Colors: Black, Mint, Navy
Battery life (rated): 7 hours (ANC); 28 hours (charging case)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
Processor: Not stated
Size: 0.82 x 0.81 x 1.07 inches (per bud), 1.12 x 1.53 x 2.52 inches (charging case)
Weight: 0.17 ounces (earbud), 1.32 ounces (charging case)
Announced at CES 2022, the Jabra Elite 4 Active wireless earbuds further demonstrate the company's mission to dominate the affordable sport headphones market.
The latest in a long line of true wireless earbuds, the Elite 4 Active is an inexpensive alternative to the Elite 7 Active and shares a near-identical spec sheet. You still get active noise cancellation (ANC), Alexa integration, Bluetooth 5.2, and IP57 waterproof protection, along with brand hallmarks such as Jabra Sound+ app compatibility. In fact, the amount of functionality the Elite 4 Active carries is quite generous for the price, making it one of the best workout headphones below $150.
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Modern features like multipoint technology to enable connectivity to two Bluetooth audio devices simultaneously and wireless charging are excluded to keep the price low. Jabra has also left out some of its newest features found on pricier models in the Elite series.
Should these exclusions dissuade you? Not at all. Read our full Jabra Elite 4 Active review to find out why.
Jabra Elite 4 Active review : Price and availability
The Jabra Elite 4 Active is sold for $119 (£119) at major online retailers, including Amazon and Best Buy, or directly from Jabra, and comes in three color options — black, navy and mint. Packaged with the buds are a charging case, USB-C to USB-A cable, and three sets of EarGels tips.
The Elite 4 Active is more affordable than several popular sporty noise-cancelling models such as the Beats Pro Fit ($199) and other Jabra models like the Elite Active 75t ($179) and Elite 7 Active ($179). You’ll also find them cheaper than some of the market’s best wireless earbuds, including the AirPods Pro ($249) and Sony WF-1000XM4 ($279).
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Jabra Elite 4 Active review: Design and comfort
Let’s examine both the Elite 4 Active and Elite 7 Active. They share the same minimalist appearance and color schemes, along with similar details like angled sound ports and mics on each side. The same IP57 moisture protection rating applies, making each pair of buds sufficiently sweat and water resistant and suitable for exercising.
Build quality is on point, with the Elite 4 Active composed of sturdy plastic that can withstand hard tumbles to the concrete, though I tend to favor the Elite 7 Active’s smooth rubberized exterior since it staves off scratches and scuffs better.
Shape-wise, the Elite 4 Active takes on somewhat of a triangular form and the Elite 7 Active is more oval-shaped. The logos are also displayed differently on each model: the Elite 7 Active is debossed. However, the charging cases are what differentiate them most. The Elite 7 Active (right) case is pill-shaped and lays flat, whereas the Elite 4 Active (left) is rectangular and sits upright. Other than that, they have a similar construction, come with USB-C charging and are portable-friendly.
The Elite 4 Active's comfort levels are pleasant enough while listening, but activating either earbud's multifunctional button forces the buds further into my ear, causing some considerable discomfort.
Jabra’s proprietary EarGels provide a tight seal and keep the buds in place when engaged in lateral and stationary activities. Not once did I feel them slipping out when running outside.
Jabra Elite 4 Active review: Controls and digital assistant
These buds take on the same control scheme as the Elite 7 Active, only they lack on-ear detection for auto-pause/play and MyControls access to assign input methods. At first, I was baffled by the exclusion of these detection features, then I remembered to factor in price. The buttons register single, multi-tap, and hold gestures, but there is some latency and it takes a second for commands to register and execute.
Criticisms aside, Jabra’s ability to program a full suite of media controls on the Elite 4 Active shouldn’t go unnoticed. The right bud is reserved for play/pause (1x tap), skip track (2x tap), previous track (3x tap), and raise volume (long press). The left bud can cycle through ANC modes (1x tap), enable the digital assistant/Spotify (2x tap), and lower volume (long press). That is as practical as can be for buds without motion detection.
Alexa integration works well to fire off Alexa commands on the go. Google Assistant and Siri are also serviceable for common tasks, though Google’s AI bot misinterpreted certain words when verbalizing requests. It's not a huge deal since the software properly recognized inquiries, but it shows that the Elite 4 Active isn’t as intelligible as the more costly Elite 7 Active.
Jabra Elite 4 Active review: Sound quality
Some will say that the best workout headphones boast powerful bass. The Elite 4 Active dishes out enough to keep your adrenaline pumping, but it’s also fine-tuned to produce clear mids and highs, so you can enjoy well-balanced sound across the earbud's frequency range.
The monstrous 808 kicks and vicious piano keys on The Game’s “Westside Story” slapped hard on my eardrum and stimulated head-nods en route to the gym. Taking the low end up a notch, I blasted A$AP Rocky’s “Goldie” and was impressed by how clean the sub-bass sounded, maintaining the track’s bouncy vibes without distorting the rapper’s vocals. Rock songs with heavy bass riffs like Radiohead’s “The National Anthem” also held up strong, especially when the aggressive brass section came in near the end of the track.
