(Last updated Nov 30, 2019)

Best Cell Phones for Hearing Aids

best cell phones for hearing aids

What are the best cell phones for hearing aids?

To answer this question, you have to first determine how you want your hearing aids and cell phone to interface.

Choose the option below which sounds most ideal to you, then consider the hearing aid requirements and phone recommendations listed to make the solution a reality.

Here are the most common ways cell phones and hearing aids work together to help make phone calls clearer…

Option 1: Direct Bluetooth Connectivity

For most people, this is the ideal solution. Many hearing aids can be paired directly to cell phones via Bluetooth, which then allows all the audio from the phone to be sent directly to the hearing aids, like phone calls, music, and more. This type of setup allows you to hear the caller in both ears directly through your hearing aids, and is widely considered to be the gold standard of hearing aid and cell phone connectivity.

Hearing aid requirements: To take advantage of this kind of direct connectivity, you must have bluetooth hearing aids. Almost all hearing aids today (at least in the RIC style), have Bluetooth built in. If you like the idea of streaming phone calls and your hearing aids aren’t in the RIC style, or they are a few years old, you will most likely only have available to you.

Best cell phones for this option: The vast majority of Bluetooth hearing aids on the market work best with Apple iPhones. Having an iPhone will give you the most options when it comes to selecting different hearing aids, though there are a few hearing aids that can directly connect to Android phones and older-style flip phones as well.

Option 2: Bluetooth Connectivity via a Bluetooth Streaming Accessory

If your hearing aids don’t have direct Bluetooth connectivity (outlined above), this is likely the best option for you. It will require buying an intermediary device (Bluetooth streamer), from your hearing care provider. This device will create a Bluetooth connection between your hearing aids and cell phone, allowing you to stream audio from your phone to your hearing aids.

Hearing aid requirements: Bluetooth-compatible hearing aids. The vast majority of hearing aids sold today and within the last 10 years are Bluetooth-compatible. If you’re not sure if your hearing aids are Bluetooth-compatible, simply ask your hearing care provider. If they are, buying a Bluetooth streamer will allow you to stream audio to your hearing aids.

Best phones for this option: Any cell phone that is Bluetooth compatible (which is almost all cell phones), will work equally well with this option.

This video gives a good overview of options 1 & 2 explained above, and a good intro to Bluetooth hearing aids.

Option 3: Use Telecoil-Equipped Hearing Aids

Before Bluetooth connectivity, the telecoil was the best option for hearing better on phones. A telecoil is a small piece of coil wire placed inside a hearing aid, which picks up a magnetic signal from the phone and then allows the audio to be sent directly from the phone to the hearing aid, bypassing the hearing aid’s microphone.

The telecoil is a very simple solution to hear better on the phone. Simply answer the phone as you normally do, and the speaker’s voice will be clearer and louder.

Hearing aid requirements: Your hearing aids must have a telecoil built into them. Many hearing aids have telecoils in them that just need to be “activated” by your hearing care provider. If you’re not sure if your hearing aids have a telecoil, just ask your hearing provider. If you’re considering buying new hearing aids, here you can see an overview of the newest hearing aids with telecoils. Some hearing aids have a telecoil and also have direct Bluetooth connectivity like outlined in option 1.

Best phones for this option: Next time you are shopping for a cell phone, check out the placard for a list of features next to the phone. On it, you should see a T-rating, which is simply a rating given to a phone based on its ability to operate with telecoil-equipped hearing aids. T-ratings range from T1-T4 (T4 being the best). The higher the T-rating, the clearer your connection will be with less interference.

Special (non-Bluetooth) Features to Help You Hear on the Phone

If you don’t have direct connectivity Bluetooth hearing aids, don’t want to carry a Bluetooth streamer, and don’t have a telecoil in your hearing aids, this may be a good option for you.

Many hearing aid manufacturers have special programs in their hearing aids which allow you to hear better on the phone.

The way this works is simple. You simply answer the phone as your normally would, and the hearing aid switches into “phone program”. This program activates a wireless connection between both hearing aids, which sends the audio signal from one hearing aid to the other, allowing you to hear the caller through both hearing aids.

There is no universal name for this functionality- every manufacturer has its own proprietary name for it, but it’ll often be something like “DuoPhone” or “Twin Phone.”

This video gives a good overview of this functionality
Hearing aid requirements: On the hearing aid manufacturer’s website, look for features with names like “DuoPhone” or “TwinPhone”- or anything where the name suggests calls can be heard in both ears. If you’re not sure if your hearing aids have this feature, simply ask your hearing provider.

Best phones for this option: This feature works equally well with all phones, no special consideration is necessary. Though sometimes, your hearing care provider will need to attach a small magnet to your phone’s receiver to help activate this feature if that default magnet in your phone is not strong enough to do so on its own.

Have a question about using cell phones and hearing aids not answered above?

Please feel free to post a comment!

Jeff Hall Jeff Hall Jeff is a California licensed hearing aid dispenser and the President of ZipHearing- one of the largest discount hearing aid suppliers in the United States. Jeff lives in San Diego, CA with his wife and young daughter. You can learn more about hearing aids and watch Jeff on ZipHearing's Youtube channel.

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