Since its surprise launch early last month, the Apple AirPods Pro have been the talk of the true-wireless town. Improved ergonomics, water resistance, and noise cancellation (finally), the latest cord-free danglers to come out of Apple’s factory is the series’ best, as well as the current category leader. Take a look at the No. 1 spot on our Best Wireless Earbuds 2019 list for further substantiation.
It was just a matter of time before Jabra, the previous claimer to the throne, responded with its own next-gen release, the Elite 75t. A sleek update to the beloved Elite 65t, these buds pack dynamic audio, longer battery life, and noise-cancelling technology into one of the tiniest designs we’ve seen. That does that make them any better than Apple’s sound-silencers? Let’s find out.
Apple AirPods Pro vs. Jabra Elite 75t: Specs Compared
|Apple AirPods Pro||Jabra Elite 75t|
|Wireless Charging Case||Yes, included||No|
|Rated Battery Life||4.5 hours (24 hours with charging case)||7.5 hours (20.5 hours with charging case)|
|Water Resistance||IPX 4 (can withstand sweat and water, but not for use in water sports)||IP55 (can withstand dust and low-pressure water jet spray, but can’t be submerged in water)|
|Case Size||1.78 x 2.39 x 0.85 inches||2.4 x 1.4 x 1 inches|
|Case Weight||1.61 ounces||1.2 ounces|
|Special Features||Active noise cancellation, transparency mode, adaptive EQ, customizable fit, audio sharing, announced messages with Siri, “Hey Siri” voice-activated assistance||Passive noise cancellation, transparency mode, companion app with customizable EQ, extra calling features, tri-digital-assistant support (Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri)|
The Elite 65t was gorgeous, with the build quality to match its striking appearance. Much of that same aesthetic appeal has been transferred over to the Elite 75t, except this time, Jabra scaled down the design to make the buds smaller and chicer. They are less noticeable on the ear, which is perfect for those who love to hear their music without being spotted; I see a lot of bored office workers and college undergrads sporting them. Colors are currently limited to Black and Titan Black (aka dark slate gray), but if Jabra’s track record is any indication, we should expect some new shades in the coming months.
Construction-wise, the buds are durable with IP55-certification for dust and water resistance. They are not sweatproof like the Elite Active 65t. The charging case is also solid and has been slimmed down to a more compact size. What I value most about it is the magnetic closure that keeps the buds safely stored and makes accessing the buds far simpler than the previous case; that whole squeezing-the-sides-and-pushing-the-front-ridge system was annoying.
Apple may have implemented some changes to the AirPods Pro (e.g. black microphone vents, chrome-accent tips, shorter stems), but they still retain the same tampon-esque, unattractive design. Ear tips are now integrated onto the sound port, which look longer and slide easily into your ears. Most importantly, the buds have sweat- and water-resistant protection. The charging case is still small, but wider, though it doesn’t affect portability whatsoever. Apple also gets cool points for creating the AirPods Pro from eco-friendly parts.
Unfortunately, the AirPods Pro are still fragile AF. The plastic coating on both the buds and case takes on blemishes like crazy. Not to mention the case lid doesn’t shut securely, so the buds spill out when dropped to the ground. We know that asking Apple for more colors tends to fall on deaf ears, but hey, it doesn’t hurt to put out an early request for the AirPods 3/Pro 2.
Winner: Elite 75t
Comfort and Fit
Apple finally caved into the pressure of including ear tips with its latest model. Do they make that much of a difference? They really do. The tips create a nice seal around the ear to ensure a locked, secure fit, which you can sport comfortably until the buds reach zero percent. If that’s not enough, Apple also developed an Ear Tip Fit Test that helps users determine their best tip size. How’s that for effort?
Jabra claims the Elite 75t’s smaller design creates “optimal comfort and secure fit.” There’s half truth to that. The buds definitely provide great comfort that allows for long listening sessions; I sported them for two hours, several days straight, never once feeling fatigued. The extra silicone tips accommodate different ear shapes as well. It’s the plastic casing that presents an issue, as sweat or the slightest wetness causes slippage.
Winner: AirPods Pro
Swapping out the AirPods’ tap gestures for pinch gestures seems like an awkward way to engage with the buds, but the control scheme isn’t so bad. Apple placed a new haptic force sensor at the bottom of each stem that produces a click sound to confirm your intended commands. You’ll be able to play/pause music or answer/end calls (1x pinch), skip track (2x pinch), skip back track (3x pinch) and enable ANC/Transparency Mode (long pinch). Going into the control center lets you customize the controls to include a volume slider. Overall, the controls are very responsive, which is what really matters most.
