Jabra’s latest line of wireless earbuds has something for everyone. It can actually be a little confusing with the number of models now on offer, and the similar names (see our overview to see what I mean). Justin Tse recently reviewed the Jabra Elite 65t true wireless earbuds, so when the company sent me a pair of Jabra Elite Active 65t earbuds to try out, I was a little confused. Haven’t we already covered these? Despite the similar name, they actually are different and the key is the “Active” part of the name.
Here’s what I thought of the Jabra Elite Active 65t true wireless earbuds.
Setup and Fit
The Jabra Elite Active 65t earbuds I received were partially charged on arrival. I downloaded the Jabra Sound+ app (available for iOS and Android), followed the instructions for pairing them with my iPhone and was then instructed to place them back in the charge case for a firmware update.
20 minutes later they were fully charged, and updated to the latest firmware.
A good fit is always important with earbuds—without a good seal, audio is going to be subpar and bass, in particular, will be disappointing. But with true wireless earbuds, fit is even more critical. If one accidentally pops out, it can be damaged when it hits the ground (remember, there are no cables to prevent this), and you could even lose it.
I often have trouble with earbuds fitting well, but I had a pretty good experience with these. Jabra includes three different sizes of silicon ear tips. The buds themselves are fairly light (each tipped the scales at 6g when I weighed them) and Jabra has had a few generations of earbuds to perfect a design that “locks in” to your ear. They were comfortable, even when worn for three or four hours and pretty much stayed in place, although I did have one pop out when I was digging in the garden. Fortunately, it didn’t go far, IP-56 water resistance protected the bud from the wet grass it landed in, and I was able to find it …
During the time I used these, they only dropped their connection to the iPhone once, and they never got out of sync with each other.
Charge Case is Functional But Finicky
Like other true wireless earbud makes, Jabra provides a charge case that does triple duty. It incorporates the dock where the buds’ batteries are charged, it includes an integrated battery so you can charge multiple times without having to plug into an electrical outlet, and it keeps the buds safe when not in use.
Functionally, this charge case gets the job done. Its built-in battery is good for 10-hours (so it can fully recharge the Elite Active 65t earbuds twice), it has LED indicator lights that give info like charge status at a glance. And it’s small enough to be easily pocketable. However, my review unit was way too challenging to pop open. Maybe someone with longer fingernails would have an easier time of it, but I’ve had it for two months and still struggle every time I have to open the lid.
Jabra Elite Active 65t Key Specs
Hands-On: High-Quality Audio + Long Battery Life
Battery life for the Jabra Elite Active 65t earbuds is better than many true wireless earbuds I’ve used. The claimed range is up to five hours and that was accurate in my experience. The charge case can rapid charge 1.5 hours worth of use in 15 minutes and fully charge the buds in two hours.
Audio quality was solid, for earbuds. I always add the “for earbuds” qualifier because it is rare to get the same quality you experience with one-ear or over-ear headphones; but with a good seal these do pretty well. I used the app’s EQ to boost the bass, but once I had the audio tweaked the way I wanted it, they proved a solid option for listening to music while on-the-go.
I should note that these earbuds employ Jabra’s considerable expertise in voice call technology. If you take voice calls on your smartphone while wearing them, it’s a serious upgrade to holding a phone against your ear—for both you and the caller you’re talking with.
Both buds are equipped with controls. One has a multifunction button for actions like picking up a call or invoking your digital assistant. This worked well. The other had rocker volume controls that require pushing on one end of the button or the other, and my fingers were just plain too large for this kind of differentiation to work reliably. I just used my phone or Siri …
An Impressive App With A Wealth of Functions
The Sound+ app is the key to getting the most out of these earbuds. It is loaded with features from basics like the EQ, to picking which personal digital assistant you want to use, and controlling the amount of ambient sound that passes through. This is also where you access the earbuds’ fitness tracking capabilities, which I will talk about in a little more detail …
What About the “Active” Feature?
I found the motion tracking was a mixed bag. I used my Apple Watch as a point of comparison, since it has proven extremely accurate at tracking steps over the nearly four years I’ve been wearing it.
When I was doing a consistent activity—like walking for exercise—Jabra did a pretty good job of tracking steps. However, when it came to random motion it didn’t fare as well. I pitted it against the Apple Watch while I was working. This typically involves multiple trips up and down the stairs, visits to the kitchen for coffee, letting the dogs out for a run in the yard, signing for courier deliveries at the front door and general puttering around. The Jabra earbuds consistently under-reported my steps by a factor of two or more (in the video, my Apple Watch counted 327 steps for one session while the Jabra earbuds only counted 120).
Of course, this also raises the question of whether step counting is something you need in a pair of earbuds, given that smartwatches, fitness trackers and even smartphones are already doing this.
Are These the Earbuds For You?
If you’re in the market for a set of true wireless earbuds and their freedom from cables, the Jabra Elite Active 65t earbuds are well worth considering. They are a little higher priced than some, but that extra outlay gets you some pretty high-quality audio, longer than average battery life, and Jabra’s excellent voice technology.
If it were me, though, I’d probably opt to save a few dollars by opting for the Jabra Elite 65t earbuds instead. They offer the same basic features and audio quality, but skip the motion sensor—which is a feature you probably don’t need if you own a smartwatch or fitness tracker.
Can’t make up your mind? You can find the full range of Jabra earbuds, along with all the other top names in headphones, at Best Buy.