Jabra Elite Sport review: Worthy AirPod rivals are like a Fitbit for your ears

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16

The Good The Jabra Elite Sport is a set of totally fully waterproof wireless sports earphones with a built-in heart-rate monitor that sounds quite good if you can get a tight seal. Works very well as a headset as single or stereo buds. Compatible with leading third-party fitness apps as well as Jabra's companion fitness app. Charging case delivers two full charges.

The Bad May be a tad bulky for some people's ears; pricey; battery life between case charges is only three hours.

The Bottom Line Despite some small drawbacks, the Jabra Sport Elite is one of the stronger early entries in the totally wireless headphone arena.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Sound 8
  • Value 7

Editors' note (July 31, 2017): Jabra has upgraded its Elite Sport earbuds with a new version that delivers 50 percent more battery life -- 4.5 hours instead of 3 hours -- between in-case charges. Like the original version, the new edition features a built-in heart-rate monitor and costs $250 (£230; $AU 329). It now comes in a lime green gray edition as well as black.

The original Jabra Elite Sport review, published in December 2016, follows.

No, the Apple AirPods aren't the only "true wireless" headphones you can buy. Several other competitors have trickled into the market for standalone left and right earbuds in recent months, including the Motorola VerveOnes, Samsung Galaxy Gear IconX, Erato Apollo 7, Earin and the upcoming Here One. And now Jabra has entered the zero-wire fray with its Elite Sport ($195 at Walmart) wireless sports earbuds. They're available in the US ($250), UK (£230) and the EU (250 euros), with an Australian launch slated for later in the year (pricing not yet announced, but US price converts to approximately AU$330).

The Jabra Elite sports comes with a variety of eartips and fins to help you get the right fit.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What makes the Elite Sport so elite? For starters, the 'buds are fully sweat- and waterproof. There's also an integrated heart-rate monitor that provides "in-ear fitness analysis" and, as you'd suspect from a Jabra headphone, they work quite well as a headset for making calls, with built-in noise reduction technology. According to Jabra, the earbuds analyze external sounds and automatically switch to the earbud with least background noise. I had no problem making calls from the noisy streets of New York, which is a feat.

What also impressed me about these guys was their ability to maintain a steady, hiccup-free connection and stay in my ears while running. They also sound quite decent, though with in-ear noise-isolating headphones such as these, it's crucial that you get a tight seal to get the best sound quality, and you'll have to try out a few of the various tips and fins that Jabra provides before you settle into a fit you're satisfied with.

Once again, none of the included eartips allowed me to get a tight seal. But I dug up an extra large silicone tip from the myriad tips I have lying around the office and -- voilà -- the sound improved by 25 percent, particularly the bass. The only problem was that with those larger tips, the earbuds didn't quite fit in their charging case (I couldn't snap the lid completely shut).

The earphones are fully waterproof.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Of course, there's a good chance one of the tips will fit you perfectly and you won't have this problem (my ears are admittedly tough to fit, but there are plenty of people out there with ears that are tough to fit with in-ear sports headphones).

Another downside is the earphones are somewhat beefy. And while they should fit most people's ears pretty well -- and fairly comfortably -- due to their size and the shape of my ear, I didn't find them supercomfortable, though I felt better about them once I found the right tip.

Like competing products, battery life isn't great -- they're rated at just three hours of music listening -- but it's easy to get extra juice by slipping them into their charging case, which has an integrated battery that gives you two additional charges.

Best Headphones for 2020

All best headphones

More Best Products

All best products