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Jabra is using the huge Berlin consumer tech show known as IFA to introduce the latest addition to its true wireless earbuds range, the Jabra Elite 5 – and with a comprehensive checklist of features and a sleek design to boot, the debutante looks a remarkably strong player in the sub-$150 arena.
Jabra’s Elite 5 earbuds slot in just beneath the company’s flagship Elite 7 Pro and Elite 7 Active (but are a significant cut above the entry-level Elite 4 Active) and they look set to challenge the best noise-cancelling earbuds out there thanks new Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) powered by the Qualcomm QCC3050 Bluetooth chipset.
This solution, Jabra tells me, uses feedback microphones on the inside of the ear as well as feedforward microphones on the outside. The result? ANC performance should be less sensitive to how you position the buds in the ear, and promote a more reliable noise cancellation experience across a wider range of frequencies.
The Jabra Elite 5 promise clear calls too, thanks to six-microphone call technology (three per earpiece; one dedicated to your voice, one for wind reduction, one internal voice pickup) with external mics that remain active all the time plus nifty internal ones to give your voice a helping hand when it’s windy.
And they feel good in the palm of my hand. The build is durable and the earbuds themselves are light and ergonomically shaped, with a classy-looking metallic top plate, which adds a premium sheen (rather than a bauble-like shine) to the aesthetic.
Music and audio playback is handled by 6mm dynamic drivers and you’re getting Bluetooth 5.2 with higher-resolution aptX support, as well as the more standard AAC and SBC codecs – unusual for a sub-$150 set of ‘buds and ahead of the AirPods Pro, which support Bluetooth 5.0 (and although you get head-tracked Spatial Audio in the AirPods Pro, there’s no aptX support).
Jabra has also teamed up with Spotify to offer users Spotify Tap Playback, which is a great feature for the level.
Design-wise, the Elite 5 come in either ‘Gold Beige’ (pictured) or Titanium Black. The earbuds boast a discreet, comfortable, and compact fit at 5g per earbud, which is small but not tiny; the Sony WF-1000XM4 weigh 7.3g per bud, but the ridiculously inexpensive JLab Go Air Pop weigh just 3.7g per earpiece.
In terms of connectivity, you’re getting Bluetooth Multipoint for seamless dual device connectivity plus Google Fast Pair, Microsoft Swift pair and Google Assistant (from an Android device), and hands-free Alexa.
Battery life is a competitive seven hours with ANC on (28hrs with case), but the Elite 5 doesn’t stop there – the buds also deliver a customisable EQ and boast an IP55 durability rating, so they’ll handle a fair amount of dust and even a very heavy storm unaffected.
When you consider that Apple AirPods Pro cost $249 / £249 / AU$399 (although we can help you do better than that with our page dedicated to finding the best AirPods Pro deals) and Apple’s Pro-suffixed flagship AirPods offer just 5 hours from the earbuds and 24 hours in the charging case, plus a lowlier IPX4 rating for water ingress only, the future looks bright indeed for Jabra’s Elite 5.
Add to this Jabra’s aggressive pricing strategy – the Elite 5 come with a launch price of just $149 / £149 / AU$219 – and provided the sonic chops are up to snuff, Jabra could be trouncing competition from the likes of Sony and Bowers & Wilkins a lot higher up the food chain.
We haven’t had the pleasure of testing the Jabra Elite 5’s sound quality yet, but watch this space for our full, no holds barred review very soon.
IFA 2022 (opens in new tab) is Europe’s biggest tech show, and TechRadar is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and announcements, plus our hands-on first impressions of the new TVs, wearables, audio devices and other gadgets on show.
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