Bottom line: Jabra brings its penchant for earbuds that fit well and stand up to some punishment, doing it at a price more affordable than the company's premium options. You get excellent sound quality, great comfort, and solid app support to go with all that.
- Solid audio quality
- Good ANC performance
- Better fit and comfort
- Very good durability
- Reliable button controls
- No auto-pause
- No wireless charging
If you're keeping track, Jabra's number conventions tend to work backwards in that it releases more affordable options after its high-end choices hit the market first. Other times, they're sandwiched between the affordable pairs, such being the case with the Elite 3 coming on the eve of the Elite 7 Pro and Elite 7 Active.
Now, come the Elite 4 Active, a more budget-conscious take on Jabra's previous buds built for the active crowd. These are the kind of earbuds that set a tone, not just because of the price, but also what you get for money you put down. If these look right on the price tag, they may also be in your wheelhouse with everything else.
Jabra Elite 4 Active: Price and availability
Jabra launched the Elite 4 Active in January 2022 and made them available for $119.99. They positioned them as more affordable workout earbuds, and are likely to stay that way for at least the next year or so, so expect good availability throughout that time. Jabra's earbuds tend to stick around store shelves and online retail, making them easy to find. Don't be surprised to see them drop a few bucks during sales as the year goes on.
They come in black, navy, and light mint.
Jabra Elite 4 Active: What's good
It's often telling when a company likes a design philosophy so much that it sticks to it for a multitude of products. That's exactly where the Elite 4 Active sit. These are earbuds following the same principles Jabra applied to its most recent wireless earbuds, and it's a decision coming with plenty of upside.
It is indeed an interesting combination. The earbuds themselves are very much in line with the Elite 7 Active, whereas the case is a slight offshoot of the Elite 85t. Both are nice touches, and they work well together for both comfort and portability. While rubberized, the Elite 4 Active aren't as thickly coated as the Elite 7 Active, yet still offer the same IP57 protection from dust and water. Jabra actually used a smoother plastic on the outside and a rubberized coat on the inside where the earbuds make contact with your ears.
The ergonomics involved already make for a better fit, so the chances they wiggle out are slimmer. Not to say it can't or won't happen, mind you, just that you're less likely to have to keep fiddling with them to feel just right. Jabra also wisely used the same ear tips to maintain that snug fit, of which you get three sizes in the box.
Jabra's Sound+ app plays a key role in setting up the supporting features that make the Elite 4 Active a greater sum. It's where you set up active noise cancelation (ANC) and voice assistant preferences, among other things. It's also where the equalizer sits to help you drive more out of the sound. These aren't unique features to these earbuds, of course, as the app offers the same things to Jabra's other aforementioned models, but it does maintain congruency if you're looking to upgrade from a previous Jabra pair or looking to try out the brand for the first time.
From a sonic perspective, the Elite 4 Active sound about the same as the Elite 7 Active. Not exactly the same, but closer than I would've expected considering the price difference. For earbuds in this price range, I think you will have a hard time complaining about the sound they produce. Clear, crisp, and consistent, the EQ does a good job letting you skew things how you want. That includes flexibility during workouts or runs, like if you wanted extra bass, or less bass if you were catching up on a podcast while walking your dog, for instance.
Jabra added support for aptX, along with SBC, while removing AAC, which is great if you have an Android phone supporting those codecs. ANC isn't as efficient as it is on Jabra's premium earbuds, but is still excellent at subduing background noise to keep you focused on the content you're listening to. The HearThrough mode is also super helpful when you want to hear your surroundings, especially while out running or cycling.
You do also have the choice to switch from Google Assistant to Alexa, or (as an Android user) pick Spotify as your assistant go-to. In the latter case, instead of waking a voice assistant you get immediate access to start playing tunes from your Spotify Premium account.
The physical button controls are also top-notch, continuing Jabra's excellent pedigree in that area. You're not likely to encounter too many false positives compared to touch-sensitive controls.
Call quality is also excellent for earbuds in this price range. The Elite 4 Active don't have Jabra's MultiSensor Voice Technology, but that's fine. I wouldn't expect higher-end proprietary tech like that to filter down to more affordable buds just yet. I found calls were perfectly fine when I tested them, and just as clear as earbuds double the price.
Then there's battery life, which also holds up quite well. Jabra claims up to seven hours per charge with ANC on, and 8.5 hours with it off. Assuming you don't crank up the volume too much, you should come close to those numbers. The case gives you an extra three charges, with a 10-minute fast charge giving you up to 60 minutes of playback.
Jabra Elite 4 Active: What's not good
Unfortunately, the Elite 4 Active don't have wireless charging, so you lose the convenience of just plopping them down on a Qi charging pad and letting them refill. As long as you have a USB-C cable handy, you are good to plug in and charge that way.
It's also a bit strange Jabra didn't include auto-pause when you remove either earbud from your ear. When you do, the music keeps playing, so the best option is to click one of the buttons and then remove one, or remove it first and just click it. I get that Jabra cut this corner to reduce the overall cost, it's just something you miss when you're used to it from other earbuds.
Jabra didn't include the Elite 4 Active when it released firmware in January 2022 to add support for multipoint connections to allow you to connect to two devices at once. You also can't customize the button controls like you can with the Elite 7 Pro and 7 Active. They are what they are, and that's it.
The only other thing I would caution about is the water resistance. These aren't swimming earbuds, so don't start diving into water with them and expect they'll survive the experience every time. The IP57 rating does include submerging them underwater, except the catch is it's not for any prolonged period. Stay away from salt water because there are too many ways salt or sand could get in and ruin them.
Jabra Elite 4 Active: Competition
The best wireless earbuds are a mix of pairs coming in different prices and feature sets. That also goes for the best workout earbuds, and the Elite 4 Active wouldn't feel out of place on either list. There are some solid options if you're looking to assess what might fit best for you.
The Jaybird Vista 2 are not only rugged, but also come with an almost unmatched EQ experience kept alive by a community of users who develop and share presets. If you're concerned about stability and don't mind resting a pair over your ears with hooks, the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC come cheaper and do lot of things well.
Jabra Elite 4 Active: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You need something comfortable
- You need something durable
- You are on a tighter budget
- You want reliable onboard controls
You shouldn't buy this if ...
- You are willing to spend more
- You want multipoint connections
- You want auto-pause
- You want customizable buttons
4 out of 5
The price may seem like it's more mid-range than "cheap" but for what you get, the Elite 4 Active are superb value. They sound great, fit really well, and come with excellent support from Jabra and its Sound+ app. Their durability only adds to their cachet as workout buds that you don't have to pay too much to wear.
You don't have to have an overly active lifestyle to enjoy them, and they are an upgrade over the Elite 3 in case you were looking at those as budget options. You really will get what you pay for if you take a chance with the Elite 4 Active.
Jabra Elite 4 Active
The Jabra Elite 4 Active strike a great balance between what you pay and what you get, thanks to excellent performance and a comfortable fit. Solid audio quality always helps, and so does the IP57 rating that makes them durable enough for all your workouts and runs.
Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar. Often times, that will be with a pair of headphones or earbuds playing tunes. When he's not testing something, he's working on the next episode of his podcast, Tednologic.
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