Getting one of the best Bluetooth headsets will free up your hands during work and also make tasks safer such as driving and completing your daily commute. While often only seen as a companion for the traveling salesperson, or aloof business types, actually, the best Bluetooth headsets are still incredibly useful bits of kit and maintain a position in our increasingly digital, hands-free and wireless world. Pair one up with one of the best smartphones, and you're all set for calls, music, and more.
Their compact, often single-ear nature means they are far easier to wield and wear than over-ear headsets; while their wireless nature - somewhat obviously - makes them easier to use than wired headphones that have easily-tangled cables. They're also handy for gaming, especially if you're playing against other people via a phone or tablet.
Testing and reviewing a range of competitors from the best in the business, we have narrowed down the best bluetooth headsets in the market to this guide - but also products that will suit particular work environments, needs and uses.
1. Jabra Stealth: Best Bluetooth headset overall
The Jabra Stealth earns our recommendation as the best Bluetooth headset because it combines great functionality with an excellent design. Beyond its stylish appearance, the Stealth’s design makes the headset comfortable enough for all-day wear and is simultaneously intuitive and simple to use. The biggest plus point the Jabra Stealth has over its competitors is a superior performance in audio quality and calls. It’s also easy to set up and pair, and its two buttons are simple to figure out after little use. The max volume level stays around 84dB, and its ear cushions block enough ambient noise that you can clearly hear notifications and calls even on the lower end of the volume range.
The Stealth is more likely to fit comfortably because it offers more options than others: included in the box are six earpiece size options and two separate, different ear hooks enabling you many options through which to find your ideal wearing style. At only eight grams, the Stealth is one of the lightest Bluetooth devices we tested, which is a good thing if you’re planning on wearing it all day. Its battery lasts for up to six hours of talk time and up to ten days on standby and once the battery is depleted, it only takes about two hours to get back to full. This area reveals one weakness of the Stealth however, as it doesn’t include a wall adapter or car charger upon purchase and the charging has to be done via USB.
Even though it still holds its value - you won't get it for bargain price - the amount of bang for buck you get with this headset means this is really tremendous value, and the best one you can currently spend your hard earned money on.
- Read our Jabra Stealth review
2. Plantronics Voyager 5200: Best around-ear headset
Even in such a recognisable field of products, if ever an item looked immediately like a bluetooth headset, the Plantronics Voyager 5200 is it. Not to be disparaging or stereotypical, of course, but its design is not shy about what it is. This bluetooth headset is a bulky unit but performs incredibly well. It uses its size well, incorporating a solid set of features and buttons: volume controls; a dedicated power switch; voice button; a call button; an NFC pairing zone; power and battery indicator lights; and a microUSB charging port. That’s already a lot of bang for buck.
It then backs these up with a solid performance and audio quality for all calls, enhanced by a particular feature. The four-microphone design of the 5200 ensures that an awful lot of environmental audio gets soaked up and doesn't interfere with your media or calls. Whereas most headsets only employ two microphones in such a design, the 5200s use of four is excellent and very much worth it, adding quality to an already very competent headset.
While it is on the bulky and heavy side, the Voyager 5200 is easily the best at that end of the spectrum. Good for outdoor use and great for business use (office or commutes particularly), its four-microphone setup is incredibly effective at ensuring environmental audio doesn't interfere with your calls and audio. Combine that with great volume, and this is one of the best bluetooth headsets generally, as well as being best in class for around-the-ear sets.
- Read our Plantronics Voyager 5200 review
3. Jabra Steel: Most durable bluetooth headset
This is one of our favorites across the board, but also for a specific use: outdoor calls. As the name suggests, the Steel is most at home for those who use their headset in loud, outdoor environments and its water, dust and shock-resistance are incredibly attractive features.
It has a rubberized black body, large buttons (that can be used while wearing gloves), several included earpieces and ear hooks, and a windsock to put over the boom mic to minimize environmental noise. It borders on being a little big, particularly for those with smaller ears, but the headset always stays in place successfully, especially with the ear hooks attached. The fit is versatile too as it can be worn with or without the hooks depending on your comfort and the situation. You can also use voice commands to accept or reject incoming calls.
The Steel puts out less overall volume than other products we tested, but it did very well at isolating voices and canceling out ambient noise on both ends of the call, making it a great choice for hectic environments. Its robustness, resistance and durability cannot be overstated however, and that's where its real strength lies.
- Read our Jabra Steel review
4. Razer Hammerhead True Wireless: Most versatile
If you're on the hunt for a Bluetooth headset that can do more than the basic required function then the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds should definitely be up for consideration. While made by a gaming peripheral company, and clearly gaming-focused, these earbuds perform very well as a Bluetooth headset in their own right - even discounting all of the excellence in other areas.
Channeling Razer's audio pedigree, the Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds have some of the best audio quality in all the products we've tested - the range, detail and depth is excellent. While this is designed for music and games primarily, it translates extraordinarily well for calls and notifications. The design is slick and modern, and nothing is overcomplicated in their form, making for easy to fit and comfy earbuds.
Despite suffering from occasional Bluetooth dropouts when using the earbuds for media, the performance is still easily good enough for us to recommend them as one of the most versatile and multi-faceted Bluetooth headsets going. It is their quality elsewhere, in sound quality, design and build, and decent feature set that really makes this headset successful. For those looking for a Bluetooth headset with more strings to its bow than usual, and for those who look to get more for their money, this is a great choice.
