Hearing aids with Bluetooth connectivity enhance your everyday life and keep you connected to both iOS and Android phones, as well as your TV, tablets and other audio devices in your own home.
Historically, hearing aids held limitations for hearing aid users in regards to accessing audio devices like mobile phones. You can imagine this to be a frustration for wearers. For example, if they wanted to jog and listen to music at the same time - they would have to remove their hearing aids to switch to the headphones.
Today's digital hearing aids are so much better - and accommodate both connections to audio devices and streaming sound straight to your hearing aids. Additionally, pretty much all Bluetooth hearing aids have a hearing aid app that you can download onto your mobile. Accessing discreet adjustments on the go, whenever you need to.
So, how do Bluetooth hearing aids work? In short, they are a wireless communication system between devices. 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.
Today's Bluetooth hearing aids cater to all types and levels of hearing loss from mild to severe. They are extremely convenient for those who use Bluetooth-enabled devices like tablets, iPads, TV's and smartphones. Using such Bluetooth technology will allow your hearing aids to enhance your everyday life, making it easier whilst giving you more control and more freedom.
But, will you use the technology? Bluetooth hearing aids connect you to your friends, loved ones, and the world seamlessly. However, if you do not use Bluetooth devices and have a standard smartphone - you may not get the most out of Bluetooth hearing aids.
Your audiologist will go through what you want from your hearing aids, what your hearing loss needs, and also what would enhance your current lifestyle. It is also important that you discuss what Bluetooth enabled devices you have already that you'd like to connect with your hearing aids and whether the technology is compatible.
Truly 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).
Bluetooth hearing aids for iPhone are also 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.
You might want to consider a 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 hearing aids streaming capabilities.
Before 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 Bluetooth hearing aids for Android phones more accessible to the hearing impaired. The company launched an app called Sound Amplifier - turning your Android smartphone into a hearing aid.
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 ranges.
If your hearing aids don't incorporate direct streaming, don't worry, there are plenty of hearing aid streamers on the market that connect you. What are Bluetooth hearing aid streamers? Pretty much all the hearing aid manufacturers have Bluetooth-compatible hearing aid streamers. It ensures fast, low-energy and reliable wireless audio streaming directly to your hearing aids. Streamers are effectively the 'go-between' from your hearing aids and your electronic device.
Oticon's ConnectClip, on the right, acts as a microphone and a combined headset. An intermediate device, which wirelessly connects Oticon 2.4GHz wireless hearing aids through Bluetooth to most mobile phones. It also doubles as a remote/partner microphone for improved one-to-one speech understanding in tricky listening situations.
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. 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.
Ultimately, this resulted in both launching the first-ever Made for iPhone hearing aids with a direct connection. Also allows you to access the world through your hearing aids using mobile phone features and apps.
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.
Are there advantages 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 mobile phones and accessories such as remote microphones.
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. However, you 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.
Made for iPhone hearing aids (MFI): These connect directly to iPhones without an additional streamer for streaming calls and audio. MFI hearing aid devices don’t always connect to Android phones and might need a streamer to be successful. This will, no doubt, change as the future of audiology and its technology evolves.
Bluetooth compatible hearing aids: These are not a direct connection and need a streamer to connect to a mobile phone and to stream audio (using an app). They do connect to Android devices exactly the same way, once you have said streamer in place.
Made for Android hearing aids: These, in the past, still needed an additional streamer, but since the Android 10 – the future of direct connection is looking brighter.
Made for Any Phone hearing aids: This, at the moment, only applies to the Sonova group hearing aids – like the Phonak Paradise and the Unitron Blu. These connect to any mobile phone with Bluetooth capabilities and pretty much any Bluetooth device.
So, how much are Bluetooth hearing aids UK?
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.
It has become rather mainstream and, therefore, results in many Bluetooth hearing aids prices being no more expensive than ones that aren’t. The average cost of Bluetooth hearing aids start from £795 - £1895 per aid. You can view our price of Bluetooth hearing aids here
Hearing aid streamers
It is important to bear in mind that whilst some Bluetooth hearing aids are Made for iPhone they may still need a streamer to benefit from the wireless technology. This would be an additional cost that are usually between £200 to £500 - depending on brand and device needed.
