There's a lot of attention on true wireless earphones these days, but that hasn't reduced demand for traditional affordable on-ear headphones. Superior battery life, an easier and less intrusive fit, and a more substantial product package are just some of the reasons that people might have for preferring headphones. If you're one of those looking for a new pair of wireless on-ear headphones, the Jabra Elite 45h has some impressive specifications on paper.
Priced at Rs. 9,999 but available for close to half that price online at the time of writing this review, the Jabra Elite 45h is an affordable pair of wireless headphones that has a claimed battery life of up to 50 hours – far more than what most wireless headphones offer. The Elite 45h also promises comfort, along with Jabra's typically clinical approach to sound and connectivity. Find out how these wireless headphones perform, in our review.
I personally am not a fan of the on-ear type of headphones, preferring either an in-canal or over-ear fit, since they don't put as much pressure on my ears. Fortunately for me, the Jabra Elite 45h has a very comfortable fit, with plenty of soft padding on the ear cups and under the headband, and a light clamping feel. The ear cups have decent scope for movement, ensuring that the earphones will fit most people comfortably.
Because of this, I was able to use the Elite 45h for hours at a stretch without any of the discomfort I usually face with on-ear headphones. The fit doesn't make for very good noise isolation, but there isn't much sound leakage either; the sound could only be heard outside the earphones at the highest volume level. The headset isn't rated for water resistance, which is a bit disappointing.
Although made entirely of plastic, the matte finish makes the Elite 45h look and feel pretty good. The left and right side indicators are patterned into the ear pads for easy reference. The buttons and USB Type-C port for charging are on the right. A slider switch controls power and Bluetooth pairing, while three separate buttons near the top control playback and volume. There are two microphones on the right ear cup, used for environmental noise reduction for the outgoing voice signal.
The Jabra Elite 45h has 40mm dynamic drivers and a frequency response range of 20–20,000Hz. For connectivity, the headphones use Bluetooth 5, with support for only the SBC codec. There is multi-point connectivity for up to two devices simultaneously. Included in the sales package is a USB Type-C cable for charging, and a carry pouch.
You can use the Jabra Sound+ app (available for Android and iOS) to see the exact battery level, change the equaliser settings, or play any of a number of ‘Soundscapes' – comforting ambient sounds meant to mask noise around you. It's also possible to locate the headphones (when the required permissions are active), and switch on or off the ‘sidetone' feature (to be able to hear your own voice on calls), among other things. I quite liked all that the app had to offer.
The Jabra Elite 45h has an impressive claimed battery life figure of 50 hours per charge, and my testing indicates that this is indeed the case. I was able to use the headphones for over 30 hours, and the battery dropped from 100 percent to only a little under 40 percent, with the volume level at around 70-80 percent throughout. This suggests that the headset could indeed offer around 50 hours of battery life as claimed. This is quite an impressive figure, particularly for a headset at this price.
While the Jabra Elite 45h is impressive when it comes to battery life, comfort, and app support, the most important parameter to test is sound quality. Fortunately, it delivers reasonably on this front, with acceptable sound quality and good performance on voice calls. Despite being limited to the SBC Bluetooth codec, good tuning helps the headphones achieve a comfortable quality.
I didn't find anything special in the sound, beyond a strong and punchy low-end that felt familiar for a Jabra headset. However, this isn't a bad thing for an affordable wireless headset such as this; the focus is on comfort, and the Jabra Elite 45h delivers this through both, its fit and its sound. There are no surprises, no shrill high-end spikes, no awkward sonic characteristics – the Jabra Elite 45h delivers a safe and enjoyable sound for the most part.
The use of only the basic SBC Bluetooth codec meant that high-resolution music didn't really sound too different from compressed audio streams, with only the punchy lows showcasing any improvement at all. Listening to Golden Brown by The Stranglers on Tidal Masters, the lows seemed a bit more calculated and refined, while the same track on Spotify sounded relatively aggressive with the bass overpowering the rest of the range. The level of detail, the quality of the mids and highs, and the general approach to the track was largely identical otherwise.
Punchy lows aside, the mid-range and highs sounded decent on the Jabra Elite 45h as well, and there's a reasonable amount of detail in the sound. The soundstage was just about as spacious as could be expected from a pair of headphones in this price range. Hints of detail managed to sparkle through at the most unexpected of times, making for an enjoyable listening experience on the whole.
The light fit might be great from a comfort perspective, but did take away from the sound quality because of the lack of proper noise isolation, and the resulting distance between the drivers and my ears. Despite its good qualities, the sound always felt a bit distant and imprecise, reminding me why I prefer over-ear or in-canal models. That said, the Jabra Elite 45h did sound decent for a pair of on-ear headphones.
As with most wireless headsets from Jabra that I've tested, performance on voice calls is excellent on the Elite 45h. Sound was excellent on both ends of the call, and the ‘sidetone' feature made the sound feel just a bit more natural and less closed-off. Even at low volumes, the sound was clean and callers were discernible. Connectivity was stable at distances of up to around 15 feet between the smartphone and the headphones.
Although the Jabra Elite 45h has an MRP of Rs. 9,999, it's widely available for under Rs. 6,000. At its street price, this is a very good pair of wireless headphones, and gets it right when it comes to comfort, call quality, battery life, and of course sound. There are small issues here and there, but this is largely a reliable pair of headphones that gets the job done for a reasonable price.
The loose fit and basic Bluetooth codec support do hold it back a bit. It's also worth considering that you could pick up a decent pair of true wireless earphones with active noise cancellation, such as the Oppo Enco W51 or Realme Buds Air Pro, for even less. However, if you prefer the style and fit of on-ear headphones, this is among the better options available in its price segment today.
Price: Rs. 5,499 (at the time of review)
Which are the best truly wireless earphones under Rs. 10,000? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.