outside sounds at bay — and bass response in your ears — and both offer more than adequate sound to fuel your next adventure.

So which ones do we prefer to listen to? Well, that’s actually easier than we thought. With crisp highs and a surprising amount of separation between instruments in the midrange, we think that the more expensive Powerbeats Pro edge out the Jabra Elite Active 65t in terms of overall fidelity. The more affordable Jabra model is no slouch, boasting a nice overall balance and a very warm character overall, but it does sound like Apple and Beats put a bit more money into making sure their headphones sounded better. That makes sense, given that they are almost $100 more expensive than the Elite Active 65t.

Winner: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Connectivity

Both headphones are quick to pair to both Android and iOS devices, but the Jabra Elite Active 65t offer a more stable connection overall, with the Powerbeats Pro occasionally losing connection stability during our lengthy listening tests. Another thing we liked about the Jabra Elite Active 65t when compared to the Powerbeats Pro is that they indicate their battery level on both Android and iOS devices, where the Powerbeats Pro only showcase remaining battery on iOS.

Winner: Jabra Elite Active 65t

Overall

With a significantly lower price, smaller case, more stable connection, and the ability to pipe in the outside world during workouts, we think that the Jabra Elite Active 65t are the better of the two headphones. That said, if you’re in need of extreme battery life and are an iOS user, it might be worth taking the Powerbeats Pro for a spin.

Winner: Jabra Elite Active 65t

Powerbeats Pro:

Jabra Elite Active 65t:

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