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The Jabra Elite 85t noise cancelling true wireless earbuds in an open case and on top of a denim jacket.

Jabra Elite 85t review

A great pair of noise cancelling earbuds with a discreet design.
By
January 13, 2022
7.8
Jabra Elite 85t
The bottom line
The Jabra Elite 85t—just like the Jabra Elite 75t and Jabra Elite 65t before it—is an excellent pair of earphones. Now with great active noise canceling, Jabra's flagship earbuds makes a compelling case for your upgrade. However, a high price tag might keep this out of your reach.

Jabra Elite 85t

The Jabra Elite 85t—just like the Jabra Elite 75t and Jabra Elite 65t before it—is an excellent pair of earphones. Now with great active noise canceling, Jabra's flagship earbuds makes a compelling case for your upgrade. However, a high price tag might keep this out of your reach.
Release date

October 31, 2020

Price

Original: $229 USD

Jan. 2022: $149 USD

Dimensions

23.1 x 19.0 x 16.2 mm (earbud)

64.8 x 41.1 x 28.5 mm (case)

Weight

7g (earbud)

45.1g (case)

Model Number

100-99190000-02

Waterproof

IPX4

What we like
Adjustable noise cancelling and HearThrough
Bluetooth 5.1; Bluetooth multipoint
USB-C, wireless, and fast charging
IPX4 rating
Useful mobile app
Ergonomic ear tips
What we don't like
Cost
SBC/AAC only, no aptX
Connection issues possible
7.8
SoundGuys Rating
7.6
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Sound Quality
9.6
7.4
7.0
Bass
9.7
6.8
7.0
Midrange
9.7
8.4
8.0
Highs
9.5
8.1
8.0
Isolation / Attenuation
4.7
7.7
8.0
Active Noise Cancelling
6.6
7.2
7.0
Durability / Build Quality
8.0
7.5
8.0
Value
8.0
7.5
8.0
Design
7.5
7.6
8.0
Connectivity
5.0
7.5
8.0
Microphone
6.9
7.0
7.0
Portability
9.0
8.1
8.0
Battery Life
6.0
7.4
7.0
Feature
9.0
7.5
8.0
Comfort
8.5
7.8
8.0

When picking out earbuds, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by analysis paralysis—especially if you own an Android phone. Unlike iPhone owners, Android users don’t have a go-to set of earbuds to pair with their smartphones. Instead, your Android phone affords the freedom of choice. We present to you the Jabra Elite 85t, a great option for listeners in search of compact active noise cancelling (ANC) earbuds. The Elite 85t can turn down the volume on your surroundings, and just as quickly amplify background noise to keep you safe.

Is the Elite 85t still a good choice with newer Jabra earbuds on the market?

Editor’s note: this Jabra Elite 85t review was updated on January 13, 2022, to include new frequency response and noise cancelling charts, to expand the list of buying options, and to add standardized microphone samples.

Who should get the Jabra Elite 85t?

A woman wears the Jabra Elite 85t and operates the right earbud's control button.
You can quickly answer or end calls directly from the earbuds’ button controls.
  • Commuters should get this set of earphones for the ANC, comfortable fit, and compact design.
  • Students can benefit from this because the case takes up little room in a bag and you can use the buds anywhere.
  • Anyone will get plenty of mileage out of the competent microphone system on these buds.

What’s it like to use the Jabra Elite 85t?

The Jabra Elite 85t noise cancelling true wireless earbuds case coming out of an interior jacket pocket.
The Jabra Elite 85t case is just as pocketable as the Elite 75t case.

The Jabra Elite 85t earbuds distinguish themselves from the competition because of their ergonomic design, effective noise cancelling, and grade-A microphone array. Rather than circular ear tips of previous generations, the Elite 85t includes oblong ear tips which fit more comfortably with the ear canal. The silicone sleeves include an earwax guard which prevents debris from gunking up the speaker grill.

Start here: What makes a good set of in-ears?

The Jabra logo adorns each earbud and you can control playback commands by clicking either panel. You can reconfigure the controls in the Jabra Sound+ app so each user experience is different. A cluster of tiny holes gather at the tip of the earbud housings, these are for the six-microphone array. We’ll get into more of this later, but some of those microphones are for calls and others are for noise cancelling.

