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Jabra Elite 3 Review

The entry-level headphones in Jabra’s range punch well above their price, with great sound, a comfortable fit and long battery life

Jabra Elite 3 headphones
(Image: © Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

Our Verdict

The Elite 3 are the cheapest headphones in Jabra’s range, but they will satisfy the needs of most people and offer great value at £80.

For

  • Impressive sound quality
  • Comfortable fit
  • HearThrough mode
  • Great value

Against

  • No ANC
  • Only £40 more to upgrade to Elite 4 Active

I recently crowned the Jabra Elite 4 Active as the best running headphones, largely down to them offering the same features as headphones that cost £50 more than their £120 price, including Jabra’s own Elite 7 Active buds.

So, the main question in mind when testing the Jabra Elite 3 Bluetooth buds was whether they could repeat the feat – by undercutting the Elite 4 Active to offer the best value in Jabra’s range and perhaps be the best workout headphones. The answer is… pretty much – though there is still good reasons to upgrade to the Elite 4 Active because of their higher IP rating and active noise cancellation (ANC).

Jabra Elite 3 Review: Price And Availability

The Jabra Elite 3 are available now on Jabra’s website and although they have an RRP of £79.99, they are currently reduced to £59.99. That’s £40 cheaper than the Elite 4 Active headphones, which offer ANC.

Buy from Jabra (opens in new tab) | £79.99

Design

Jabra Elite 3 headphones

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

The Elite 3 have a similar design to Jabra’s other headphones, with no wings or hooks to secure them. Instead, the buds rely on their shape and light weight (each weighs 4.4g) to stay in place. The shape is the same as the Elite 4 Active and Elite 7 Active headphones, but the Elite 7 Active have Jabra’s ShakeGrip silicone coating to make their fit more secure during exercise.

Despite not being designed specifically for exercise the Elite 3 headphones have an IP55 rating that, while not quite as high as the IP57 rating of the Elite 4 Active buds, is still more than enough to reliably resist rain and sweat.

Jabra Elite 3 headphones

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

Each bud has a multifunction button on the side that is used to control playback, activate the HearThrough awareness mode and change volume. You can turn the Elite 3 buds off by pressing both buttons simultaneously, which is a rare feature on truly wireless headphones, with most only turning off when placed in their case. The buttons are easy to use during exercise, though holding the buttons down to reduce or increase volume is a little uncomfortable since it pushes the headphone into your ear.

The Elite 3’s case is longer and shorter than the Elite 4 Active’s case and is small enough to slip into a pocket or running belt. The headphones and case come in four colours: navy, dark grey, lilac and light beige.

Fit

Jabra Elite 3 headphones

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

Since they don’t have wings or an ear hook to help them stay in place, the Jabra Elite 3 buds may not offer a secure fit for everyone. I have always found that Jabra’s headphones stay put during runs, cycles, strength workouts and yoga sessions, but buds with a wing or a hook will offer a more reliable fit for many people.

The advantage of not having those extra protrusions is that the Elite 3 buds are comfortable to wear for long periods, whereas some wings can dig into the ear after an hour or two. If you have used Jabra’s headphones before you will know if the fit works for you, because the Elite 3 buds feel the same in the ear as the Elite 4 Active buds, and only marginally less secure than the Elite 7 Active with their ShakeGrip coating.

Sound Quality

The Elite 3 buds have the same 6mm drivers you’ll find further up Jabra’s range and they deliver similarly impressive sound quality. You don’t get the hearing test feature that helps customise the sound profile for the Elite 7 Active buds, but you can change the EQ to your own setting or use presets, such as Bass Boost and Smooth – the latter proving my favourite for a balance of warm bass and clear vocals.

The sound quality is good, even without taking price into account, and excellent for headphones that cost under £100. There is enough power in the bass and clarity throughout the range, and even at high volumes I didn’t notice any distortion. On sound alone I’d be happy with the Elite 3 buds if they cost twice as much.

While there is no ANC, the buds do a solid job of blocking out external sounds passively, and I only missed the ANC when travelling on public transport. The HearThrough awareness mode can be activated by clicking the left button once, but I found it let in a lot of wind noise when using it while running or cycling. It’s useful in a gym or an office when you don’t want to miss someone trying to catch your attention, but to stay aware of your surroundings while exercising outdoors, your best bet is to use one bud at a time.

Jabra Elite 3 headphones

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

Battery Life

With up to seven hours of battery on the buds and another 21 in the case, the Elite 3 buds once again match up well with headphones that cost twice as much. They also have a quick charge feature that provides 60 minutes of playback from 10 minutes of charging. In my testing I found they lived up to the stated battery life even when having the volume near the max most of the time.

Are The Jabra Elite 3 Worth It?

The Jabra Elite 3 are excellent headphones for sports and general use. I’d rate them as the best-value option in Jabra’s range and the best sports headphones for under £100 in general, as long as you get on with the fit. If you need more security, then the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC has an ear hook and is a great option for under three figures.

If you want ANC then it’s worth the upgrade to the Elite 4 Active, though the tiny 1More ComfoBuds Mini are a solid option with ANC for under £100. If you’re simply seeking the best-value buds on the market, then it’s also worth checking out the JLab Go Air Pop, which are outrageously cheap at £20. 

Nick Harris-Fry
Nick Harris-Fry

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.