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Are you in the market for a bluetooth headset? This technology is great if you want to:
The bluetooth device market is saturated with hundreds of makes and models, ranging from high-grade products to flimsy wears. Without testing them first, it’s difficult to know whether any given product is worth the cash.
That’s where we come in. At BestReviews, our goal is to provide consumers with honest, unbiased reviews of the best products available.
For this reason, we never accept “free” manufacturer samples. We buy products off of store shelves just as you do, and we scrutinize them for quality.
If you’re ready to jump into a purchase, please see the product matrix above for our top recommendations. If you’d like to learn more about bluetooth headsets before laying your money down, please continue reading this shopping guide for helpful information and advice.
Three types of wireless technology exist: infrared, radio frequency (RF), and bluetooth. Infrared is great, but it can easily be blocked when an object (like a wall) gets in its way. RF is also good, but much like a radio station, it loses strength the farther you get from it.
Each bluetooth device offers features that make whatever you’re doing easier. The best device for you is one that best meets your needs.
So why do you want a bluetooth headset? How will you use it?
The “average” consumer uses bluetooth headphones for:
In these scenarios, the headset rarely leaves the owner’s home, office, or pocket. It sits on its charger much of the time and isn’t subjected to extraordinary wear and tear. The Plantronics M50 is an excellent choice if your needs fall into the “Average Use” category.
Do you spend lots of time commuting in a car, subway, or plane? If so, you need a device that can pretty much go anywhere and be ready to take a call at a moment’s notice. Motorola and JETech offer some terrific options for people who travel frequently. For example, the Motorola H730 boasts a battery life of up to 12 hours — great for a long flight. The JETech Universal Bluetooth Headset offers a noise-cancelling microphone to suit those who may find themselves working on a crowded train or in a noisy airport.
Do you use your device when you’re working out at the gym? While you’re biking or jogging? People who exercise while wearing their bluetooth device need something that can withstand extensive movement and sweat. The LG brand offers some of the best headsets in terms of comfort, durability, and sustainability for extended periods of time.
Bluetooth is a dream for anyone who uses their hands frequently for their work. This includes carpenters, electricians, chefs, mechanics, artists, and many more.
No two bluetooth models are exactly alike. Each manufacturer has its own spin on what’s considered a “bluetooth necessity.” Consider the following features when deciding what you value the most:
The greatest concern for anyone buying a headset is the type of audio quality they’re going to get. We could pontificate on signal strength and the integrity of the audio you load/stream onto your device. But ultimately, just being able to hear it properly is probably the top concern for people purchasing a bluetooth device.
The LG Tone Infinim is probably your best in terms of audio quality, as it is one connected piece for both ears (as opposed to a side piece).
Bluetooth’s mobility and signal sets it apart from other technologies.
The two most popular systems for smartphones are iOS and Android. Each contains its own voice prompt system with the built-in Siri and the downloadable Cortana, respectively.
However, the fact that you have a system doesn’t mean your bluetooth will respond to it. That may sound odd, but keep this in mind: few cellphone designers create their own wireless headphone system. With the exception of the iPhone 7, most everything still operates with a headphone jack.
Because of this, most headphones that contain a microphone and button system are compatible with voice prompts. But not every bluetooth device follows suit. The JETech, for example, doesn’t respond to voice prompts and contains no software to correct the issue — it’s simply for listening.
Whatever device you use, you can adjust its volume with built-in audio controls. For example, most cell phones sport a volume control button on the side.
Many bluetooth devices include their own built-in volume controls as well. Interestingly, when you connect two devices with two different sets of volume controls, you may experience your own set of problems. For example, one of the two devices might be turned low or muted, causing you to think it’s broken. Or worse, both devices might be turned up at the same time, causing you to accidentally blast your eardrums.
Concerned about comfort? The LG Tone Infinim may be the most comfortable of the five headsets on our shortlist, with adjustable foam earpieces that contour to the ear.
One of the biggest issues you’ll face as a bluetooth headset owner is battery life. Regardless of which brand you purchase, your bluetooth will likely take a few hours to charge.
The Motorola, at full charge, offers a 12-hour battery life. The rest of the leading competitors last anywhere from four to ten hours. But regardless of which you choose, we recommend charging your device at least once a day so you get the most out of the set.
Most devices are going to pick up some background noise. There’s just no avoiding it, especially if you’re outside or in a place where there’s a lot going on.
The model that comes the closest to relieving the background noise problem is the JETech, which has noise-canceling properties. Even with the JETech, however, you’ll likely encounter a tiny bit of background noise if you’re in a place with lots of commotion.
As mentioned above, signal quality can be a hassle. The signal between your device and the bluetooth device can also be a challenge. Fortunately, many manufacturers have corrected this problem over the past several years. But some brands still suffer from an occasional loss of connectivity.
The Jabra WAVE is one of the few bluetooth headsets that will connect to at least two devices at a time. If you value the ability to listen to music on one system while simultaneously taking a call on your phone, the Jabra could be a good option for you.
Many cell phone carriers already have delayed responses in phone conversations. When it comes to bluetooth, these delays can increase further.
When you talk into a phone, you’re basically sending your signal to a tower, then to space, then back to another tower, and finally to the other person. A bluetooth device, no matter how good it is, adds yet another layer of delay on top of that, resulting in a lag of up to three seconds. It’s an annoyance that may cause problems down the road.
Most modern bluetooth devices aren’t, shall we say, discrete. When it comes to style, a lot of bluetooth devices still look a bit clunky.
If you’re concerned about how you look while wearing your headset, we recommend you take a look at the Jabra and JETech models. The sleekest of our top-pick models, they use the least amount of materials and fit comfortably around your earlobe so you can hide most of the plastic. And there are no bulky pieces or massive logos that make you look like Uhura from Star Trek.
When it comes to style, simple is better. You don’t need a ton of plastic sitting on your earlobe. We recommend you look for a headset that’s thin and short.
Prices range from under $10 to around $100 for a bluetooth headset. Each product has its own great features and potential problems.
We advise potential buyers to select a device with specs that accommodate their needs. That said, these tips should help anyone find a better bluetooth headset.
Q: How do I pair my headset with my device?
A: Every setup is different, but it typically works like this: you turn your device on and hear a set of tones. (The tones are the bluetooth sending a signal out to whatever devices may be active nearby.) You then choose which device you want to connect to and sync them up using the instructions.
Q: Are all devices compatible?
A: The vast majority of bluetooth devices will connect to whatever you’re using. (Devices with out-of-date software may be an exception to this rule.) Sometimes you need to browse your options menus to get the devices to connect, but everything should work in short order.
Q: How badly will a bluetooth headset hurt my ears?
A: Theoretically, your bluetooth headset shouldn’t hurt your ears at all. But everyone is different. Ear size varies, as does an individual’s sensitivity to sound. If you purchase a headset and experience discomfort beyond the first few uses, find a new pair. You shouldn’t need to hurt yourself to make it work right.
Q: How breakable are these? Can I repair them?
A: Bluetooth devices are a lot like earbuds. They’re small and can take some bumps, but they’re not indestructible. If you put them through a ton of use or throw them around, they will break. We don’t recommend repairing them yourself. Find whatever warranty comes with your device and sign up for it. Unless the damage is superficial or could be fixed with a cleaning, most companies with an applicable warranty will replace the product rather than trying to fix it.