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Bluetooth Hearing Aids - What Bluetooth hearing aids are available in the UK?

Updated 23/07/2021

Bluetooth Hearing Aids UK

Bluetooth Hearing Aids

What is a Bluetooth hearing aid? 

How do Bluetooth hearing aids work?

You have probably heard of most of the Bluetooth hearing aids out on the market already, such as Bluetooth headphones, Bluetooth-compatible speakers and Bluetooth keyboards.  What is impressive is the use of Bluetooth within hearing aid technology, which has continued to advance over the past few years - offering consumers flexibility, great connectivity and pairing hearing aids with mobile phones.

Bluetooth hearing aids keep growing in popularity and we believe this will only increase, as technology meets innovation, connectivity evolves, and consumer demands raise expectations.  However, there are a few misconceptions surrounding Bluetooth hearing aids and what this setup actually means. 

Here, we discuss some of these misconceptions, the key benefits of Bluetooth hearing aid connectivity and the innovative technology of pairing hearing aids with mobile phones - welcoming hearing aid friendly mobile phones.

A quick reference to different types of Bluetooth hearing aids

 

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"Bluetooth technology in digital hearing aids has greatly enhanced the hearing aid wearing experience.  Giving consumers highly personalised and custom audio devices. This smart technology truly provides convenience for hearing aid wearers"  Paul Harrison - Director of Hearing Aid UK

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Bluetooth Hearing Aids - Smart technology

Historically the concept of Bluetooth hearing aids described only the devices that have a direct connection to a mobile phone to enable audio streaming.  In short, when the industry spoke about Bluetooth hearing aids, they were referring to Made for iPhone hearing aids (also known as MFI).

The Made for iPhone hearing aids came onto the market with Resound’s LiNX platform in 2014 – their first iPhone device.  This was then quickly mirrored by Starkey’s Halo hearing aids and now the industry has seen a sea of change with manufacturers adding to their Bluetooth hearing aid portfolio.

Bluetooth Hearing Aids

Bluetooth Hearing Aids - What is Bluetooth?

What can Bluetooth hearing aids do?

Bluetooth hearing aids transmit radio waves through high-frequency channels to connect to another source.  They are paired with each other to communicate data safely by changing frequency continuously - thousands of times per second.

This clever ‘wireless radio’ technology was developed in 1994 and provided the market with two or more electronic devices being able to switch data between each other wirelessly – using radio waves.  Basically, a wireless communication system between devices.  Even though hearing aid manufacturers saw huge potential and benefits to Bluetooth hearing aid technology over the years, the development hasn’t been plain sailing. 

Bluetooth Hearing Aids - The audio of the past

Originally, the transferred audio wasn’t of great quality and relied on huge amounts of power.  Due to this, most brands opted to design streamers to bridge the gap between connectivity and sound quality – a middleman of sorts.  However, Resound and Starkey kept researching and developing, they stuck with it.  Ultimately, this resulted in both launching the first-ever Made for iPhone hearing aids with a direct connection.  Also allowing you to access the world through your hearing aids using mobile phone features and apps.

Bluetooth Hearing Aids - Bluetooth compatible hearing aids & hearing aid mobile phone compatibility

Pretty much all hearing aid manufacturers now have Made for iPhone Bluetooth hearing aid models on offer, but it is worthwhile knowing that you may need a connective device – a streamer - for some models for hearing aid mobile phone compatibility.  It provides a reliable connection that is always stable and audio that is of good quality.  Pairing hearing aids and mobile phones seamlessly.

Bluetooth Hearing Aids

What are Bluetooth hearing aid streamers?

Pretty much all the hearing aid manufacturers have Bluetooth-compatible hearing aid streamers unique to their devices on the market.  It ensures low-energy, fast, seamless and steady wireless audio streaming directly to your hearing aids.   Streamers are the 'go-between' from your hearing aids to your streamer electronic device that provides outstanding audio sound to the wearer. 

