While the Jabra Elite 4 Active loses out on some features included in the pricier Elite 7 Active, it retains the key ones to make them sporty truly wireless earbuds that offer similarly solid sound and a secure fit for less money
- Reliable fit for exercise
- Solid sound for workouts
- Good battery life with fast charging support
- ANC doesn’t entirely keep out the wind
- Button controls can feel a bit stiff
- Need to use EQ to get best sound profile
- Active Noise CancellationANC blocks out sounds, HearThrough mode lets them in
- Spotify TapInstant access to Spotify on Android devices
The Jabra Elite 4 Active are another pair of sports-focused truly wireless earbuds from Jabra, that come in priced less than the excellent Jabra Elite 7 Active, but still manage some of the same great features to make them a good fit for workouts.
They pack in ANC and HearThrough modes, Amazon Alexa integration and a Spotify Tap playback mode and wrap that up in a sleek, sweat and waterproof design.
Priced at £119.99, it’s £50 cheaper than the Elite 7 Active and that puts it alongside sporty truly wireless earbuds like the Bose Sport Earbuds and what you can currently pick up Sony’s great-sounding WF-SP800N sporty buds. Jabra served up great sports buds with the 7 Active, so has it managed to replicate that with the 3 Active at a cheaper price?
The Jabra Elite 4 Active is available to buy in three colours for £119.99 / $119.99 from Jabra’s website.
- Discreet design
- Buttons are big
- No wing-tips
It’s fair to say Jabra’s approach to making its sporty truly wireless earbuds stay put in your ears is an interesting one.
Like the Elite 7 Active, there are no wing tips and instead you’re getting minimalist-looking buds with a design that’s a bit like a triangle with softly rounded corners. You can pair those up with one of three sets of small, medium and large silicone ear gels to make sure you get the optimal fit.
Jabra hasn’t used the same ShakeGrip fit it used on the Elite 7 Active, so it really boils down to getting the right gels in place to make sure they stay securely inside of your ears. The good news is that the fit worked very well in testing. They sat snug in the ears during outdoor runs, indoor rows and sweaty HIIT indoor workouts and didn’t at any point cause any discomfort or move around during longer sessions.
A wingtip-style design is always going to be the preferable option for workouts, just because it gives you that extra sense of security. That said, the Elite 4 Active does an impressive job without them. Just make sure you play around the ear gels to get the best fit overall.
What is always good to see is that you’re getting something with an IP57 rated waterproof rating, which does mean technically you can submerge them in water, but this is more to do with giving you something that’s equipped to handle the rain and sweat. I had to use them in both of those watery scenarios, and they survived the drenching on both fronts.
While it doesn’t look like it at first glance, Jabra has discreetly included physical buttons on both buds that encompass the entire outer casing. Those buttons can be used to interact with calls and music streaming. So for calls you can answer, reject and adjust call volume. On the music side, you can play, pause, skip backwards and forwards and holding the button can adjust volume as well.
Button presses over taps is definitely more desirable when you’re in the heat of a minute set of non-stop lunges or tackling some interval running. I found as the buttons sit very flush with the outer casing of the buds, they can at times feel a little stiff to press and you need to focus your pressing very centrally on the bud to make best use of the controls. It’s more reliable than tapping with sweaty fingers, but I’d say the controls are a bit nicely implemented on Jabra’s pricier Elite buds.
When the buds are not in use, you do have a charging case, which reverts to the taller-style cases Jabra used on its previous generation Elite Active buds. It’s still a pocket-friendly one, but I would’ve preferred the lighter form factor you get on the Active 7.
There’s just a single status indicator LED up front to let you know charging status and pairing status. Around the back is the USB-C charging port, which brings similar fast charging support offered on 7, but you don’t have wireless charging support for that case.
If you like your bud colours you’ve got three to pick from here: black, mint and the navy. It means whether you want something more understated or something or more eye-catching in look, you have that option albeit from a small selection of options.
- Spotify tap playback feature
- Solid battery life
- Built-in voice assistance
You can use the buds independently, and you also get the multipoint connection that Elite 7 Active has. Android users can benefit from Google Fast Pair and on my Samsung Galaxy 20 FE, that was the way I managed to connect the buds to the phone before having to delve into the companion app. I quite liked the Spotify Tap playback feature, which isn’t new to Jabra’s buds and appeared on its Elite 3 and 2 buds, and also features on Bose’s Sport Earbuds.
Once you select that option, you can double tap on the left bud, and it will pick out songs on Spotify that it thinks you’ll like. It’s quite a nice, fun feature if you’re looking for something random or new to listen to.
