Jabra Elite Sport review

A near-perfect pair of wireless headphones

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This morning it was Parkrun, where I would trot around for five kilometers first thing in the morning.

As you'll see in my 'week with’ review of the Samsung Gear S3 in the video below, Parkrun is a brilliant event organized each week around the country in the UK (and other countries too), starting at 9am and finishing... well, whenever you finish running five kilometers.

Given that I've got my five-mile race tomorrow, I have to be good and disciplined, running this at a slow pace and not pushing the heart rate up. I did think about trying to manually calibrate a session on the Jabra app, but it just seemed like too much effort when I really just wanted to mooch around the course.

So I decided to ditch the phone altogether, and test the Jabra Elite Sport headphones as just that: headphones. Syncing these things to another Bluetooth device – the Gear S3 in this case – is always fun – you have to hold down the play/pause button on the buds and wait for it to begin pairing, indicated by the LED flashing blue.

It took a few attempts to get it to enter pairing mode, but once it was activated the Gear S3 was able to pick up the signal straight away and paired up nicely.

Combined with the MP3s I downloaded to my watch the night before, I had a full music system without the need for a phone strapped to my arm – a much nicer running experience.

I also wanted to see how well the sound passthrough feature worked on the Elite Sport headphones – by activating the microphones on the outside, I should be able to hear people speaking and outside sounds much easier. 

It's hard to say much more about the Bluetooth performance during the race itself, as it was perfect. The connection was strong, which I'd have expected it to be given there was little distance between my wrist and the earbuds.

However, I can't say that the sound passthrough option was much use. It dampened the sonic performance of the earbuds a little, making vocals in particular much tinnier.

I also wasn't able to hear people talking any better with it turned on or off. In fact, the only thing I did notice was that the wind would whip across the microphone and distort the sound from time to time, so it doesn't feel like a real safety feature that will let you both listen to your music and run without fear of being hit by a bus.

Day 3 verdict

I do really wish that the Jabra Elite Sport headphones were smarter, or at least had some inbuilt storage. I'd like to go for a run without my phone, and have the heart rate data stored and ready to be downloaded when I return.

It doesn't feel that fanciful given the cost of the buds, and there are devices that can do this: the Wahoo Tickr X heart rate monitor has such smarts built in, is a third of the cost and, apart from playing music, can do everything the Elite Sports can – it can even tell you how far you've gone using the accelerometer.

Oh, and sad news: I've checked, and there's no way I can use these headphones in my race tomorrow as it'll result in instant disqualification, and I need to score some points. Sad times – this would have been another good moment to improve my VO2 Max score, and get it closer to accuracy by running so fast I might be sick out of my nose.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.