“The Elite Sports come with an in-ear heart rate monitor which is extremely accurate”
There’s a difference between earphones which are wireless and the ones which are wire-free. Even if you don’t consider yourself an audio enthusiast, I’d still reckon that you are familiar with the term owing to one manufacturer in particular. Yes, I am referring to Apple’s Airpods which were launched alongside the jack-less iPhone 7 Plus (review) a little over a year ago. While not the first truly wireless earphones, Apple did manage to grab the attention of the masses with the Airpods (review). However, they aren’t perfect, work to their fullest potential only with iPhones and lack a lot of features which makes them a no-go for most consumers. Not to mention, they tend to go out of stock quicker than a Xiaomi smartphone on a flash sale. That’s where the Jabra Elite Sports come into play. Stacked to the brim with sensors dedicated to taking your workout to the next level, the Elite Sports are a marathoner’s dream come true. But should you be shelling out almost Rs 7K more than the Airpods for the privilege of owning a pair? Read on to find out.
There’s no escaping the fact that the Jabra Elite Sports are chunky. The earphones have a good heft to them and protrude outwards when you plug them in your ears. However, until engineers figure out a way to fit a heart rate monitor and a tri-axis accelerometer without increasing the overall dimensions of the earphones, that’s a trade-off you’ll have to live with. That said, the earphones aren’t bad looking per se and despite their bulky profile, the individual earpieces fit well in the ear. The Jabra Elite Sports ship with a host of accessories too, which will help you narrow down a fit that suits your ear down to a tee. As I mentioned a second ago, the Elite Sports do well to justify their sheer size and besides the sensors, you also get two buttons on both the individual earpieces.
The buttons on the left earpiece can be used to control the volume of your music or skip between tracks whereas the buttons on the right will allow you to play/pause your music or take calls. You can also enable the hearthrough mode via the right earpiece, which allows external noise to pass through the earpieces to make you more aware of your surroundings. You also get two microphones on each earpiece which help with filtering out noise when you’re on a call as well, and also enable the aforementioned hearthrough feature. There are two individual LEDs present on the earpieces as well which light up when the Elite Sports are in pairing mode. And lest I forget, the earpieces are IP67 rated and therefore, they will outlast even your sweatiest workout without a hitch. When you’re paying that much for a pair of sports earbuds, you expect all the bases to be covered and to Jabra’s credit, it has managed to achieve that.
As is the case with every other truly wireless earphones, you’ll have to live with the fear of losing the Elite Sports or their battery running out of juice during a crucial workout. However, you do get a carrying case to store the earpieces safely, which also doubles up as a battery pack to prolong the battery life to some extent. The build quality of the case is excellent. It has a soft matte finish to it and is fairly compact and therefore, it won’t make a lump when you place it inside the pocket of your jeans. Moreover, the hinge mechanism of the case is downright excellent and it doesn’t open and spill the earpieces if you accidentally drop it. As far as the ports are concerned, there’s just a single micro-USB port to charge the case present towards the left side.
Seeing how the Jabra Elite Sports are tailored for fitness enthusiasts, I was expecting a lot of punch in the low end. Unsurprisingly, the Elite Sports do have a sound signature which favours the bass and the sub-bass frequencies, however, it doesn’t muddy the rest of the frequency spectrum. The mids don’t feel recessed and there’s ample amount of details in the vocals. That said, the high-end does take a significant hit and if you’re used to slightly warmer sounding earphones, then the Elite Sports might seem like a letdown. Sound-staging is about as good as it gets on a pair of in-ear type headphones and unless your song selection involves chaotic tracks from the likes of Infected Mushroom, you should be okay with the instrument separation too. Lastly, the hearthrough mode works a little too well to keep you aware of your surroundings and I noticed that the earphones let in a lot more noise than is required when you’re out and about.
The Jabra Elite Sports aren’t your average run-of-the-mill wireless earphones and besides providing a chord-free music experience, double up as a fitness tracker too. Inside the right earpiece rests an in-ear heart rate monitor and a tri-axis accelerometer which, coupled with the company’s Jabra Sports app, can give you insights on your workouts and your VO2 Max scores. But before we dive into how accurate the figures from the Elite Sports are, let me walk you through how the earphones can better your athletic performance. So, the crux of the Elite Sports performance analysis comes down to your VO2 Max scores which is essentially the amount of oxygen your body can intake when you’re physically pushing yourself to the limits. In order to get an approximation of your oxygen level intakes, the Elite Sports will ask you to run for a minimum of 15 minutes at 70-100 percent potential. As your VO2 max scores increase, so will the amount of oxygen you can intake and thus, your overall performance too (theoretically, at least).
I did take the Elite Sports with me on several runs and while I cannot comment on the accuracy of the VO2 Max scores, the earphones do give an accurate measure of the heart rate. In my experience, the Elite Sports were just a few beats off when compared to my Garmin Fenix 5, which is the crème de la crème of sports watches. Not too shabby for a pair of earphones, wouldn’t you say? Moreover, this is just the tip of the iceberg as you can build up customised workouts for different activities such as cycling, running and much more through the Jabra Sports app. You can also choose to be notified when you cross certain milestones. For instance, the earphones gave me an update every time I crossed the one km mark, which is a neat way of not only tracking your progress but also keeping yourself motivated. Lastly, you can track your runs through the Jabra Sports app, which utilises your smartphone’s GPS to map your routes.
Battery life and more
When you opt to buy a pair of truly wireless earbuds, the battery life goes for a toss. The same is true for the Elite Sports too, which averaged a little over three hours of music playback during my testing. However, unless your fitness regimen involves spending more than three hours in a gymnasium, you shouldn’t have much to worry about. Moreover, the carrying case adds a little over ten hours of battery life to the earbuds, allowing you to drain the Elite Sports three times before you finally have to plug them into a wall charger.
As far as the call quality is concerned, the Elite Sports have excellent clarity and after testing the earbuds on a myriad of smartphones, I can attest that the Bluetooth connection is rock solid too. Moreover, I didn’t face any instances of dropped connection while running or working out in the gym either.
Should you buy the Jabra Elite Sports? The answer is a resounding yes. The Elite Sports aren’t just a fantastic pair of truly wireless earphones, but a great alternative to fitness trackers too. While you could get significantly better audio performance for the price, if you prioritise fitness over everything else, then I don’t think it gets any better than the Elite Sports. The Jabra Elite Sports retail for Rs 17K and can be picked up from various e-commerce portals like Amazon.
Editor’s Rating: 4 / 5
- Great fitness-tracking capabilities
- Truly wireless experience
- Decent audio performance
- Slightly bulky
Photos by Raj Rout