Tom's Guide Verdict
The JBL UA True Wireless Streak shows strength in sound and design, but there's too much weakness in other areas to fully recommend it.
Warm, bright audio
Lacks extra features and app support
Weak transparency mode
Quick-draining battery and discharge issues
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
The JBL UA True Wireless Streak is the latest collaboration between the audio and sportswear brands that packages bass-forward sound and fitness-friendly features into a waterproof design. It also comes with multiple ear tips and a free year of service to one of the best running apps for Android and iOS: Map My Run.
Color: Black, Red, Teal, White
Battery life (rated): 6 hours, 18 hours (with charging case)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Processor: Not stated
Size: Not stated
Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud), 2.2 ounces (charging case)
After a week of testing, these sporty wireless earbuds showed their worth in some areas, while disappointing in others. Strong audio performance will boost your adrenaline during workouts, and features like Ambient mode are ideal for increasing awareness when jogging outside. However, the Streak’s lack of app support, extra features, and responsive controls are blunders that hurt its overall value. Keep reading our full JBL UE True Wireless Streak review to find out why it won't be joining the ranks of the best sport headphones.
JBL UA True Wireless Streak review: Price and availability
The JBL UA True Wireless Streak can be purchased for $149.95 directly from Under Armour or at major online retailers, including Amazon and B&H, the latter currently selling it for as low as $99.95. Four colors are available: Black, Red, Teal, and White.
This set of buds falls right in between the cheap and sub-luxury price points. By comparison, the Streak is more expensive than critical darlings like the Jabra Elite 65t ($99) and Klipsch T5 II Sport ($129), but cheaper than higher-priced models like the Bose Sport Earbuds ($159) and one of the best wireless earbuds out there, the Beats Powerbeats Pro ($199).
For the latest wireless earbuds’ sales, feel free to bookmark our best headphones deals page.
JBL UA True Wireless Streak review: Design and comfort
- Fully waterproof
- Secure fit, but at the cost of long-term comfort
Besides the Project Rock special editions, all other JBL x UA products bear monotonous designs, the Streak falling into that category as well. JBL focused on sustainability over style, which shows in the craftsmanship. These buds come with an IPX7 rating that makes them fully waterproof in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. The sturdy plastic shell ensures you they won’t break when hitting the concrete.
There isn’t much detail in the design other than the UA logo imprinted right on the front. JBL’s decision to give some of the colors a translucent exterior gives the buds a cheaper look as well.
The charging case is the most attractive component of the Streak. Its pill-shaped form is striking and fits nicely into denim pockets or a gym bag. I also like the UA branding on the inside lid, which also has a powerful magnet that keeps the case tightly shut. The LEDs on the front and embossed UA logo at the top are neat touches too. At 2.2 ounces it’s not the lightest charging case, but isn’t something that will weigh you down when sprinting to the gym.
The UA True Wireless Streak and the best running wireless earbuds have two things in common: quality comfort and fit. JBL achieves both with the Streak. Multiple ear tip sizes and fins come bundled with the purchase to accommodate different ear shapes. I was fine sporting the preinstalled pairs, which enhanced stability and produced a tight seal that kept the buds locked in. Be mindful that the Streak was designed for exercising, not casual listening, so wearing them longer than two hours will result in some fatigue; the cavity increasingly applies pressure to the concha.
JBL UA True Wireless Streak review: Controls and digital assistant
- Inaccurate tap recognition
- Questionable input assignments
- Weird Siri integration
The Streak’s touch controls are confusing and frustrating to operate. It seems like JBL didn’t give much thought to the control scheme, divvying commands awkwardly between each bud and not integrating a triple-tap gesture that would have made usability more convenient. Onboard volume controls are another notable omission.
Listeners have a variety of media controls at their disposal such as playback, call management, voice assistance, and the ability to switch between listening modes. Unfortunately, the touch panels make most of them difficult to execute by struggling to register double taps accurately. A single tap on the left earbud enables TalkThru or Standard mode, while a double tap activates Ambient Aware mode; it would have made more sense to have one function that lets you cycle through all three modes.
Another letdown is the voice assistant feature, something that has become an ongoing trend with recent JBL models such as the Club Pro Plus. While you’re given access to Google Assistant and Alexa, which work decently to execute voice commands, users must de-select the two voice assistants in the companion app to use Siri on iOS and macOS. There isn’t any indication to do this in the quick start guide or product page, leaving you to either discover this through some troubleshooting or word of mouth. You’re welcome.
JBL UA True Wireless Streak review: Audio quality
- Warm but balanced
- Minimal distortion
- No ANC but good passive isolation
JBL’s sound profile leans heavily on the warm end of the audio spectrum, but the engineers did a surprisingly good job of balancing out frequencies to give the Streak a nice mix of punchy lows and crisp highs. You get a nice feel for this on jazzy Hip-Hop tracks like A Tribe Called Quest’s “Jazz (We’ve Got”), where the pounding drum loop lands hard and horn samples remain melodically striking throughout the recording.
