Jabra Elite 85H hands on review

Over 32 hours of battery

What is a hands on review?
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Early Verdict

The Jabra Elite 85H look to be solidly built and come with some great features that may mean they can rival the best from Sony and Bose.

For

  • Incredible battery life
  • Dominant ANC performance

Against

  • Not cheap
  • Feel quite heavy

Jabra usually specialize in headphones you can go running in, but the latest addition to its Elite line may suit the audiophiles among you too.

The Jabra Elite 85H are designed to offer top-quality audio in a comfortable over ear form, and while these may not be the most comfortable for working out they should be lovely to wear on a day-to-day basis.

We've tried out the headphones for the first time at CES 2019, so you can read below for our first impressions of Jabra's latest.

Jabra Elite 85H release date and price

You won’t be able to buy the Jabra Elite 85H until April 2019 when the headphones are set to launch in both the US and UK. We don’t currently have a clear release date for Australia, and the company has yet to even confirm if they will launch there.

A pair of these are also set to be quite expensive at £280 / $299 (around AU$500), so don’t expect these to show up in our best cheap headphones list any time soon.

Design 

The Jabra Elite 85H feel comfortable to wear with the headband and ears - the usual pain points - covered in a faux leather that means they sit on your head without any irritation.

They look similar to a lot of other over-ear headphones on the market right now, and while these aren’t going to stun you with their looks they’re also not embarrassing to wear either.

You can easily pull the ears to ensure a fit that suits your head, and they felt sturdy enough to take a bit of wear and tear when you throw these around each day.

These feel like the sort of headphones you'll be able to wear for hours without feeling much discomfort, but we did notice they feel quite heavy compared to competitors.

We tried the gold beige and black versions of the headphones on, but there’s also titanium black and navy to choose from too. Whether the gold beige looks as pristine after a few months usage remains to be seen, but it’s good the company has brought lots of color choices.

The design is also rain resistant, so you shouldn't have to whip these off as soon as the heavens open.

Features

Battery life is the main selling point of the Elite 85H, and the company currently estimates the headphones will last for up to 32 hours with its adaptive noise cancelling turned on.

If that's true, that's a fantastic amount of battery out of these headphones. We'll be sure to push that battery life claim when we get these in for our full review.

In terms of noise cancellation, we found that feature to work well on the bustling floor at CES 2019. We were able to focus on the music with the headphones on, but we didn’t have the opportunity to properly test the company’s new adaptive technology.

It uses artificial intelligence paired with eight microphones around the headphones to pick up a full picture of your surroundings. From there it'll play with the settings for the best quality sound for your environment. 

There are three settings called ‘Commute’, ‘In Public’ and ‘In Private’ and while we don’t know the exact setting we were on at the time of testing we can confirm the audio cancelling tech worked well.

We'll be sure to test the artificial intelligence power adaptive element during our full review.

Another key feature is these headphones will support Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple Siri depending on what phone you’re using at the time. Again, we weren’t able to test out this feature but the company has confirmed it’s 100% hands free.

You'll have to have the Jabra Sound+ app set up on your phone for it to work too.

That means you’ll be able to ask Alexa or your voice assistant of choice without having to worry about hitting buttons. It’s not exactly a game changing feature, but if you’re often using a voice assistant you may find this upgrade useful.

Audio quality is obviously an important part of any pair of headphones, and we can confirm that in our limited testing it sounded clear.

The audio sounded full, and we think you'll be able to listen to these for a while without getting fatigued. It was exactly what you’d expect from a pair of headphones of this type.

Early verdict

Although it's difficult to judge the company's new AI-powered noise cancelling technology without using these in an average setting, the Jabra Elite 85H look to do a lot right.

Hands free virtual assistants and what may be some phenomenal battery life are two of the key selling points, and the design of these headphones looks to be another too.

  • Check out all of TechRadar's CES 2019 coverage. We're live in Las Vegas to bring you all the breaking tech news and launches, plus hands-on reviews of everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops and smart home gadgets.  

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.