Jabra Elite 4 reviewon May 17, 2023 at 15:47 Tech Advisor

At a glance

Expert’s Rating


Great sound quality Impressive ANC Solid battery lifeGood companion app


Cheap-feeling case Annoying controls Price rise compared to Elite 3

Our Verdict

Despite a few inconveniences, the Elite 4 are a great pair of affordable wireless earbuds. But the same can be said for plenty of other options at this price, and Jabra doesn’t do much to stand out here.

Price When Reviewed


Best Prices Today: Jabra Elite 4


When thinking about wireless earbuds, many of the leading smartphone companies come to mind first. The likes of Apple, Samsung and Google all have versions of their own, but you shouldn’t forget firms that specialise in audio.  

They include Jabra, the Danish brand that’s been around for no less than four decades. Jabra sells several different pairs of wireless earbuds, but none more affordable than the Elite line. 2023’s Elite 4 adds active noise cancelling (ANC) for the first time, but increases the price to just under $100/£100. 

That still means they fit into our budget class but has it been worth it, or is your money better spent elsewhere? Ultimately, the answer to both of those questions is yes (for most people), but let’s explore in more detail. 

Design & Build

Premium bud designAttractive but cheap caseAnnoying on-bud controls

When it comes to design, Jabra has embraced the old saying: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The Elite 4 buds and case look identical to last year’s Elite 3, even down to the four colours available: Gray, Light Beige, Lilac and Navy Blue. 

I tested the latter, where the blue finish is very subtle. You’ll only be able to tell it apart from the grey version or other black buds by examining them up close. But while I enjoy this minimalist aesthetic, it’s nice to have several options to choose from.

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

The horizontal pillbox-style case still does the job, with a durable hinge connecting the base to the lid. I have no concerns about its long-term durability, which isn’t always a given on affordable buds. 

However, the plastic build still feels cheap. Any illusion of the Elite 4 being a high-end product is shattered as soon as you pick up the case. It’s also prone to accumulating scratch marks, so I firmly believe Jabra could’ve done better here. 

One benefit of this design is that it’s impressively lightweight: the case is only 33.4g when empty, or 42.6g with both buds inside. As a result, they are incredibly easy to take anywhere you might venture.

Aside from the Jabra logo, there’s not much else to report regarding the case. You get an LED charging/pairing indicator light on the front and USB-C charging port on the back, but both are standard features. 

Any illusion of the Elite 4 being a high-end product is shattered as soon as you pick up the case

Fortunately, the buds themselves feel much more premium than the case. Instead of the common short stem design, the Elite 4 opt for a more rounded body that sits almost completely within the ear. I generally prefer this approach, as it creates a good seal that benefits active noise cancellation. 

It can take a while to get used to, though, and it’s important to choose the right size of ear tips and Jabra includes three in the box. Even then, the Elite 4 are far from the most comfortable wireless earbuds I’ve used. They don’t hurt, but your ears are in constant contact with hard plastic while wearing them. 

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

As a result, I wouldn’t recommend these buds to someone who regularly listens for several hours at a time. But for an hour or two here and there, comfort isn’t a major issue. 

It’s nice to see a waterproofing rating on the Elite 4, although it’s only IP55. While that protects it from most dust, it’s only rated to survive low-pressure water jets. It’ll be fine if you’re caught in the rain, but that’s about it.

I complained about Jabra’s approach to on-bud controls in the Elite 3 review, and nothing has changed on their successor. Rather than being activated by touch, you have to physically press the button on the outside of each bud to trigger key functions. 

The benefit of this is that it’s more resistant to accidental presses, but the trade-offs aren’t worth it for me. Every time you change something, the tip of the bud is pushed further into your ear canal. It’s particularly unpleasant when using the long press functionality, but you’ll notice it every time. 

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

This is a real shame, as the range of functionality available is impressive. Learning how to toggle ANC, access a virtual assistant or control music is simple, yet I was reluctant to use them most of the time. Relying on your phone so much feels like a backward step, but it’s the lesser of two evils here. 

A more successful design choice is the LED indicator on each bud, which lets you know battery, pairing and charging status. Strong magnets keep the buds in place while in the case, making it almost impossible to accidentally prevent them from charging. 

Sound Quality

Impressive, versatile audioGreat for music or voicesNo Hi-Res support

The success of any wireless earbuds hinges on their sound quality, so I’m glad to report that it’s one of the key strengths of the Jabra Elite 4. The buds offer impressive audio across a range of scenarios, even if they’re not quite best-in-class in this respect. 

In general, the dual 6mm drivers deliver rich sound that’s brimming with warmth and detail. That certainly benefits music, where songs sound very good regardless of genre. 

The buds offer impressive audio across a range of scenarios, even if they’re not quite best-in-class

Taylor Swift fans won’t be disappointed, with everything from ‘Shake It Off’ to ‘Anti-Hero’ sounding punchy and atmospheric. Other modern songs such as ‘Feel It Still’ by Portugal. ‘The Man’ and ‘Better Now’ by Post Malone strike a good balance between crisp vocals and detailed backing tracks. 

But plenty of classic older tunes are just as good. The complex backing band in ‘September’ by Earth, Wind & Fire complement Maurice White’s vocals excellently, with neither becoming overpowering.

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’ is totally different, but the long electric guitar solos are still represented in excellent detail. Meanwhile, stripped-back tracks such as ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon and ‘Someone Like You’ by Adele lose none of their usual impact. 

Even if you prefer rap, country or classical music, it’s hard to find a style of music that the Elite 4 struggle with. Some songs sound better than others, but the quality of every track I tested is plenty good enough for casual listening at this affordable price. 

