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Maybe I was spoilt by the first edition of the Jaybird Run headphones, which are among my favourite sports buds, but the Run XT update has left me slightly disappointed. There were few problems with the original Jaybird Run, and as far as I was concerned one of those problems wasn’t how waterproof they were. But that’s where Jaybird seems to have focused its efforts, upgrading the Run XT to a waterproof rating of IPX7.
The previous headphones were sweat-resistant and I had no problems running with them in the rain or wearing them during very sweaty workouts. So while any upgrade in build quality is always welcome, I feel greater gains could be made by improving other areas.
That means areas like the battery life, which at four hours on the headphones themselves is fine, but having just eight more in the carry case is significantly less than you can get from rival pairs. The Apple AirPods case holds 19 hours of juice and the Jabra Elite Active 65t ten hours.
The IPX7 rating does mean the XT buds can withstand being submerged to a depth of one metre for up to 30 minutes, so they’ll survive a swim. But that’s not what they’re designed for, and regular pool sessions would be unwise.
Despite this nit-picking, the Jaybird Run XT buds remain a terrific set of sports headphones, with a comfortable and secure fit, and solid sound quality that you can also adjust to your ear using the partner Jaybird app. Being able to tweak the EQ settings of the headphones in the app is great for fine-tuning them to suit the type of music you’re listening to. The tight fit of the buds means that the bass has plenty of beef to it and nothing I listened to sounded harsh or tinny.
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Jaybird has also added a new podcasts section to its app, which contains playlists of podcasts recommended by athletes, a welcome addition – though one that’s available on other Jaybird headphones too, not just the Run XT.
Within the box you get four sets of ear fins and four sets of buds (two round, two oval), so you can set up the headphones to achieve a close fit for your ears. I had no issues with the Run XT coming loose during any runs or workouts, and they were still comfortable to wear under a tight headband or hat. Full marks here.
I also didn’t experience any drop-outs with the Bluetooth connection to my phone when it was in a pocket or running belt, and the headphones connected easily to my laptop and a running watch (Garmin Fenix 5 Plus). To switch devices you have to turn the Run XT buds off and then hold the on button down to put them in connecting mode.
Sometimes when I took the headphones out of the case, which turns them on automatically, the left earbud wouldn’t connect while the right one did, but once I’d turned the left bud on and off again it linked up fine and didn’t drop out. You can use the right earbud by itself if you want one ear clear, but not the left – the right is the master bud that handles connectivity to your phone.
One problem I had with the original Jaybird Run buds is that they would often connect to my phone while in the carry case, which was pretty annoying when they were in my bag. Thankfully this is not an issue the XT buds have inherited, judging by my experience so far.
The button controls on the headphones allow you to pause or skip tracks, accept calls or bring up the voice assistant on your phone, but not to adjust the volume. A mild annoyance, but one of the small problems I would have liked to have seen resolved with the Jaybird Run XT.
Jabra’s Elite Active 65t headphones are the main truly wireless competitors to the Jaybird Run XT, although Apple’s AirPods shouldn’t be discounted, owing to their excellent battery life and seamless connections to other Apple devices. The Elite Active 65ts have a similarly excellent fit to the Run XTs, along with slightly better battery life, but the Jaybird buds are cheaper at £159 vs £169.95 (RRP).
A part of me remains curious whether Jaybird has Jaybird Run Pro version up its sleeve, as it released the terrific Tarah Pro headphones shortly after the Tarah, bumping up the battery life in the process. But in the absence of any info on that front I’d say you can’t go wrong with the Jaybird Run XT if you’re on the hunt for sports buds.
Buy from Jaybird | £159
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.