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The iPhone OS 3.0 software update for the iPhone and iPod Touch brought over 100 new features to both devices, but one of the best new features is that the iPhone 3G and 2nd generation iPod Touch now support Stereo Bluetooth. Stereo Bluetooth lets you enjoy your music in stereo without wires connecting to your phone. As Stereo Bluetooth has been around for years there are plenty of Stereo Bluetooth Headsets to choose from so I thought I’d give them all a try and see how they shaped up.
There are a couple of points that you’ll need to remember though, the iPhone and iPod Touch support the A2DP profile only. If you have an iPhone this means you can answer & end calls, play / pause your music, but not control it fully. If you have an iPod Touch 2G then you will be able to play / pause your music and adjust the volume, but you won’t be able to use these headsets with any of your VOIP apps (such as Skype) on your iPod.
In order for you to be able to control your music fully, the iPhone or iPod Touch would need to support the AVRCP profile – hopefully we’ll see this in a future software update from Apple. Stereo Bluetooth is not available on the first generation iPhone or iPod Touch.
Another thing to note is that volume control when using a Bluetooth Headset is a bit of a mystery – it works on some headsets, but not on others. I’ve tested the headsets shown here and listed whether or not the volume levels can be adjusted.
Right, on to the headsets! With so many to choose from, it can get a bit overwhelming, so I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 Bluetooth Headphones for the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3G S and iPod Touch 2G.
Jabra Halo Stereo Bluetooth Headphones
Jabra Halo Stereo Bluetooth Headset
Ah, the Jabra Halo. Is it possible to love headphones? These weren’t on my top 5 initially, but only because I couldn’t get hold of any. I got my hands on a pair last week and they are great. They’re relatively small and can fold away when they’re not in use. The controls on these are extremely simple and everything is controlled with a touch sensitive slider on the right ear or the answer button. Pairing was a doddle, as always with Jabra headsets and audio quality is great and a lot clearer than it is with the standard earphones that came in the box. Adjusting the volume isn’t a problem. The Halo is a multipoint headset, so if you wanted to, you can use them with your PC, games console or a second phone at the same time as having them connected to your iPhone. If you want more info on these then take a look at my Jabra Halo hands on review.
Sony Ericsson HBH-IS800 Stereo Bluetooth Headphones
Sony Ericsson IS-800 Stereo Bluetooth Headset
These were my favourite Bluetooth Headphones until the Halo came along. They’re incredibly small, and although it still has a wire, the IS-800 is pretty much the only headset that doesn’t feature a fairly bulky control unit. Instead this has a small, simple in-line control that allows you to answer and end calls. Battery life is impressive at upto 270 hours – especially considering how small this headset is. The IS-800 doesn’t support AVCRP, which in this case is a good thing as it means you’re not going to be paying for features that you can’t use. Volume levels are currently fixed when using this headset, but hopefully a fix from Apple is on the way.
Sony Ericsson HBH-DS200 Stereo Bluetooth Headset
Sony Ericsson DS200 Stereo Bluetooth Headset
The DS-200 is designed to hang around your neck in a similar way to the Jabra BT3030. It comes with ‘in ear’ style headphones that can be replaced with any standard headphones with a 3.5mm jack plug. Battery life is great with upto 300 hours stand by and 6 hours of music play back, and an LCD Display will let you know when you’re running low. This headset allows you to control the volume levels by pressing and holding the play button.
Jabra BT3030 Stereo Bluetooth Headset
Jabra BT3030 Stereo Bluetooth Headset
The Jabra BT3030 is probably more suited to the iPod Touch than the iPhone. The reason I say that is because the BT3030 is a Multipoint Headset – this allows you to connect to two devices at once, so you can connect it to your mobile phone and your iPod Touch to listen to your music, and when a call comes in, it will pause the music and answer the call from your mobile. It hangs around your neck on a chain or can clip to your belt or pocket, and can be used with any 3.5mm headphones. Volume control on the BT3030 is not a problem, press the ‘+’ or ‘-‘ keys to adjust the volume.
Nokia BH-604 Stereo Bluetooth Headphones
Nokia BH-604 Stereo Bluetooth Headset
These are probably the most normal looking headphones of the bunch. They’re solid, comfortable and well built and have the best battery life out of all the headphones listed here with up to 19 hours of music playback, 18 hours of talk time and 2 weeks standby. Sound quality is excellent and set up is incredibly easy. Volume is controlled using a slider on the base of one of the ear cans and worked as you’d expect.
This obviously isn’t the full range of Stereo Bluetooth Headsets for the iPhone and iPod Touch, just one’s that I’ve tried and think are really good. I’ve tested these headsets with a 2nd Generation iPod Touch running OS 3.0 and the microphone on a Stereo Bluetooth Headset will work with most VOIP apps.
If you’ve got any questions or queries about Stereo Bluetooth on the iPhone leave me a message using the comments form below!