It’s also worth noting that my testing was only at Amazon Music’s ‘standard’ quality. This is a highly compressed version of the original, but being limited to SBC and Qualcomm aptX codecs means the Elite 4 aren’t compatible with Hi-Res audio. 

But if there’s one main weakness, it’s bass. Those lower-pitched sounds are still audible, but don’t have quite the same impact as premium buds. There’s also some distortion at higher volumes, although it’s hard to complain about either too much at this price point. 

The audio can be tweaked via the Jabra Sound+ app, with equalizer controls for bass, mid-range and treble. If you’re not confident adjusting the audio yourself, there are six presets available.

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

All have a clear impact on the audio, but not enough to fundamentally change the way it sounds. If you’re looking for in-depth customisation, these aren’t the buds for you. 

Elsewhere, crystal-clear voices make the Elite 4 a good choice for both podcasts and calls. Four microphones mean audio input is decent, albeit nowhere near as good as most wired headphones.

Noise Cancelling & Smart Features

Impressive ANC performanceCan be customised via companion appTransparency mode and virtual assistant support

Active noise cancelling (ANC) is the headline new feature on the Elite 4. It was the main reason not to buy the Elite 3, so I’m glad Jabra has added it. 

You can use the ANC without downloading the Jabra Sound+ companion app, but that’s where it can be personalised. This essentially involves choosing the level of noise suppression and balance (between the left and right earbud) that suits you best.

Both can have a surprisingly big effect on the effectiveness of the ANC, so it’s worth doing. 

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

Once set up, its implementation here is impressive. The ANC does a good job of drowning out most background noise, even in busy environments.  

I sometimes enjoy listening to music at a relatively low volume, where the feature on most earbuds lets too many annoying sounds through to make it worthwhile. Not here, though, I could happily enjoy quiet music and stay completely focused on what I’m doing.  

The ANC does a good job of drowning out most background noise, even in busy environments

You can reconfigure the ANC at any time via the Sound+ app, but it’d be nice to control the intensity without going through that setup process each time. Sometimes I only want some of the background noise to be removed, but it’s an all or nothing approach here.  

The secure fit of the Elite 4 buds also means very little sound escapes into the room. Even with the buds only a few centimetres from my ears, I couldn’t hear anything. If, like me, you worry about people near you hearing what you’re playing, these buds are a great choice. 

Jabra’s transparency mode is known as ‘HearThrough’. It does a very good job of amplifying the sound around you, making it great for crossing a busy road or quickly tuning into a conversation. The only caveat is that there’s no in-ear detection, so music won’t pause automatically if you remove the buds. 

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

The Jabra Sound+ app is available on iOS and Android, with the virtual assistant depending on which phone you’re using. Siri and Google Assistant are both triggered via a double tap of the left earbud by default, responding in the same way as usual. It’s a nice option to have. 

Battery Life & Charging

Up to 5.5 hours with ANC onFurther three charges from caseDecent USB-C charging speeds

Jabra claims you can get up to seven hours of listening time from the Elite 4 buds, but only with ANC turned off. With the feature enabled, something I’d recommend, this drops to 5.5 hours. 

That’s roughly in line with my experience, which means only long listening sessions will fully deplete the battery in one sitting. For modern wireless earbuds, that’s fairly standard. 

Only marathon listening sessions will fully deplete the battery in one sitting

Of course, the buds will stay in the case when you’re not using them. This adds an extra three full charges, so you’re looking at a total of up to 28 hours with ANC off or 22 hours with it on. Based on my experience, the latter is a generally realistic figure, and it should translate to around a full week for most people. 

You will find better battery life elsewhere, but it’s easy to plug them in at the start of the week and not really worry about running out of charge. If you only use earbuds very occasionally, the Elite 4 are rated to last for up to 75 days on standby. I couldn’t verify this claim during testing, but they do seem to hold charge well.  

The Elite 4 support fast charging, even though there’s only a USB-C to A cable included in the box. Jabra’s claim of 10 minutes plugged in getting you roughly an hour of usage seems accurate, although it takes around 3.5 hours to fully charge both the buds and case. 

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

Price & Availability

The Jabra Elite 4 sit at the more affordable end of the wireless earbud market. They cost $99.99/£99.99, and are available at a variety of retailers including direct from Jabra and via Amazon in the US and UK.

That price means they’re just about cheap enough for our budget buds chart, but there’s lots of competition. The Google Pixel Buds A, Nothing Ear (Stick) and OnePlus Buds Z2 are all priced very similarly, although only the latter features active noise cancellation. 

But spending just slightly more can get you the Nothing Ear (2) or Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, both of which offer a better all-round experience. 

There’s no doubting that the Jabra Elite 4 are still great value for money – they’re just not the only ones. 


The Elite 4 might be the cheapest wireless earbuds Jabra currently makes, but they still pack a punch. 

Combining ANC with great sound quality is mightily impressive at this price point, especially alongside the solid battery life. The classic earbud design still looks the part, while the companion app offers some impressive customisation. 

However, you will have to put up with a cheap plastic case and frustrating controls on the buds themselves unless you’re on the side of the fence who prefer proper buttons.

It’s easy to overlook these minor inconveniences at this price point, but the Elite 4 lack any standout feature when compared to the wide range of alternatives. 


Active Noise Cancellation Wireless: Bluetooth 5.2, Qualcomm aptX, SBC Voice control: Siri, Google Assistant Touch controls: Yes Battery life: 7 hours from buds, 28 hours including case (without ANC, claimed) Charging: Up to 3.5 hours Ear tips tips: Three sizes Colours: Gray, Light Beige, Lilac, Navy Blue Weight: 4.6g (each bud), 33.4g (case) 


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