Best Bluetooth Headsets of 2018

Rebecca Armstrong ·
Phones & Networking Writer
Updated
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We spent over 40 hours testing and researching the best Bluetooth headsets. We recommend the Jabra Stealth as the best overall headset. Its top-notch performance and easy-to-use features make it a great earpiece for any situation, such as the office, the car or anywhere else you need hands-free phone use. The Jabra Eclipse is another standout because of its super-lightweight, comfortable design and futuristic-looking charging pod. And for the bargain hunters, the Motorola Boom2+ offers a long battery life and decent call performance for less than any other Bluetooth headset we tested.  

Best Overall
Jabra Stealth
The striking design of the Jabra Stealth complements its intuitive features set and crystal-clear audio performance and stands out in the best way possible.
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Best Value
Motorola Boom 2+
With an IP54 rating against water and dust, the Motorola Boom 2+ is a durable Bluetooth device with good battery life and an affordable price.
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Most Comfortable
Jabra Eclipse
The Jabra Eclipse is the lightest and most comfortable of all the Bluetooth headsets we tested. Its minimalist design pairs well with its easy-to-use feature set.
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Product
Price
OVERALL RATING
Price
Performance
Ease of Use Features
Design
MSRP
Call Performance
Max Volume (dB)
Talk Time (Hours)
Caller ID
Voice Commands
UC Option
Carrying Case Included
Car Charger Included
Comfort
Weight (g)
Earbud Size Options
Ear Hooks Included
$68.95 Amazon Warehouse
4.4 4.8 4.5 5
$99.99
A
84
6
A-
8
6
2
$74.95 Neobits.com
3.9 4.4 5 4.8
$129.99
A-
84
6
B+
9
3
1
$69.95 eSureBuy.com
4 4.7 4.5 2.7
$119.99
A-
98
7
B-
20
3
Attached
$34.99 Wal-Mart
3.9 4.4 4 4.9
$129.99
A
84
3
A+
6
4
N/A
$39.99 Micro Center
3.9 4.3 5 3
$129.99
B-
92
7
B-
18
3
Attached
$34.99 Wal-Mart
5 4.4 2 4.8
$69.99
B
68
9
A
9
2
1
$54.99 Newegg
4.4 4.2 3.5 4.4
$99.99
B
73
6
B
10
3
2
$76 Amazon Marketplace
2.9 5 3 3.4
$179.95
A
70
10
C
15
4
1
$77.44 Amazon
4.4 3.4 1 4.2
$99.99
C
101
7
B+
14
5
4
Best Overall
The Jabra Stealth earns our recommendation as the best overall Bluetooth headset because it combines functionality with a Red Dot Award-winning design.
Beyond appearance, the Stealth’s design is comfortable enough for all-day wear and is simultaneously intuitive, simple and effective. The Jabra Stealth performed better than most competitors in audio quality and overall call performance. It’s easy to set up and pair, and its two buttons are simple to figure out after little use. It received high marks for its audio and voice quality during our tests. The max volume level stays around 84 dB, 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 the other headsets we reviewed. You can choose between six earpiece size options and two ear hooks to find your ideal wearing style. At 8 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 10 days on standby. We conducted our tests over five days of semi-frequent use, all on a single charge. Once the battery is depleted, it takes about two hours to get back to full. The Stealth charges via an included micro USB cable, but note that the box doesn’t include a wall adapter or car charger.
Pros
  • Great audio and voice performance
  • Plenty of earpiece and ear hook options
  • Helpful app
Cons
  • Does not come with car or wall charger
  • No way to adjust volume on headset
$65.00Amazon
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Best Value
The Motorola Boom 2+ offers basic functionality, a water- and dust-resistant coating and a good battery life for a lower price than any other product we reviewed.
The Boom 2+ is a tiny, lightweight earpiece with two buttons and an extendable mic that flips in and out to power the headset on and off. Because you can distinctly see when the mic is flipped in, it’s easy to remember to turn the headset off when you’re finished, which saves battery life. If you do accidentally leave it on, the battery can last up to eight days on standby or nine hours of talk time. This is one of the longest talk times of the devices we tested. The Boom 2+ does have faults, specifically a disappointing volume range. It’s quieter than the other products we tested. At maximum volume, we managed to eke out 68 dB, which isn’t very loud. For indoor and in-car uses, this should be fine, but if you’re in a very noisy environment, the Boom might not put out enough sound. Besides volume, the Boom 2+ performs fine in call quality. The sound is clear, though not the best we tested. The mic did OK at filtering out background noise during our call tests, but wind noise did come through. This headset is pretty easy to use, and though its overall call quality isn’t top-tier, it works well if you need an inexpensive Bluetooth headset.
Pros
  • Small and lightweight
  • 9 hours of talk time
  • Affordable price
Cons
  • Quieter than others
  • Audio quality isn't great
  • Mic doesn’t filter wind noise
$34.99Amazon
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Most Comfortable
Weighing in at 6 grams, the Jabra Eclipse is lightweight and extremely comfortable.
Though it’s as functional and more comfortable than other products we tested, the Eclipse is quirky. It’s made specifically to be worn in your right ear. The design adds to the comfort of the device but would be a problem if you need to wear your headset on the left side or like to switch between both ears. The charging pod and earpiece are necessary parts of the setup, so the headset won’t work at all if you lose either piece. There are no buttons or ports on the headset itself, so you use the case to both charge and pair the device. However, a no-button design keeps the headset super simple. The earpiece’s battery lasts for up to three hours of talk time, and the charging pod holds an additional seven hours of battery life. On standby, it can last up to seven days. Since there are no buttons on the earpiece, the Eclipse relies on voice commands and taps to answer and make calls. We ran into a bit of trouble during testing, as we sometimes had to repeat commands for the headset to register anything. This was our testers’ only real complaint about the Eclipse, though it remained a favorite for its simplicity and comfort.
Pros
  • Lightest earpiece
  • Includes a charging case
  • Simple setup and pairing
Cons
  • Only built for right ear use
  • No buttons on actual earpiece
  • Voice commands need repeating
US$66.90Amazon
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Best Around-the-Ear Headset
The Plantronics Voyager 5200 uses four microphones to isolate your voice and eliminate annoying ambient noise, even wind.
Its earpiece is fully reversible, so you can wear it on either ear, but you cannot adjust the height of the earpiece, making its fit hit or miss. With a good fit, the earpiece sits in your ear and creates a seal to block out environmental noise, allowing you hear well at lower volumes. A bad fit requires turning the volume up, which isn’t much of a problem, as the Voyager 5200 reached the second-loudest volume of the headsets we tested, putting out 98 decibels. The bulk of the device sits behind your ear and houses volume controls, voice button, call button, power switch, NFC pairing zone, power and battery indicator lights, and a microUSB charging input. It’s heavy for a mono headset, but it stays in place thanks to its around-the-ear design. Overall, it’s a great around-the-ear headset for business and outdoor use.
Pros
  • Great sound isolation
Cons
  • Heavier than in-ear headsets
US$85.80Amazon
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Most Rugged
The Jabra Steel is designed specifically for use in loud, outdoor environments and is water, dust and shock-resistant.
It has a rubberized black body, large buttons, several included earpieces and ear hooks, and a wind sock to put over the boom mic to minimize ambient noise. Our testers with smaller ears found all the earpieces slightly too big for comfort, but this headset stayed in place well, especially with ear hooks attached. The power, voice and call buttons on the Steel are large enough to find and press while wearing gloves. You can also use voice commands to accept or reject incoming calls. In our tests, the Steel put out less overall volume than other products we tested, but it did well at isolating voices and canceled out ambient noise on both ends of the call, making it a great choice for hectic environments.
Pros
  • Dust, water and shock resistant
Cons
  • Large earpieces
US$80.54Amazon
Read the full review

