Until recently, affordable truly wireless (TWS) earbuds were a rarity. Good ones, even more so. In 2023, this is a more common sight and consumers are thankful for it. Jabra’s Elite 4, launched in April in India, costs ₹9,999, and punches above its weight in both sound quality and active noise cancellation (ANC).
The Elite 4 are available in Dark Gray, Navy, Lilac, and Light Beige colour variants and can be purchased on Amazon, Flipkart, Croma, Reliance and Jabra-authorised resellers.
The Elite 4 aren’t to be confused with Jabra’s fitness-oriented Elite Active 4. The Elite 4 comes with Bluetooth multipoint (can connect to two devices at once and switch seamlessly between them), active noise cancellation (the Elite 3’s didn’t have them) and a transparent listening mode, but the case lacks any wireless charging support.
After having used the unique-looking Nothing Ear 2 for the past couple of weeks, the Elite 4 seems kinda dull. They do stand out, design-wise, but they won’t make any heads turn. They feature a rounded triangular design and come in a couple of different colour options, as mentioned above.
Inside the box, you get the earbuds, two extra sizes of silicon eartips (small and large, to go alongside the already applied medium) and a short USB-C cable.
What is immediately noticeable is the fact that the plastic case (with a matte coating) is extremely lightweight. To the point where I thought it’d get easily damaged. After opening and closing the hinge over a hundred times, I can safely say that they will stand the test of time. The case weighs just 33g, while each earbud is 4.6g. The earbuds are very easy to take in and out of the case.
Like all the other TWS earbuds from Jabra, the Elite 4 feel secure in one’s ears. The fit is comfy, and I could wear them for hours without feeling tired. In fact, they’re tiny enough that people may not even notice one wearing them. The Elite 4 comes with a IP55 rating to protect from dust and water splashes. The whole design may not be premium, but for the price, it gets the job done. The one thing lacking from the Elite 4, however, is a proximity sensor. This means that the music will not pause automatically when you remove one of the earbuds.
If you’ve used any of Jabra’s TWS earbuds before then you’ll feel right at home. These may be slimmer than their predecessors, but they are still as comfortable. Connectivity is a breeze as the Elite 4 features Fast Pair, which, as the name suggests, pairs the earbuds with your smartphone instantaneously. The earbuds support the aptX Bluetooth codec for high-quality audio on Android and sound great for all music genres.
The Elite 4 sounds great out of the box as they have a lively soundstage. It’s a crowd-pleasing sound, but those who need a touch of extra bass will have to tinker with the EQ settings in the Jabra Sound+ app (available on both iOS and Android). The lows and highs are boosted by default but easily adjustable.
Listening to Take Five by Miles Davis, I could hear the different instruments in play. Instrument separation was great for these earbuds. After adjusting the EQ settings, and putting on some Iron Maiden, I could hear the guitar sounds clearly, and it didn’t drown out any of the other instruments, and the vocals were crystal clear.
I spent a lot of my time listening to some of my favourite podcasts and not for a moment did I have to boost the vocals. Everyone was loud and clear and I could easily immerse myself for hours on end.
Unlike the Nothing Ear 2, which has difficult squeeze controls, the Elite 4 has easy-to-use capacitive touch controls. There’s a double-tap and a triple-tap on the right earbud to skip forward and back through tracks. On the left, these taps trigger voice assistant or activate the Spotify Tap (Android only) feature. If you press and hold the left and right earbuds, then you can lower and raise the volume. One downside is that these controls are not customisable. The only thing you can do is to prevent double-tapping to activate the voice assistant.
Battery life is more than acceptable. The Elite 4 battery clocks in at five and a half hours with ANC turned on. With ANC off, that number increases to seven hours. The case provides 16.5 hours of extra playtime with ANC on. With it off, you can get an extra 21 hours of battery.
Simply put, these are good, and much better than the Nothing Ear 2 which provides just four hours on a single charge with ANC turned on.
To fully recharge the buds and case, you need to set the buds aside for three and a half hours. Just 10 minutes of charge will give you an hour of playback.
While ANC is there, it’s not very strong. ANC is meant to drown out the sounds around you. Instead, with the Elite 4, you only get a reduction in outside noise and not a complete elimination. It’s useable, but not up to the mark.
Where the Elite 4 shines is when the transparent mode (HearThrough as Jabra calls it in the Sound+ app) is turned on. HearThrough mode amplifies ambient noise. With HearThrough turned on, you can listen to surrounding sounds without ruining your listening experience.
The Elite 4 aren’t the best for taking calls, but they get the job done. There were a few moments when the other party couldn’t hear me, but that didn’t happen often enough for me to worry. Also, I noticed that the surrounding sounds were not suppressed enough during some of my calls.
Just like ANC, another feature that is rare on budget earphones is Bluetooth multipoint. This means that I can connect with the Elite 4 to my Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED at the same time. I can stream a YouTube video from the S 13 OLED and answer a call from the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
While I like what Jabra has done with the Elite 4 (some nifty features not available in competitors’ buds), the competition is very fierce. Oppo has what most people call the best TWS earbuds under ₹10,000, with the Enco X2, and then there is Nothing with their unique-looking Ear 2 that just came to the market.
Jabra may have blurred the lines between the Elite 4 and the Elite 5, but the former is still worth your consideration. They aren’t perfect, but if you need lightweight, no-frills TWS earbuds with a lively soundstage, then the Elite 4 are for you. The nifty Sound+ app is a bonus.
The Elite 4 isn’t flashy nor do they stand out, and the ANC isn’t top-notch. Still, the Elite 4 offers no real dealbreakers for its price point of ₹9,999. Just mind the competition, and do your research before picking these up.
Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist
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