Jabra is a well-established name in the audio world, with plenty of products on the market. However, the Jabra Elite 3 are the company's first foray into the sub $100 true wireless earbuds world. And it shows. You get the impression that a few key details and features have been left off for this first iteration.
Despite that, the Jabra Elite are a reliable pair of earbuds, kind of like a comfy old pair of shoes. While they don't exactly offer anything truly remarkable to make them stand out, the fact that they come from a dependable name and deliver the basics fairly well means they’re still a tempting proposition.
With the Jabra Elite 3, you know exactly what you're going to get: decent audio quality, a decent fit, and decent battery life. See where we're going here? It's all decent, but nothing is exceptional. Extra features such as ANC or even a tweakable EQ are nowhere to be seen, but priced at just $80 / £80, and with everything else working just fine, it feels like quibbling.
The earbuds are comfy to wear as a result of their convenient rounded shape with ear tips to match. We like the use of physical buttons, too, doing away with accidental touches, especially while on the move. However, a wired-only and plasticky-feeling charging case is slightly disappointing even at this price.
While active noise cancellation is notable by its absence, the Elite 3 make some inroads here with Jabra's HearThrough technology, which is a form of transparency mode that uses the built-in microphones to pick up any external sounds as and when needed. It's a bit muffled, but it works well enough.
In a similar vein, there's the Jabra Sound Plus app, which lacks precise EQ customisation but offers presets that cover the bases – even if it won't quite please the control freaks among us.
On a more positive note, voice assistant support is coming, as well as Google Fast Pair Service for Android users. These are certainly convenient earbuds to use if you don't mind missing out on a few extra features.
If you're keen to own a familiar brand for less, you'll still mostly be happy with the Jabra Elite 3. They do everything you need them to – and exactly nothing more than that. In fact, we ended up quite fond of them, despite their lack of the shinier details.
Jabra Elite 3 price and availability
- Available now for $79.99 / £79.99 / AU$119
The Jabra Elite 3 are priced at $79.99 / £79.99 / AU$119, making them well priced for the true wireless earbuds market, especially for such a familiar name in the audio field.
Available from pretty much all third-party retailers, you get four colors options: light beige, dark grey, lilac and navy.
- Comfortable fit
- Physical button controls
- Wired-only charging case
Similar in design to the Jabra Elite 75t and Elite 85, the Jabra Elite 3 don't stand out for their iconic looks. For me, the priority is a comfortable fit and in this regard the Elite 3 instantly felt snug and secure in the ears. This is helped by their round ear tips, which always feel better than anything oval-shaped.
Elsewhere, the charging case feels somewhat plasticky and it lacks wireless functionality, but it does the job just fine otherwise. An LED indicator sits on the front of the case, rather than the back, which makes far more sense for determining at-a-glance status.
In other logical steps, the Jabra Elite 3 use physical buttons rather than touch controls, reducing the risk of mistaps if you’re trying to make changes while on the move.
The earbuds use 6mm drivers, which we'll analyze further down, but they do the job well. There's no active noise cancellation, but noise isolation is in play here. As a result, while the earbuds won’t do away with all background noise, we found the Jabra Elite 3 do a reasonable job of keeping you focused on your music regardless.
Jabra is keen to push its HearThrough technology, which is a form of transparency mode to give you some sign of what's going on around you, using the earbuds’ built-in microphones. It isn’t perfect, and it can be a little muffled, but it aligns well with the Elite 3’s price.
On a better note, these earbuds offer a good Mono mode, enabling you to listen with just one ear and pay attention to your surroundings with the other. The Elite 3 also come with an IPX5 rating, which means they can happily survive a bit of sweat from working out, or being caught out in the rain on a run.
Other useful features include Google Fast Pair Service and one-touch Spotify playback, albeit only for Android users. Voice assistant support is coming, too, with options for Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa in the works.
For both Android and iOS there's also the Jabra Sound Plus app, which offers some EQ presets such as Neutral, Bass Boost, Treble Boost and Smooth. However, there's no way to tweak the sliders yourself, which is a huge missed opportunity. Still, Find My Jabra is a useful tool if you misplace an earbud.
- Consistently reliable for the price
- Lack a little punch
- Support for standard aptX and SBC
The Jabra Elite 3 are reasonably well balanced. The bass could be a little stronger at times, which was evident when listening to Foo Fighters' All My Life and Billie Eilish's Bad Guy, with the sound becoming slightly distorted at louder volumes. However, when it comes to details and crispness, we were pretty satisfied.
These might not be earbuds to blow your mind, or make you see your favorite music in a whole new light, but we wouldn't expect that at this price. While the soundstage could be wider and more impressive, if stick on something memorable such as David Bowie's Under Pressure you'll notice some rich lows and high-mid crispness. It's only really the bass that makes you long for a bit more oomph and energy.
Switching on the bass preset via the Jabra app helps a little in this regard, but enthusiasts will sorely miss being able to tweak the equalizer themselves. As a general 'good for everyone' fit, though, we really can’t fault the Jabra Elite 3 much.
Note that features-wise there's support for standard aptX and SBC, but not for Apple's AAC; iOS devices can handle SBC codecs though, so you’ll still be able to connect the buds to your iPhone.
Battery life and connectivity
- Up to 7 hours of battery life
- Up to 28 hours with the charging case
- 10-minute fast charge provides an hour of playback
There's no wireless charging support here, but the Jabra Elite 3's battery performance doesn't disappoint. With Jabra promising about seven hours of play time, this is exactly what the earbuds achieved in real-world use. The case holds enough juice for three more recharges, delivering up to 28 hours before it needs topping up.
Best of all, a 10-minute fast charge will return an hour of playback – which is ideal for those who are prone to forgetting to charge their devices.
Bluetooth 5.2 support means that, in our experience, signal drop-outs simply didn't happen. Our connection was stable throughout, even when we tried to get away from our phone for a bit. Like we said, the Jabra Elite 3 proved super-reliable.
Should I buy the Jabra Elite 3?
Buy them if...
You want reliability at a good price
If your budget is sub-$100, the Jabra Elite 3 are a dependable set of earbuds for the price. They might not set your world alight, but they work well and cover all the basics.
You don't need complicated features
Jabra as a brand tends to include extra features such as a Sleep mode or multipoint pairing. The Jabra Elite 3 skips all the extras in favour of keeping it simple.
Don't buy them if...
You want the added features
The Jabra Elite 3 lack ANC, multipoint and a tweakable EQ. If such features are a priority, you'll need to look elsewhere – but note that this may require you to spend more, or go with a lesser-known brand.
You want wireless charging
We love how fast the Jabra Elite 3 charge, but the lack of wireless charging means more ugly cables scattered around the place. If you’re looking for charging convenience, look elsewhere.