Why Trust Us?

We spent over 40 hours testing, researching and talking to industry experts to help you find the best headset, whether you need supreme comfort, water resistance and durability, or simply stellar call performance.

All the Bluetooth headsets we tested, at the very least, did what they were supposed to – they paired to our test phone, notified us of incoming calls and texts, and even connected to other apps to play music or access a voice assistant. The true value of our hands-on testing lies in our side-by-side comparisons. By testing all nine products at the same time, we were able to home in on important features and identify which products performed better or worse, like with audio quality and pairing.

How We Tested

We spent over 40 hours getting well acquainted with these Bluetooth headsets, poring over user manuals, online reviews and product specs in addition to hours of hands-on testing for each product. We selected our top contenders by finding the best, most buzzworthy and highest-rated Bluetooth headsets – focusing on small, single-ear devices. We brought the top nine contenders into our lab for some tests.

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. Afterward, we collected and compiled all our testing data along with our research and directly compared the headsets side by side.

Choosing the Right Bluetooth Headset

In our quest to find the best Bluetooth headsets, we consulted an industry buff for some guidance. We spoke with Adam Robertson, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Jabra, and asked what to should consider when shopping for a Bluetooth mono 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.”

Price
On either end of the spectrum, Bluetooth mono headsets cost less than $20 or more than $100. We found the sweet spot falls between $40 and $80. Products in this price range offer a great balance of performance and 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.

Call Quality
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 play into the headset’s performance during a call. Some products, like the Motorola Boom 2+ and Sennheiser Presence have fairly low maximum volumes, which could pose a problem in particularly loud environments. The Jabra Eclipse’s fit style helps block ambient noise, which allows you to hear your calls more clearly and listen at a lower volume.

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. The Jabra Eclipse, the most comfortable headset, also weighs the least, whereas the three heaviest earpieces received the lowest comfort grades. 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. After several rounds of wear-testing, we recommend ear gels that somewhat direct sound into your ear canal and in-ear loops for stability. Over-ear hooks can also help with stability, though testers found that headsets built specifically for over-ear wear instead of in-ear wear – like the Plantronics Voyager 5200 and Jabra Motion – are generally less comfortable, heavier and less stable.

Unified Communications

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. Five of the nine products we tested have a UC upgrade option, but 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. 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.