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AirPods Pro vs. Jabra Elite Active 75t: Which wireless earbuds win?

Apple AirPods Pro vs Jabra Elite Active 75t
(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

It's the Apple AirPods Pro vs Jabra Elite Active 75t for naming the ultimate wireless earbuds.

Based on our AirPods Pro review, Apple's earbuds have been the measuring stick for true wireless excellence over the past several months. Seamless performance combined with great active noise cancellation and an updated, more practical design (e.g. more secure fit, water resistance), it has remained a top overall pick on most of the best wireless earbuds lists.

However, a new competitor has stepped into the arena that is very strong, as we learned in our Jabra Elite Active 75t review. Jabra's earbuds offer better battery life and sound, as well as sportier aesthetics. It isn’t short on features, nor bass response. It also boasts smart controls and its own impressive noise-cancelling technology. 

Both devices have earned an illustrious perfect score from Tom’s Guide, a feat very few audio products have ever achieved. But in a market where there are no equals, which of these models should be recognized as the category leader? Let's find out.

AirPods Pro vs. Jabra Elite Active 75t: Specs compared

Apple AirPods ProJabra Elite Active 75t
Price$249.00$199.99
Charging Case/WirelessYes/YesYes/No
Rated Battery Life4.5 hours (24 hours with charging case)7.5 hours (28 hours with charging case)
Water ResistantIPX 4 (can withstand sweat and water, but not for use in water sports)IP57 (can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water; dust- and sweat-resistant)
Case Size1.78 x 2.39 x 0.85 inches2.4 x 1.4 x 1 inches
Case Weight1.6 ounces1.2 ounces
Special FeaturesActive noise cancellation, transparency mode, adaptive EQ, customizable fit, audio sharing, announced messages with Siri, “Hey Siri” voice-activated assistancePassive noise cancellation, transparency mode, companion app with customizable EQ, extra calling features, tri-digital-assistant support (Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri), adaptive listening features

AirPods Pro vs. Jabra Elite Active 75t: Price

At $199, the Elite Active 75t is only $20 more than the standard Elite 75t, but well worth spending the extra Andrew Jackson for many reasons. Design-wise, it’s much sleeker and more durable than the AirPods Pro; the IP57-rated shell is an insurance policy against water damage. Not to mention it offers more performance across the board at a cheaper cost.

Apple products always come at a premium and the AirPods Pro ($249) are worth the splurge. The upgraded design and special features are all welcomed enhancements that elevate the product’s overall value. It’s just a lot of money to spend on wireless earbuds that cost as much as luxury noise-cancelling headphones. You’ll also want to take into consideration the replacement costs per bud ($89) and charging case ($99).

Winner: Jabra Elite Active 75t

AirPods Pro vs. Jabra Elite Active 75t: Design

Based on looks alone, you can see which model blends form, function, and fashion the best: the Jabra Elite Active 75t. Jabra shrunk down the design of its predecessor, the Jabra lite Active 65t, by 22%, while also retaining signature elements like the embossed logo and handsome matte finish. But all of those facets take a backseat to the IP57 rating, which makes the buds waterproof, dust- and sweat-resistant. Three weeks and several intense cardio sessions later, they have yet to sustain any damage.

I absolutely love Jabra’s charging case, as its durability and lightweight feel make it an awesome travel companion. The magnetic lid and connectors on the inside guarantee the buds remain safely stored, even when dropping the case by accident. It also feels a bit more rugged than the standard Elite 75t case, although Jabra claims it is the same case. My only complaint is that the case should have been water resistant as well. Overall, the Elite Active 75t’s build quality is sleek and superb.

AirPods Pro vs. Jabra Elite Active 75t

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

Not to sound like a broken record, but Apple’s dangling stem design is just not attractive. Nor will it ever be. For what it’s worth, the company did implement slight changes to make the AirPods Pro look more distinctive. This includes a longer sound port, black microphone vents, and shorter stems. The biggest design change is one you can’t see, which is IPX4 certification for sweat- and water-resistance. It’s also worth noting that Apple has taken a greener approach to manufacturing its earbuds, creating the AirPods Pro from eco-friendly parts.