5. Sennheiser Presence: Best for battery life
A slightly curious beast, the Sennheiser Presence has both excellent and middling performing features in its small package. Getting the downsides out the way, the fit of this headset is not great on the whole. It really takes some work to be comfortable as well as to acquire that snug feeling, where one is confident the headset won't slip out.
However this is in total contrast with its excellence in battery life - ten hours of talk time or two weeks on standby - and audio quality. As a result, this headset borders on the mercurial, if the word can be applied to a Bluetooth headset. The Presence has sheer audio quality by the bagful, which is complemented by a great design and outstanding battery life, but its design and fit slightly jar with this. When you're on calls and have manipulated it into a comfortable position, it's one of the best out there, but because it's inconsistent in respect of the latter, and it has a high price tag, it falls a bit short of its true potential. Still, we don't mean to put potential buyers off, this is still a great headset.
The Sennheiser Presence is a great Bluetooth headset and the best for those who want a long and reliable battery life above all else. Putting its fit, low volume range, and price tag to one side, the Sennheiser headset performs well, with Sennheiser-quality audio, excellent battery life, and the good accessories included making it a very worthwhile purchase.
- Read our Sennheiser Presence review
Why trust us for Bluetooth headsets?
We always thoroughly test and research products in order to present a range of options, whether you're after supreme comfort, water resistance and durability, or simply stellar call performance.
All the Bluetooth headsets here have been tested and, at the very least, did what they were supposed to – they paired to a test phone, gave notifications of incoming calls and texts, and even connected to other apps to play music or access a voice assistant. The true value of testing all these products in the same manner is that a clear 'side-by-side' picture can be painted. In turn this means all important factors can be focused on so as to identify each product's strengths and weaknesses both in their own right as well as relatively.
How we tested
By testing these Bluetooth headsets for many hours, poring over manuals, online reviews and product specs in addition to hours of hands-on testing for each product, we are confident that we have thoroughly tested them out. We selected our top contenders by finding the best, most buzzworthy and highest-rated Bluetooth headsets – focusing on small, single-ear devices.
To set up each headset, we unboxed, charged and paired them sequentially to the same smartphone. We tried on all the included ear cushions and hook combinations to find the most comfortable configurations, and then used them in diverse environments to make sure they performed well in any circumstance. We made and received calls, tested out voice command features, pressed buttons and listened to the same YouTube videos multiple times.
How to choose a Bluetooth headset for you
In our quest to find the best Bluetooth headsets, we consulted an industry expert for some extra information and guidance. Adam Robertson, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Jabra, gave particularly good advice on how to choose the best Bluetooth headset: “It comes down to the value of the conversation and the environment you’re going to be in,” he told us. “If you know these two things, you can start your shopping experience or research at a good point. If you don’t know that, you could end up spending too much and buying too much for what you need. Or worse, you could end up spending too little and then not being happy with the experience.”
A headset’s performance on a call relies on audio and voice working together seamlessly. Hearing difficulties put a severe strain on the conversation – both parties should hear the other end of the line clearly. Headsets with two or more microphones help to filter environmental noises like wind or traffic out of your calls. Generally, the closer the mic is to your mouth, the better, so larger headsets have a bit of an advantage here, though many smaller headsets performed well in our tests. Factors such as volume range and even the fit of the device can also play into the headset’s performance during a call.
Comfort & Fit
In our tests, we found that the weight of the headset directly correlated with how comfortable it was to wear for an extended period of time. Other factors affect the overall fit and comfort of a Bluetooth headset as well, including the wearing style, earbud options and ear hooks. All the products we tested come with multiple earbud options and after several rounds of wear-testing, we recommend ear gels that direct sound into your ear canal and in-ear loops for stability. Over-ear hooks can help with stability, though we found headsets built specifically for over-ear wear instead of in-ear wear are not quite as comfortable.
In Bluetooth headsets, a unified communications (UC) specification means that the headset comes with a USB dongle and a wider range of connectivity for multiple platforms. However this is only important if you plan on using your Bluetooth headset extensively for business and need the extra functionality. The upgrades are expensive - some even doubling the price tag - but any of the non-UC options will work great for hands-free phone use. Still, it’s a nice option if you often need to use your headset for conference calls or other office functions.
Much like most modern tech, there are a range of prices going in the Bluetooth headset market, varying wildly from $20 or so to more than $100. Products with a slightly higher price tag, nearing but not necessarily at, the three figure mark do perform better and offer great bang-for-buck value. Extra features, such as a charging case or USB dongle for UC function, cost extra and can sometimes even double the price of the device. We always try to keep testing products so you can expect to see more added to this list from the perspective of price and value, as well as other niches some headsets will be excellent for.
Other Bluetooth options
Although mono Bluetooth headsets are great for calls in an office or during your commute, they aren't ideal for all situations. Truck drivers, for example, often use heavy-duty Bluetooth headsets with heartier noise cancellation features and padded ear cups.
With smartphones shedding their headphone jacks, the number and quality of Bluetooth stereo headphones on the market has shot up as well. These products have the advantage of better audio quality than Bluetooth mono headsets. Bluetooth headphones also have built-in, hands-free calling functionality. In addition, you can hear the other end of the call with both ears, though the mics on mono headsets are usually better than those on headphones. And if you prefer the idea of headphones but want to go tether free, consider true wireless headphones. These tend to be a pricier than normal Bluetooth headphones and many Bluetooth mono headsets, but, again, they can offer better audio quality than a mono headset and don’t have any strings to hold you down.