You can either use that Spotify feature or use that double press action to make use of the built-in Amazon Alexa support or make use of your own smart assistant like Siri or Google Assistant. I used it with Google Assistant, and it was nicely responsive to my questions and queries indoors and outdoors.
When it comes to battery life, Jabra states you should get up to 7 hours, though doesn’t specify whether that’s with ANC enabled or not. Total music streaming time with a fully charged case is up to 28 hours. That’s a couple of hours dropped on the Elite 7 Active on buds and case time and one hour with the buds only.
I found that an hour of running with ANC enabled saw the battery drop by 10%, which is similar to what I experienced with the Elite 7 Actives. Turn off the ANC and that battery drop-off isn’t as big. If you’re working out 30 minutes to an hour a day for a week, you’ve got something to get you through without charging.
Plus, you have a fast charge feature that gets you up to 1 hour play time from 10 minutes of charging. That’s double the fast-charging time on the Elite 7 Active, but that’s still pretty useful to have to make sure they don’t go fully dead through a week.
- Solid ANC
- Customisable sound
Jabra uses 6mm drivers to power performance just like the Elite 7 Active and again, I’d say you’ll get the most rewarding sound for workouts once you’ve tinkered with things in the Sound+ companion app. In there you’ll find a bunch of EQ presets, but also room to quickly create your own as well tinkering with bass, midrange and treble levels with simple sliders.
Out of the box, the buds sound just feels a bit ordinary. Not bad, but not massively impressing on any part of the sound spectrum. You don’t really get a sense of the power or bass depth they’re actually capable of. If you want that finesse and something more rewarding on the treble front, there’s that there too once you’ve tinkered and you also get a reasonably wide soundstage here from relatively small statured buds.
With that right EQ in place, I found plenty of warmth in the bass for my go-to drum and bass-heavy running and indoor rowing playlists. Swapping in the higher tempo stuff for some podcast action, you can ease things on the bass and mid-range and get something where you get good clarity and emphasis on voices too.
Jabra also includes active noise cancellation, which you can toggle from one side of the buds, and it will emit an amusing ‘boing’ tone that will let you know it’s switched modes. Before using ANC, you can personalise the experience from the app, which involves using sliders to help the app understand how effective the ANC is operating in your ears and with the ear gels in use. Ideally, you want to be in a noisy environment when setting this up to make sure it’s put to best use.
With the right ear gels in place the ANC works well indoors, but like a lot of buds it finds blocking out exterior sound more challenging in outdoors use. It’s not an absolute disaster thankfully. I used them on runs in mildly blustery conditions, and while that wind is present, it doesn’t cut through horribly into your listening time. It’s a similar story for traffic, where they do an effective job of dampening exterior sound but not entirely blocking them out.
Jabra also includes a HearThrough mode to let more of that exterior noise in, with a simple toggle bar in the Sound+ app letting you slide it to let in more or less sound. I can’t say that I found the HearThrough highly effective though. If you’re listening to music loud and switching it on, the difference in the listening experience didn’t feel hugely different for me.
You can make calls with these buds with four MEMS microphones on board here too. With the few calls I received when using the earbuds, I’d describe the call quality as good but not amazing. It worked well outside without letting the wind interfere with clarity, so if you want buds that can take calls, they do a pretty competent job of it.
Should you buy it?
You want strong sound from small-fitting buds The Elite 4 Active are capable of delivering enjoyable, powerful, bassy sound and do it from a design that sits discreetly and light in your ears
You want serious audiophile sound The Elite 4 Active sound good on the whole and offer plenty across the music spectrum, but if you’re seeking for exercise-friendly buds that can deliver exceptional detail and impressively wide soundstage, you’ll be better served elsewhere.
The Jabra Elite 4 Active might lose the ShakeGrip feature, and some other software features you get with the pricier Elite 7 Active, but it delivers where it matters most. You get a strong wingtip-free fit, good sound once you’ve tinkered with things in the in-app EQ and a solid battery performance that’s elevated by the fast-charging support. It sits well against other sporty buds at this price and if you’d rather be closer to the £100 mark than the £200 for exercise-friendly buds, these are well worth getting in your ears.
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We test every headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested over a few weeks
Tested with real world use
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The Elite 4 Active has a rating of IP57, which protects them from dust getting through and means they can be submerged into a body of water 1m deep for 30 minutes.
The Elite 4 Active supports SBC and aptX. There’s no mention of any support for AAC.