Another noticeable change comes in the form of the charging case, which is wider than the previous versions, but still small enough to slide into any pocket. However, the build quality of both the buds and case is just not up to par. The plastic coating on both makes them a scuff magnet. In addition, the magnetic closure on the charging case doesn’t keep the lid shut tightly; one spill to the ground and your AirPods Pro will go all over the place.

AirPods Pro design

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

What about color options? That is a rhetorical question for the AirPods Pro (duh, it’s white, and white only). The Elite Active 75t has far more exciting colorways that currently include Navy, Titanium Black, and Copper Black. Expect newer shades like Grey, Mint, and Sienna to become available sometime in Spring 2020 as well.

Winner: Jabra Elite Active 75t

AirPods Pro vs. Jabra Elite Active 75t: Comfort

Excellent comfort and personalized fit in different forms, the AirPods Pro and Elite Active 75t are neck and neck here. Unique design components combined with different ear tips sizes should make you feel confident knowing neither set of buds will fall down a sewer grate when powerwalking through congested on-foot traffic.

AirPods Pro comfort

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

One of the biggest complaints about the previous AirPods has been on-ear stability; the lack of ear tips has resulted in millions being lost and replaced. Apple fixed this by installing a pair of ear tips on the AirPods Pro that makes a huge difference in fit, and surprisingly, sound quality (more on that later). It’s this, along with the redesigned sound port, that affords listeners with a secure, relaxed fit.

If that’s not reassuring, then you need to give Apple’s all-new Ear Tip Fit Test a try, as it was specifically programmed to determine which tip sizes offer you the best fit. You’ll be surprised by how well it works.

Jabra Elite Active 75t comfort

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The Elite Active 75t is similar to the standard Elite 75t, sharing the same weight (0.19 ounces) and sound port design, which is longer and slides easily into the ear. Where the difference lies is in wetness protection, as the newer version provides better sweat absorption to prevent slippage. Once adjusting the buds to achieve a proper fit, you’ll find them to be a pleasant wear for 2-3 hours during workouts or casual listening sessions.

Winner: Draw

AirPods Pro vs. Jabra Elite Active 75t: Controls and digital assistant

The controls on both the AirPods Pro and Elite Active 75t are intuitive and responsive. However, Apple’s digital assistant support is matchless, therefore giving its noise-cancellers the edge here.

AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

Apple swapped out the tap controls for pinch gestures that can be performed on the haptic force sensor located near the bottom of each stem. It feels awkward to use at first, but I find it more accurate; you get a nice click sound that provides a sense of certainty when executing intended commands. There is also on-ear detection to automatically pause music when removing the buds, plus you can customize the controls to include a volume slider on the screen. But it’s all about the voice activated “Hey Siri” feature, which makes using Siri a breeze and works flawlessly.

Jabra Elite Active 75t

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The Elite Active 75t keeps it simple with a multifunctional button on the front of each bud. I find the buttons offer great tactile feedback and register multi-press commands accurately. On-ear detection works well too. Siri and Google Assistant get the job done, but again, Hey Siri is more favorable for voice commands.

Winner: AirPods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro vs. Jabra Elite Active 75t: Noise cancellation

Those who have read our AirPods Pro vs. Jabra Elite 75t face-off feature already know where this is going. Nothing has changed. Apple’s active noise cancellation is better suited for minimizing loud ambient sounds than Jabra’s passive noise cancellation, but that doesn’t mean you won’t still get some quality performance out of the latter.

AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

Apple took its time engineering the AirPods Pro’s two-mic noise-cancelling system, and the payoff is surprisingly good. By having one mic on the outside and a second mic on the inside, this creates a buffer to limit external sounds from making their way onto the soundstage. I would say it cancels close to 85% of unwanted noises. That is enough to keep things quiet or at hushed level when walking through a street festival. Still, I wouldn’t place Apple’s ANC in the same tier as the Bose 700 noise cancelling headphones; high-frequency sounds (e.g. crying babies, sirens) will catch your ear.

