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Jabra Elite 5 review

Another quality mid-ranger with disappointing noise cancellation

Jabra Elite 5 review
(Image: © Alex Bracetti/Future)

Laptop Mag Verdict

Great sound, connectivity, and features provide the Jabra Elite 5 strong selling points, but its weak ANC is concerning for the price.

Pros

  • +

    Great audio quality

  • +

    Compact and chic

  • +

    Lots of customization via Jabra Sound+ app

  • +

    Robust connectivity

  • +

    HearThrough is still one of the best transparency modes

Cons

  • -

    ANC not as good as other Elite models

  • -

    Digital assistant and wear detection need work

  • -

    Button design affects comfort

  • -

    Missing some high-end Jabra features

It hasn’t even been a year and Jabra’s rolled out their entirely revamped true wireless series, which includes the Elite 3, Elite 4 Active, Elite 7 Active, and flagship Elite 7 Pro. There must have been a need for another mid-range model, otherwise, we would have never gotten the recently announced Elite 5 wireless earbuds.

Jabra Elite 5 SPECS

Price: $149

Colors: Gold Beige; Titanium Black

Battery life (rated): 7 hours (ANC on); 9 hours (ANC off); 28 hours (charging case with ANC off); 36 hours (charging case with ANC off)

Processor: Qualcomm QCC3050 

Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2

Water resistance: Yes (IP55 rated)

Size: 0.78 x 0.8 x 1 inches (per bud); 1 x 1.5 x 2.5 inches (charging case)

Weight: 0.17 ounces (per bud); 1.41 ounces (charging case)

Sharing a similar look and spec sheet as some of its siblings, this latest entry comes with active noise cancellation (ANC), Bluetooth 5.2, customizable sound, Jabra Sound+ app compatibility, and wireless charging. It’s also missing some personalized features and stumbles in areas where Jabra isn’t known for half-stepping. 

Dive deep into our Jabra Elite 5 review to see where these buds rank among the brand’s current lineup.

Jabra Elite 5 review: Availability and price

The Jabra Elite 5 can be purchased for $149 at Amazon (opens in new tab) or directly from Jabra (opens in new tab). Two color options are available: Gold Beige and Titanium Black. Inside the box are a wireless charging case, three sets of different-sized ear tips, USB-C charging cable, and a manual.

Price-wise, these buds fall in the middle of Jabra’s true wireless collection, above the low-midrange $119 Elite 4 Active and just below the $199 Elite 7 Pro. They’re also less expensive than premium wireless earbuds like the Beats Fit Pro ($199), AirPods Pro ($249), and Sony WF-1000XM4 ($279).

If the MSRP is still too high, check out some of the popular selections on our best cheap noise-cancelling earbuds list.

Be sure to bookmark our headphone deals page for the latest sales.

Jabra Elite 5 review: Design and comfort

The Elite 5 looks like a more sophisticated version of the super-affordable Elite 3, but with wider microphone openings. Solid plastic makes up the entire triangular-shaped design. The material is sturdy enough to sustain the daily abuse you’ll put these buds through. IP55-rated protection also keeps them safe from dust, sweat, and heavy water splashing. 

Jabra Elite 5 review

(Image credit: Alex Bracettii/Future)

Jabra performed a copy and paste job with the charging case as well. It’s compact, very light, and has strong magnets that keep the buds docked and lid shut tightly. My only complaint is Jabra should’ve kept the soft rubberized finish featured on the Elite 75t Active because it felt nicer and handled scratches better.

Jabra Elite 5 review

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Fit is reliable, thanks to the patented EarGels that form a tight seal around the canal and absorb moisture very well to reduce slippage. These aren’t workout buds, but their sweat resistance makes them ideal for exercising, should your Elite 7 Active or Elite 4 Active need charging.

Jabra Elite 5 review

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The Elite 5 rests gently on the concha and can be worn for reasonably long stretches (2-3 hours straight) before fatigue sets in. Unfortunately, Jabra’s fascination with physical buttons affects comfort, something I touch on more in the next section.

Jabra Elite 5 review: Controls and digital assistant

All functions are activated through single, double, triple or long-hold presses. These include playback, call management, volume, digital assistance, listening mode activation, and Spotify Connect for instant access to the streaming service. The MyControls setting in the companion app lets you assign and customize the controls.

The buttons produce nice tactility to ensure intended commands are being met. At the same time, pressing them pushes the buds further into your ears, causing serious discomfort after a while.

Jabra Elite 5 review

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Wear detection is available, but only works for auto-pausing music when taking off the buds. It won’t resume playback when placing them back on your ears.

Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa are all compatible, and Jabra added voice activation for Google and Amazon’s AI bots. The “Hey Google” function doesn’t operate well, rarely acknowledging the wake-word phrase and misinterpreting commands. Alexa’s voice activation performs much better. That’s not to say Google Assistant isn’t useful because it works fine when enabling it manually. The same goes for Siri.

Jabra Elite 5 review: Audio quality

Jabra wireless earbuds are known for their punchy bass and dynamic soundstages. The Elite 5 doesn’t do anything sonically to stray away from the pack. Under the hood lies the same 6mm speakers as past Elite models. Listeners also gain access to Jabra’s customizable EQ with multiple presets – Neutral, Speech, Bass Boost, Treble Boost, Smooth, and Energize – to tune sound to their preference.