The Jabra Elite 85t noise cancelling true wireless earbuds' oblong ear tips and nozzles.
The oblong ear tips look strange but are very comfortable once you find the right fit.

Every pair of true wireless earbuds includes a charging case but this one is more versatile than most. It supports wireless charging by default and if you don’t care for Qi charging mats, you can top it up via the included USB-C cable. The case feels familiar, as it’s made of plastic-like nearly all other cases, and snaps shut with the help of a magnet. It’s easy enough to open with just one hand, yet the magnets are strong enough to secure the case if you drop it.

The Elite 85t support auto-pause and auto-resume playback.

If you want to remain aware of your surroundings, you can click the left earbud to enable HearThru, which is Jabra’s take on passthrough technology. This sounds quite good and relays environmental sounds without introducing a bunch of static or white noise. If you want to run outside with the Elite 85t, you can get away with HearThru enabled instead of mono mode.

Are the earbuds good for working out?

Jabra’s earbuds are very good for standard workouts like running and weightlifting, and the Elite 85t follows suit. Stability is great: the grippy underbelly kept the earbuds in place as I cycle and skateboard. Unlike the Jabra Elite Active 75t, you can’t submerge the 85t for any amount of time, nor can you expose it to dust without possible damage to the internal components.

Should you get the Jabra Sound+ app?

A woman uses the Jabra Sound+ app on a Google Pixel 3 while she wears the Jabra Elite 85t noise cancelling true wireless earbuds.
The app is necessary if you want to take full control of your Jabra headset.

If you want to take complete control of your noise cancelling true wireless earbuds, you need to download the free Jabra Sound+ app (iOS and Android). You can select your preferred level of noise cancelling, enable HearThru mode, remap the controls, and locate your earbuds. Other more hands-on features include the EQ module: you can create a five-band custom EQ, which is saved and applied to the headset, or choose from six premade sound profiles to suit your needs.

Another option is “Moments,” which presents three instances when you may use the headset (My Moment, Commute, and Focus). Each option presents a level of active noise cancelling or HearThru, depending on which is chosen. This is a nice feature because you can customize each of the three slots to your liking and tap on them as needed. This is much faster than if you were to make granular adjustments to ANC or HearThru intensity each time you used the earbuds.

Software updates

The Jabra Elite 85t charging case as the LED glows purple to indicate an active software update.
The charging case LED glows purple when a software update is active.

On March 30, 2021, Jabra released software version 2.0.0 which enables support for Amazon Alexa. Once you update the headset you can access Alexa features like routine settings, direction requests, Spotify control, and phone calls all at the press of a button. While this is convenient and nice to have, if you want direct voice access to Alexa, you should consider the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen).

On February 1, 2021, Jabra released software version 1.38.0, which provided three major features to the Elite 85t. You may now take a fit test to make sure you’re using the best ear tip to maximize isolation. You can also disable both ANC and HearThrough directly from the earbuds, whereas before you could only use the onboard controls to toggle between ANC and HearThrough.

Related: Headphones are collecting too much data

On November 23, 2020, Jabra released the Elite 85t’s first significant firmware update which upgrades Bluetooth 5.0 firmware to Bluetooth 5.1 firmware. The update also reduces the total charging time from approximately 4 hours to 3 hours, 30 minutes. The company fixed call quality issues like crackling audio during a call, and Bluetooth multipoint switching has improved.

What Bluetooth codecs does Jabra Elite 85t support?

The Jabra Elite 85t noise cancelling true wireless earbuds microphone holes next to a Gameboy Color speaker grill.
Tiny little microphone holes enable clear call quality, and noise cancellation.

The Jabra Elite 85t support two Bluetooth codecs: SBC, and AAC for high-quality streaming on iOS devices. AAC can sometimes perform inconsistently across Android devices, but it’s definitely the best choice available here for streaming video and other applications that require low latency. Everyone benefits from Bluetooth 5.1, which improves power efficiency over Bluetooth 4.0 devices.

You can use the Elite 85t to connect to two devices at once via Bluetooth multipoint, which is great for multitasking. Jabra’s multipoint works well, but the experience isn’t quite as seamless as it is with the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2. You still have to pause playback on the primary device, before you can play media on the secondary device. Audio visual lag is only an issue when the Elite 85t is connected to two devices simultaneously. When I use the earbuds with just my phone, or just my computer, playback synchronization is great.