For instance, the image above shows Oticon's ConnectClip, which acts as a microphone and a combined headset.  It is an intermediate device, which wirelessly connects Oticon 2.4GHz wireless hearing aids through Bluetooth to most mobile phones.  ConnectClip further doubles as a remote/partner microphone for improved one-to-one speech understanding in adverse listening situations.

Why do hearing aid manufacturers continue to develop Bluetooth hearing aid accessories?

All the main hearing aid manufacturers have a Bluetooth hearing aid accessory portfolio.  They all continue to develop this technology because these devices genuinely change lives for people with hearing loss and enhance their hearing experience every day.

Bluetooth Hearing Aids UK

Bluetooth Hearing Aid Review

Are Bluetooth hearing aids better?

So, what do we think of Bluetooth hearing aids?

Most consumers and audiologists would say they were better, even though the Bluetooth hearing aid connectivity doesn’t ensure better-performing hearing aids.  The real benefit here is the quick connectivity to remote microphones and mobile phones and is, in fact, one of the most popular streamers on the market.  Take for example Starkey’s 2020 Table Microphone Disc, which gave group settings the edge.  By placing the disc in the centre of the table, it will use its eight microphones, to focus on the main voice in your conversation and then stream it directly to your hearing aids. 

On the other hand, streaming audio from your mobile phone ensures that you can hear and make calls easier and more confidently, as you will always gain from great clarity – without any additional device.

What are the advantages of Bluetooth hearing aids?

You gain from fast, seamless and direct connection to:

Bluetooth Hearing Aids - Low energy consumption

One of the main advantages of Bluetooth hearing aids is how low the energy consumption is, but it hasn't been this way from the beginning.  Hearing aids with past Bluetooth technology consumed too much energy, therefore reducing the battery life of the device and quite an inconvenience for its wearers.  With the introduction of Bluetooth 4.0 -  this innovation, as well as the rise of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, are the reasons why direct connectivity Bluetooth hearing aids are now becoming more widely available.

Other benefits of Bluetooth hearing aids

  1. A brilliant sound experience that adapts to you and your lifestyle.
  2. Impressive streaming options from your devices at home to hearing aids.
  3. Intuitive and discreet wireless accessories and apps to control your hearing aids with.

Bluetooth hearing devices

What is the cost of Bluetooth hearing aids

and hearing aids compatible with mobile phones?

As I said earlier, although some aren’t - many of the latest hearing aid launches from the main manufacturers are Bluetooth compatible and hearing aids compatible with mobile phones.  It has become rather mainstream, expected and reflects the current consumer demands and behaviours of today - resulting in many Bluetooth hearing aids being no more expensive than ones that aren’t.  Due to the innovation in other features of hearing aid technology – it is no longer seen as a premium type of product.  Therefore, this type of hearing aid roughly starts from £795 - £1895 per aid.

Some helpful advice from our audiologists regarding looking for Bluetooth hearing aids

It is also worth noting that you simply might only have to purchase a Bluetooth hearing aid streamer from your hearing aid manufacturer if you already have hearing aids - to gain from this connectivity and freedom.  We also recommend the rechargeable option, if you are buying a Made for iPhone hearing aid, in order to be able to take full advantage of the direct Bluetooth streaming capabilities.

NHS hearing aids with Bluetooth - Does the NHS do Bluetooth hearing aids?

Whilst the NHS provides a credible hearing health service and some good hearing solutions - they are currently unable to offer Bluetooth hearing aids.  Hearing aids with Bluetooth capability are only available with private hearing care. 

Bluetooth hearing aids UK

Some useful terms, in regards to Bluetooth hearing aid devices

and mobile phones suitable for hearing aids

Bluetooth hearing aids UK

The consumer Bluetooth hearing aid tick list

Here is our consumer tick list for those who are thinking about upgrading or purchasing Bluetooth hearing aids and some questions you might want to ask your audiologist.  We hope you find this criterion useful:

  • iPhone Streaming:  Do the hearing aids stream audio from iOS devices?
  • Android Streaming:  Do the hearing aids stream audio from Android phones?
  • Laptop Streaming:  Do the hearing aids stream audio from laptops and other Bluetooth hearing aid devices?
  • Accessories:  Do I need to purchase accessories to stream audio from various devices or to have hands-free calls with these hearing aids?
  • Connectivity:  Do the hearing aids provide reliable connectivity with numerous devices and is it easy to install?

