Jabra Elite 85t true wireless headphones review
One of our top choices for wireless earbuds, the Jabra Elite 85t are a triple threat; They’re incredible for making calls, listening to music, and drowning out noise. They also offer some solid improvements over the phenomenal Elite 75t true wireless headphones. In particular, they offer a “semi-open” design, stronger active noise cancellation, wireless charging, and speaker drivers that are twice the size of the 75t, but at a premium cost.
- IPX4 Water-Resistant
- Very portable
- Incredible sound quality
- Very strong and natural active noise cancellation
- Great app for configuring features and personalizing headphones
- USB-C and Wireless charging
- Firmware updates keep these headphones more future-proof
- Semi-open fit might not stay in-ear as well as 75t’s closed fit
- Not as water-resistant as 75t
- Heavier and bigger than 75t
After reviewing (and LOVING) Jabra’s Elite 75t true wireless headphones we were really excited to see how much better the newer and more expensive Jabra Elite 85t headphones could be. Notably, the Jabra Elite 85t features active noise cancellation (ANC), wireless charging, a new “semi-open” design, more microphones for call quality, 12mm drivers, and pretty much all the other amazing features that we loved about the Elite 75t model. Read on for our Jabra Elite 85t review.
Design, comfort, and fit
Jabra Elite 85t is a drop bigger and heavier than 75t, but relatively still very small and light. Each bud weighs just 6.9g and is nub styled. There’s not much that sticks out of your ear and the entire bud is the size of a fingertip plus the silicon “eargel”. There are no ear wings or anything especially fancy or unique about the design. The charging case is also a bit bigger than 75t’s but still just palm-sized and easily pocketable. The portability of these headphones is one of the features we like best.
There are 3 different sized silicon “eargel” tips included. Unlike 75t, they’re not round, but oval. The oval design is supposed to fit better and not sit so deep in your ear. They are a “semi-open” design that offers pressure relief and has less of an ear plug feel. Unfortunately, I found it fit a lot worse than the 75t’s “closed-fit”. This was my biggest gripe with the 85t’s, but I usually have issues with in-ear buds that lack a hook or stabilizer.
Each bud has just one button, which is configurable in the app. They don’t start with the most intuitive configuration, but it’s very quick to get used to or customize. You can play/pause, adjust volume, skip tracks, activate the voice assistant, and toggle on/off active noise cancellation. Unfortunately, you can’t simply shut ANC without using the app, you can only toggle between ANC and HearThrough.
The protective charging case charges with USB-C and there’s a USB-A to USB-C charging cable included. You can also charge the case wirelessly! the charging case supports standard Qi-certified wireless chargers. The earbud battery lasts for 5.5 hours with ANC turned on and 7 hours without noise cancellation. The charging case extends it up to 20 hours or 24 with ANC. By comparison, the battery is pretty solid and mostly outperforms the competition. There’s also a fast charge mode that will get you 60 minutes of use from a 15-minute charge.
The noise isolation on the 75t model is so good, I couldn’t imagine 85t’s active noise cancellation being such an improvement — I was wrong. It’s incredibly natural and clean, and gets rid of background noise you may not have known existed. After wearing these I realized I had been mentally tuning out the lawnmowers in the background. With the Jabra Elite 85t there’s blissful silence and it allows you to hear music much more clearly and quietly. You can even adjust the amount of noise cancellation you want in the app.
That said, the passive noise isolation is not as strong as with the Jabra Elite 75t, but it’s a nice in-between if you want to hear some surrounding sound without amplifying it. If you want to hear your surroundings even better you can turn on HearThrough. I found Jabra’s HearThrough to be better and also more “natural” than what’s found on most other headphones. To that effect, with most headphones HearThrough amplifies so much noise (like keyboard typing) that it’s impractical to ever keep them on, but Jabra seems to do this in a way that doesn’t sound much louder than real-life. You can also adjust the intensity of HearThrough in the app.
The sound quality doesn’t get much better than the Jabra Elite 85t. It’s incredibly rich and vibrant with great detail, solid bass, and crisp highs. The equalizer is configurable so everyone should be able to tweak these to sound absolutely amazing for their ears and preference. They’re a lot of fun to listen to, and we are really happy with the default tuning which is really well balanced. The Jabra Elite 85t has speakers twice the size of 75t, specifically, they are 12mm instead of 6mm. The Jabra Elite 85t doesn’t necessarily sound that much better but you can tell that there is some extra oomph and bass making it subjectively more enjoyable.
The microphone on the Jabra Elite 85t is one of the best out there, especially for headphones this size. There are a whopping 6 microphones in total helping to zero in on voice, ignoring noise, and even canceling out the wind. There’s a sidetone feature so you can hear your own voice amplified through the headphones but we shut this immediately and can’t stand it. The Jabra Elite 85t sounds just as crystal clear as the 75t, but we did notice that the 85t is better at canceling background noise in our tests.
One of the killer features that gives Jabra a real edge is their Sound+ app. The app unleashes the full capabilities of these buds. As mentioned, you can tune the buds to your liking, tweaking the equalizer or flipping through music presets. You can go a step beyond that with MySound which runs a hearing test to help optimize your audio experience. Since you may not always want noise cancellation turned on, there are “moments” that can change the sound mode depending on the situation you’re in, like commuting or working. Aside from the bigger app features, there’s a lot of features you’d hope for and expect like battery status, firmware updates, configuring the sound mode (ANC, HearThru, or none) and strength of each, and some personalization. Each button can be configured too. The app is also how you can update your headphone firmware for improvements and additional features. It’s worth mentioning that not too long ago Jabra was able to add active noise cancellation to their 75t headphones just with a firmware update (an incredible and unheard-of move!).
Jabra Elite 85t review verdict
We absolutely loved the Jabra Elite 75t true wireless headphones, and the Jabra Elite 85t delivers more bass, better call quality, wireless charging, and best-in-class Active Noise Cancelling. The only catch for us is that the 85t doesn’t fit us as well as the 75t does. They’re a bit bigger and heavier, plus have a non-standard oval ear tip. If the 85t would fit as comfortably as the 75t does, it would really come down to whether the higher price tag is worth the few extra features. In any case, both true wireless headphones are so solid, you should be really happy either of them. As of this writing, the Jabra Elite 75t sells for $130 while the Jabra Elite 85t is currently on sale for for $199, with its regular retail price being $229.
Update Feb 8th, 2021: The Jabra Elite 85t has been updated with several new features that can be enabled through its Jabra Sound+ app.
- MyFit: MyFit is a seal test that checks the user’s optimal ear gel seal for enhanced ANC performance and music experience.
- Headset renaming: Offers personalization with the option to change the Elite 85t headset name.
- OFF Mode: Newly added off-mode on the earbud to toggle between ANC, HearThrough and Off.