You might like: The best noise cancelling true wireless earbuds

How is the battery life of the Jabra Elite 85t?

The Jabra Elite 85t noise cancelling true wireless earbuds compared to the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, which are smaller than Jabra's buds.
The Jabra Elite 85t (bottom) is much more effective at blocking out background noise than something without ANC like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus (top).

The Jabra Elite 85t lasted 5 hours, 41 minutes before the batteries depleted, which fares better than both the AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3, but doesn’t outlast the newer Sony WF-1000XM4. Of course, if you turn the ANC feature off, you might be able to squeeze more life out of it.

Learn more: How we test

Unlike the Jabra Elite 75t series, the Jabra Elite 85t case supports Qi wireless charging. It takes 3 hours and 30 minutes to completely charge the case wirelessly, and just 2 hours and 30 minutes to charge it via USB-C. You can fast charge the earbuds: place them in the case for 15 minutes for an hour of playtime. Although this isn’t the most efficient quick charging around, it remains a great feature for intercontinental flights, or cross-country road trips.

Does the Jabra Elite 85t have good noise cancelling?

An isolation chart for the Jabra Elite 85t noise cancelling true wireless earbuds, which show pretty good midrange attenuation and effective treble isolation.
This is pretty good, especially if you can snag the Elite 85t for around $150 USD.

In a word, yes; the Jabra Elite 85t features very good noise cancelling technology that effectively quiets ambient noises like running faucets. Upper-bass and low-midrange notes will sound about one-quarter as they would without the earbuds in. Jabra uses feedforward and feedback noise cancelling, similar to the highly effective Panasonic RZ-S500W. In fact, the Jabra Elite 85t ANC is so effective that it causes me to feel disoriented, and the Panasonic RZ-S500W has the same effect.

Become an expert: How do noise cancelling headphones work?

Passive isolation is quite good: sounds higher than 1kHz are rendered up to eight times quieter when wearing the earbuds than without wearing them. The oblong ear tips help create a secure seal to the ear canal, but you must take a few minutes to find the right set for your ears. The more noise you can block out by creating a physical barrier between your ear canals and the outside world, the easier it is for the ANC technology to block out other noises like engines and refrigerator hums.

How does the Jabra Elite 85t sound?

A frequency response chart for the Jabra Elite 85t noise cancelling true wireless earbuds, which shows output that deviates from our house curve, only slightly but most notably in the sub-bass.
The Jabra Elite 85t (cyan) closely follows our consumer curve (pink), with some minor sub-bass under emphasis.

The 12mm dynamic drivers pump out a consumer-friendly frequency response, that closely follows our house curve (what we posit as the ideal for most listeners). This means that most music will sound good in any situation.

Related: How to read charts

Lows, mids, and highs

The song Broken Bones by Wingtip sounds great through the Jabra Elite 85t: the guitar picking is relayed clearly and doesn’t make it difficult to hear Nick Perloff-Giles’ vocals as he sings the first verse. Even when the kick drum enters at 0:27, Perloff-Giles’ voice is audible as he says the word, “different,” which is hard to hear with Jabra Elite 75t frequency response. Treble notes are relayed clearly too and can be heard in the first chorus as a tambourine shakes back and forth.

Can you use the Jabra Elite 85t for phone calls?

The Jabra Elite 85t is great for conference calls. Between the two earbuds, the Elite 85t boasts a six microphone array, four of which are used for noise cancellation. The microphones under-emphasize sounds lower than 500Hz, which is a way to combat the proximity effect: when bass notes are amplified as a speaker gets too close to the microphone.

Some microphone systems take bass attenuation to the extreme, making speakers with particularly low voices sound “off”, but that’s not the case with the Elite 85t.

Jabra Elite 85t microphone demo (Ideal):

Jabra Elite 85t microphone demo (Office):

How does the microphone sound to you?

6218 votes

Jabra Elite 85t Vs Jabra Elite 75t: Which is better?

The Jabra Elite Active 75t true wireless workout earbuds (navy) in the open charging case on a white bookshelf.
The Jabra Elite Active 75t is more compact than the Elite 85t, and has better battery life.