Jabra Elite 5 review

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Let’s start by breaking down the Neutral EQ, which is the default. This is my personal recommendation because it delivers the most balanced frequency range. Pressing playing on Childish Gambino’s “Feels Like Summer” brought back early summer vibes, as the singer’s auto-tuned vocals coasted over the airy, percussion-heavy production. The harmonies and high notes were reproduced well, alongside the tropical drums that carried just the right amount of kick to stimulate rhythmic head nods.

Smooth elevated the low-mid range on Jazz classics like Ahmad Jamal Trio’s “Dolphin Dance,” bringing more oomph to each snare strike, while also giving the hi-hats more ting. Jim James’ “Here in Spirit” offered a great mix of impactful lows and prominent mids, though switching the preset from Neutral (aka default) to Speech emphasized vocals for clearer results.

Jabra Elite 5 review

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

I enjoyed crisp streaming on my MacBook Pro (AAC), but more so on my Google Pixel 6 Pro (aptX), which utilizes Qualcomm’s hi-res wireless audio codec. Something else to note is that listening with ANC on doesn’t compromise sound quality.

Jabra Elite 5 review: Active noise cancellation

These buds are powered by the Qualcomm QCC3050 processor and use hybrid ANC designed to block out more noise than past Elite models, at least those that aren’t the Elite 7 Pro. I’ve found the noise cancellation on Jabra’s lower-priced entries to be surprisingly good; the Elite 4 Active was effective at neutralizing low and mid-frequency noises. Why the pricier Elite 5 can’t match that same performance is befuddling.

Jabra Elite 5 review

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Common distractions like dog barking, landscaping tools, and bird chirping were all distinctively present on the soundscape. Speeding cars and wind were moderately tamed, but still noticeable, especially when caught in gusty conditions. Using the feature indoors wasn’t any better. I wasn’t too thrilled hearing family members chatting several feet away. The noises produced by my son’s electronic toys also came through loudly, along with his cries from another room. 

If there’s one positive, it’s that the Elite 5 handles humming sounds fairly well. There were brief moments of silence when walking past my deep freezer, dryer, and oscillating fans. 

Jabra Elite 5 review

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Another plus is HearThrough mode, which was reliable as ever for increasing environmental awareness. I often used it to communicate with the missus when sharing parenting duties and could hear her speaking clearly from across the room. The feature was also useful for keeping tabs on street and on-foot traffic during strolls with the baby.

Jabra Elite 5 review: App and special features

Jabra Sound+ remains one of the most feature-laden companion apps out there. Most of Jabra’s features are accessible, including Personalized ANC, HearThrough, and MyControls, along with aforementioned favorites like Equalizer, Spotify Tap, and voice assistant selection. A few others are sprinkled around that extend functionality and enhance the user experience.

Soundscape sits at the bottom of the home screen, featuring 12 profiles to mask ambient noise around you with a selection of different sounds. Several of them sound true to their settings and help provide mental relief; Rainy Days and Waterfall are personal favorites.

Jabra Elite 5 review

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Jump into the Settings page to reveal a few more features. You can select to automatically answer calls when wearing the buds, mute audio when enabling HearThrough, and place a notification bar on your smartphone screen to enable ANC and other functions. Let’s not forget Find My Jabra for locating lost earbuds. However, the most serviceable feature is Sidetone, which adjusts how loud your voice sounds on calls. 

This is a lot of features for mid-range wireless earbuds, but Jabra does keep a few exclusive to their premium models. On the list: MySound for personalizing audio, Call Equalizer to add more treble or bass on calls, MyFit to scan your ears for optimal fit, and Sleep Mode to put the buds to sleep when inactive after a certain timeframe.

Jabra Elite 5 review: Battery life and charging case

Expect satisfying battery life out of the Elite 5. A full charge equates to 7 hours of ANC playtime that can be extended to 9 hours when disabling the feature. I got three days of moderate use (2 hours daily) before recharging. Be mindful that high volume and other special features can drain the battery quicker.

Jabra Elite 5 review

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The wireless charging case holds between 28 to 36 hours, depending how you use the buds. This is more than the AirPods Pro case (24 hours). A 10-minute quick charge nets you 1 hour of playtime.

Jabra Elite 5 review: Call quality and connectivity

Call quality is decent. Adjustments must be made to the Sidetone slider in the Call Experience setting to achieve clear-sounding voice and video calls. Having it set to level 5 increases your vocal presence, but also picks up more ambient noise. Meanwhile, level 1 improves clarity, while also letting in more wind. Jabra’s 6-mic call technology with wind noise suppression needs work.

My best call experience came after I set Sidetone somewhere in the middle. Despite some slight muffle and background noises making their way onto calls, my voice remained prominent during chats.

Jabra Elite 5 review

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Connectivity is some of the strongest I’ve tested on a pair of Jabra wireless earbuds. Range extended up to 100 feet (30 meters). This allowed me to charge my phone in the backyard and run to the front for a package delivery. One-tap Google Fast Pair provided instantaneous pairing with Android devices. Bluetooth multipoint kept me connected to two devices simultaneously and made switching between them a breeze. These buds also support Microsoft Swift Pair.

Jabra Elite 5 review: Verdict

The Elite 5 feels like an unnecessary addition to what’s already a crowded lineup. It isn’t a model that undercuts or outperforms the competition. These are mid-range buds that give you characteristic Jabra performance, from strong sound to reliable connectivity to features that enhance the listening experience. However, drops in noise cancellation and voice activation, along with Jabra’s impractical button design, will convince you to check out more well-rounded competitors at the same price point or lower.