Jabra has just announced the Jabra Elite 85t, the company’s first-ever noise-cancelling wireless earbuds with adjustable ANC, wireless charging, more powerful drivers, and numerous color options.
The Elite 85t offers noteworthy upgrades over its critically acclaimed siblings, the Elite 75t and Elite Active 75t, which received a perfect 5-star score from Tom’s Guide. From afar, it would be tough to distinguish the newest model by design, but Jabra did make changes on both the outside and inside that build on the legacy of the Elite series.
Starting price: $229
Colors: Black, Grey, Copper/Black, Gold/Beige, Titanium Black
Battery life: 5.5 hours (ANC on), 7.5 hours (ANC off), 24 hours (with charging case and ANC on), 28 hours (with charging case and ANC off)
Driver size: 12mm
Water-resistant: Yes (IPX4)
Wireless charging: Yes
This ANC-enabled model will continue to support the Jabra Sound+ app, which has a customizable EQ, adjustable ambient listening, and a plethora of other features that were developed to enhance the overall listening experience. It also comes with a 2-year warranty.
It turns out the Elite 85t wasn’t the only major announcement Jabra made public, as the company shared plans to bring active noise cancellation to the Elite 75t series via an over-the-air update.
Here's everything else you should know about the Jabra Elite 85t, including pricing, pre-order information, and new features, plus the latest news surrounding the Elite 75t series.
Jabra Elite 85t price and pre-order
The Jabra Elite 85t starts at $229 and will be sold at major online retailers, including Amazon and Best Buy, and directly from Jabra. Pre-orders go live in October, with a November 2020 release currently scheduled. Titanium/Black will be the only version available at launch, while Gold/Beige, Copper/Black, Black, and Grey will follow in January 2021.
Jabra Elite 85t design and special features
It may look nearly identical to the Elite 75t, but Jabra did make some changes on the Elite 85t, opting for a semi-open design that’s said to provide better comfort and occlusion. These buds retain the compact form and shiny matte finish of the previous versions. They are also a gram heavier and 2mm longer than the Elite 75t. Despite the casing being slightly thicker to accommodate the high-powered internals, the Elite 85t has a streamlined design that looks sleek and discrete when worn. This model is water-resistant, but Jabra lowered the IP rating (IPX4), which is disappointing since the Elite 75t came IP55-certified for dust- and water-resistant protection.
All of the major upgrades can be found on the inside of the Elite 85t. Jabra doubled the drive size, so both buds come with 12mm speakers that deliver bigger and bolder sound. We’re already fans of Jabra’s sound signature, which makes us even more curious about the Elite 85t’s sonic prowess. A new six-mic system, along with wind protection, has also been added into the mix for improved clarity on phone calls.
The charging case seems to have received a minor makeover as well, looking like a hybrid of the Elite 75t and Elite 65t charging cases. It sits flat, and the charging magnets on the inside are much stronger so that you can even hold the case open upside down without the buds falling out.
Jabra introduced two new features as part of the last Sound+ software update: MyControls to define button settings, and MySound, which performs a hearing test to create your own audio profile. We know the company had issues getting MyControls to work on the Elite 75t series, stating that it couldn’t be used independently on either earbud, though we’re hoping the problem has been resolved on the Elite 85t.
HearThrough mode is set to return too, granting users full transparency by letting them adjust the amount of ambient noise they want to hear; Tom’s Guide has praised it as a “great solution for outdoor runners who want to be more mindful of their surroundings” and reliable for “close encounters.” Other notable features on the Sound+ app like Soundscapes, Call Experience, and Find My Buds seem like givens as well.
Jabra Elite 85t active noise cancellation
It took long enough, but Jabra has finally brought active noise cancellation to its wireless earbuds, and not just the newest model in the series either. The company announced it will make ANC available on the Elite 75t and Elite Active 75t via firmware update, free of charge.
For the Elite 85t, Jabra Advanced ANC technology is at the helm. Jabra stated the company’s goal was to hit three particular characteristics, which it refers to as the ABC’s of ANC: Adjustable, Blocking, and Comfort. There are two mics placed on the outside and one on the inside of each bud to create a feedforward and feedback solution for optimal noise cancellation. Users are also given control and personalization of ANC in the Jabra Sound+ app, with each ANC level going up 3 decibels. Overall, the technology sounds promising and we’re looking forward to hearing how well it holds up against the competition.
The Elite 75t series already has passive noise cancellation, a feat that Jabra managed to achieve by repositioning its four-mic array to cancel ambient sounds from different angles. The end result was surprisingly good, minimizing a fair amount of environmental fracas. According to Jabra, the chipset inside of the Elite 75t and Elite Active 75t has the capability of performing ANC, but required engineers tweaking the algorithms to get it working at a certain level.
Jabra did tell us the feature would be most effective against low frequencies (e.g. AC unit, train engine). Jabra also mentioned this would be an on-off solution, meaning you won’t be able to adjust it like on the Elite 85t. Nonetheless, this is very impressive for a software update.
Jabra Elite 85t battery life and wireless charging
The Elite 85t is rated at 7.5 hours on a single charge (5.5 hours with ANC on), with the charging case holding 28 hours total. That’s basically the same as the Elite 75t, minus noise cancellation. We would have loved to see an increase in battery life for both the buds and charging case, as well as higher playtimes with ANC on. It’s only an hour more than the AirPods Pro (4.5 hours).
Quick charging is going to be the same as well, generating an hour of use on a 15-minute charge.
One major positive about the Elite 85t is wireless charging, so you can juice up the buds wirelessly with any compatible Qi-certified charger. Jabra did make wireless charging optional on the Elite 75t series a few months after both models were released, but at a premium ($229).
Jabra Elite 85t outlook
Jabra’s announcements sound awesome, but we still need to test the Elite 85t to determine whether it can live up to the hype and overthrow its predecessor as the best wireless earbuds out there. We also require some hands-on time with the new ANC update for the Elite 75t and Elite Active 75t to compare its noise-blocking capabilities against class leaders like the AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000xM3.
Active noise cancellation alone makes the Elite 85t one of the most coveted audio products of the holiday season. At the same time, consumers might feel compelled to spend less on either Elite 75t model just to have some form of ANC at their disposal, even if the feature isn’t as powerful as it is on the Elite 85t. It’s also a free upgrade.
In addition, we haven’t forgotten about the latest developments surrounding the market’s top offerings. The AirPods Pro just introduced new features like spatial audio and automatic switching on iOS 14. We have heard rumblings of the WF-1000xM3 receiving an aptX HD update for Hi-Res Audio support. There is even the possibility of Sony releasing its next-gen noise-cancelling earbuds, the WF-1000xM4, despite no confirmation from Sony.
Still, if we’re going based on the Jabra’s track record, then the Elite 85t could end up becoming the company’s greatest creation to date.