In my last article I discussed the Widex Beyond and the problems it is having with the iPhone. In this one, we will take a look at the Oticon Opn, which is having similar difficulties. In fact the online forums and in particular the Apple community forum is abuzz with the issue. As with the Widex Beyond, the problem isn't really the hearing aids, it's the iPhone. Which is a shame, this is another case of a fantastic set of hearing aids being let down by a separate technology, just like the Widex Beyond.
About a month ago we became aware of a lot of issues around Made For iPhone hearing aids and connectivity to the iPhone. We have been researching the issues ever since. The issues reported with the Oticon Opn are similar in nature to the issues reported with the Widex Beyond. All of the problems seem to be related to the Bluetooth pairing of the hearing aids to the iPhone. During transmission of audio from the iPhone, it appears that the audio signal is dropped constantly by one aid or, it seems that the signal may jump from one ear to the other for no apparent reason.
Where there was a consistent signal to both hearing aids, it seemed that the call audio was of really poor quality. The other complaint was described as the stuttering or fluttering of the signal, like it was dropping and connecting again very quickly. In the case of the Oticon Opn, the problem seems to be particular to the iPhone 7. Again though, it may be specific to the ios version that is being run, not just the hardware. For instance, take a look at what Erin says on the Apple Community:
Hi there! I was wondering if anyone has recently updated to a new iPhone 7 who own Oticon Opn hearing devices? I previously purchased my Opns at the same time that I owned an iPhone 6s and had no trouble with the Bluetooth connectivity and features. Now that I've updated to an iPhone 7, I seem to have lost the ability to connect my hearing aids to my phone. This is problematic since I mainly purchased the Opns for the Bluetooth functionality. Let me know if you've found a workaround, or had any similar troubles. Thanks, Erin
However, Scott said that he had found a workaround and it seemed fine for him:
I've found that re booting my iPhone 7plus, then opening the battery compartments on my Opn MiniRites results in a good connection. I just paired my iPad mini2 to the MiniRites last evening following the same procedure. I use the Oticon Opn app on the phone and the iPad.
But many others are having serious problems, having to re-boot their hearing aids or their iPhone several times a day.
I purchased the Oticon OPN Minirite's last October and to date I have had nothing but issues with Bluetooth pairing. I purchased the Oticon's based on my positive experience with my first Oticon hearing aids, but that was 10+ years ago and BT was not a factor then. I have had the firmware update, gone the multitude of steps I have been given and frankly to have to redo the pairing multiple times a day is unacceptable
More Great Hearing Aids That Don't Work With The iPhone
So it seems we have another fantastic hearing aid platform that just will not work well with the iPhone. There are numerous discussions across the web all detailing similar issues and problems. The real key here is that the Oticon Opn is a really outstanding hearing aid. The feedback from users and professionals alike is that the devices are outstanding. In fact when you look at all of the negative reviews, very few talk about any problems with hearing well. All of the issues are with the connection to the iPhone and many of the issues appear to be problems with the iPhone 7.
The Problem is The iPhone
There has been a great deal of articles written about the problems that the Apple is having with Bluetooth connectivity on the iPhone 7. Not just with hearing aids but with all types of Bluetooth hardware like Car Radios, Speakers, Headphones etc. The word out there is that it is a software issue and a new update to IOS will sort out the problem. I think we will have to wait and see.
Firmware Update of the Opn
If you are having problems with the Opn, it is advised that you ensure your hearing aids have the very latest firmware update applied. At present, and unlike the Widex Beyond devices, you will have to attend your Audiologist to have that update applied. The Opn app does not support the update of the hearing aids firmware via the app. Hopefully, Apple will push out the IOS update and all will be well.
You can read about iPhone 7 Bluetooth issues here: http://gizmodo.com/the-iphone-7s-bluetooth-is-totally-screwed-up-for-some-1787276957 and here http://www.macworld.com/article/3122614/iphone-ipad/iphone-7-review.html
You can read a comparison of current Bluetooth hearing aids here.
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