Jabra Elite 7 Pro vs. Elite 85t: Should you upgrade?

Jabra considers these two pairs of earbuds to be its flagship options, and it's easy to see why once you dig deeper. It's just not entirely clear which of the two are supposed to be the flag-bearers, though I have a clear sense of who ultimately wins out in this matchup. The Elite 7 Pro simply have some unique qualities that aren't as prevalent in the Elite 85t.

Jabra Elite 7 Pro vs. Elite 85t: Looking more closely

Jabra took a step back with the Elite 85t by giving them minimal IPX4 water and sweat resistance, something it more than rectified with the Elite 7 Pro. Even though Jabra also has the Elite 7 Active to target more active users, the Elite 7 Pro have the same IP57 water and sweat resistance. So, off the top, the Elite 85t weren't really built for those who are active. Even so, Jabra does offer the same extra two-year warranty against damage from water or sweat when you register either of these earbuds. Read the fine print and note that it won't cover all instances.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Jabra Elite 7 ProJabra Elite 85t
Bud battery life8 hours7 hours
Charging case battery life30 hours24 hours
Wireless charging caseYesYes
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.2Bluetooth 5.0
Digital assistant supportAlexa, Google Assistant, SiriAlexa, Google Assistant, Siri
Supported audio codecsSBC, AACSBC, AAC
Speaker size6mm drivers12mm drivers
Active noise cancellationYesYes
Ambient sound modeYesYes

This is despite the two using similar design materials. The difference lies in how Jabra coated and protected the openings and crevices in the Elite 7 Pro. Looking at the rest of the specs shows few other changes, but again, dig deeper and a bigger gap grows between them.

One example is the sheer size of both pairs. The Elite 85t came with a big compromise compared to the previous (and excellent) Elite 75t in that their thicker build altered the leap in comfort Jabra had achieved. The Elite 7 Pro take the company back to that level, and the improved fit carries an impact in more ways than one. Those with smaller ears will recognize the contrast just by trying both pairs on.

Looking at the rest of the specs shows few other changes, but again, dig deeper and a bigger gap grows between them.

Why is there such a size difference? It has a lot to do with the active noise cancelation (ANC) Jabra put in the Elite 85t, which was the first pair the company made that natively supported it. The Elite 75t (and Elite Active 75t) received a firmware update enabling ANC, except it wasn't a hybrid design, meaning it didn't utilize the onboard microphones the way a standard ANC setup does. The Elite 85t offer solid ANC with 11 levels of cancelation, driven by a newer ANC chip and extra microphones that forced Jabra to fatten the overall form factor.

What's unusual is how the Elite 7 Pro force you to set up a personalized ANC profile through Jabra's Sound+ app first before you can even turn the feature on. It would've been better to let people access the feature first and then customize it, much like how it was done with the Elite 85t. It's not a big deal in the grander scheme, but it is an odd step to take in highlighting a key feature for the Elite 7 Pro.

Jabra Elite 7 Pro vs. Elite 85t: Listening more closely

Closer view of Jabra Elite 7 Pro.

(Image credit: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central)

Sonically, you won't hear a dramatic difference between these two. Jabra didn't tinker much with the sound profile, but it also didn't have to. Both pairs offer excellent audio quality, and despite the obvious difference in driver size, the Elite 7 Pro still produce very efficient and vibrant sound. You still get the same access to the EQ in the Sound+ app, and can make the same adjustments, including by creating your own presets.

What does set them apart is the fit, which can change how the earbuds sound. Regardless of how big or small your ears are, you're more likely to feel a snugger fit with the Elite 7 Pro. That makes for a better seal, ultimately improving the bass response for better balance. If you can accomplish the same thing with the Elite 85t, you may hear the same results, which is great. It's just that the odds aren't as good.

There is another element to strongly consider and that's Jabra's MultiSensor Voice Technology. This is proprietary tech that allows phone and video calls to sound clearer, coming straight from the company's history as a hearing aid manufacturer. That's not to say the Elite 85t are scrubs by comparison, only that MultiSensor Voice pulls the Elite 7 Pro away in that regard. Plus, the improved mics make it easier to use voice assistants, record voice notes, or leave voice messages.

Both have the same style of controls, which is to say they use physical buttons. That means better precision when playing/pausing, skipping tracks, or accessing the ANC and ambient features.

Jabra Elite 7 Pro vs. Elite 85t: What else is there?

Jabra Elite 7 Pro and Jabra Elite 85t earbuds loose.

(Image credit: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central)

I haven't mentioned the HearThrough ambient mode yet, but it is one area where the Elite 85t hold a slight edge. It works fine on both pairs, and you will rely on it if you need to hear or talk to someone without removing the earbuds. It's just that the Elite 85t feel and sound more efficient when enabling that mode.

On the other hand, Jabra did find a way to increase battery life where it counts — which is while ANC is on. The Elite 7 Pro can last up to two hours longer per charge when noise canceling is on, only adding more scrutiny to the larger Elite 85t. The Elite 7 Pro initially lacked multipoint support to pair with two devices simultaneously, but a January 2022 firmware update fixed that, so you can use your computer and take a call or listen to music from your phone at the same time.

Jabra largely stuck to its preferences on color options. The Elite 7 Pro come in black, titanium black, and gold beige, whereas the Elite 85t come in black, titanium black, copper black, gold beige, and gray.

Jabra Elite 7 Pro vs. Elite 85t: Which should you choose?

Jabra Elite 7 Pro loose in front of case.

(Image credit: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central)

The Elite 85t may look like a bargain based on how their price has fallen, but the Elite 7 Pro find themselves among the top of the best wireless earbuds. Their combination of features, function, and consistency make them hard to pass up, even if Jabra has a less expensive pair to offer you. The key to it all is the fit, though. That's really what sets them apart above all other things, and where the other features are also more impactful.

Not to mention the Elite 7 Pro are a far better choice if you live an active lifestyle, or want better battery life. They are, in many ways, the full package, and what the Elite 85t really should've been when Jabra launched them. That's not to say the 85t are bad because they are still very good. It's just a bit ironic that the Elite 7 Pro have more in common with the Elite 75t than the 85t do, but that's how it goes when you figure out how to make earbuds that fit right.

Ted Kritsonis
Contributor, Audio Reviewer

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.