Danish professional and consumer audio brand Jabra has been among the most quietly impressive brands in the true wireless earphones segment for a few years now, thanks to its consistency, attention to detail, and all-round performance that also tends to get voice-based communications right. Focused typically on mid-range and high-end true wireless earphones, Jabra has a strong, value-driven product range that admittedly deserves much more attention than it gets. The company's latest true wireless headset in India is the Jabra Elite 5, a mid-range pair of earphones with a strong feature set.
Priced at Rs. 10,999 in India, the Jabra Elite 5 features active noise cancellation, support for the Qualcomm aptX Bluetooth codec, and compatibility with the excellent Jabra Sound+ app. Going up against strong competition from brands such as OnePlus and Oppo in this price range, is the Jabra Elite 5 worth picking up? Find out in this review.
The Jabra Elite 5 supports the SBC, AAC, and Qualcomm aptX Bluetooth codecs
Jabra Elite 5 design and features
Newer products in the Elite range of true wireless earphones from Jabra have followed a considerably different design philosophy from that of the older products such as the Jabra Elite 85t. The previous approach was one that relied only on flagship products, with older-generation headsets remaining on sale at lower prices, while the modern approach sees multiple products with different feature sets.
The new, simpler numbering system sees products developed and positioned differently, with the Elite 5 slotting into the mid-range price segment, above the Elite 3 headset that I had a chance to review in December 2021. Stepping up to the mid-range price segment brings features such as active noise cancellation and hear-through mode, multi-point Bluetooth connectivity, a better microphone system, Google Fast Pair, and native Google Assistant and Alexa capabilities.
The Jabra Elite 5 looks a lot like the Elite 3, as well as the higher-positioned Elite 7 Pro, with a proper in-canal fit that ensures good passive noise isolation to aid the active noise cancellation. The Jabra logo is quite visible on the outer sides of the earpieces, which are quite light and comfortable to wear. The headset is available in two colours — black and gold-beige — both of which look quite good.
There are a total of three pairs of silicone ear tips of different sizes in the sales package, along with a charging cable, and the earpieces are IP55 rated for dust and water resistance; this is good enough to handle a fair amount of dust and dirt exposure, as well as water exposure from sweat or rain. Each earpiece has a proximity sensor for the auto play-pause functionality, and six microphones which work together to enable the ANC functionality, as well as voice-based functions.
The earpieces of the Jabra Elite 5 notably have physical buttons for controls, instead of the touch controls or force-touch buttons seen on much of the competition. I've always liked this system, despite it seeming a bit old-fashioned; it reduces the possibility of accidental changes, and physical buttons offer significantly better feedback. The buttons on the Elite 5 are easy to use, and usefully don't interfere with the secureness of the fit and noise isolation. The controls are customisable through the Jabra Sound+ app, but more on that later.
There is active noise cancellation and wireless charging on the Jabra Elite 5
The charging case of the Jabra Elite 5 is simple and inconspicuous to look at, but just the right size to offer a good balance between battery life and being pocket-friendly. The USB Type-C port is at the back, while the indicator light is at the front just below the Jabra logo. Usefully, there is also Qi wireless charging for the case. Each earpiece weighs 5g, while the charging case weighs 40g.
Jabra Elite 5 app and specifications
As with other Jabra true wireless headsets, the Elite 5 relies on the Jabra Sound+ app (available on iOS and Android) for controlling and customising functions on the earphones. You can control and adjust the intensity of the ANC and hear-through modes, tweak the equaliser manually or through presets, activate ‘soundscapes' (various white noise and nature sounds for concentration), and more.
The app is quite detailed in terms of customisability for the Jabra Elite 5, letting you set the controls, audio and call experiences, and other functions, all to your liking. You can also update the firmware, choose your voice assistant (native Google Assistant, Alexa, or the smartphone's default voice assistant), and enable Spotify Tap to quickly launch the app through the headset controls. All of this is presented neatly and efficiently, making this among the best apps for true wireless earphones I've had a chance to use.
The Jabra Elite 5 has 6mm dynamic drivers, with a frequency response range of 20-20,000Hz. For connectivity, the headset uses Bluetooth 5.2, with support for the SBC, AAC, and Qualcomm aptX Bluetooth codecs. This gives the headset a fair advantage in terms of sound quality when paired with an Android smartphone, although all other features work the same way regardless of whether you're using an Android or iOS smartphone.
