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AirPods vs. Jabra Elite 65t: Which should you buy?

Both Apple's AirPods and Jabra's Elite 65t are excellent options for true wireless headphones. If you're well ensconced in Apple's ecosystem, you'll seriously want to consider getting a pair of AirPods. They work seamlessly with Apple devices, and both pairing to and switching between devices is a breeze. However, if you want a tighter seal against outside noise, better sound overall, or if AirPods just won't stay in your ears, check out the Elite 65t.

Sound off

AirPods

AirPods (Image credit: iMore)

Apple designed AirPods to work seamlessly with the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV thanks to the proprietary H1 chip. It's so seamless that you only need to pair your AirPods with one device, and as long as the others are using the same iCloud account as the first device, your AirPods will automatically be paired with all of them. Pair once, play anywhere. And now, with the second-generation AirPods, you can activate Siri using "Hey Siri," letting you use the digital assistant completely hands-free.

That's functionality that the Jabra Elite 65t or any other headphone save for some products by Beats (an Apple-owned company) can't match. And if ease of use with your Apple devices is high on your list, that might be the deciding factor right there. It also helps that the AirPods sound a bit better than Apple's wired EarPods, though the Jabra Elite 65t have them beat in that regard.

Apple AirPodsJabra Elite 65t
Battery life5 hours5 hours
Battery life of case24 hours10 hours
ConnectionBluetooth 5.0 through H1 ChipBluetooth 5.0
Fast charging15 mins = 3 hours15 mins = 1.5 hours
Custom fitNoYes
Auto pauseYesNo
IP RatingNoneIP55

The Jabra Elite 65t's superior sound versus the AirPods comes in part from the seal created when inserting them into your ear. The Elite 65t are actual in-ear buds, which provide a tighter seal that keeps out a lot of noise from the surrounding environment while also directing more sound from the buds into your ear.

For most people that use Apple devices, the AirPods are the earphones to get.

While Jabra includes a set of silicone sleeves that can help the bud achieve the right fit for your ear, in-ear buds are a design that isn't for everyone, with many people finding them uncomfortable to wear for an appreciable length of time. However, the Elite 65t stay in more ears, while some still can't get AirPods to stay put.

There's also the matter of microphones. The AirPods feature a microphone on each bud that lets you speak on calls or command Siri. The microphones on the Elite 65t do the same thing, but there are four of them. They also work to isolate your voice, letting its sound in while keeping the noise of the world out. This is great on paper, but I've never heard of complaints that the AirPods couldn't pick up their voice unless the environment was particularly unforgiving.

Both the AirPods and Elite 65t sport up to five hours of battery life on a single charge, which can be boosted by use of the included charging case throughout the day. But where the AirPods case provides up to 24 hours of additional charge for your AirPods, Jabra's case only provides up to 10 hours of additional life before it needs to be charged. The AirPods case also provides more efficient quick charging, adding three hours of life to your AirPods with a 15-minute charge, compared to the Elite 65t's case adding about 90 minutes of power to the buds in the same amount of time. As an additional annoyance, Jabra is vague about how much talk time you should get out of the Elite 65t, while Apple states outright that AirPods talk time should be around three hours.

If you're only focused on sound quality, you'll be happy with the Jabra Elite 65t.

For most people that use Apple devices, the AirPods are the earphones to get. The overall experience — between pairing, listening, and charging — is better than the Jabra Elite 65t. Jabra gets high marks for better sound and noise isolation, but most Apple users will be happier with a pair of AirPods. More than any other product Apple has produced in recent memory, AirPods truly fit the phrase "It just works."

But maybe you don't care about the pairing experience. Maybe you don't use Apple devices, or you do but you travel a lot, so you need better noise isolation. Perhaps you're only focused on sound quality (understandable for headphones, after all). If this is the case, then you'll be happy with the Jabra Elite 65t. They might not have all of the AirPods' bells and whistles, but they're excellent headphones none the less.

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.