But what you really want is boom-filled sonics to fuel your workouts, which the Streak delivers. Putting on 2Pac’s “California Love” revved up the engine before a 5K run, giving the pulsating bassline extra oomph that competitors like the T5 II Sport and Bose Sport Earbuds couldn’t match. It was also great to hear Roger Trotman’s synthesized hook crystal clear. Even on super-boomy tracks like KRS-One’s “Outta Here,” the Streak kept bass response in check and never distorted vocals or veiled background instruments.
Jazz records are my go-to for post-workout recovery and the Streak did a fine job of helping cool things down. The choir-esque harmonies at the beginning of Donald Byrd’s “Cristo Redentor” sounded soothing and offered relief during stretches, though it was the build-up to Byrd’s vibrant sax play that sent a jolt of energy through my ears and lifted me off the ground. Despite the T5 II Sport producing better instrumental separation and clarity on such tracks, the Streak proved that it’s no slouch either.
These buds might not come with active noise cancellation, but the passive noise isolation they provide is effective to minimalize ambient noises that enter your ears. The tight seal created by tips prevents sound from bleeding out as well. Volume isn’t hazardously loud either, but don’t take that as an open invitation to blast music during runs.
JBL UA True Wireless Streak review: Special features
- No app support
- Pass-through modes helpful but imperfectly implemented
The Streak isn’t compatible with the JBL Headphones app, which is baffling, especially when there are other JBL x UA products that support the software. This was a greatly missed opportunity that would have given owners several useful features, including an EQ with multiple presets and the Check My Best Fit setting to determine the best ear tip size for optimal fit.
At least you get two listening modes that come in handy when commuting: Ambient Aware and TalkThru. Both of them work similarly in that they open up the mics and let in more ambient noise to increase your environmental awareness. Sadly, the results don’t compare to what you get from JBL’s more expensive models.
TalkThru is the better-performing mode and lets you communicate clearly by dropping volume down to 20 percent without pausing music. The issue is that enabling it creates this whooshing effect that makes you feel like you’re underneath an air vent. Ambient Aware won’t let you hear much either; whisking cars were all that caught my attention during daytime jogs. There were even moments when my wife thought I was ignoring her during the testing phase.
JBL UA True Wireless Streak review: Battery life and charging case
- Middling battery life
- Inconsistent discharge rates
JBL rates battery life at 6 hours, which is really about 5 hours after factoring in volume, streaming, and listening modes. This is practically equal to the Sport Earbuds (5 hours) and lower than the T5 II Sport (8 hours). Another downer is that the buds only come 20% charged out of the box; my sample unit did, anyway.
USB Type-C fast-charging is supported, though there is very little information shared other than a full charge can be accomplished in 2 hours. That doesn't sound particularly fast. My testing did see the right bud go from 10 to 70 percent in 15 minutes, while the left remained at 10 percent, a clear indication that the Streak has discharge issues.
Complaints aside, a full charge is sufficient for about 3 to 4 days of workouts before tossing the buds into the charging case, which holds up to 18 hours fully charged. This falls short of the average industry time set by the AirPods’ charging case of 24 hours. Popular features like a Bluetooth pairing button and wireless charging are missing as well. Something else worth noting is that the USB-C port on the rear doesn’t have a flap to protect it from dirt or moisture damage.
JBL UA True Wireless Streak review: Call quality and connectivity
- Good wireless range
- Low clarity in calls
If you’re in a pinch and need to make a call, the Streak will suffice, but it won’t be a go-to for long conversations or business calls. One positive is that you’ll hear those on the opposite end loud and clear. That performance isn’t reciprocated, as there is muffling and some minor cutout that occurs on your end, no matter the environment. My wife could tell I was outside and heard everything around me; JBL’s dual beam-forming mics picked up a lot of ambient noise. When inside the house, she said my voice was audible, but was still cutting out every few seconds. Video chats were also unsatisfying with clients sounding very buzzy during Google Meet calls.
Bluetooth 5.0 is outstanding on the Streak. Removing the buds from the case automatically places them in pairing mode. Google Fast Pair does speed up the process on Android devices, but you won’t have any issues connecting to iOS/macOS devices either. Range is the Streak’s unsung feature and is actually higher than what’s advertised, giving you about 40 feet of wireless listening before audio stutters.
JBL did program the Streak to be used in stereo or mono (just leave one bud in the case), though they excluded its proprietary Dual Connect+Sync technology to easily switch connections from one device to another.
JBL UA True Wireless Streak review: Verdict
If you happen to be a longtime JBL or UA fan, and want reasonably affordable workout buds with dynamic sound and a near-damage-proof design, you may wish to check out the Streak. The engineers did right by the sound signature, which balances impactful bass and crisp highs very well. Waterproof protection also grants peace of mind when engaging in sweat-inducing activities or lounging by the pool area. Bluetooth is strong as well to maintain a steady connection in most settings.
However, the Streak kind of feels like an unfinished JBL product with a UA logo slapped on it. I say that because there are some bugs that were never flushed out, and JBL has yet to make Siri more conveniently accessible to users. On top of that, the controls and transparency modes don’t work well, which strengthens my belief that JBL rushed these buds off the assembly line.
Even so, the Streak is also overpriced at $149, and you can find other elite-performing alternatives like the T5 II Sport and Elite 65t that offer more performance more significantly less cash.
A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.