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Jabra Elite 85h vs. Bose QC35 II: Should you buy it?

Jabra Elite 85h suspended
Jabra Elite 85h suspended (Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

Jabra Elite 85h

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The Jabra Elite 85h is competing in the very competitive ANC headphone market.

Jabra Elite 85h

Ridiculous Battery Life

Bluetooth 5.0
Ridiculously long battery life
Smartphone app
Lack of higher quality Bluetooth codecs
Sound leakage

Bose QC 35 II

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The Bose QC35 IIs have two things going for it: portability and comfort. While they are a few years old, they still remain one of the best ANC headphones on the market.

Bose QC 35 II

Super comfortable

Super comfortable for long use
Relatively neutral sound signature
Ultra-portable carrying case
microUSB for charging
Limited smartphone app

The Jabra Elite 85h wins the race here solely because the Bose QC35 IIs are getting a bit dated with its microUSB port and design. Meanwhile, the Jabra Elite 85h does everything the QC35 IIs do but with a more modern design with USB-C and a few extra bell and whistles at a lower price point.

Differentiating the two

Let's start out by breaking down what the Bose QC35 IIs don't have in comparison to the Jabra Elite 85h. The most notable day-to-day change is the upgrade from microUSB on the QC35 IIs to USB-C on the Jabra Elite 85h. Not only do they go USB-C, but the 85h's are also capable of fast charging with up to 5 hours of listening with a 15 minute charge.

The biggest difference between the two is battery life. The Bose QC35 IIs offer up to 20 hours of battery life versus the incredible up to 36 hours of battery life with the Jabra Elite 85h. So, in addition to charging super quick, they also last nearly twice as long as the QC35 IIs. This is likely due to the improved Bluetooth 5.0 radio in the 85h, which improves range and efficiency over the Bluetooth 4.1 radio in the QC35 IIs.

The Jabra Elite 85h also has a much more robust smartphone app. Unlike the Bose QC 35 IIs, Jabra's app lets you fine-tune the sound signature with a 5-band equalizer, customize your digital assistant preferences, and adjust ANC.

Unfortunately, neither of them support the aptX or LDAC Bluetooth audio codecs for higher quality audio. While it's underwhelming to say the least, the Bose QC35 IIs edge out the Jabra Elite 85h here ever so slightly because the QC 35 IIs support AAC, which is great for devices running Android Oreo or higher, or any Apple device. This is in addition to the SBC codec that every Bluetooth headphone supports.

But let's talk nifty party tricks because the Jabra Elite 85h has quite a few of those. The first being that they automatically turn on when you swivel the ear cup and turn off when you pack them away. You'll also get an auto-play and auto-pause feature that work similar to most truly wireless earbuds. Take them off your head and they'll pause. Put them back on your head again and they'll resume playback.

And unlike the Bose QC35 IIs, the 85h feature an ambient sound mode that allows you to hear the outside world without having to remove your headphones or pause your music. This is achieved by reversing the ANC microphones.

Jabra Elite 85hBose QC35 II
Battery Life36 hours20 hours
Charging CableUSB-CmicroUSB
Smartphone appYesYes
Bluetooth audio codecsSBCSBC, AAC

The similarities

Obviously, they're both over-ear ANC headphones that are meant to be light and portable for travel. Fortunately, they are both capable of being folded up and are ultra-portable for when you need to pack them away in your bag.

While it may sound obvious, the 85h and the QC35 IIs both offer a wired 3.5mm option and can be plugged and charging while listening while plugged in wired or wirelessly via Bluetooth. In this setup, both headphones are able to keep its ANC mode enabled, unlike many other ANC headphones we've tested.

In terms of sound quality, the Bose QC35 IIs has an edge here if you're looking for a more balanced sound signature. The lows/bass is smooth and clear without over or under emphasizing anything, the mid-range is neutral, and the treble region has a slight over emphasis that can make certain songs sound harsh and sharp.

For the Jabra Elite 85h, it's out-of-the-box sound signature is rather uninteresting and boring. It has a slightly boosted low end, but not enough to make it fun and exciting, a rather recessed mid-range which makes some vocals and instruments sound dull, and a forward treble region that has a tendency of being sharp and piercing. Fortunately, the sound signature can be somewhat tweaked within Jabra's app with a basic 5-band equalizer.

Neither of these headphones have a great soundstage, spatial awareness, or dynamic range. However, that's usually the trade off with portable, ANC headphones. The Jabra Elite 85h does have quite a bit of sound leakage at higher volumes, though.

If you're wanting Bose ANC headphones, but think the QC35 IIs are a bit outdated, check out the new Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 (opens in new tab). The Noise Canceling 700s are the successors to the Bose QC35 IIs and pack a more modern design with modern internals. Check our our comparison here.