Your audiologist will discuss all the options available to you, if a streamer is needed, and you can also purchase these directly from them.
Even if you need an additional hearing aid streamer to benefit from wireless connectivity and functions, Bluetooth hearing aids offer a plethora of advantages to hearing aid wearers. Here are our audiologist's top four below.
You can control sound easier with Bluetooth hearing aids, as sound can be adjusted remotely through your smartphone or using a streamer. This means you will have full control and management of your hearing aids at your fingertips. This is a huge benefit to those who wear discreet hearing aids and cannot gain access to any external controls to make adjustments.
You can stream sound directly to both hearing aids with Bluetooth hearing aids. For example, when you are on the phone you can stream sound into just one hearing aid device so you can still continue to hear your surrounding sounds. Alternatively, you can stream music into both hearing aids, like you would headphones. This benefits you because you will always have a natural and realistic listening experience.
Because Bluetooth hearing aids work in sync using binaural hearing technology, they mimic the natural localisation of both your own ears. This benefits you because it makes it easier to know where sound is coming from. Hearing aids without Bluetooth usually process sound separately, which can sometimes make figuring out the direction of sound more challenging.
Hearing aid streamers can often be connected to a number of Bluetooth-enabled devices, which makes it a lot easier to switch between them and the sounds you want to be streamed into your hearing aids.
So what hearing aid brands offer Bluetooth? Pretty much all of the current hearing aid manufacturers on the market offer Bluetooth hearing aids. The main hearing aid brands are: Phonak, Oticon, Resound, Starkey, Bernafon, Unitron, Signia and Audio Service. View our full list of hearing aid brands and Bluetooth hearing aids here
What about private Bluetooth hearing aids? 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 direct 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.
The good news is that if you are searching for digital Bluetooth hearing aids there are now loads of styles, models and brands out there - especially from private audiologists. 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.
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:
How do we choose the best Bluetooth hearing aids? 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.
Our Bluetooth hearing aids reviews 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.
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.
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.
Behind the Ear
Fitting Styles: RIC, P, UP
4 Year Warranty Included. Rechargeable version an additional £50 per aid.
This hearing aid range is powered by the successful Sonova PRISM chip and along with the new Integra OS signal processing system - you gain 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.
Hearing aid apps generally connect directly to various smart devices using Bluetooth, so wearers can control their hearing aid features and settings like programs and volume. Program management is a great tool, as you can use a range of feature sets in different environments to help you hear better. For instance, hearing speech clearly whilst walking in the park with a friend.
Your Bluetooth hearing aid app can also tell you how much battery your hearing aids have left. If you're wondering about Bluetooth hearing aids battery life, it all depends on your streaming usage, device, type and capacity of the hearing aid battery itself.
As a rough guide, expect traditional batteries to last from 5-7 days and rechargeable ones can last upto 24 hours on one charge, but again this all depends on streaming trend.
Because the apps connect via Bluetooth you can also gain access to compatible devices like televisions, smartphones and computers - as well as stay connected to your hearing healthcare professional remotely.
Are Bluetooth hearing aids available on the NHS? The NHS is now able to offer Bluetooth hearing aids. However, the decision does lie with your local GP or NHS Trust to ultimately decide whether you need them or not along with why you feel like you could benefit from them. However, like with all NHS hearing aids - the choice and technology will be limited.
Those who already have NHS hearing aids and would like to take advantage of Bluetooth technology would have to pay for a compatible streamer, which is normally priced between £200 and £500.
What about Bluetooth hearing aids and TV? With hearing aid TV Adapters you can sit back and enjoy your favourite programmes. Most hearing aid brands also have hearing aid apps that can give you extra convenience when used together with a TV Adapter. Such as:
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You might be new to hearing aids, or you might be thinking about upgrading and wondering which device would be right for you or you simply might want more information on Bluetooth hearing aids on the market - call us free on 0800 567 7621 and one of our experts will be happy to advise you.
Do not spend hundreds of pounds without getting a second opinion from us.
When we refer to a product as 'New', we mean that the product is new to the market.
When we refer to a product as 'Superseded', we mean that there is a newer range available which replaces and improves on this product.
When we refer to a product as an 'Older Model', we mean that it is has been superseded by at least two more recent hearing aid ranges.