With smartphones losing their headphone jack, wireless headsets have become a necessity for taking hands-free calls. Whether you use them at the office, home, or everywhere in between, plenty of options exist to keep you well-connected and comfortable. While a basic headset may be all that you desire, some models boast features like sweat-proofing, multi-connectivity, noise cancellation, and truly impressive audio. After you determine your desired features and budget, one of these headsets can surely serve your needs.
Check out quick reviews below of the top five bluetooth headsets, then scroll deeper for more helpful buying info and full reviews of those models plus other high-ranking options.
What to Look For
Wireless Range: The wireless range determines how far you can be from your connected device while maintaining headset connection. Most headsets connect within a range of 10 to 30 meters.
NFC: Near field communication allows you to connect your headset to your phone by simply tapping them together, instead of having to open your setting and manually pair them, which can save some time when taking calls. It works by sending small amounts of data through radio waves. The waves can travel only a short distance—at most, 4 inches—and connect the two devices instantaneously, allowing for a seamless and convenient transaction.
Bluetooth: Most headsets will be equipped with Bluetooth 4.0 or 4.2. These are perfectly adequate for headsets, and there will not be much of a difference between the two. Basically, with each new bluetooth version that comes out (the newest being 5), the connection becomes faster and has a greater range. But for the purposes of connecting to a nearby device like a smartphone, the difference between 4 and 5 likely won’t be noticeable.
Wireless Headsets vs. Headphones
While there is some overlap between the capability of a headset versus headphones, there are some significant differences that you will want to note before diving into a purchase. Headsets are geared more toward a work environment, often including only one ear attachment. Most will have a high-quality mic—often one that extends from the device— that allows for clear phone calls, as that is the priority. Some even come with rugged exteriors and sweat-proofing that allow for use in outdoor work environments. Headphones are mainly geared toward providing quality audio for music or podcasts. While many have mic capabilities, they are generally not going to be as high quality as a headset mic, so you can take calls on them, but you are better off with a headset if call quality is top priority.
How We Selected and Rated Them
We researched 10 expert sources such as Digital Trends, Tech Radar, and PC Mag, as well as 7,600 consumer reviews to select the top six bluetooth headsets of the year. Our Consumer Score represents the percentage of customers who rated the product at least four out of five stars on retail and review sites like Amazon, Walmart, and manufacturers’ websites.
Plantronics Voyager 5200
Expert Score: 78/100 | Consumer Score: 73% gave it 4 stars or more
A snug fit keeps this set in place.
Weight: 20g | Battery life: 7 hours | NFC: No | Bluetooth: 4.1 | Wireless range: 30m
If you are looking for a do-everything headset, this is it. With 7 hours of talk time and up to 9 days in standby mode, it can easily get you through a full work day, if not the whole week. It features voice-control commands for when your hands are busy, and the design fits snugly on your ear so it won’t slip off. Unfortunately, it is not as comfortable as some previous Voyagers: They proved problematic for people attempting to wear with glasses since the ear hook is a bit short, and glasses push it higher than it should usually sit, according to PC Mag. It also certainly does not have a minimal design, but at least others will know that you aren’t talking to yourself when on a call.
—For the Outdoors—
Jabra Steel Ruggedized Bluetooth Headset
Expert Score: 74/100 | Consumer Score: 60% gave it 4 stars or more
For clear calls in dirty situations.
Weight: 10g | Battery life: 6 hours | NFC: Yes | Bluetooth: 4.1 | Wireless range: 30m
Whether you work outdoors or just need to take calls on your commute, this headset will keep you connected while staying protected against the elements. It is resistant to dust and water, and has a durable, rubberized design to protect the technology within. It connects instantly by NFC, and pairs with the Jabra Assist app which can read text, show the battery life, and help you locate the headset if lost within range. It also has large buttons that are easy to use even with gloves on, but the volume has to be controlled from your phone. “I like the button placement,” wrote an Amazon reviewer. “Most of the units I have used like to put the buttons right over the ear entrance. So when you push on the button it shoves the unit into your ear. This one is offset so you don’t get that issue.”
AYL Bluetooth Headphones V4.1
Expert Score: 91/100 | Consumer Score: 73% gave it 4 stars or more
Take your meeting with you on your lunch run.
Weight: 11g | Battery life: 7 hours | NFC: No | Bluetooth: 4.1 | Wireless range: 10m
For less than the cost of your take-out lunch, you can get a headset that you can take on your morning jog and right to the office. The sweat-resistant and noise-cancelling AYL headphones provide fairly clear audio even when banging out reps in the gym or sprinting it out in the last mile. For those of us who can’t keep work and play separate, this headset is able to pair with two devices at once, allowing you to listen to music from your watch and quickly switch to your phone when you need to take a call. And no need to be suspicious of the price—Amazon reviewers claimed they not only preferred this headset over more expensive options, but also found them to be incredibly durable. It should be noted, however, that this is predominantly a headphone, so if you have a lot of long and important calls to make, you may want to opt for something with a better mic.
—For All-Day Wear—
Plantronics Bluetooth Headset 3200 Voyager
Expert Score: 84/100 | Consumer Score: 75% gave it 4 stars or more
Comfortable and neatly discreet.
Weight: 10g | Battery life: 6 hours | NFC: No | Bluetooth: 4.1 | Wireless range: 30m
This Voyager is less expensive than the Plantronics 5200, but it excels in one particular area: comfort. If you are looking for something to wear all day, this is the way to go. It features 6 hours of talk time, and has the same large range, perfect for those who pace while in a deep discussion. It has noise-cancelling abilities and hands-free voice commands, but also includes manual controls if you prefer. It is also incredibly light, and more discreet than some other Voyager models. Reviewers at PC Mag, however, felt that the call quality was a bit subpar, and the battery life could be better when compared to other Plantronics models.
Sennheiser Presence UC 504576
Expert Score: 83/100 | Consumer Score: 58% gave it 4 stars or more
The clearest sound on windy days.
Weight: 13g | Battery life: 10 hours | NFC: No | Bluetooth: 4.0 | Wireless range: 25m
If you are willing to splurge a bit, the Sennheiser headset is a top-of-the-line option that will ensure you’ll have a clear, uninterrupted call no matter where you are. The headset has not one, but three mics that are able to detect the difference between your voice and outside sounds such as wind or construction. It’s also noise-cancelling and the battery life provides up to 10 hours of call time. No worries about fit either, as it comes with five adjustable options to make sure it won’t fall out mid-convo. And for serial multitaskers, it also has multi-connection ability, which makes it easy to switch between multiple phones or devices.
Plantronics Voyager Focus UC Bluetooth USB B825
Expert Score: 85/100 | Consumer Score: 80% gave it 4 stars or more
Stay comfy and talk for hours.
Weight: 15g | Battery life: 12 hours | NFC: No | Bluetooth: 4.0 | Wireless range: 30m
I’ll start with the disclaimer that you probably won’t want to wear these out of the house. The Plantronics Voyager B8235 is a heavy-duty headset with a mic and double ear coverage. However, if you plan on working from home or need some serious noise-cancelling for your office environment, this headset is for you. It also comes with a stand that will both store and charge it. While it’ll certainly be heavier than more portable options, this model is still comfortable, and best of all, has a battery life of 12 hours.