The Jabra Elite 85t has much more effective noise cancelling than the Jabra Elite 75t because the 85t features a dedicated processor just for noise cancellation. This is different from the Elite 75t, which integrates it into the Qualcomm SoC.

With the Jabra Elite 85t, sound quality is more accurate right out of the box too, so you don’t have to spend as much time tinkering in the Sound+ app. Although the form factors are similar, the Elite 75t earbuds are slightly more compact and have circular ear tips. Some users may prefer the standard ear tip shape, but Jabra is wagering that most will fall in love with the oblong design.

See also: Jabra Elite 7 Pro review

If you want something for excruciating workouts of all kinds, we recommend the Jabra Elite Active 75t: it’s IP57-rated to resist both dust and water, and has better battery life than the newer headset. If you commute by plane or train, pinch those pennies for the Jabra Elite 85t a try.

Should you buy the Jabra Elite 85t?

A woman pockets the Jabra Elite 85t noise cancelling true wireless earbuds case.
Once you start using the Elite 85t, you’ll want to take them everywhere.

The Jabra Elite 85t lives up to the name; this is an elite set of earbuds that can handle pretty much anything. If you want some of the best noise cancelling earbuds money can buy, you should pinch your pennies for the Elite 85t. With its recent price drop, you can nab some of the best earbuds out there for $150 USD.

Other listeners may not find the noise cancelling technology to be worth the shortened battery life. After all, you get nearly two more hours of playtime with the previous generation earbuds, and save a significant chunk of change. No matter which Jabra Elite series of earphones you buy, you’ll be happy with it.

The Jabra Elite 85t noise cancelling earphones in Titanium Black.
Jabra Elite 85t
All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

Jabra expanded the Elite 85t’s color options and added Gold/Beige, Copper/Black, Black and Grey, in addition to the existing Titanium Black option. Be sure to research the best headphone seller for you before buying, because some vendors have great warranty coverage while others leave plenty to be desired. It takes just a few moments, and many retailers even have a live chat that you can use to contact customer service about further inquiries. We recommend a little reading for the full rundown on where to buy headphones.

Editor’s note: this Jabra Elite 85t review was written with firmware version 1.16.0 (1033).

What should you get instead of the Jabra Elite 85t?

If you want noise cancelling for around the same price as the Jabra earbuds, consider the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. While the earbuds only merit an IPX2 rating, they share many of the same features as the more premium Galaxy Buds Pro like ANC, a consumer-friendly frequency response, and comprehensive features through the Galaxy Wearable app. Get an in-depth comparison of Jabra and Samsung’s flagship earbuds here.

Another fine alternative to the Elite 85t is the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen), which retails for even less than the Buds 2. Amazon’s noise cancelling performance rivals that of top competitors like the AirPods Pro. While it can’t quite touch the Sony WF-1000XM4, the Echo Buds (2nd Gen) is a smart option for listeners who want all things Alexa.

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds noise cancelling true wireless earbuds in the USB-C charging case next to a Gameboy Color and PlayStation 4 controller.
You have two color options, black or white with the QC Earbuds.

Readers who want the best portable ANC that money can buy have probably whittled it down to the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds and Sony WF-1000XM4. Noise cancelling is excellent on both, though, you’ll notice a greater difference when you toggle ANC on/off on the Bose QC Earbuds than the WF-1000XM4. Both sets of buds have IPX4 ratings and solid app experiences that work well with any mobile OS. If you need to save space in your bag, we recommend the Sony WF-1000XM4, but the Bose QC Earbuds sounds better out of the box.

Frequently asked questions

If you have an iPhone and other Apple devices, it may make more sense to grab the AirPods Pro over the Elite 85t. Apple’s earbuds (all of them) work best with iOS, macOS, and iPadOS. iPhone owners who want to be able to seamlessly switch between their Apple devices, or enjoy spatial audio with head tracking should get the AirPods. But, if you have an iPhone and just want the best noise cancelling between the two headsets, the Elite 85t comes out on top without question. Android smartphone owners should get the Jabra Elite 85t over the AirPods Pro, because most of the AirPods Pro’s features are limited to Apple devices.