Jabra Elite 4 Active Review ANC Gym Earbuds With Tactile Physical Buttons

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Maximize your workout with a secure fit and good old fashioned button press! That's right, the Jabra Elite 4 Active uses physical buttons (no touch controls) - a sure win for those who absolutely dislike touch controls and prefer tactile feedback on earbuds!

The Elite 4 Active have the same earbud shell design and physical tactile buttons as the Elite 3 earbuds but the top half section of the Elite 4 Active is rubberized and integrates two sleak metal grille mesh vents for a more premium look. The vents hide the ANC microphones, which do a good job at blocking out ambient sounds (people chatter, not so much) . The rubber finish on top provides grip inside the ear canal but the fit isn't quite as secure as with a wingtip. The Elite 4 Active nozzle is long and narrow so, the earbuds insert deep inside the ear canal but the fit is comfortable. You can wear the buds for long without discomfort. 

After initial pairing, you can switch seamlessly between earbuds for mono listening. Re-connection delay when taking the earbud out of the case is about 4 seconds , which is a bit long. Some earbuds re-connect instantly or take around 1-2 seconds, which is ideal when wanting to answer an incoming call quickly. 

The Elite 4 Active charging case has a square, tall chest box design with a smooth stealthy black plastic finish and subtle branding printed in white on the front side of the case (above the status battery led). The sides of the case are curved, while the  top and bottom are flat, letting you keep the case upright upside down or downside up. There is no wireless charging support.

The Elite 4 Active case has a roomy charging dock area so, you can easily pinch (even with chunky fingers) the earbuds out of the case. The dimensions of the case are 6cm long, 2.5cm thick and 4cm high. The case weighs by itself 38 grams, while the earbuds weigh 4 grams each. Total combined weight is 46 grams.  

The Elite 4 Active charging case has a strong hinged lid and a rear facing USB-C port for charging the case. Charging the case and earbuds from 0% to 100%, takes about 3.5 hours. The earbuds alone take 2 hours to fully charge, while the case alone takes 1.5 hours. The case can hold between 23 hours and 27 hours, depending on ANC usage. The Elite 4 Active earbuds have a battery life between 7 hours (ANC OFF) and 5 hours (ANC ON). The earbuds support quick charge (1 hr from 10 minute quick charge). 
As far as sound performance, the Elite 4 Active have the same 6mm driver hardware and audio tuning as the Elite 3 earbuds; hence the Elite 4 Active have a boomy dynamic bass sound - perfect for the gym. You can tweak the stock sound signature via the app and make it more balance and clean. 

Some potential deal breakers are the lack of AAC codec support, no button remapping, no music EQ and no adjustable ambient mode (HearThrough) like it says on the back of the box. It is unclear if these features have been removed by Jabra or whether there is a mistake in the marketing material. Lack of touch controls can be a deal breaker also for those who dislike earbud jamming inside the ear canal. The Jabra Elite 4 Active earbuds cannot be paired whilst inside the charging case an multipoint connection isn't supported.
The Jabra Elite 4 Active has many great selling points though, to offset the drawbacks. These include long warranty (2 years), aptX and SBC codecs, high waterproof resistance, dust resistance rating (most earbuds on the market don't offer this), Spotify Tap support, Alexa and Google Fast Pair so, you can  quickly pair the Elite 4 Active earbuds with an Android phone (Android 10 or higher) with a quick tap.
The Jabra Sound+ app works flawlessly and requires no account registration (super nice!). The app has some nice features such as battery level for each earbud, 6 preset sound modes, find my earbuds, sidetone (can be disabled) and HearThrough (can be disabled). 
The biggest selling point is, no doubt, the call quality and physical buttons. Unlike most touch control earbuds, you can use the Elite 4 Active with gloves - perfect for cold weather running. The physical button design works well and is responsive but being a button it requires some force to actuate. By pinching the earbud, you can minimize jamming the earbud into the ear canal. 

The call quality is very good in quiet and noisy places. Not only the voice pickup is clear and loud, the mic noise cancellation removes background noise without trying too hard, allowing you to have decent calls while on the road running and at the gym. For work/conference calling purposes, the Elite 4 Active aren't the best suited. For that, it is best going with the Evolve2 30 headset.  Jabra's HearThrough feature works just like ambient/transparency mode, letting you hear your surroundings and talk to people without having to remove the earbuds. You can buy the Jabra Elite 4 Active from amazon. Check out the review of the Jabra Elite 5 and the new Elite 10 earbuds.

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