Laptop Mag Verdict
Despite its weak battery life, the $99 Jabra Elite 4 is an honorable contender for best cheap wireless earbuds.
Excellent call quality
Effective ANC and ambient listening modes
Missing features from other Jabra models
Need to switch music presets to hear highs
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Another month, another Jabra product launch. The company behind some of the best wireless earbuds continues to flood the market with new releases, this time giving us the inexpensive Elite 4, which is set to replace the beloved Elite 3 as Jabra’s newest entry-level option.
Colors: Dark Gray, Light Beige, Lilac, Navy Blue
Battery life (rated): 5.5 hours (ANC on); 7 hours (ANC off); 22 hours (charging case with ANC on); 28 hours (charging case with ANC off)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
Water resistance: Yes (IP55 rated)
Size: 0.79 x 0.82 x 1.07 inches (per bud); 2.54 x 1.12 x 1.36 inches (charging case)
Weight: 0.16 ounces (per bud); 1.18 ounces (charging case)
The two models look identical, but the Elite 4 has more firepower under its hood. High-end features like active noise cancellation (ANC) and Bluetooth multipoint make the cut. These buds also outperform their predecessor in call quality. Unfortunately, they drop the ball in areas where the older version excelled. With that said, let’s see where the Elite 4 stacks up among the best cheap wireless earbuds.
- Jabra Elite 4 for $99 at Amazon (Dark Grey)
- Jabra Elite 4 for $99 at Amazon (Light Beige)
- Jabra Elite 4 for $99 at Amazon (Lilac)
- Jabra Elite 4 for $99 at Amazon (Navy)
Jabra Elite 4 review: Availability and price
You can purchase the $99 Elite 4 buds directly from Jabra or at major online retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy. Four colors are available: Dark Gray, Light Beige, Lilac, and Navy Blue. Inside the box are a charging case, USB-C cable, three sets of different-sized tips, and a user guide.
These buds are priced similarly to other Jabra models such as the $79 Elite 3 and $99 Elite 4 Active. They’re also priced higher than some budget favorites like the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 ($79) and Creative Outlier Pro ANC ($59).
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Jabra Elite 4 review: Design and comfort
The Elite 4 looks just like the Elite 3 and Elite 5, only the latter has several mic openings on the front. You get the same triangular-shaped design covered in durable plastic with IP55 protection for dust, sweat, and water resistance, along with a multifunctional button bearing the Jabra logo.
No effort was put into updating the charging case either. It’s still portable and stylish. At the same time, it looks no different than any other case in Jabra’s collection; I often mistook it for my Elite Active 75t case. The lid is flimsy, but the exterior and the magnets are strong, so you won’t have to worry about the buds falling out.
While the Elite 4 and Elite 5 share similar dimensions, this model felt smaller on my ears. No complaints here since the design provided more breathability. I wore the Elite 4 for 3-hour stretches with the cavity resting pleasantly on the concha.
The gel tips locked the buds in tightly and absorbed sweat to reduce slippage. I still prefer the Elite 4 Active for working out since it’s sturdier and offers better grip control, but this version is fine for basic exercises like jogging. Jabra’s MyFit ear test is not available on this model.
Jabra Elite 4 review: Controls and digital assistant
Jabra’s control scheme hasn’t changed much. A full suite of controls is at your disposal. Single, multi-press, and long-hold gestures are used to enable functions. These include playback, call management, digital assistance, listening mode activation, volume, and the Spotify Tap shortcut to instantly access the streaming service.
The buttons produce nice tactility to ensure intended commands are met, but pressing them every time pushes the buds further into your ears. It would have been great if motion sensors were added to 4 for auto-pause/play when removing or putting on buds.
Voice assistance on the Elite 4 is superior to the Elite 5. Google Assistant and Siri operate smoothly. The four-mic array demonstrates superb speech recognition, capturing every syllable and command precisely, while both AI bots work their magic. Other Elite models support Alexa and Google Assistant voice activation – not the Elite 4.
Jabra Elite 4 review: Audio quality
Expect powerful audio that can be customized via EQ with multiple presets: Neutral, Speech, Bass Boost, Treble Boost, Smooth, and Energize. AptX codec support also boosts streaming quality on compatible devices.
Most of my listening time was spent using the Neutral preset to get a feel for the Elite 4’s standard sound signature, which was mostly satisfying. The bass guitar on The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” reverberated beautifully and the drum strikes hit hard to create an emphatic low-end presentation. Mids were handled decently with Jack White’s distorted vocals audible throughout the thump-heavy production.
