In 2018 and 2019, it seemed that no matter which true wireless earbuds we compared to Apple’s AirPods, we always found the AirPods lacking in some way. But Apple’s $249 AirPods Pro are an order of magnitude better than the original AirPods, and this changes everything. It even creates a conundrum for Jabra, the maker of the superb Elite and Elite Active line of true wireless buds.
In the past, the Jabra Elite 65t handily beat the AirPods by offering a lot more for less money. But the AirPods are no longer Apple’s top dog, which could leave Jabra’s new $179 Elite 75t looking like they’ve fallen behind before they even get started. Do the Elite 75t make a strong argument that you don’t need to spend $70 more on the
We’ll start with an area that’s of particular interest to travelers. Even though
Apple’s AirPods have always been decent performers at 5 hours between trips to the charging case, but the AirPods Pro haven’t improved on that number. It’s the same story for the AirPods Pro’s wireless charging case: It extends the total time to 24 hours. Jabra was already the leader in battery life and the Elite 75t extends that lead even further.
Winner: Jabra Elite 75t
Sound and call quality
As popular as Apple’s AirPods are, most would agree that their sound quality was acceptable but hardly noteworthy. The AirPods Pro make a dramatic leap forward in this area, partially due to their in-ear design. which does a much better job of sound isolation. Their adaptive EQ also makes a difference. The result is so good that we’re willing to put the AirPods Pro up against the very best
The Jabra Elite 75t will definitely please those with a taste for big-time bass, but if you prefer a more balanced audio experience, you may find that bass overwhelming at times, even though the Jabra Sound+ app gives you full control over the 75t’s EQ and lets you create presets for different activities.
But the AirPods Pro didn’t just surprise us in terms of sound quality — they also performed better than the Elite 75t for phone calls too. We found that the AirPods did a better job of canceling out competing sounds in busy locations, something that has normally been one of Jabra’s greatest strengths.
Noise cancellation and transparency
This one’s a bit of a no-brainer. The AirPods Pro feature active noise cancellation (ANC) and it’s amazing. With an ability to silence the outside world that is almost as good as Sony’s class-leading WF-1000XM3, the AirPods Pro truly impress. A long-press on the earbud lets you switch between ANC and transparency mode ,which is also very well executed, giving the impression you’re not wearing the earbuds at all. There’s still a tiny bit of ANC hiss noticeable in quieter locations, but it’s minor.
The Elite 75t do not have an ANC feature, relying instead on passive noise isolation to keep the outside world from intruding. As noise-isolating designs go, it’s very good, but it can’t compete with the AirPods Pro’s brilliant ANC. The Elite 75t also sports a transparency mode, which Jabra calls “HearThrough.” Unlike Apple’s transparency mode, which can only be turned on and off, Jabra lets you fine-tune HearThrough to let more or less sound in, which could be useful depending on your situation.
With a superb ANC feature that the Elite 75t simply can’t match, Apple takes this round.
Fit, form, and function
How a true wireless earbud fits, feels, and functions can be as (or more) important than all of the other areas combined. If they’re not comfortable for you, or you simply hate the way they work, you won’t be a happy camper no matter how good they may sound or perform in other areas. While both the AirPods Pro and Elite 75t are very small in terms of their overall size — which will help more people find a good fit — the Jabras are just a bit smaller. They both come with three sizes of eartips to help further customize the fit.
Apple’s iOS settings app for the AirPods Pro includes an Ear Tip Fit Test function that guides you through a simple process to help you identify the right eartip size for your ears. Even if you ultimately decide that a different size than the one recommended feels more comfortable, it’s a good way to determine which ones to use. Of course, if you’re on Android, you’ll have to go by feel.
The Elite 75t use physical buttons (one on each earbud) as opposed to the AirPods Pro touch/squeeze control scheme. We found that the Elite’s buttons were easy to use in all situations and provided an excellent tactile “click” to let you know you pressed them correctly. Unless you wear thick mitts, you should have no problem using them. The AirPods Pro work well too, but it’s easier to accidentally trigger a touch command when trying to adjust the fit or take them out of your ears.
Once again, the AirPods Pro get their full convenience factor when used with an iPhone. Hands-free Siri is available, and you can adjust what the touch controls do. However, regardless of iOS or
The Elite 75t won’t let you change what the button clicks do at the moment, but a future release of the Jabra Sound+ app is expected to add customization. With a total of eight functions including volume control, there’s very little you can’t do with those two buttons. They also let you speak to Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, depending on your smartphone, but none of these are hands-free options.
When it comes to their charging cases and overall portability, these two products are evenly matched. Both offer some of the smallest cases you can find, and they’re a pleasure to use. If you’re big into wireless charging, that could swing the balance toward the AirPods Pro, but otherwise, we think Jabra takes this one by a nose.
Winner: Jabra Elite 75t
The AirPods Pro now finally offer the IPX4 water and sweat resistance that the AirPods have been missing. That’s a big plus. However, Jabra’s Elite series have always done well in this regard and the Elite 75t have an IP56 rating that offers significantly more protection from both water and dust. On this point alone, the Jabras make a better case for long-term reliability. But when you compare Jabra’s two-year warranty to Apple’s one-year coverage, it becomes pretty clear which product is better designed for durability.
But there’s another thing to consider: Apple has been put on the hot seat in the past for its poor battery longevity in the AirPods. We can’t say for sure how the AirPods Pro will fare on this topic, but Apple hasn’t offered any specific statements claiming that it has made changes to its battery tech. Jabra’s products have never been singled out for similar criticism. That’s no guarantee the Elite 75t will avoid battery problems, but it’s one more factor in Jabra’s favor.
Winner: Jabra Elite 75t
The Jabra Elite 75t are tiny, comfortable, durable, easy to use, and have a good battery life. At $180, they’re not the cheapest
However, iPhone users should definitely consider spending the extra $70 on the AirPods Pro. For that extra cash, you get almost everything you could ask for: Sound quality, superb ANC, and access to iPhone-only features like hands-free Siri, customizable controls, and the fit test.
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