Review: Jabra Elite Sport (2017) isn’t quite in Apple AirPods league, but makes a strong point

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The wire-free earphone space is becoming increasingly competitive—something started by the Apple AirPods, which saw the likes of Samsung jump in the competition with their Gear earphones and eventually culminating with Google announcing the Pixel Buds. However, these are not your only wireless earphone options. While Apple made it fashionable with the AirPods, there are still some rather neat alternatives. The Jabra Elite Sport, priced at Rs18,990 (Amazon.in), is one of them. Now in its second iteration, it improves on the predecessor in many ways.

Design: Getting the basics right

In terms of design, there isn’t much difference between the generations, which is fine. You still get fairly chunky individual earpieces and six pairs of eartips in different sizes and made of gel or foam materials. It may take some time to find the one that fits perfectly. You will also notice significant sound quality differences as you switch between different materials of the eartips. The Jabra Elite Sport sports a dual colour option too, with lime green and grey making for an interesting combination. The IP67 water and dust resistance ratings add to the element of ruggedness.

Fitness tracking: An essential

Fitness is a key element of the Jabra Elite Sport, and there is an integrated heart rate monitor in the earpiece. Pair that with the GPS coordinates that it pulls from your phone, and you will get fairly accurate mapping and data of your fitness regime. The Jabra app for your phone (free for Android and iOS) illustrates all your activity data in an easy to understand manner. While it tracks distances covered, speed and calories burnt quite well, we aren’t always sure about the readings of the heart rate, which tend to vary considerably. You will get audio updates based on progress and targets achieved.

Jabra Elite Sport is perhaps not the most vibrant sound, but then again, the Elite Sport isn’t meant for the audiophiles anyway.

Jabra Elite Sport is perhaps not the most vibrant sound, but then again, the Elite Sport isn’t meant for the audiophiles anyway.

Audio: What matters most

In terms of the sound, the Jabra Elite Sport mixes it up well with adequate treble, fairly deep bass and good mid-range frequencies. It is perhaps not the most vibrant sound, but then again, the Elite Sport isn’t meant for the audiophiles anyway. We did notice that when we paired the earphones during the initial handful of attempts, there was no audio from the left earpiece—irrespective of what device we paired these with. However, as with most things, it needed to work only once and one instance of resetting the connection and re-pairing it solved the problem.

Battery life: Could be better

What you also get is a charging case, which not only keeps the earphones docked safely, but also keeps topping up the battery when not in use. The case’s battery can charge these earphones twice over completely, which means about 13.5 hours’ worth of battery life before you need to find a charging port to recharge the earphones and the battery case. The earphones themselves have bigger battery capacity than before (around 4.5 hours now, at around 50% volume, compared with around 3 hours earlier). In comparison, the AirPods can deliver as much as 5 hours of battery life, and the charging case can provide enough battery charge for the AirPods to last 24 hours of music listening before they need to be recharged again.

Should you buy?

With the improved battery life, good sound and fairly rugged build, the Jabra Elite Sport potentially becomes a viable alternative to the Apple AirPods, particularly if you need the fitness tracking aspect. That is, if you are not using an iPhone—because if you are, the AirPods not only cost a bit less, but do a better job overall with the sound and battery life. For Android phone users, the Jabra Elite Sport is genuinely worth considering, though it has a rather heavy price tag.

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