At the moment, Bluetooth headsets tend to last one full day, produce sound good enough for music and provide wireless listening pleasure. We tried out several models from a variety of price ranges and shapes. Read on to find out the advantages and disadvantages of each model.
Bluetooth headphones and headsets are divided into three important categories. In 2017, the second and therefore first good generation of so-called micro-in-ears came onto the market. These usually consist of two fully wirelessly connected buttons that can be transported and recharged in a compact case.
Slightly cheaper to get, but almost as compact are wired Bluetooth In Ears wired together. They have a cable that runs along the neck, slightly longer battery life, but often come without a transport and charging case.
The third category is the classic over-ear headphones. These often have additional noise cancelling, i.e. active cancellation of ambient noise. Many of them also have a line-in for wired operation. This is usually possible even when the headphone's battery is empty.
Samsung Gear IconX 2018
The second generation of the Samsung Gear IconX was introduced in 2017 and is known as the IconX 2018. With improved battery life, they don't want to repeat the mistakes of the first generation, and in fact, the two True Wireless Earbuds last around three and a half hours. Unfortunately, it takes about two hours to fully charge them in their cans.
The Samsung Gear IconX is extremely compact. The two earbuds offer full music and telephone functionality.
The tiny design has given Samsung an opportunity to charge more price-wise, as the recommended manufacturer price is $150 for a pair of these earplugs. For that price though, you can also get a sports headset, a full headset and a fitness tracker all in one device.
A pricey alternative for the sporty - Jaybird Run
We tested the Jaybird Run which, for $180, was able to impress with its sound, but failed to make a phone call due to the lack of noise suppression. The advantage of the sport trimmed design is the excellent hold in the ear. You certainly won't lose them...
Available in black or white, the much cheaper SoundBuds Sport IE20 earbuds have a running time of around 8 hours and are connected to the cable and the smartphone via Bluetooth. The sound quality is okay, but it doesn't live up to Hi-Fi standards. But the sound is too shrill in high frequencies, blurred in the mids and weak in the bass. The voice quality, however, is fine and telephone calls are possible without any problems.
To switch off the SoundBuds Sport IE20 you simply have to fold up the SoundBuds Sport IE20. This activates the on/off switch magnetically. If the two plugs separate, the headset turns on. This can happen inadvertently while it is stored in a bag. The battery will then drain and you'll be frustrated later. This happened occasionally during the test.
Note: The Sport IE20 is currently out of stock on Amazon, but other Anker earbuds are available from $19.49.
Bragi The Dash
This crowdfunded product is a decent rival to Samsung’s IconX. At $299 (though it can now be found on offer), the device, which is brought to you by the startup firm Bragi are even more expensive. The range of functions and even the build shape are similar to the IconX. However, The Dash also has internal memory, which allows them to work independently as an MP3 player.
The Dash are available in black or white. In addition to the previously mentioned features, The Dash can also filter ambient noise. This means you can plug them in and reduce office noise, or just block out that screaming baby on the plane.
Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2
The Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2 Bluetooth headset is an updated version of the over-ear headset with active noise reduction. It provides good battery life, crisp sound and controls that have been thoroughly thought through. The review of the Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2 shows that its comfort and sound correspond to its high price.
The headset is also available on Amazon and still at the manufacturer’s suggested price of about $150. We'll have to wait and see whether Plantronics brings the price down a little in the coming months.
Bose Quiet Comfort 35
Bose’s QuietComfort 35 is aimed at a very specific group of target users. These users are those looking for Bluetooth headphones that offer effective noise cancelling technology. This criteria seems to be more important than sound quality, which is clearly noticed in the slight over-emphasis on the mids. We found that when the QC 35 was compared to the cable-bound and $50 cheaper QC 25, the sound on the latter was distinctly better.
You really need to decide what you want from the best noise-canceling headphones: either the cable-bound but better quality QC 25 or the wireless QC 35 with a slightly worse sound.
The iClever BTH07 are slightly larger, have less battery life, sound better and sit closer to the ear. Unfortunately, the button controls on the right earplug are not as elegant as with the cable microphone.
It can also be used as a headset thanks to the microphone. Its placement in the ear is not optimal in a loud environment, but it is otherwise a user-friendly Bluetooth option.
The iClever BTH06 is a connected system and has a running time of around eight hours. This pair of iClever buds offers more bass than some other models, though it somewhat dulls the range of the treble. The iClever BTH06 can be switched off via the pause button. The connectors don't link magnetically, so you won’t be able to wear the headset like a necklace.
A selection of silicone pad sizes is included so you can place the earbuds airtight into the auditory canal.
iFrogz Impulse Wireless / Charisma Wireless / Summit Wireless / Plugz Wireless
The iFrogz quartet differs in the design and size of their built-in drivers. These Bluetooth headsets have a surprisingly high performance, clear sound and – above all – a smart mount. The magnetic collar clip attaches to clothing and provides good support.
The undisputed leader of the series is the Impulse Wireless. With 11-mm drivers, they have the largest frequency range and the sound is audibly cleaner than their little sisters. Their double silicone pads take a little getting used to, but prove to be an advantage.
The simplest of Plugz’s designs has an audibly smaller driver at 9 mm. Unfortunately, the simple silicone pads and absence of any holding clips make them unsuitable for jogging.
This improvement for joggers is instead provided by the Summit headset. The hook acts like a supporting bar for the plugs in your ear. Unfortunately, these do not sound as good as the Plugz because of the smaller 8-mm driver. Interestingly, the high frequencies have especially suffered and now sound duller.
Although the iFrogz Charisma only has 6-mm drivers installed, the sound is amazingly clear and detailed. They also have an outwardly delicate compact design. These are the only ones in the series with magnetized connectors – so you can connect them behind your neck and wear them like a necklace. They are available in three color combinations: black/black, black/red, or white/pink.
Which kind of Bluetooth headset do you prefer? Or do you prefer cable-based headsets? And what’s your pain threshold when it comes to price?