The bass line on De La Soul’s “Say No Go” had enough kick to it to stimulate head nods, but the guitar riff was subdued. Switching over to Treble Boost cleared up the soundstage and made instruments and vocals more transparent. The results were similar on funky tracks like Dee-Lite’s “Groove is in the Heart,” where the tambourine effects and Bootsy Collins’ adlibs lacked crispness until switching out the presets.
Orchestral recordings surprised me in a good way. Instruments were well represented on Miles Davis’ “Blue in Green.” The strings were soothing and the double bass had a steady, yet impactful sound that was chill. Highs took a hit, but switching to the Smooth preset shined some light on them.
Jabra Elite 4 review: Active noise cancellation
ANC on the Elite 4 was effective against low- and mid-frequencies. The technology did a noteworthy job of blocking out incidental sounds like AC droning, chatty family members, loud TVs, and washing machine tumble. A few high-frequency noises were canceled out such as bird chirps and the electronic siren sounds from my son’s toy fire truck, but the real thing was very transparent, along with my son’s cries. These buds struggled with the wind as well.
Jabra included their Personalized ANC feature to automatically adjust noise neutralization based on your hearing preference. It worked well and silenced buzzy noises better than standard ANC mode, but enabling it also increased the pressure applied to my ears.
HearThru is the real winner in this section. Jabra’s ambient listening mode opens up the soundscape to hear the world around you loudly and clearly. The mics picked up noise from about 100 feet away; I could hear conversations near the pool area from my third-floor balcony. The feature was even more useful around the house, letting me hear and communicate with the missus from the opposite end of our living room.
Jabra Elite 4 review: App and special features
The Jabra Sound+ app is where you’ll find all the heavy-hitting features. I already touched on several: ANC/HearThrough, EQ, music presets, Personalized ANC, and Spotify Tap. The only other big feature is Call Experience where you can enable the Sidetone setting to hear your own voice louder on calls. Sadly, this is a stripped version of Call Experience that doesn’t let you add more treble or bass to callers on the opposite end.
Rounding things out are a Find My Jabra (earbuds) mode, firmware updates, a quick start guide, several toggles for different functions, and battery level indicators for each bud. I’m disappointed that Jabra left several of their signature features off the spec sheet like MyControls, MyFit, MySound, and Soundscapes, all of which would have increased the Elite 4’s value.
Jabra Elite 4 review: Battery life and charging case
Playtime is underwhelming at 5.5 hours with ANC on and 7 hours with ANC off. By comparison, the AirPods Pro 2 offers 6 to 7 hours, depending on how you use the buds. The Elite 5 also comes with higher battery life: 7 to 9 hours. Listening at medium volume squeezed out an extra 20 minutes of ANC use. A 10-minute quick charge did generate 1 hour of use.
As for the charging, it holds from 22 to 28 hours, which is also lower than the Elite 5 case (28 to 36 hours). This translates to about 4 additional charges. The lack of wireless charging doesn’t do the Elite 4 any favors either.
Jabra Elite 4 review: Call quality and connectivity
This is a terrific calling headset. Most of the people I spoke with were surprised by the crystal-clear sound on my end. Sidetone also made calls more dynamic by giving my voice a louder presence. Noise reduction could use work, as most callers could hear background noises. The good news is that the mics are really powerful and emphasize vocals over ambient noises.
Bluetooth 5.2 was on-point. Rarely did music streams or voice calls stutter. Ranged extended to 57 feet (17 meters) in open spaces and dropped to a reasonable 40 feet (12 feet) when indoors. The buds paired instantly with iOS and Android devices, specifically the latter, thanks to Google Fast Pair.
What thrilled me most was the inclusion of multipoint technology to pair the buds to two media devices simultaneously. The feature worked great, especially when switching between music programs on my MacBook Pro and Google Pixel 6 Pro; the buds would easily pinpoint calls to action on the last used device.
At $99, the Elite 4 is a commendable follow-up to the Elite 3 that has its fair share of pros, cons, and middling factors. The improvements in ANC, call quality, and connectivity are well appreciated, whereas the dip in sound and missing features might persuade brand enthusiasts to look at other models in the series. But if you’re asking whether the Elite 4 is worth the pickup, the answer is yes, especially for the price.