If you have got ₹10,000 to spend on a pair of true wireless (TWS) earbuds, you have got yourself quite some task. Be it Sony or JBL, or Google or Samsung, everyone wants to grab your investment. And so far, the choices have been easy. If you want smarter features with reasonable audio performance, the Google Pixel Buds A wins, followed by the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and Galaxy Buds Pro.
However, between the audio brands, it becomes difficult to choose. Jabra now drops in to take the fight to Sony and JBL in this space with the Jabra Elite 4 Active. With its “Active” moniker, Jabra suggests this pair of TWS earbuds for someone with an active lifestyle; i.e., someone seeking a durable pair of earbuds that sounds good and has modern comforts. At Rs. 9,999, Jabra offers enough to impress on the brochure.
But we are here, as usual, to learn whether and how it works in reality. After spending almost two weeks, these are our findings.
Jabras have a distinct signature design, unlike its competition that makes major design changes every now and then. The Elite 4 Active brings back the “Jabra triangular” design but with no signs of a physical button. The membrane buttons with no gaps certainly adds a touch of modern-ness to the Jabra Elite design and helps achieve a better water and dust resistance. Yes, these earbuds are rated at IP57, which is much better than IPX4/X6 ratings others offer.
While the earbuds are easy to tuck in the earlobes, I had a hard time keeping them in. With the absence of any earhook arrangement, some rigorous jaw movement (laughing, talking, chewing) can dislodge these earbuds easily. Given that this is meant to appeal to the active bunch of people, an optional eartip with an earhook-arrangement could have been offered.
The case has a practical design; it slips into trouser pockets easily and is built well. There’s no wireless charging on the case and you get the humble USB-C port as your only option to charge it up.
Unlike its rivals from Samsung and Google, Jabra prefers to take the path that Sony and Sennheiser take; i.e., opt for a bass-inclined audio signature. And this is classic Jabra tuning – no matter how much you play with the equaliser settings, the bloated low and mid frequencies are emphasised more.
If you have an affinity for bass (like me), you are going to like it. And hence, the Jabra Elite 4 Active feels at home playing Bollywood and International Pop. Anything with a party theme immediately comes alive on these earbuds.The clarity towards the highs is nice. However, classic music is where it struggles, since the mids and lows are bloated. If you are seeking a balanced audio signature, the 1-year-old Oppo Enco X is still a better deal, followed by the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. The Elite 4 Active is designed for playing high energy workout playlists and it shows its strength there.
The Elite 4 Active also does the noise isolation bits well. The eartips seal the ear canal impressively and you can feel a slight pressure build up. Without any electronic assistance, the ambience isolation is highly impressive – I was able to hear only faint whine of the ceiling fan and my room heater.
With the ANC switched ON, all of that faint ambient noise goes away. Unless you have a car honking right behind you, everything sort of disappears. The HearThrough mode lets you listen to a weird “machine-like” processed version of the audible world around you (I often found myself taking the earbuds off instead of switching to HearThrough).
However, this HearThrough mode activates automatically while taking calls to provide a comfortable sidetone. Despite the lack of a stem, the quad mic system works well to keep my voice audible to my callers.
Despite its focus on audio, the Elite 4 Active has some clever features. I haven’t been a fan of button-based TWS earbuds but the soft-touch membrane keys on the Elite 4 Active work well. Pressing the keys doesn't dislodge them from the ear. Moreover, the combination of multiple key presses on both the earbuds is fairly easy to remember to get basic tasks done.
Jabra advertises integration with Amazon Alexa and Spotify, both of which seem like a gimmick. However, the Jabra Sound+ app is easily the best companion app for any TWS earbud I have seen. All the settings and options are neatly laid out, and everything is easily accessible. I like the equaliser presets that are a blessing while quickly seeking a change in the audio signature.
Sadly, the Elite 4 Active misses a feature as basic as auto pause/play; something which every other pair of TWS earbuds gets as standard.
With an Android phone, you get the additional benefits of Google Fast Pair as well as the quick battery level notification. On the iPhone, the app is limited in comparison. You still get to summon the Google Assistant and Siri on either platform.
This is where the Elite 4 Active shine. Despite taking a hour-long conference call and 2-hours of continuous audio playback, the earbuds reached only 50 percent charge. With a daily average of 3 hours of music and 2 hours of calls, the Elite 4 Active kept going on for 10 days without needing a charge (Jabra rates 28 hours of battery with the case). A quick 10-minute charge of the case makes these earbuds good to go for an hour; a full charge takes 2-2.5 hours.
At Rs. 9,999, the Jabra Elite 4 Active is worth considering if you seek a bass-inclined soundstage, a durable build, and long-lasting battery life. The presence of a well-engineered passive noise isolation and a decent ANC system further the reasons for considering this over a Google Pixel Buds A, or even the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. If you want a solid pair of durable workout TWS earbuds, this is one of our top recommendations right now.
That said, the Elite 4 Active lacks the smart bits that Google and Samsung offer. An even bigger dilemma comes from the brilliant Sony WF-1000XM3, which currently sells at Rs. 9,990. It is not workout oriented but Sony’s last-gen flagship TWS scores high with superior audio and longer battery life. The Jabra only edges it out with its durability and practicality.
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