New Phonak Audéo B and Audéo B-R Hearing Aids
Less than 24 months after Phonak’s launch of the enormously popular Venture platform, Phonak is gearing up to release a new family of hearing aids built on the all new Belong platform. These new hearing aids, available initially in only the RIC style, will be called Audéo B and Audéo B-R and will be available nationwide August 29, 2016.
Below I’ll provide a brief overview of these new hearing aids along with some frequently asked questions. At the end of this post, I’ll provide my synopsis of this release, as well as what we can look forward to from Phonak in the near future.
What’s new with these hearing aids?
There are 3 key areas that Phonak has focused on with the new Audéo B and Audéo B-R hearing aids.
- Ease of use: The Audéo B-R is the first hearing aid ever to feature a built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery. The battery door will be sealed on the B-R model and there will be no disposable batteries to change. When not in use, simply plug the hearing aids into their charging device, and within 3 hours the hearing aids are fully charged and can provide 24 hours of hearing. This makes the Audéo B-R the quickest charging, longest lasting rechargeable hearing aid ever produced.
- Hearing performance: Both these new hearing aids benefit from upgrades made to AutoSense OS, which is the operating system that powers the earlier Audéo V hearing aid, which so happens to be the highest rated hearing aid among wearers on our site. Both of these hearing aids will also come equipped with Phonak’s brand new frequency compression technology, SoundRecover2, which thus far has only been available in Phonak’s power hearing aids.
- Aesthetics & design: These hearing aids feature an all new design with the goal of reducing breakdowns commonly caused by moisture, sweat, oil, and dirt. The rechargeable B-R model also features an indicator light which will display the battery status of the charging hearing aid (full vs. charging).
The Audéo B will be available in all 4 of Phonak’s technology levels: B30, B50, B70, and B90, with your choice of size 10, 312, or 13 battery. The Audéo B-R will be available in all technology levels except B30.
Frequently asked questions
I’ve provided answers to a few of the most common questions I’m hearing about these hearing aids. If you have a question about this release that you don’t see answered below, please post a comment and we’ll get right back to you with an answer.
Why did Phonak make a rechargeable hearing aid?
This was a data-driven decision by Phonak. According to the latest MarkeTrak survey, rechargeable batteries and rechargeable hearing aids are top of the list of features that prospective hearing aid users are seeking. The Audéo B-R was created in response to this insight and based on years of research, development, and intensive testing. Lithium-ion batteries are commonplace now and are used in digital cameras, electric toothbrushes, tablets, laptops, electric cars- so why not hearing aids?
How will Audéo B-R hearing aids be charged and how long will the charge last?
There will be 2 charging options for the Audeo B-R:
- Phonak Charger Case + optional Power Pack: With just 3 hours of charging, the Charger Case will provide the hearing aids with 24 hours of power. Don’t have 3 hours? A 30 minute fast-charge will provide 6 hours of power. If you’re not sure you’re going to have access to electricity and may potentially need a recharge, the optional Power Pack attaches to the Charger Case and provides up to (7) full charges.
- Phonak Mini Charger: The Mini Charger offers the same functionality of the Charger Case, (aside from the Power Pack compatibility), in a smaller design.
What is the lifespan of the lithium-ion battery that powers the Audéo B-R?
One of the benefits of lithium-ion batteries is they have a very long lifespan. Phonak estimates that these batteries will last 1500 charging cycles, or at least 4 years. We’re told by Phonak that anytime your hearing aid goes into their lab for a repair during your warranty period, the battery will be replaced, which will make battery failures pretty rare. If your battery dies outside of your warranty, it will be a standard service fee to get the battery replaced. Since hearing providers set their own fee schedules for out of warranty repairs, we have no way of telling what the cost will be, but it will likely range from $50-$350.
How will streaming affect battery life?
Phonak’s estimate of 24 hours of battery life assumes 80 minutes of streaming during that time. Phonak is also reporting that even if a user streams for 5 hours in a day, the batteries will still last 20 hours.
How much do the Phonak Audéo B and Audeo B-R rechargeable hearing aids cost?
Through our company, the prices for the Audéo B will be as follows:
Our prices for the Phonak Audéo BR rechargeable hearing aid will be:
We will be including the Charger Case with each BR purchase. You can see prices for additional chargers and accessories here.
When will Phonak release a Made for iPhone hearing aid?
Based on the Sonova investor’s phone call, it sounds like Phonak will release a Made for iPhone hearing aid sometime in 2017. That hearing aid will be an extension of, and part of the Belong platform, but will likely have a different name than these hearing aids.
My synopsis of this release- and looking forward
I think this release is fantastic. Sure, many people expected to see a Made for iPhone Phonak hearing aid by this point, but introducing a rechargeable hearing aid like this is no small feat, and when you consider this innovation in concert with a Made for iPhone hearing aid that is coming soon, Phonak is set to have a very compelling product portfolio in the coming years.
By far, the two hearing aid features our customers inquire about the most are rechargeability and direct-to-iPhone connectivity. So I think this is a huge step in the right direction for Phonak, and they’re clearly listening to customers.
When you compare the Phonak B-R rechargeable hearing aid to Signia’s eCharger system, Phonak’s solution feels like it will emerge as the preferred choice in the coming years- though time will tell, as micro-fuel-cell technologies are currently being explored by at least one major hearing aid manufacturer.
In addition, when you look at how good Phonak’s backgound noise reduction technology is, a rechargeable Phonak Made for iPhone hearing aid could be in a class of it’s own.
This is a very interesting time in the hearing aid industry. The way audiological innovations are compounding on past successes and being married with consumer demand for connectivity, I think paves the way for some very interesting products in the years to come, and it looks like Phonak is as well-positioned as anyone to capitalize on it.
As soon as these hearing aids are available we’ll order a few and create dedicated product pages, where you’ll be able to see 360 degree photos, color options, user reviews, pricing, and more. Stay tuned!