Jaybird RUN XT review

Jaybird continues its aggressive release of new products, with the Jaybird RUN XT. This is the fourth set of new wireless sport earbuds I’ve tested from the company in as many months. This time around it’s the second generation of Jaybird’s true wireless headphones. Following an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mantra, Jaybird has left the design of the new RUN XTs virtually identical to the first generation (which were very good), with one big improvement: an IPX7 water resistance rating. This is a big deal for Jaybird’s core running and athletic demographic.

I’ve spent the past few weeks hands-on with the Jaybird RUN XT true wireless sport headphones, and here’s what I thought of them.

More of the same, but that’s mostly a good thing

Jaybird has a loyal following and a big part of that is that people know what to expect from the company’s products. Every once in a while, Jaybird releases an all-new product line, like the Tarah and Tarah Pro, which hit just before the holidays. But the company also has established favourites that it regularly updates. It doesn’t completely redesign each generation,  it relentlessly tweaks the design to improve and address any issues.

As I mentioned, the RUN XT earbuds are the second generation of the RUN true wireless earbuds, released several years ago. Jaybird did a great job with the original design, coming up with true wireless earbuds that were comfortable, secure and with excellent audio performance. This time around little has changed. The only visual difference is a slightly flashier paint job (my review units had a nice little bit of metallic lime green flair). But there was one major improvement. Water resistance is now IPX7.

Jaybird RUN XT review

Why do I say “mostly” a good thing? Well, all true wireless buds have several disadvantages compared to other form factors. The original Jaybird RUN earbuds were no exception and neither are the RUN XTs. 

True wireless earbuds have to fit the battery and controls in the buds themselves, so that physically limits capacity—a larger battery would make earbuds uncomfortably heavy. On a charge, you can expect about four hours of battery life before the RUN XTs will have to be popped in their charge case. The good news is that just five minutes in there will get you a top-up good for an hour of play time.

The other issue is the risk of misplacing a bud. The Jaybird RUN XTs fit more securely than most, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about one popping out and flying away, but it’s still all too easy to set them down and have one fall off a table. Jaybird’s app does have a tracker that helps with their last known location, but this only does so much—basically narrowing it down to the last house-sized area you had the buds.

IPX7 water resistance, tested

Why the fuss over the water resistance rating? It’s not an issue if you sit in a comfy chair listening to music with a glass of wine in hand. But it’s huge if you’re a fitness buff. Physical activity means sweat. And outdoor activity can mean earbuds get drenched. Water + unprotected electronics = $$$. 

Jaybirds new RUN XT earbuds feature an advanced nano-coating that gives them an IPX7 water resistance rating. That means they are sweatproof and waterproof to the point of surviving being submerged in 1 metre of water.

I tested these claims extensively during my evaluation of the RUN XTs. They spent time in snow, rain, and then were fully submerged in a bowl of water. There were no issues—they kept on working—although I would let them dry thoroughly before charging them. This doesn’t mean you should throw your earbuds in a bowl of water and they’re certainly not intended to be worn in a pool, but with the Jaybird RUN XT earbuds, you can be assured that sweat and even the worst weather are not going to cause damage.

Jaybird RUN XT Key Specs:

  • 6 mm driver, 20Hz – 20kHz frequency response
  • Passive noise isolation
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • IPX7 waterproof and sweatproof
  • Single earbud use supported
  • MEMS omni-directional microphone
  • On-ear controls of music playback, call controls and Siri/Google Assistant
  • Battery rated at 4+ hours, full charge in 2 hours, 5 minute quick charge for 1 hour play time
  • Charge case holds two full charges, for total of 12 hours of battery power
  • Sweatproof, water-resistant
  • Weight of 6.83 g for each earbud
  • Includes charge case, two each of round and oval silicon ear tips, four sizes Secure-Fit ear fins, USB charge cable

Customization options set Jaybird apart

As with all Jaybird earbuds, customization is a key advantage for the RUN XTs. That comes in two flavours. With a selection of ear tips and fins, the fit can be customized to fit virtually any ear. And with the Jaybird mobile app (for iOS and Android), audio can be customized to a remarkable degree—far more effectively than your smartphone’s own EQ.

Who should consider buying these?

The big question up front is this: is it worth buying a pair of RUN XTs if you already own the original Jaybird Run earbuds? For most people, I would say no. Functionally and visually the second generation of Jaybird’s true wireless earbuds are virtually identical. Besides a slightly different paint job, the key difference is the upgrade to an IPX7 water resistance rating. 

However, if you do a lot of outdoor activity in inclement weather and have been worried that your RUNs can’t take it, then the RUN XTs are worth the upgrade for their much-improved water resistance. And if you bought a set of original Jaybird RUNs when they were first released and have used them frequently, their batteries may be starting to show their age. In that case, an upgrade would also make sense. 

Jaybird RUN XT review

For everyone else? If you’re looking for a good set of true wireless earbuds—great sound, comfortable and secure fit, and plenty of customization potential (both in fit and audio)—then Jaybird’s RUN XT should be on your list. That IPX7 water resistance rating that makes them virtually waterproof is the icing on the cake.

Any time you’re shopping for new earbuds, make sure to start at Best Buy for a huge selection of the latest wireless headphones, from Jaybird and all the other top brands. To learn about more of Jaybird’s latest releases, be sure to check out my reviews of the Tarah Pro, Tarah, and Jaybird X4 wireless earbuds.

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. I have been writing about technology for several decades for a wide range of outlets including Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, MSN, About.com, Kiplinger, and GeekDad. I’m in my 10th year as a senior contributor for Forbes with a focus on reviewing music-related tech, Apple gear, battery power stations and other consumer electronics. My day job is with the Malware Research Center at AI-native cybersecurity pioneer CrowdStrike.