New Jabra Headphones Let You Use Alexa, Siri Hands-Free

Headphone and headset makers Jabra has shown its latest creations -- the Elite 85h headphones -- to the attendees of CES 2019 in Las Vegas.

Credit: Jabra

(Image credit: Jabra)

The 85h cans have active noise cancelling, an 85-hour battery life and eight built-in microphones: four for the wearer's voice, two for noise cancelling and two for SmartSound, which we'll explain below.

The headset charges via USB-C, and the usual Jabra audio customisation options are accessible through Jabra's iOS or Android app, Sound+. The headset is also rated as rain-proof, so there's no need to worry about wearing it during walks in inclement weather.

For most people, it’s available in titanium black, navy or "gold beige", but a plain black shade is an option exclusively for Best Buy customers in the U.S. Sadly, there are no details of if or where U.K. customers can get this colour for their 85h.

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There's a focus on digital-assistant integration by Jabra with these new headphones. The 85h headset works with Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant, depending on whether your device is compatible with them, of course.

Interestingly, these digital assistants can be activated instantly on the Jabra Elite 85h using your usual wake words, rather than by pressing or holding a button before speaking your command.

Buttons have been the standard method for using digital assistants on other personal audio products, including Jabra's Elite 65t earbuds, so it will be fascinating to see if this becomes the norm in the future.

Credit: Jabra

(Image credit: Jabra)

Another feature that Jabra is pushing is SmartSound, the company's automatically adjusting set of playback profiles. Two of the built-in microphones pick up ambient sound from the environment and adjust the EQ on your music or phone calls to presets best suited to the current circumstances, such as being in public or private spaces or commuting.

Using Jabra's smarphone app, you will be able to tweak what the responses are in each mode. The Verge reports in addition that future updates could also allow users to change what external sounds are active with which profile.

If you find all of this enticing enough that you want to buy the Jabra Elite 85h, you’re going to have to wait until April before they go on sale, when they'll cost $299/£279.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.