Jabra Elite 4 review: fully featured earbuds
About the Jabra Elite 4
Here’s a look at the earbuds we tested:
- Price: $99
- Battery life: Up to 7 hours, up to 28 hours total with case
- Drivers: two 6mm drivers
- Wireless charging: Yes, Qi-compatible case
- Colors: Gray, Light Beige, Lilac, Navy Blue
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
- Audio codecs: aptX, SBC
- Water-resistance: IP55
- Ear tips: Small, medium, large
- Weight: Earbuds, 4.6 grams (0.16 ounces), case, 33.4 grams (1.18 ounces)
What we like
They offer great features for an affordable price
Since it’s baseball season, let’s put it this way. The Jabra Elite 4 don’t have a fearsome home run hitter in the heart of their lineup of features. Rather, they have an endless barrage of good, fundamental features throughout the batting order.
For instance, the Elite 4 have around 7 hours of battery life, with 28 total hours in their charging case. There’s better battery out there, but it’s still a good batting average compared to the rest of the league. The same goes for the earbuds’ weather resistance rating of IP55. There are more durable earbuds, but other earbuds (the Apple AirPods Pro 2, or perhaps the Soundcore Liberty 4 that are both IPX4) wish they could have those stats.
Call quality is also stellar with the Elite 4, thanks to a 4-microphone array built into the buds. Conversations with friends while dog walking on a considerably windy day were remarkably clear and free from interruptions. On top of that, the Elite 4 are akin to the more expensive Jabra Elite 5 in that they offer superb, easy-to-use controls that are customizable within Jabra’s accompanying Sound+ app. In all, for everyday use, the Jabra Elite 4 have all the necessary tools to get the job done—and then some.
They offer good passive noise cancellation
The Jabra Elite 4 employ a rounded triangular shape that helps with wedging themselves into your ears. We’ll touch on whether or not this is comfortable in a moment. But for the purposes of passively blocking out noise, it’s one heck of a design.
Even with toggling active noise cancellation off in the Sound+ app, the Elite 4 still muffle a great deal of sound. To put the cards on the table, it does create the small trouble of possibly having to swap into the earbuds’ HearThrough mode every time you need to talk to someone. Still, the Elite 4 offer some of the more impressive passive sound deterrent that I’ve experienced.
Jabra has a killer app
Jabra’s Sound+ app expertly toes the line of being simple and easy to use while also housing a deep repertoire of features and tools that enhance the value of the earbuds themselves. It checks the boxes, plain and simple.
To dive into the details, the home screen of the Sound+ app displays the battery life of each earbud, plus three straightforward widgets: Sound Modes, where you can toggle between ANC, HearThrough, and completely off; a 5-band music equalizer; and a group of six music presets to choose from. At face value, that’s likely plenty to keep most folks happy.
However, selecting the settings icon unleashes an entirely new collection of features, including the ability to adjust headset settings and personalize your ANC. You can also select your preferred voice assistant, enable Spotify Tap for accessing the music app with a simple tap of your earbud, and the ever-handy Find My Jabra feature. If you’ve ever had a cat with an obsession for swatting stray earbuds halfway across the room, you know just how valuable that can be.
The Sound+ app lets you jump into a new world of capabilities with the Elite 4, but only if you choose to. That said, even without the bells and whistles, it’s a worthwhile interface that puts your listening experience first.
What we don’t like
As noted in our review, the Elite 5 don’t possess bad ANC per se. In fact, a year or two ago, they would have been in the conversation of “great.” The problem is, the rest of the competition has caught up, and in many cases surpassed those old standards. Meanwhile, the Elite 5 have effectively stood pat. As a result, earbuds like the less expensive Anker Soundcore Space A40—our favorite true wireless earbuds under $100—outrank Jabra’s buds.
The Elite 4 follows an eerily similar trajectory. They don’t exactly offer poor performance, but they just don’t stand out now that most earbuds in their price range offer the coveted feature. Plus, for $50 more, the Elite 5‘s ANC is noticeably better at blocking out noise. Swapping between the two during consecutive nights at the gym proved as much, with the Elite 5 doing a much better job of dampening the aggravating sounds of clanking weights and drawn-out conversations. With the Elite 4, I faced considerably more distractions when trying to zone out with music or a podcast.
They sound average
In side-by-side testing with both the Jabra Elite 4 and Elite 5, I couldn’t tell a huge difference in audio quality between the two pairs. As it turns out, that’s bad news for both buds.
Now, neither pair sound bad. In fact, both the Elite 4 and Elite 5 are passable in terms of sound. There’s just nothing particularly exciting about what they offer. For comparison’s sake, I was thoroughly impressed with the detailed soundstage presented by the Soundcore Liberty 4 with tracks like Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried,” as well as the deep bass belting out of the buds with a selection like Cardi B’s “WAP.” With the Elite 4, they sounded, well, fine. Zac Brown Band’s signature vocals were there; they just weren’t as crisp. The bass notes from “WAP” were still there, just without as much of the presence.
The saving grace for the Elite 4 is that at $99, the rather standard sound quality is absolutely something that you can look past. With everything else they’re offering at this price point, they don’t really have to wow you in this arena. It just would have been nice if they did.
They fit oddly in my ear
This is completely subjective, since your ears may very well be different from my own. But the odd act of lodging each bud in my ear, while providing a good seal for passive noise cancellation, became a tiring pressure on my ears over time. It was more of a small annoyance than a painful inhibition, but it’s still something to keep in mind if you have sensitive ears.
Should you buy the Jabra Elite 4?
Yes, as long as you’re in for a jack of all trades, master of none
When you boil it down, the Jabra Elite 4 offers the same valuable package that the brand has built a reputation around. They’ve got a ton of good, functional features that won’t knock your socks off by themselves. But when you pair quality battery life together with solid weather resistance, excellent controls, and an app that doesn’t quit, the Elite 4 drive a hard bargain.
Mix in active noise cancellation and sound quality that, despite perhaps being graded especially harshly because of the precedent set by Jabra earbuds before them, align with the industry standard for their price range, and the Elite 4 really are a value.
If you were hoping for one specific specification to shine above the others, you may have to look further. And if you wanted to spend $50 for a performance uptick in both ANC and sound quality, the Elite 5 may be worth it. Or, if you’re after essentially the same earbuds but with a more durable, fitness-forward design—including an IP57 rating—the slightly more expensive Elite 4 Active are more than worth a look. Otherwise, the Jabra Elite 4 are $100 well spent.
Jabra Elite 4 earbuds
The Jabra Elite 4 earbuds have a compact design and a comfortable, ergonomic fit that stays securely in place all day long.
$99 at Amazon
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Nick Woodard is a tech journalist specializing in all things related to home theater and A/V. His background includes a solid foundation as a sports writer for multiple daily newspapers, and he enjoys hiking and mountain biking in his spare time.
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