What mobile phones are compatible with hearing aids?

Below is a list of hearing aid manufacturers that have Bluetooth hearing aids which are compatible with mobile phones.  Click on the links to view each product list:

 

Bluetooth hearing aids

Bluetooth Hearing Aids Available

Understanding Hearing Aids for Mobile Phones

In the below links, we talk about the latest Bluetooth hearing aid technology for smartphones and mobile phones and what our audiologists recommend for each.  We hope it gives you a better idea of what is available in the industry today and maybe which one might suit you better.

Unitron Discover - Made for Any Phone Hearing Aid

Bluetooth Hearing Aids:  Made for Any Phone Hearing Aids

True Made for any Phone bluetooth hearing aids are currently only available from the Sonova Group - who brought you Phonak, Unitron and Audio Nova. The hearing aids with this strategy are Phonak's Paradise and Unitron's Blu models. Offering you the flexibility of having connectivity to any smartphone or mobile phone, whether it's iPhone or Android, with Bluetooth capabilities - for audio and call streaming (and pretty much any electronic device with Bluetooth).

LEARN MORE >>  Made for Any Phone Hearing Aids

PHPackshotAudeoP RP5Pair01

Bluetooth Hearing Aids:  Made for iPhone Hearing Aids

This term is acknowledged as both MFI and Made for iPhone hearing aids - which basically means a technology to be paired with iPhones, iPad and iPods. It is a licensed product that is Apple-specific and includes a variety of devices to connect and integrate.

LEARN MORE >> Made for iPhone hearing aids

Made for Android Hearing Aids

Bluetooth Hearing Aids:  Made for Android Hearing Aids

Before the Android 10, Android developers were having a bit of a problem. They hadn't invested enough time to research, develop and launch hearing aid integration. Android displayed similar features to that of the Made for iPhone hearing aids - but had always needed a streamer, whilst Apple was a direct connection.  All that has changed.

Over the last few years, Google has been dedicated to making Android more accessible to the hearing impaired. The company launched an app called Sound Amplifier - turning your Android smartphone into a hearing aid.

LEARN MORE >>  Made for Android hearing aids

Bluetooth hearing aids

Best Bluetooth Hearing Aids 2021

What's new for Bluetooth hearing aid technology? 

How do we choose our top Bluetooth hearing aids for 2021?  Finding the right Bluetooth hearing aids for you will depend entirely on your unique preferences, hearing loss needs, budget and what you typically want from your hearing aids.  In so many ways, there is no one size fits all answer here.

Here we show you our recommendations, which are based on brand reputation, customer reviews of the product so far, recent studies and our audiologist's experience.  So, what Bluetooth hearing aids do we advise?  Here are some of our audiologist's Bluetooth hearing aid recommendations that have been launched this year.

Phonak Paradise Bluetooth Hearing Aids

Bluetooth Hearing Aid Recommendations:  Phonak Paradise P90 Hearing Aids

After Phonak Marvel, Paradise came along with a new look and new impressive technology and processing chip - PRISM.  Combining advanced sound quality, motion sensors, a personable hearing experience and digital solutions along with universal and multiple Bluetooth connectivities and much more.

Using Phonak's Motion Sensors, Paradise can control Bluetooth features with a double-tap of your ear. So you can accept/end calls, pause/resume streaming and ask Google for driving instructions with a simple tap.

In fact, Phonak Paradise digital hearing aids allow for eight Bluetooth-enabled devices to be paired, while two can be simultaneously connected.

Mobile phone compatibility with myPhonak app:  Your mobile phone must at least support Bluetooth 4.2 and iOS 12.0 or Android 7.0.

Mobile phone compatibility with streaming wireless calls and music:  Your mobile phone needs to, at minimum, support Bluetooth version 2.1, optimally 4.2 and higher.

