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Home News Can the Jabra Elite 85t outdo the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live?

Can the Jabra Elite 85t outdo the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live?

Covering more ground

Jabra Elite 85t

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$230 at Amazon $230 at Best Buy

Pros

  • Solid hybrid ANC performance
  • Great sound quality
  • Improved call quality
  • Comfortable fit
  • Responsive controls
  • Wireless charging case

Cons

  • Larger frame
  • More proprietary ear tips
  • Larger and heavier case

Jabra didn’t necessarily reinvent its super popular true wireless earbuds, but it did take the Elite 85t to another level by including features people came to expect for an “elite” pair of headphones. The sum of all their parts make these earbuds easy to like, and worthy of being in the conversation among the best true wireless earbuds.

Leaving things open

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

samsung-galaxy-buds-live-mystic-bronze-c

$140 at Amazon $140 at Best Buy $140 at Walmart

Pros

  • Good audio quality
  • Long-lasting battery life
  • Extremely useful companion app
  • Supports Qi wireless charging
  • Active noise cancelation

Cons

  • Touch controls can be finicky
  • Certain features exclusive to Samsung phones
  • Design can be polarizing

Samsung did conceptually reinvent its true wireless earbuds, and the new approach is radical by comparison in that it cuts off the actual bud. The design stands out for obvious reasons because of it, and makes a case that earbuds can fit better this way. They come ready to play with a set of impressive features, but there’s room for more.

You could certainly find a more striking difference between two pairs of true wireless earbuds, but this is still an interesting contrast. Jabra has been consistently good at making earbuds that continue to improve every year, and the Elite 85t stick to that cadence. Samsung initially stumbled, but has since learned from its mistakes and come out looking better for it with the Galaxy Buds Live. However, was the change enough to stand up against one of the best?

Jabra Elite 85t vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Live: Same notes, different pages

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Below, you’ll find that a lot of the specs seem similar, but when digging deeper, there are nuances about their respective specs that tell different stories in practice. For example, Jabra’s seven-hour battery life is less on paper, but when both have ANC on, they are pretty much neck-and-neck — except for one major physical constraint.

Durability IPX4 IPX2
Bud battery life 7 hours 8 hours
Charging case battery life 24 hours 29 hours
Wireless charging case Yes Yes
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Digital assistant support Google Assistant, Siri Bixby, Google Assistant, Siri
Supported audio codecs SBC, AAC SBC, AAC
Speaker size 12mm drivers 12mm drivers
Active noise cancellation Yes Yes

For those who’ve followed Jabra, or listened with anything in the Elite lineup, it may have come as a surprise that the Elite 85t are actually larger than the previous Elite 75t. This was likely to fit the larger speaker drivers in, but that just puts them on par with the Galaxy Buds LIve.

That means it comes down to fit and how that fit affects sound quality. The Elite 85t, when you find the right fit, hold an advantage in that you can get better passive noise isolation with a tight seal. That’s important for maximizing the ANC effect. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Buds Live’s open drivers don’t have ear tips to keep sound from leaking out. This means the onboard ANC is fighting more uphill to cancel out background noise. It’s the fact there is no actual bud that compelled Samsung to go with 12mm drivers, simply because they need to produce louder and clearer sound without the benefit of passive isolation.

The Elite 85t, when you find the right fit, hold an advantage in that you can get better passive noise isolation with a tight seal.

This has implications on battery life at a macro level. In a quieter room or location, you may get close to Samsung’s rated numbers, provided you stick to the default volume. But otherwise, it’s safe to say you won’t quite get there in most cases.

Jabra’s ANC is also adjustable, letting you slide up or down on the Sound+ app in case you don’t need the full canceling effect. When you do go lower, you reduce the impact on the battery, which is always great, but you should expect no more than 5.5 hours when ANC is on.