Again, the Elite 4 Active can do more than just feed your ears rich, punchy lows. Play a few Jazz classics and you’ll enjoy great definition. The Miles Davis Quintet’s “It Could Happen to You” was perfect for recovery, soothing my body with groovy double bass and mellow horn play, while the tinny hi-hats added some spirit to the listen.
My review feedback is based on the default EQ setting, which is flat, although you can tweak it to your liking in the companion app. Bass, mid-range, and treble are all adjustable, or you can select from one of five well-engineered presets: Bass Boost, Energize, Smooth, Speech, and Treble Boost. Each of these is tailored to complement different music genres and content. Speech will make vocals more prominent on songs and podcasts, while Bass Boost gives the low end a stronger presence.
Jabra Elite 4 Active review: Active noise cancellation
My expectations were low considering how mediocre ANC was on the Elite 7 Active. To my surprise, the Elite 4 Active delivered better noise cancellation than its pricier sibling, which is intriguing since it manages to employ fewer mics.
You can use regular ANC mode as is or elect to customize noise neutralization via Personalized ANC in the app. I noticed minor improvements after completing the noise suppression test. Personalized ANC was more effective at minimizing mid-frequencies. Using the buds around the house, I was able to mute distractions like doorbells, loud TVs, and the droning sounds coming from my laundry room. High-frequency noises were unavoidable, such as my infant boy’s cries during nap-time, something that caught my attention from across the house.
Outside was where the Elite 4 Active performed best. Despite hearing some wind and cars passing by (none of which sounded harmful, by the way), the buds blocked out talkative joggers and most landscaping tools. There was one occasion where a car horn startled me, but that was to be expected since the Elite 4 Active’s mics aren’t as sensitive as the ones found in Jabra's pricier models.
Jabra's HearThrough technology is handy for runners who want to maintain awareness of their surroundings while out and about. The mics capture enough ambient noise to keep listeners alert of oncoming traffic. I felt safe hearing bicycle bells and garbage trucks from a block away, along with police sirens and whistles. You can also adjust the level for how much ambient noise you want to hear in the app. One complaint though: the mics struggle to pick up voices and I found it tough to communicate with people in the same room with these buds.
Jabra Elite 4 Active review: App and special features
Like all other Jabra wireless earbuds, extended functionality runs through the Jabra Sound+ app. It remains one of the best companion apps out there, thanks to a user-friendly interface and wide feature set that enhances the listening experience.
The app’s perks are plentiful and includes EQ presets, HearThrough, Personalized ANC, and one-touch Spotify. Other notable benefits are a battery life indicator, Find My Jabra mode (useful for locating misplaced buds), and firmware updates.
High-end features, like MyControls to assign input commands, MySound for personalized audio, and Call Equalizer to add more treble or bass on calls, are exclusive to other Jabra models. Still, you end up with the app’s most coveted features, and this counts for a lot at the price.
Jabra Elite 4 Active review: Battery life and charging case
Jabra rates battery life at 7 hours with ANC on. This is higher than the Elite Active 75t (5.5 hours) and Fit Pro (6 hours), but also lower than the Elite 7 Active (9 hours). I used the buds moderately (2 hours) over 3 days for calls, casual listening, and workouts before recharging.
Jabra has yet to confirm what playtime is with ANC switched off.
The charging case holds up to 28 hours. By comparison, this is more than the AirPods Pro case (24 hours), equal to the Elite Active 75t case (28 hours), and lower than the Elite 7 Active case (35-42 hours). Having four extra charges at your disposal is enough for a week and multiple workout sessions. If you’re a fitness buff who often forgets to charge their buds before leaving the house, tossing them in the case will earn you 1 hour of listening time in 10 minutes.
Jabra Elite 4 Active review: Call quality and connectivity
Another area where the Elite 4 Active outperforms its big brother is call quality. The four built-in mics come with mesh covering that suppresses wind noise, so those on the opposite end of a call can hear you clearly. According to my wife, my voice was loud and distinguishable on our call when speaking in gusty conditions and over ambient sounds. The Elite 4 Active is worthy of inclusion on our best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls.
Bluetooth 5.2 operates flawlessly. Opening the charging case places the buds in pairing mode and connects them to your last known device instantly. Google Fast Pair expedites the process on Android devices. Range is lengthy at 40 feet, allowing the freedom to roam from room to room without dropouts.
Jabra Elite 4 Active review: Verdict
The Elite 4 Active is a better value than the Elite 7 Active. It’s an impressively good mid-range model that comes with adequate ANC, excellent call quality, rich sound, strong connectivity, and waterproof protection. Access to the Sound+ app for audio customization sweetens the deal even further.
The cheaper price tag means losing out on popular features like multipoint technology and wireless charging, as well as some of Jabra’s newer settings. More effort could have also been put into the multifunctional button design to achieve optimal comfort.
All of Jabra’s sporty wireless earbuds are worthy of your coin, especially the Elite Active 75t, which offers the complete package, but at a premium. However, the Jabra Elite 4 Active is the most convincing purchase for active lifestyle and fitness types on a budget.
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