 

Discover more about the Phonak Paradise hearing aids range  >>  Read More

Phonak Paradise Charging System

Advantages and Disadvantages of Phonak Paradise Bluetooth Hearing Aids

From a Bluetooth perspective, it works very well at receiving, however, the sound quality experienced by people on the other end of the phone is less good than we have found with people using an external clip-on mic type device, or just speaking into the phone like normal. 

£1695
per aid
£2895
per pair
£1695
per aid
£2895
per pair
Tech Rating:
£1695
per aid
£2895
per pair

Behind the Ear
Fitting Styles: RIC, P, UP

5 Year Warranty Included. Rechargeable version is an additional £50 per aid.

 
 
Phonak Paradise Full Range

Behind the Ear
Fitting Styles: RIC, P, UP

5 Year Warranty Included. Rechargeable version is an additional £50 per aid.

 
 
Phonak Paradise Full Range

Unitron Blu Hearing Aids

Bluetooth Hearing Aid Recommendations:  Unitron Blu 9 Hearing Aids

This hearing aid range is powered by the successful Sonova PRISM chip and along with the new Integra OS signal processing system - you gain from a highly optimised hearing experience that is unique to your hearing loss in all environments.  This chip provides double the memory of Unitron's last chip and also two times more memory to power such personalisation.

The advanced Bluetooth connectivity is made even more convenient with Unitron's new tap control feature.  Giving you access to great wireless connectivity, at-home device control and pairings to Unitron accessories with the tap of your finger.  

Unitron Blu digital hearing aids allow for eight Bluetooth-enabled devices to be paired, while two can be simultaneously connected.  Plus, let's not forget about the direct connection to Unitron's Coach feature through the Unitron Remote Plus app giving you personal care remotely whenever you need it.

Mobile phone compatibility with Remote Plus app:  This app works with Apple smartphones with iOS 10.2 or newer and Android smartphones with version 6 or newer.

Mobile phone compatibility with streaming wireless calls and music: Your mobile phone needs to, at minimum, support Bluetooth version 2.1, optimally 4.2 and higher.

 

Discover more about Unitron Blu hearing aid range  >>  Read More

Unitron Blu Hearing Aids

£1695
per aid
£3195
per pair
£1695
per aid
£3195
per pair

 

 

Behind the Ear
Fitting Styles: RIC

5 Year Warranty Included. Rechargeable version at no extra cost

 
 
Unitron Blu Full Range

 

 

Behind the Ear
Fitting Styles: RIC

5 Year Warranty Included. Rechargeable version at no extra cost

 
 
Unitron Blu Full Range

How to choose your Bluetooth hearing aids summary

Realistically, you more than likely won't be able to purchase Bluetooth hearing aids online.  There are some cheaper and less reliable OTC devices available, but most hearing aid brands do not operate like this.  You will need to visit your local audiologist to access this type of hearing aid.

Your local audiologist will give you a hearing test, support and advise you on your Bluetooth hearing aids keeping your budget, lifestyle, level of hearing loss and much more in mind.  You will be shown a variety of Bluetooth devices that will suit your needs the most.  Please also note that as of yet, the NHS are not able to offer Bluetooth hearing aids.

The good news is that if you are searching for Bluetooth hearing aids there are now loads of styles, models and brands out there.  You also need to be prepared to spend a little more on some models that include Bluetooth.  Most models include Bluetooth technology as standard, however, each hearing aid offers something different when it comes to patient support and functionality.

Before you consider purchasing your Bluetooth hearing aids, reflect back on your needs and priorities, as well as discuss your queries, anxieties and expectations with your audiologist.  At the end of the day, it's important that you're not paying for what you ultimately don't need.

Bluetooth hearing aids

Bluetooth Hearing Aids

Want to discover more about hearing aids with Bluetooth?

A quick reference to more information on Bluetooth hearing aids

 

This article was written by Paul Harrison

Meet Paul Harrison, Audiology Expert

Managing Director & founder of Hearing Aid UK, with over 20 years of audiology experience and a member of the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists Council (BSHAA) between 2015-2020.

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