Both have wireless charging cases, which is great, though Samsung’s holds almost three extra charges, whereas Jabra’s holds at least three. With fast charging, you can plug in for 15 minutes to get an hour’s worth of playback on the Elite 85t, but there’s a catch; the charging case has to have a minimum of 30% battery. With the Galaxy Buds Live, a 10-minute charge is enough to get 90 minutes of playback.

Jabra Elite 85t vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Live: Taking a sound check

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Time to dig into some more nuance. Both earbuds have the same size drivers, so we’ll need to go a little deeper to compare sound quality. The Elite 85t have 12mm drivers and aren’t constrained by physical roadblocks when it comes to sealing sound in toward the ear canal. Despite being bigger than the Elite 75t, which were a revelation for Jabra as far as size was concerned, the Elite 85t shouldn’t feel terribly cumbersome. The drivers and ear tips are oval-shaped, and that makes it harder to use third-party tips, including foam ones, that might have been good alternatives.

The key to all this is preserving the low frequency response. As with any pair of true wireless earbuds, a tighter seal generally gets you better bass. The Sound+ app has presets, like Bass Boost, to help the cause, and you can always create your own to save for use anytime. Unfortunately, Samsung hasn’t done the same with its Wearable app. You get decent presets, but no manual EQ.

You will get good sound you can count on, and the ANC is okay, but you won’t block out as much as the Elite 85t can.

Jabra equipped the Elite 85t with an excellent sound signature out of the box. It’s full, clear, and balanced, albeit with a slight turn toward the bass. The Galaxy Buds Live sound impressively good for what they are, especially considering the lack of a tight seal thanks to its unique (and divisive) bean-shaped design. They’re incredibly comfortable and certainly hold an edge — not just against Jabra but against others in the category as a whole. There’s no need for ambient mode because it’s already there by the sheer openness of the design. The ANC, however, isn’t as effective for the simple fact it has more background to deal with.

This is the essential trade-off you have to accept when going with Samsung’ earbuds. You will get good sound you can count on, and the ANC is OK, but you won’t block out as much as the Elite 85t can. Not to mention there’s the wiggle room afforded by the Sound+ EQ. Samsung’s design choice comes with that caveat out of the box. If you can’t get great passive isolation, it’s hard to get incredible ANC.

It’s also worth noting that the Elite 85t use buttons rather than touch surfaces for onboard controls. That’s already an advantage unto itself, and even more so when taking into account how shaky the controls on the Galaxy Buds Live. That matters when talking about voice assistants and phone calls.

Color options vary between these two, and it’s safe to say the Galaxy Buds Live are the flashier of the two. The Elite 85t come in titanium black, and starting in Jan. 2021, gold beige, copper black, black, and gray. The Galaxy Buds Live come in mystic black, mystic white, mystic bronze, aura blue and mystic red.

Jabra Elite 85t vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Live: Which pair should you choose?

It’s hard not to like the package the Elite 85t deliver. The sound quality is excellent, the ANC effective, and the app support superb. Battery life and the form factor are still respectable, so there aren’t too many faultlines to contend with there. The Galaxy Buds Live are also among the best true wireless earbuds because you would be hard-pressed to find a pair more comfortable.

Even from a fashionable point of view, the Buds Live hold that down, especially with the bronze and red variants that will stand out almost anywhere, especially with its unique bean shape. Jabra started out with a more muted titanium black, and the flashiest its group will get is gold beige. If looks truly do matter to you, it’s something to keep in mind.

You do pay more for what Jabra is selling, but the value is there in spite of that. The Buds live have been creeping down a little in price, making them a better value proposition, but you do get what you pay for every time you wear the Elite 85t.

Busting out

Jabra Elite 85t

jabra-elite-85t-withcase-render.jpg

Coming in hot

$230 at Amazon
$230 at Best Buy

The Elite 85t are Jabra’s way of adding features that were otherwise missing, and they get the performance just right in many respects.