Jabra deserves a lot of credit for squeezing in so many functions into a two-button control scheme. I did encounter some bugs right out of the box that resulted in some latency, but the latest firmware update fixed these problems. The buttons have a nice tactile feel to them and respond to one-button presses accurately. Although, the buds do have a tendency of misinterpreting basic commands, like pausing music (1x press) instead of enabling the digital assistant (2x press).
On-ear detection is available on either device. Removing the AirPods Pro or Elite 75t from your ears will automatically pause music, while placing them back on plays music. It works smoothly on both sets of earbuds, but the Elite 75t demonstrates flawless movement detection.
Winner: AirPods Pro
We’re talking active vs. passive here. Both technologies have their own pros and cons. However, ANC is the more coveted and effective of the two, and it’s especially effective on the AirPods Pro.
Apple’s two-mic noise-cancelling system is well engineered, employing one mic on the outside to block ambient sound and a second mic on the inside to deal with whatever leaks through. It does the trick for the most part, eliminating close to 85% of street noise. I enjoyed lots of interference-free listening when commuting through the city. High-frequency sounds (e.g. police sirens, whistles) were audible at times, but that never pulled me away from the music. Using ANC indoors was even more rewarding; I breathed a sigh of relief working from home in peace without my cat being a constant distraction.
The Elite 75t is no slouch on the noise-neutralizing end either. Jabra’s redesigned mic configuration and PNC algorithm clear out about 80% of environmental fracas. Nearby conversations and whisking taxis were specific sounds that went unnoticed, but constructions tools and sirens made their way onto the soundscape. Noise isolation on the Elite 75t is also impressive with little sound leaking through the buds.
Winner: AirPods Pro
Jabra has engineered some of the best-sounding earbuds at the mid-luxury price point. The Elite 75t adds another notch to the company’s audio belt, but they require some fine-tuning in the app to get the best results. Why is that? The soundstage is very boomy and listening at high volume tends to muddle the sound and produce distortion.
The lows on N.W.A.’s “Straight Out of Compton” originally came on too strong. However, adjusting the frequency settings or selecting one of the six presets in the companion app fixed this. Treble Boost did the best job stabilizing frequencies across the board, and it made the mid-range more prominent on bass-heavy songs. A record like Rage Against the Machine’s “Bombtrack” upheld its incisive riffs and tenacious vocal delivery.
Highs also have a nice, bright feel, which is evident on orchestral recordings. Pull up Bob Marley & The Wailers’ “Could You Be Loved” and singular instruments like the Brazilian cuíca will catch your ear. The Elite 75t also performs well with video content, so you’ll hear dialogue and interview segments clearly.
It’s not a far stretch to say that the AirPods Pro are the company’s best-sounding earbuds. They produce warm, balanced audio that resonates nicely across different contemporary music genres. The addictive bassline on Anderson .Paak’s “Come Down” packs a punch, while percussion sounds like the tambourine jingle were more prominent. The buds can handle their own with jazzy arrangements, too. Press play on Van Morrison’s “Moondance” and take note of the surprisingly good instrumental separation.
The AirPods Pro may not have a custom EQ at their disposal, but they’re programmed with an Adaptive EQ that supposedly adjusts the frequency levels based on your ear shape. After several hours of testing, I’ve started to notice subtle enhancements in sound, such as more detail in the low end. It still has room for improvement.
Winner: Elite 75t
The Jabra Sound+ app offers enough extended functionality to give the Elite 75t this round. Its champion feature is the custom EQ that allows for personalized sound and factors heavily into the overall sound quality. Being able to tweak the frequencies to create your own sound profile is huge. Six presets are also programmed into the app – each one lends itself well to a different music genre. Look deeper into the app settings and you’ll discover other notable settings like Call Experience, which optimizes call quality to personal preference; you can set how loud and deep your voice sounds on phone calls.
One feature that shouldn’t be taken for granted is Soundscapes. It’s a listening mode programmed with 12 different ambient-sounding profiles designed to help you focus better and relieve anxiety. I’ve used it on multiple occasions and found most of the sound effects soothing (Ocean Waves is awesome).
Some of the AirPods Pro features are intertwined with Apple’s all-new H1 chip, which offers sweet perks like 50% more talk time, lightning-fast connectivity, and hands-free “Hey Siri” support. Modes like Announce Messages are great for having Siri read off incoming messages as they come, while Audio Sharing lets you share audio from one iOS device to two pairs of AirPods or Beats headphones. There are plenty of hidden AirPods Pro tricks available.
Where the two devices are neck-and-neck is ambient-listening modes. The AirPods Pro has Transparency mode and the Elite 75t has HearThrough – they are virtually identical and allow listeners to hear what’s around them. Both work well so you can communicate clearly with others without removing your buds. Regardless, I give the edge to HearThrough since it provides better environmental awareness and makes sounds more distinguishable.
