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Jabra Elite 85t vs Bose SoundSport Free (2021): Comparing True Wireless Earbuds

Another day, another pair of true wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation—and this time around, it’s the new Jabra Elite 85t, the successor to the well-reviewed Elite 75t.

The new iteration builds on the previous generation with new features and a revamped design, but how does it compare to other old but popular models such as the Bose SoundSport Free? We put the two side by side to help you decide which one you should get and whether modern Bluetooth headphones are worthwhile or not.

Jabra Elite 85t vs Bose SoundSport Free Comparison Chart

ModelJabra Elite 85tBose SoundSport Free
Controlsn/aPhysical and voice
Active Noise CancellationYesNo
Transparency ModeYesNo
Water and Dust ResistanceIPX4IPX4
Battery Life7 hours or 5.5 hours with ANC on5 hours
Charging Timen/a2 hours
Wireless ChargingYesNo
Release DateNovember 1, 20202017
ColorsTitanium, GoldBlack, Midnight Blue, Bright Orange, Ultraviolet

Design and Build

The in-ear Bose SoundSport Free have better passive noise isolation than the Jabra Elite 85t’s semi-open design.

Jabra Elite 85t vs Bose SoundSport Free Design and Build
Jabra went with a semi-open design for the Elite 85t, meaning their tips won’t create a tight seal in your ear canal.

Going by its appearance alone, the Elite 85t are unmistakably Jabra. However, they’re now semi-open, a departure from the Elite 75t’s in-ear design. What that really means is their tips won’t be crammed into your ear canal. By the same token, they won’t make a tight seal, so noise isolation won’t be as good as before since some sound will manage to leak through. That’s where active noise cancellation comes in to “compensate” (more on that in a bit).

The Bose SoundSport Free are opposite in the sense that they’re in-ear headphones. One takeaway here is they have better passive noise isolation because of that. And as their name suggests, they have a sporty design, but they’re also on the bulky side, which is one of the biggest complaints about them since they tend to jut out of your ears.

Audio Performance

The Jabra Elite 85t can keep outside noise out better with its active noise cancellation.

Jabra Elite 85t vs Bose SoundSport Free Audio Performance
Only the Jabra Elite 85t (left) have active noise cancellation, not the Bose SoundSport Free (right).

At the time of writing, the Jabra Elite 85t have yet to hit the shelves, so it’s hard to tell how they’ll sound exactly. But with the info at hand, they’ll at least perform better than their predecessor. For one thing, each earbud has a 12 mm driver under the hood for improved audio and three microphones. For the record, that all adds up to six microphones, four of which are for noise canceling.

Speaking of, Jabra calls the Elite 85t’s active noise cancellation Advanced ANC, which is basically a version of the technology made for earbuds without the noise isolation you’d get from in-ear headphones. It has 11 levels of sound, ranging from complete noise canceling to full transparency mode to let surrounding sounds pass through, which the company aptly named HearThrough.

The Bose SoundSport Free don’t have active noise canceling, so you’ll have to rely on their passive noise cancellation to keep unwanted sounds out. At any rate, they provide decent audio with an emphasis on bass, which makes sense since strong winds tend to dissipate it, and the earbuds are made for outdoor use, after all.

Battery Life and Other Features

You’ll get a longer battery life out of the Jabra Elite 85t.

Jabra Elite 85t vs Bose SoundSport Free Battery Life and Other Features
The Jabra Elite 85t’s battery life totals to 25 hours, while the Bose SoundSport Free‘s is 15 hours.

On a single charge, the Jabra Elite 85t are rated to last up to 5.5 hours with active noise cancellation on, going up to a total of 25 hours with the charging case. With active noise cancellation off, those numbers will increase to about 7 hours and 31 hours, respectively. The earbuds will also come with a wireless charging case, so there’s that.

Meanwhile, the Bose SoundSport Free won’t win any awards here. For starters, they last up to 5 hours at a time and get an additional 10 hours of battery life from their charging case, which totals to 15 hours. They don’t support wireless charging either. Still, they’re pretty par for the course for 2017 earbuds.

Both have an IPX4 water resistance, meaning they can withstand sweat and splashes. Thing is, the Jabra Elite 75t have an IP55 rating, and to put two and two together, the Jabra Elite 85t is getting a downgrade on this front.


The Jabra Elite 85t’s modern features bring the Bose SoundSport Free‘s outdated features to light.

Clearly, the winner here is the Jabra Elite 85t. They have active noise cancellation, transparency mode, wireless charging, and longer overall battery life than the Bose SoundSport Free. But that’s more or less expected since they are newer models.

Also, that doesn’t mean the Bose SoundSport Free aren’t worth getting anymore. With the price drops already rolling out, they’re affordable true wireless earbuds that make for an excellent workout companion.


📌 When is the release date of the Jabra Elite 85t?

The Jabra Elite 85t are expected to be released on Nov. 1.

📌 Is Jabra a good brand?

Yes, and that’s evidenced by the Jabra Elite 75t and Elite Active 75t. For the uninitiated, these true wireless earbuds have decent battery life and connection, a sleek design, and excellent water resistance.

📌 Does the Jabra Elite 85t have active noise cancellation?

Yes, the Jabra Elite 85t supports active noise cancellation with 11 levels of sound, going from full ANC to full HearThrough, which is what the company calls its transparency mode.

📌 Which is better, the Jabra Elite 85t or the Bose SoundSport Free?

The Jabra Elite 85t is better than the Bose SoundSport Free across the board, but that’s not surprising since the latter is a 2017 model. That also doesn’t necessarily mean that the Bose SoundSport Free aren’t worth getting since the price drops do make them an affordable pair of true wireless earbuds that can get the job done.

Last update on 2022-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.