Getting comfy

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

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A different kind of fit

$140 at Amazon $140 at Best Buy $140 at Walmart

Samsung’s take on earbuds that look like nothing you’ve seen before proves to be a worthy gamble for the fit and comfort they provide.

Latest

Tronsmart’s latest Q10 wireless headphones are currently on a huge discount

Tronsmart makes some great smartphone accessories and audio devices. The company has gained more and more users as a budget alternative to the big brands over the last few years. Tronsmart’s latest offering is the Q10 wireless headphones.While we have yet to fully review these new active noise-canceling headphones, Tronsmart wants to share with our readers that the Q10 is currently deeply discounted for its big launch. (but stay tuned for more on that review in the next few weeks) Retail partner AliExpress has the Q10 headphones a whopping 53% off if you act quickly.This $52.99 cutback is good for the next two days. From January 25 thru the 27th, you can snag these over-ear headphones for more than half the price. This is a pretty great deal for headphones that pack a pretty decent spec sheet.The Tronsmart Q10 will get you Bluetooth 5.0, touch controls, active noise-cancellation, and an estimated 100 hours of playtime. The headset also has Google Voice support and USB-C charging to round out the bullet points.So, what are you waiting for? Get over to AliExpress using this link: http://bit.ly/TSQ10JANae to enjoy this limited time offer from Tronsmart.

US Mobile Buyer’s Guide (January 2021)

Most consumers are familiar with the big-name wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T, but not nearly as many are as well-versed when it comes Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) like Consumer Cellular or FreedomPop.These MNVO brand operators license the towers and coverage from the tier-one providers and offer their own phones, rate plans, and customer service.Let’s take a look at one in particular: US MobileAboutUS Mobile is a small MVNO that utilizes T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network and Verizon’s 4G LTE network and is known for letting customers add talk, text and data on the fly, at any time.The carrier is not shy about its usage of T-Mobile, but it does appear to hide its Verizon component a bit. We’re not sure why.What are US Mobile rate plans like?US Mobile touts is affordable packages for subscribers who need wireless coverage but want some flexibility in the talk, text and time used each month.Customers can pick and choose plans, customizing as they see fit, or choose from a selection of “Unlimited” options. Don’t want or need data? That’s fine.The Unlimited Plans are as follows:$15/mo – Unlimited talk, text, and 2.5GB data$30/mo – Unlimited talk, text, and 10GB dataThe custom plans come with hotspot capabilities and 250MB of 4G LTE international roaming.A recent change to the plans sees US Mobile offering a $40 option which includes unlimited talk, text, and data. To be clear, it’s 50GB of high speed data with heavier users potentially seeing reduced speeds after hitting the threshold. Data speeds are considered “Fast” which means up to 5Mbps for video streaming.For $5 more per month subscribers can get 10GB of mobile hotspot capabilities. For $10 more per month customers can increase data speeds to “Ludicrous” up to 250Mbps, plus the hotspot feature.Family PlansUS Mobile customers can create multi-line accounts, each of which is basically the $40 plan. Things get cheaper per line as you add them to the mix.US Mobile phone selectionUS Mobile has a small selection of phones to choose from, many of which are a few years old. Moreover, they appear to be fairly expensive, too. We definitely recommend using your existing T-Mobile or Verizon phone if possible.Where can I buy an unlocked phone?Bring your own deviceUS Mobile tends to work better for people who already have a phone that they’d like to use. Whether it’s a T-Mobile or Verizon handset, or something else, you’ll probably have luck using it with US Mobile. According to the carrier, 99% of devices will work with its service.What else should I know about US Mobile?US Mobile operates entirely online and does not have any physical retail locations in the US.For every friend you refer to US Mobile, the carrier will give you both up to $10. They save up to $10 on their first plan and you get up to $10 off your next bill.You can easily add talk, text, and/or data Top Ups to your current plan to always stay connected. They roll over to next month when you use AutoPay, automatic bill payment.A US Mobile starter SIM kit can be purchased for $3.99, letting subscribers keep their existing phone number.

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