Bluetooth Earpieces - Best for iPhone/Siri???

Discussion in 'iPhone Accessories' started by redman042, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. redman042 macrumors 68030


    Jun 13, 2008
    I'm starting to wonder if wired headphones are the only truly reliable way to use the iPhone hands-free and particularly to use Siri while driving.

    I've owned a number of bluetooth earpieces with decidedly mixed results. This is getting expensive and frustrating. I'm really hoping someone here can point me to a bluetooth earpiece that works really well with the iPhone and Siri.

    I've ponied up for some higher-end earpieces in the past which include:
    • Original Jawbone
    • Jawbone II
    • Plantronics Savor M1100

    The Jawbones can be buggy, and the fit is tricky particularly since the little rubber nub needs to rest on the cheek. I ended up concluding that I didn't like that style of noise cancellation. I've also found them to be uncomfortable in my ear, pretty much a deal-killer.

    There are many things I like about the Plantronics Savor. It's super-light and fits so comfortably in my ear (without a loop) that I hardly know it's there. I love the discrete on-off switch (pressing and holding a stiff tiny button for 5 sec is a real pain). BUT, that switch turns on in my pocket (not a deal killer). AND, it has a hard time maintaining a strong link to the phone (quickly becoming a deal killer). On this second point, I've found that if my body is even slightly between the phone and the earpiece, I get bad static. Even if it's not, and the devices have a clear line-of-sight and maybe 3 feet of separation, the signal can crackle in and out. This is inconvenient for calls and completely messes up Siri recognition.

    I already had Plantronics replace the Savor and the new one worked better for a while but is now performing worse. I think it's a flawed design.

    I really need a good solution. My criteria are:
    • Good sound quality including noise cancellation
    • Comfortable fit
    • Discrete on/off switch if possible
    • No issues holding strong signal link with iPhone
    • Straightforward interface
    • Full iPhone compatibility
    • Known to work well with Siri
    • Less than $100 if possible

    One that appears to meet most of my criteria is the Bose Series II. It's more than I want to pay, and I don't like paying for overpriced brand names, but the Amazon reviews are pretty stellar.

  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    I'm interested in this too (I had actually been hoping the Jawbone was the answer and I could pick one up, used, on the cheap on eBay).

    However, I noted that, with my cheap bluetooth headset (HB500), when Siri fails abysmally, frequently, the on-screen text translation is actually essentially correct. :eek: (Like it will get my girlfriend's name correct minus one silent 'e' in her first name, and it gets her last name completely correct, and then it claims she's not in my phone book, but oddly, if I ask for her by first name only, it works consistently). So, whatever's happening in my case, it seems to me that it ought not be because of poor audio quality.
  3. redman042 thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jun 13, 2008
    Siri may be tuned too specifically to the phone's mic to work well with anything else. Really interested in learning people's experiences with using Siri through any form of Bluetooth.

    After my OP, I spent some time on Amazon researching reviews. In addition to the Bose, these two options are potentially very good:

    • Motorola ELITE FLIP: Very slick design, rated well for sound quality, discrete on/off, good battery, and extended bluetooth range (which should address the reception problems I've been having).
    • Plantronics Voyager Pro HD: A larger design with mic boom - not nearly as sexy looking, but many people online argue that no amount of noise cancellation replaces a true mic boom. There are some issues raised in the Amazon reviews but it is mostly very positive.

    Anyone have experience with these, particularly using Siri?
  4. fronzman macrumors newbie

    Jan 5, 2012
    I'm also looking for something with the added requirement that they need to be stereo and not make you look like a Marvel superhero or a total geek when you're wearing them.

    I've tried the Jaybird JF3s and the sound was great, but call quality was just so so. Siri performance was abysmal. They are getting returned to Amazon. I think we're going to have to wait a bit for a new batch of BT headsets post-Siri. There aren't many with high enough sample rate on outgoing voice audio to work with the recognition least not affordable.
  5. divinemercy macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    If you're just looking for a hands-free way to use siri, just JB your phone and install "Hands-Free".

    There is a solution, even if Apple won't provide it. It's "Hands-Free", but you have to JB your phone to get it. You can even customize the keyword that activates siri.

    Now, even when my phone is locked, I say:


    and the phone activates Siri and replies "Yes, Master?"

    It's great. I think it was $2.99
  6. dwa2011 macrumors regular


    Nov 1, 2011
    Northwest Atlanta
    My Motorola HX550 was only $45 and I love it, it has done everything solid. If their middle of the line is as good as it is, the "Elite" would be a great try.
  7. redman042 thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jun 13, 2008
    I just placed my order for this headset. Than you for the advice! The Amazon reviews were stellar, backing what you said. Plus at least a few of the reviews mentioned good Siri performance. I've been doing my own research as well, and it sure looks like Motorola has nailed Bluetooth headset design better than anyone else, particularly with the basics like sound quality (in both directions) and signal range, where everyone else is focusing on bells-and-whistles while skimping on the basics.

    In particular, the specs on this Motorola headset include "300 ft extended range". People are reporting 200 ft real-world performance. That's MILES ahead of the headsets I've used which are lucky to get 20 ft and start crackling if the phone is simply on the wrong side of my body (as mentioned above).

    Also my issue with the on-off switch turning on in my pocket won't happen with the "flip" style switch used on this one.

    Can't wait to get it and try it out. I'll report back.
  8. dwa2011 macrumors regular


    Nov 1, 2011
    Northwest Atlanta
    Yesterday I went to get gas at RaceTrac and wanted to listen to some music while i was filling up. With my bluetooth on my ear, I went inside to buy a drink and use the restroom. I had good quality until the door of the bathroom closed. i was probably around 200ft in all honesty. but it was good to try it out. Good purchase man.
  9. redman042 thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jun 13, 2008
    Excellent. It amazes me that big names like Plantronics have done such a poor job of this.
  10. redman042 thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jun 13, 2008
    So I'd just like to report back after using the Motorola HX550 for several days.

    It's amazing! My quest to find the perfect bluetooth earpiece for the iPhone 4s is over.

    dwa2011, thank you! Great tip.

    Sound quality in both directions is perfect. The signal between the earpiece and my phone is rock-solid, and it doesn't matter if my body is in between the phone and my headset. The little flip on-off switch that doubles as the mic is ingenious. Siri works just as well through this as it does directly through the phone's mic.

    I'm glad to finally find a bluetooth earpiece that lives up to the promise of what bluetooth is supposed to be, and rather shocked that this $45 product works 5 times better than the $80+ "high end" bluetooth units that I've tried previously (Plantronics and Jawbone).

    Clearly Motorola has their act together when it comes to bluetooth earpieces.
  11. vlan2k macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2010
    New York
    HX550 & Siri

    Just got the HX550. Must say that I'm impressed with the fidelity and range! Battery seems to be robust and I'm happy with the small form factor.

    I AM baffled by one thing: I can have Siri open up messages and get her/him to prepare a message: "Ok, I can send a message to XXXX for you... what would you like it to say?". I then speak my message........ and nothing happens. It doesn't read it back, or tell me it's ready or anything. NOTHING. I can use the speech recognition to fill in text, so that's not it.

    I'm baffled. Any ideas?

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