Winner: Elite 75t
Call Quality and Digital Assistant
Based on its renowned history of calling headsets, Jabra should be the clear-cut winner, right? Sorry. The Elite 75t was a disappointment we didn’t see coming that produced very low-sounding calls and muffled voice output. I couldn’t keep up with conversations due to poor clarity. Jabra’s four-mic system was sensitive to sound and performed worse in drafty conditions.
The AirPods Pro perform much better, as the noise-cancelling mics and tight seal allow for crisper-sounding calls in various environments. When ringing my fiancée from the apartment, she was sure I was speaking directly into my smartphone. Taking her calls outside, she could hear blaring sirens, but not gusty winds; wind resistance is solid here. Voices came in loud and clear, while callers on the other end provided me the same feedback.
In terms of digital assistance, the AirPods Pro can activate Siri and Google Assistant, whereas the Elite 75t throws Alexa into the mix for support of the big three. The “Hey Siri” feature operates superbly on iOS devices with strong speech recognition that picks up and registers voice commands easily.
My experience with the Elite 75t was 50/50. Google Assistant and Siri were a bust on some devices (e.g. Pixel 2XL and MacBook Pro) and worked fine on others (e.g. Pixel 3 XL and iPhone 8). When things went well, my voice commands were met with quick responses. When things didn’t, Google Assistant would either freeze or not register full-sentence commands. It would have been cool if Jabra had its own hands-free answer to “Hey Siri,” too.
Winner: AirPods Pro
Each charging case is a winner in its own right. Jabra made some significant changes to the Elite 75t case, packing a 20-hour battery into a super-tiny and durable design. Jabra made the wise decision of ditching micro-USB in favor of USB-C charging, which helps juice up the buds faster. A wireless charging option is also on the way in 2020.
The AirPods Pro case is wider and slightly heavier this time around. That doesn’t make it any more inconvenient for travel; it fits comfortably in any denim pocket. You also get the same 24-hour battery performance as the previous cases that equates to about 5 extra charges. It also supports wireless charging and works with Qi-compatible chargers.
One sees a boost in battery life and the other takes a slight dip. The Elite 75 falls under the former, blessing owners with an estimated 6.5 to 7 hours of playtime on a full charge. It’s plenty to keep commuters entertained on a coast-to-coast flight or when trekking to work. I got 1.5 hours of playtime daily for about 4 days straights before tossing them back into the case to recharge.
The AirPods Pro don’t just have a lower-rated battery (4.5 hours) than the Elite 75t – they’re actually lower than the AirPods II (5 hours). To make up for this, Apple programmed the buds to better maintain battery usage. Getting close to 4 hours with ANC on, while adding Facetime calls and Spotify into the equation, sounds fairly decent. That doesn’t mean you won’t still be bound to your charging case after one day of use.
Winner: Elite 75t
The Elite 75t are the more feature-heavy buds with better sound and battery life. They also take hits in categories they shouldn’t. While originally priced at $200, Jabra is keeping things competitive by discounting the buds by $20 heading into Black Friday. That number could drop even lower heading into Christmas. Either way, the $70
Apple’s buds are pricier at $250, but if any version presented the strongest case for purchase, it’s the AirPods Pro. Adaptive listening modes, expanded controls, and a semi-custom design are all hallmarks that come with a higher premium. If it’s out of your price range, keep in mind that there are already a ton of AirPods Pro Black Friday Deals announced, so the odds of scoring them for slightly less are pretty high.
Winner: AirPods Pro
Much of the hype surrounding the AirPods Pro is legit. Apple’s latest buds set a benchmark in the true wireless category with such well-rounded performance that’s tough to beat. The ergonomic design ensures a tight, secure fit. ANC is really good; not Bose good, but adequate enough to silence most of what’s around you. iOS integration also remains flawless with strongly reliable connectivity and Siri performance. Certain areas still need work such as audio and standard battery life, but the AirPods Pro are the closest thing to perfection right now.
|Apple AirPods Pro||Jabra Elite 75t|
|Noise Cancellation (15)||13||11|
|Special Features Apps (10)||7||8|
|Call Quality and Digital Assistant (5)||5||2|
|Charging Case (10)||9||9|
|Battery Life (10)||6||8|
|Total Score (100)||80||79|
Apple’s success shouldn’t undermine Jabra’s accomplishments. The company did a remarkable job designing the Elite 75, squeezing more functionality into a smaller, chicer package. The buds feel as good as they look, carry 50% more battery life (the charging case is exceptional) and have lots of features that allow for personalized listening. Jabra’s passive noise cancellation won’t compete with Apple’s active noise cancellation, but it can filter out a good amount of unwanted sounds in rowdy environments. If only the call quality and digital assistant were up to par. Despite these two flaws, the Elite 75t is still a great value for any Jabra lover or newcomer who wants a tip-top AirPods alternative.