Jabra Elite Active 75t

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

While we’re still waiting for Jabra to integrate ANC technology into its wireless buds, there’s nothing wrong with settling for its passive noise cancellation, especially when it’s this good. The company made improvements to its mic configuration and PNC algorithm, which allow the Elite Active 75t to cancel out 80% of sound interference. It helps to silence crude commuters and droning dump trucks, but that’s about it.

Winner: AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro vs. Jabra Elite Active 75t: Audio quality

The Jabra Elite Active 75t is arguably Jabra’s best-sounding set of wireless earbuds to date and lends itself well to every music genre. These are workout buds, so you’ll notice the sound signature emphasizes bass, which is strong, yet more refined this time around. Expect energetic, punchy, and detailed audio.

Press play on Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” if you want to the Elite Active 75t’s bass levels to the test. The song’s synth-driven production is one boom-filled listen that serves as sonic Red Bull. Reverberation was even more impressive: it’s everlasting and doesn’t distort the vocals.

For something more melodic, I jumped into Nina Simone’s “I Put a Spell on You” and was met with captivating results. Not only were Simone’s vocals beautifully reproduced, but the band’s instrumental play sounded prominent, allowing me to identify individual instruments and revel in the record’s jazzy aura.

Jabra Elite Active 75t

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

Something else that attributes to the Elite Active 75t’s in-depth audio is its solid noise isolation. The buds create a tight seal that keeps music sounding full. You’ll experience very little leakage, but only when listening at max volume, which can get extremely loud. Keep that in mind when blasting your favorite tracks at the gym.

Apple has not made significant strides with its audio quality, but the AirPods Pro are a notable improvement over all of the company’s previous offerings. An adaptive EQ was built into these buds, which adjusts the sound to suit your ear shape. As cool as that is, most listeners won’t likely notice the distinct changes in audio performance. The sound profile leans more towards the warm side, but you can also expect to hear clean, balanced mids and highs.

AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

Bass, while enjoyable, doesn’t have much impact on the AirPods Pro. For upbeat productions like Anderson .Paak’s “Come Down,” I easily got into a rhythm and nodded along to the track’s fun bassline and percussive elements. However, I got different vibes listening to Drake’s “In My Feelings” because the low end was much more docile, especially when compared to other boomy models like the Sony WH-1000xM3 and Beats Powerbeats Pro.

Winner: Jabra Elite Active 75t

AirPods Pro vs. Jabra Elite Active 75t: Special features

The Jabra Sound+ app is one of the best in the biz, hosting several features that enhance the listening experience. At the forefront is the custom EQ to personalize sound, along with six music presets (Default, Bass Boost, Energize, Speech, Smooth, and Treble Boost) that cater to specific genres. One feature I highly recommend using is Call Experience, as it enhances call quality by increasing how loud and deep your voice sounds on phone calls.

Jabra also has a special mode called Soundscapes that provides listeners some aural TLC. There are 12 different settings that produce soothing noises to help relax you; I’ve definitely found this helpful when putting in long hours at the office. Other cool features you’ll find in Sound+ are the Find My Jabra mode for locating misplaced buds and toggle options for the controls.

Jabra Elite Active 75t

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

Even more promising are the two new features set to launch this Spring: MyControls and MySound. MyControls will allow users to personalize the controls on both buds and give the option to use one bud for mono listening, which also preserves battery life. MySound is the one to be most excited for it since it uses adaptive sound technology to create a sound profile based on your hearing.

For Apple, the goal has been to keep the AirPods experience as streamlined as possible, which the AirPods Pro achieves. It all starts with the engine, which in this case is the H1 chip that is said to improve audio latency, battery management (50% more talk time), and Bluetooth connection.

Other cool features include Announce Messages to have Siri read off incoming messages and Audio Share to share music from an iPhone to two pairs of AirPods or Beats headphones. There are a few other AirPods Pro tricks you can unravel by playing with the settings, but nothing beats a customizable EQ, which is MIA on these buds.

AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Both devices also have their own ambient-listening modes that pump in surrounding sounds, so you can be more aware of what’s going on around you. Since the feature is most preferred for outdoor runners (like me), I found Jabra’s HearThrough mode more serviceable, as the ability to adjust the ambient levels made it easier to hear different sounds; I noticed speeding buses and trucks coming down the block during outdoor jogs. Apple’s Transparency Mode also works surprisingly well, especially when engaging in brief chats outside.

Winner: Jabra Elite Active 75t

AirPods Pro vs. Jabra Elite Active 75t: Call quality

Every AirPods model has made a great calling headset, but the third-gen version sets itself apart with noise-cancelling mics that help produce crisp-sounding calls. When chatting with friends in quiet settings, most were convinced that I was speaking directly into my smartphone, surprised by how loud and clear my voice sounded. My fiancée also took notice of how well the buds performed outdoors, especially on windy days; this was clutch for communicating wedding updates to each other on the go.

AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The call quality on the Jabra Elite 75t was poor, Jabra managed to fix it on the Elite Active 75t. I engaged in full conversations and heard people clearly, although speaking in high volume areas did present a few challenges. My fiancée identified specific background noises and thought my voice sounded slightly distant at times. Once I moved to a quieter area, we could hear each other better.

Winner: AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro vs. Jabra Elite Active 75t: Charging case

Jabra doesn’t get enough credit for its fine craftsmanship, which is exemplary on the Jabra Elite Active 75t’s charging case. Extremely compact, lightweight, and storing a 28-hour battery (4 full charges), it’s the worthier portable option. Jabra programmed the case with what it calls an “intelligent power management system,” which preserves juice by keeping the buds from overcharging. I say it works great considering I only recharge the case once every two weeks.

Jabra Elite Active 75t

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The original AirPods may have set the standard for true wireless power with its 24-hour charging case. We’re in the third generation and that number hasn’t changed. It is an indispensable amount of juice to have; a fully charged case gives you 5 to 6 extra charges. However, that is still shorter than what Jabra offers. The case is also longer and heavier than Jabra’s case. One advantage it does have over the Elite Active 75t: wireless charging.

Winner: Jabra Elite Active 75t

AirPods Pro vs. Jabra Elite Active 75t: Battery life

I won’t say the Elite Active 75t crushes the AirPods Pro in battery life because that would be an exaggeration. What it offers is a sufficient amount of listening time at 7 hours on a full charge, which is 2.5 hours more than its dangling competitor. Bingeing videos and enabling HearThrough mode does shorten playtime. When at full charge, the buds gave me enough juice for about 5 days (1.5 hours daily) of gym time. Fast charging also nets you 1 hour of use on a 15-minute charge.

Jabra Elite Active 75t

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The AirPods Pro battery life is relatively mediocre at 4.5 hours with active noise cancellation on and 5 hours with it off. Realistically, it’s close to 4 hours when factoring in ANC, music streaming, and high volume. You’ll be lucky to get two days of moderate use out of Apple’s buds before tossing them into the charging case.

Winner: Jabra Elite Active 75t

Overall Winner: Jabra Elite Active 75t

I’ve suggested in numerous face-offs that it was going to practically take a Herculean effort to overthrow the AirPods Pro form the true wireless throne. Several challenges later and a new category leader has risen in the form of the Elite Active 75t. Jabra took notice of what didn’t work on the previous model and performed the necessary tweaks to get these buds operating with near-flawless precision. The battery life is longer, the build quality is better, the sound is superior, and their massive feature set is more serviceable. 

Apple AirPods ProJabra Elite Active 75t
Design (15)1113
Comfort (10)88
Controls (5)43
Noise Cancellation (15)1311
Audio (20)1618
Special Features (10)79
Call Quality (5)53
Charging Case (10)89
Battery Life (10)68
Total Score (100)7982

This loss doesn’t take away from the AirPods Pro’s greatness. It still remains the best option for iOS users and delivers some of the best noise cancellation in the category, right behind the Sony WH-1000xM3, which should tell you just how good Apple’s ANC technology is. The inclusion of ear tips makes a huge difference in fit as well. Despite making vast improvements in one or two areas, the AirPods Pro hasn’t evolved as much in other key areas including design, battery life and sound. Look over the scoreboard again and see how a king lost its crown.