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The Silver Medal goes to : Jabra Elite 65t

After my disappointing experience with the Jaybird X3’s, I was forced to resume my perpetual quest for the ultimate headphones and to continue my search for the elusive audible companion to be by my side, day and night. Although my tastes were particular, my two requirements were simple – all I needed was a pair of headphones that:

  1. I could comfortably use for exercise without them falling out or disconnecting
  2. I could use for everyday calls and listening to music without the battery dying and without them looking dumb

They didn’t have to be “true wireless” headphones, but it would be a nice touch.

After reading review after review and researching to the brink of insanity, I finally found what I was looking for.. The Jabra Elite 65t.

I’ve now been actively using the Jabra Elite 65t headphones for over three months and am ready to report back.

Look and feel

These are some sexy looking headphones. The Jabra Elite 65t consist of 2 earbuds with a carrying case. The earbuds look great – both in your ear and out (unlike some dodgy looking Apple product that seems to have settled on society like a plague). The Jabra have a premium feel to them and a slick appearance – showing off the perfect mix of black and silver. Even though each bud includes an impressive microphone, its size is proportionate to the ear buds and the whole unit fits well in your ear without jutting out (unlike the new Bose wireless buds). The earbuds are also super-light which makes carrying them around during the day or keeping them in your ears a pleasure.

The slick and sexy Jabra Elite 65t

The Jabra Elite 65t as a running partner

No matter how hard you try, I can promise you that you won’t be able to make the Jabra Elite 65t’s fall out of your ears. Shake your head left and right, up and down, spin in circles, or do headstands – try whatever it takes, you won’t be able to make these babies budge. They stay snug and secure in your ears and, whether you be listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook, these are the perfect accompaniment for any run or while exercising.

Even though the earphones aren’t exactly noise cancelling (Jabra call them noise isolating), I’ve found that they do let a fair bit of background noise in. But if you’re really concerned about accidentally stepping in-front of a car on your jog, you can turn on the HearThrough feature which lets you hear the outside world through the speakers.

The Jabra Elite 65t are IP54 rated for water and dust resistance, which is fine for me, but if you’re a heavy sweater, you may consider the Jabra Elite Active 65t which have a higher sweat-proof rating.

An everyday companion

I’ve been walking around with the Jabra Elite 65t on a regular basis for the past few weeks. I use them to listen to music, listen to podcasts, take calls throughout the day, and I don’t leave home without them. After having put them through a battery of tests (well, really just everyday use under my critical eye (and ear)), I’ve noted where they excel and where they fall short:

Let’s rip the band-aid off and start with the negative:

  1. The earbuds have buttons on the left and right buds to change volume, start and stop music, and more. It’s very useful. And rather uncomfortable. Pushing any of the buttons lands up squishing the earbuds further into your ears. It’s not exactly painful but far from a pleasant experience.
  2. I still haven’t found the best way to carry the buds around throughout the day. Although they come with a carrying case (that also charges the headphones), it’s big(ish) and bulky to carry around in your pocket. I’ve also experimented with carrying the earbuds in my pocket without a case but I’m concerned about damaging them and sometimes land up inadvertently pushing a button or not realising they’re on when taking phone calls.
  3. The first few times I wore the earphones, they landed up hurting my ears a bit. This got better very quickly, but sometimes my ears are still a bit tender after prolonged use.

And now, let me profess my love:

  1. The battery life is incredible, lasting 5 hours at a time, and I’ve never had these headphones die on me throughout the day. Plus you can charge them in the carrying case to get an additional 10 hours, when necessary. You charge the carrying case with a micro-USB cable.
  2. Although you can use the HearThrough function when you want to speak to someone in person, its easy (and polite) to take the earbuds out your ear when engaging in conversation and your music stops playing automatically when you do so (and turns on again when you put the ear bud back in).
  3. The call quality and Bluetooth quality is amazing. I expected a lot from Jabra, considering they’ve been in the Bluetooth game for years already, and they didn’t disappoint. I have never had problems with people hearing me when speaking to them with the Jabra Elite 65t, which is all I can ask for in a Bluetooth headset. Also, where some competitors struggle maintaining a solid Bluetooth connection, especially when outdoors, the Jabra, uses Bluetooth 5.0 to stay connected without a hitch. It also connects to two devices at once (i.e. your laptop and cellphone) which is quite a nifty feature, although I find the Bluetooth quality isn’t as solid when doing so.
  4. The Jabra Elite 65t are a dream to use. The ear buds turn on automatically when you take them out the case and connect to your phone in a second. The sound quality is also impressive and Jabra have their own app, called Sound+, which can be used to change the sound settings to suit your tastes. Additionally, the buttons on the side of the ear buds let you accomplish quite a bit without taking your phone out, such as changing volume, triggering Siri, Google Voice, or Alexa, answering or rejecting calls, and skipping tracks.

The charging/carrying case

VS Airpods

You can’t mention any completely wireless headphones without addressing the elephant in the room, the leader in the space, the gold-medal winner, and the idol of adoration to the masses – Apple AirPods. In my mind, the AirPods are one of the best gadgets available – they work seamlessly, they’re small and light, and have a great battery. The biggest problems I found with them is that they just didn’t fit in my ears and kept falling out whenever I used them for exercise. They also look silly. But if they fit you well and you’re in the Apple ecosystem, I would hands-down recommend the AirPods as the best option available. If however, you have non-conformist ears and are using Android, the Jabra Elite 65t are your answer (the AirPods do actually work with an Android device, but not as seamlessly as they do with Apple).

 

The headphone industry is changing fast and furiously and with more cellphone manufacturers getting rid of the headphone jack, Bluetooth headphones are gaining popularity on an exponential scale. At the same time, the world of “hearables” (in-ear computers) is really beginning to take off with Siri and Alexa fighting for that precious real-estate next to your brain. So, watch this space – the Jabra Elite 65t and Apple AirPods may be dominating today, but you never know what tomorrow has in store for your ears.


Also published on Medium.

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