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Jabra Elite 75t unveiled: Our favorite AirPods rival gets a new and improved sequel

The successor to Jabra's popular Elite 65t is designed to better fit more people's ears. It ships in October for $200.

The Jabra Elite 75t.
David Carnoy/CNET

The Jabra Elite 65t arrived in early 2018 and quickly became one of our favorite true wireless (AirPods-style) headphones, with the slightly more rugged Elite Active 65t earning a CNET Editors' Choice Award. So what does Jabra do for an encore? It puts out the new Elite 75t, an evolutionary upgrade that offers a series of improvements over its predecessor: It's 20% smaller, offers better battery life and USB-C charging. The upgrades do come at a cost, however. Due to hit stores in October, the Elite 75t lists for $200 (£190 and $AU 299) -- that's $30 more than the Elite 65t did when it first came out, and $55 more than the current-gen AirPods.

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I haven't listened to the new model, but Jabra sent me a non-working early unit to give me a sense of the design changes. It says the drivers are the same -- so the sound should be unchanged -- but the smaller design will help more people get a more comfortable, snugger fit. The charging case is smaller, too.

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The issue for many of these in-ear noise-isolating headphones is that they fit some ears better than others. I didn't have a problem with the fit of the Elite 65t, but I've heard from some friends and acquaintances that they ended up returning the earphones because they didn't quite fit. Getting a tight seal is not only crucial to having the buds stay in your ears securely but it allows you to get the best sound out of them with improved bass performance.

I can't say the new design made a huge difference for me. As I said, the Elite 65t basically fit my ears almost perfectly. However, I do think the new design will make a difference for some people and it definitely makes the earbuds more discreet. The "pipe" of the earbuds, where the voice microphone lives, has almost been eliminated on the Elite 75t and its absence gives the earbuds a more streamlined look. 

The Elite 65t (left) vs. the Elite 75t (right).

Sarah Tew/CNET

I did appreciate the smaller charging case. I also like that it has a flat bottom so you can lay it down horizontally (you have to stand the Elite 65t's case up vertically). Additionally, Jabra has made the case easier to open than close than the Elite 65t's case. These design upgrades may seem small but they clearly improve the product.

The headphones still have four microphones -- two in each earbud -- but the location has changed. There are now microphones at the front and the back of each bud. The Elite 65t worked well as a headset and this model should be just as good for making calls, if not slightly better.

These are also equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, which helps improve battery life, Jabra says. While the earphones are smaller battery life is now rated at 7.5 hours at moderate volume levels -- up from 5 hours on the Elite 65t. The case provides an additional 20.5 hours of battery life.

With an IP55 water-resistance rating, the Elite 75t is splashproof and offers some dust resistance and will be fine to use at the gym and for running. Like the Elite 65t, there's a HearThrough transparency mode that lets ambient sound in and Jabra says the Sound+ app will get an update to the EQ settings so you can tweak the sound to your liking. You can also choose between various voice assistants, including Alexa and Google Assistant.

The earphones have a more discreet design.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Elite 75t's biggest challenge is that it's entering a far more competitive market than its predecessor. In addition to models on Amazon for as little as $80 -- or $32 -- the past few months have seen the impressive Jaybird Vista and the awesome Sony WH-1000XM3, to name just a few. The $200 price of the Jabra Elite 75t puts it at the high end of the range, too. I would have liked to have seen Jabra improve the sound a bit, but nevertheless this should be one of the top true wireless headphones out there -- and should fit more ears. I look forward to fully testing it and posting a full review just before it ships this October. 

Jabra Elite 75t key specs 

Key specs, according to Jabra:

  • 20 percent smaller
  • Fits flat against your ear, with no nose for microphones
  • Smaller charging case that's easier to open and close
  • 50% longer battery life -- 7.5 hours at moderate volume levels -- with charging case providing an additional 20.5 hours
  • USB-C charging
  • Same drivers as Elite 65t (same sound) 
  • 4 microphones (two in each earbud), with microphones now at front and back of buds
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Proprietary technology from GT Telecom
  • Optimized wireless antenna placement
  • Sound+ will get update to EQ settings
  • HearThrough transparency mode
  • IP55 certified water-resistant (splashproof)
  • Two-year warranty
  • Price: $200
  • Three color options: Titanium black, all black (Best Buy exclusive) and gold/beige arrives later this year
  • Shipping in October