Jabra Elite 5 performance and battery life
While there are some pretty good true wireless headsets to choose from in the upper-mid-range price segment, some of the more popular options tend to have some of their features or capabilities locked within the ‘ecosystem'. There aren't quite as many big-name options with truly device-agnostic capabilities — something that Jabra has always touted as a key reason to consider it.
That said and as mentioned, the Jabra Elite 5's support for the Qualcomm aptX codec means that the sound is a bit different — and slightly better — when the earphones are paired with an Android device, as compared to iOS devices. However, the differences aren't significant, thanks to good tuning and hardware doing much of the work, and the fact that the aptX codec is the oldest and least advanced among the current crop of advanced Bluetooth codecs.
The Jabra Elite 5 has a sonic signature that is quite unlike most options in this price segment. The sound feels less aggressive than that of the OnePlus Buds Pro 2, but has an interesting level of sharpness that gives it a different kind of attack than what I'm used to. Listening to Punjabi track Bijlee Bijlee by Harrdy Sandhu, the Elite 5 made for pleasantly striking vocals and strong highs, which seemed to be able to better push through thanks to the somewhat reduced lows.
Although sound quality is good on the Jabra Elite 5, competing options in this price segment sound a bit better
The sound feels fast and cohesive, with the earphones being able to keep up with the varying tempo and different elements of the track. The unique signature of the Elite 5 seemed to work quite well with the track, as well as with other similar mid-tempo tracks with a focus on the vocals. With So Am I by Ty Dolla Sign, Damian Marley, and Skrillex, the rumbling bass element felt a bit weak, while the melody and reggae-style vocals were given a bit more room to shine.
Naturally, this means that the Jabra Elite 5 isn't one for bass lovers or indeed anyone with even a general preference towards electronic music which tends to rely on low-end punch. On the other hand, slower, calculated tracks benefited from the Elite 5's tonality and detail levels. Although not quite as flexible as the dual-driver Oppo Enco X2 when it comes to detail, the Jabra Elite 5 does offer a bit more by way of tonal assuredness and sharpness.
Active noise cancellation on the Jabra Elite 5 is less than ideal, even considering the mid-range pricing. There is a great degree of customisability in the ANC, and the different levels do have audible differences in the ANC intensity, but unfortunately the highest intensity level still doesn't offer as much of a ambient sound reduction as it should.
Droning outdoor sounds such as construction equipment were still a bit too loud for my liking, while even relatively soft indoor settings still sounded a bit too loud. It's enough to make music, dialogue, and voices on calls easier to hear, but doesn't quite get to the point it should, with Jabra still needing to do some work to get non-flagship ANC up to competent levels.
As with most Jabra headsets, voice call quality on the Jabra Elite 5 is pretty good. This is largely because of the six microphones in each earpiece, working together with the ANC and environmental noise cancelling algorithms. My voice was heard clearly on the other end of calls, and the unique tuning and reasonably competent mids made it easy for me to hear the caller clearly as well.
Battery life on the Jabra Elite 5 is very good for a true wireless headset in this price range. With active noise cancellation turned on, the earphones ran for a little over six hours at moderate volumes, with the charging case adding three full additional charges, for a total run time of around 25 hours per charge cycle. With ANC off, you can expect an extra hour of listening time on the earpieces.
The Jabra Elite 5 is unlike much of the competition in the mid-range price segment, and unique in how it sounds and performs. Like other Jabra headsets, it's an all-rounder that performs as well on calls as it does with music and dialogue-based content. It's also reasonably well suited to all source devices, even if it does have a slight edge in sound quality when paired with an Android device. Battery life is decent as well. However, none of this is quite enough to help it stand out, despite ticking practically all the boxes.
If you spend a lot of time taking calls on your earphones and like slower, detail-focused music, the Jabra Elite 5 might just make sense for you. Do keep in mind that ANC performance isn't quite as good as it should be. Otherwise, alternatives such as the Oppo Enco X2 or OnePlus Buds Pro 2 might be worth considering instead, especially if you have a smartphone that works with the LHDC codec.
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