Jabra Elite Active 65t review

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Jabra Elite Active 65t review

I loved the Jabra Elite Active 65t when it first came out, and I don't say that lightly. Jabra took one of the best pairs of true wireless eheadphones, the Elite 65t, and made a sweat-resistant and longer-lasting version without significantly raising the price. 

More recently, it's been replaced in turn by the Jabra Elite Active 75t, but with an even lower price and no less of its quality, the older buds remain among the best workout headphones money can buy. 

Also, see which models rank among the best wireless earbuds under $100

Jabra Elite Active 65t review: Price and availability

The Jabra Elite Active 65t originally launched in 2018 at $170. That's since dropped to $100, and while a newer model is on sale, the Elite Active 65t is still widely available.

As such, it remains a good choice if you want sport earbuds with high sound quality but a relatively low price.

Jabra Elite Active 65t review: Design

Jabra's Elite Active earbuds are small, sleek and unobtrusive. Unlike Apple's AirPods, which are noticeable from a mile away due to the white stem that hangs down from the ear, no one will notice your Jabras. The buds are circular, with a small arm and a protruding tip that help them fit more snugly in your ears. Apple's AirPods Pro have a slightly shorter stem than the original model, but they're still noticeable.

The Elite Active comes in black and blue with an inlay that's titanium for the former or copper for the latter, emblazoned with the Jabra logo. The left earbud also has notches to indicate where to press to skip and repeat tracks.

Jabra Elite Active 65t review

The buds tuck into an oval charging case, which stores the Elite Actives in between workouts (and keeps them from getting lost). The case was actually the source of my biggest issue with these otherwise amazing earbuds: It's damned near impossible to open.

Jabra Elite Active 65t review

At first, I thought I was a weakling. The case just wouldn't budge open unless I pried it apart with my fingernails. Then I had three of my co-workers try it — same issue. Finally, one of us (it wasn't me) figured out that you had to squeeze and open the case at the same time to lift the lid. I feel like it shouldn't be that difficult, so I docked a half star for the annoyance.

Jabra Elite Active 65t review: Fit and comfort

The Jabra Elite Active 65t is one of the most comfortable sets of completely cordless Bluetooth earbuds I've ever worn. Other sets can be uncomfortable, because the bud has to be engineered to fit securely without a cord for balance. But everything about the Elite Active 65t's shape just works: the pod, the small arm — which helps you insert and then anchor the bud by rotating it forward — and the in-ear tip, which comes with three sets of silicone gels in various sizes to tailor the fit.

Jabra Elite Active 65t review

These buds don't move. When I was jostled on my 45-minute subway commute, they stayed put. During 3-mile runs on blustery December days in Brooklyn, they stayed put. When I tucked my hair behind my ears and brushed the left bud, I thought it would tumble to the ground. But it stayed put.

Jabra Elite Active 65t review: Fitness

Unlike the Elite 65t buds, the Active model has a built-in accelerometer, which makes it a capable fitness tracker. It doesn't log runs automatically; you have to open the Jabra Sound+ app, tap Active and start a run to track your miles. If you use Active mode, Jabra's HearThrough feature automatically turns on to allow in ambient noise.

Jabra Elite Active 65t review

Presumably, HearThrough is a safety feature that you would want to have while running along busy streets, but I don't like it much. I could hear my footsteps pounding on pavement and a band playing as I ran through Brooklyn's Prospect Park, which was distracting when I wanted to listen to music and focus on my run. I wish Jabra would make HearThrough optional, like it is when Active mode isn't enabled.

I didn't find myself using Active mode much, and not just because of HearThrough. Other fitness trackers can give you far more information than just time elapsed and steps per minute. But more importantly, the Actives are sweat-resistant, which makes them a perfect workout companion.

Jabra Elite Active 65t review: Sound quality

Jabra offers EQ presets in its app so you can customize the Elite Active 65t's sound to your liking. I like my sound a little heavier on the bass for running, so I chose Bass Boost, but you can also bump up the treble. Jabra lets you customize the presets to perfectly fine-tune the sound to your preferences.

Jabra Elite Active 65t review

The Elite Active 65t offers practically perfect sound, especially for workouts, because the in-ear tips block out most noise. The bass-forward preset I picked was perfect, whether I was bopping around to Ariana Grande's "thank u, next" or pounding the pavement to the thumping bass and piano chords in Cardi B's "Money." Phone calls and podcasts also came in loud and crystal clear.

I also like that I can take out the left earbud to hear a train announcement or chat with a friend and keep listening to music in the right bud. (The reverse — listening to music in the right earbud with the left taken out — isn't possible.)

Jabra Elite Active 65t review: Battery

Like my all-time favorite fitness earbuds, Jaybird's Tarah Pro, the Jabra Elite Active 65t buds last 15 hours on a charge. This is possible because of the charging case — the buds can last 5 hours on their own and then an additional 10 hours if they are charged up in between workouts.

Jabra Elite Active 65t review

In my experience, this added up to close to two weeks of wear without having to charge the case (which also charges the earbuds in the process). In those two weeks, I went on a handful of 30- to 35-minute runs and listened to podcasts on my 45-minute commute to and from work almost every day. I never had to worry about dead earbuds.

Then, one day, I left the buds outside of their case. For two days. (I blame my husband, really, because he put them in our junk drawer. But I digress.) The case itself wasn't totally dead, but there wasn't much life left, and I wanted to go for a run. So I stuck the earbuds back in the case, plugged in the case for 15 minutes and crossed my fingers. When I put the buds back in my ears, they were fully charged. Relief!

Jabra Elite Active 65t review: Verdict

You can now find Jabra's Elite Active 65t for under $100, which makes it a great value compared to Apple's $249 AirPods Pro and $200 Powerbeats Pro. The Elite Active 65t also has a sleeker, less obvious design than both those splurge-worthy sport earbuds.

You can find less expensive totally wireless Bluetooth earphones, but the alternatives either aren't sweat-resistant for workouts (see Apple's $159 AirPods) or don't fit as well.

And, while the newer Jabra Elite Active 75t is the technically superior pair of headphones, the Elite Active 65t still has enough going for it to make it a worthy purchase at a lower price.

Caitlin is a Senior editor for Gizmodo. She has also worked on Tom's Guide, Macworld, PCWorld and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. When she's not testing out the latest devices, you can find her running around the streets of Los Angeles, putting in morning miles or searching for the best tacos.