Made For iPhone Versus Made For Any Phone
This article is not a direct comparison pound for pound as they say. It is focused on the connectivity elements of the respective devices and what they offer. I have chosen the Resound LiNX 3D as a comparison for two reasons, it is an excellent representation of the Made For iPhone (MFI) concept and I wear them, so I know what I am talking about. Phonak were late to the party with direct connection to mobile phones, but they have delivered a fantastic and innovative product, but how does it stack up?
Firstly, I would like to say that both hearing aids offer a fantastic experience. Both of these hearing aid brands have long history and they both offer features and strategies that will deliver better hearing even in the most complex sound environment. As i said, I am focusing on connectivity here, in fact primarily mobile phone connectivity.
Which is Better?
Which is better for you depends on what you want, if you want an easy and fantastic way to take mobile calls with ease no matter how far away from your phone you are, then the Audeo B-Direct is definitely where you should look. If however, mobile calls are important but other audio is as important, well then the Resound LiNX is for you. Let's take a look at them.
Update September 5th: I read a comment on this article in a professional's forum, and I have to say, you know they were right. So I am adding this update to make this article much clearer. I have focused here on iPhones and also Android phones, in other words SmartPhones. I stand by my comments here in relation to that. But and it is a big but, not every hearing aid user has a SmartPhone. In fact many hearing aid users have dumb mobile phones. The Audeo B-Direct is the only hearing aid available that will connect to them directly. In fact, with this concept in mind and if you have a dumb mobile phone and don't plan to change it, the Audeo B-Direct is really the only show in town.
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The Phonak Audeo B-Direct
Phonak got a lot of grief from their shareholders about their lack of a Made For iPhone hearing aid. Made For iPhone really stormed the market back in 2014 when Resound introduced it. It caught many of us by surprise to be honest. I think it was the first hearing aid that caught the imagination of the wider tech community and then consumers.
Within a year, Made For iPhone was big news and many of us expected the other manufacturers to follow quickly. They didn't and that surprised us, it also made Sonova shareholders a little bit twitchy. So, finally Phonak has introduced a Made For iPhone hearing aid.
The device is a Reciever in Canal device and it is available in three levels of technology. However, it isn't really a Made For iPhone hearing aid and while it is also the first ever Made For Android hearing aid, it isn't really that either. In fact, it is the first ever Made For Any Phone hearing aid.
Made For iPhone, Made For Android, Made For Any Phone!
In essence Phonak has cracked the age old Bluetooth problem, using the traditional Bluetooth connection is exceptionally power hungry. Far too power hugry for hearing aid use, however, Phonak have designed a brand new chipset (Sword!!! Got to love the names right?) which allows direct Bluetooth connection to any phone without sacrificing battery power. That means that the hearing aids will connect to any Bluetooth enabled mobile phone for direct streaming of phone calls. But wait, there is more, because they use this older type connection, they can tap into the "headset protocol" and that is where the magic begins and I do mean magic.
Amazing Headset Functionality
Not only will it connect directly, but as with traditional Bluetooth headsets, you can use the button on your hearing aids to answer the call or bounce it. When you have answered, you don't even need to pick up your phone. The microphones on the hearing aids will pick up your voice and transmit it to the caller. That is complete freedom for mobile phone calls. No thinking about it, no getting your phone, just answering and talking, no matter what mobile phone you own. That is pretty cool. One addendum here though, it only streams the phone call to one ear, which seems a little odd. However, if I get my hands on a pair I will let you know how it works.
No Music From The Phone Though
Unfortunately, the hearing aids aren't designed to stream music from your phone. The protocol doesn't support it and for me, that's a pity. I like to listen to music from my phone, I also really like to listen to audiobooks. In fact I burn through two or three audiobooks a month on my phone. I would not be able to do it with the Audeo B-Direct. This is the problem for me and if you like to listen to audiobooks or music from your phone, it will be a problem for you too. These are probably one of the best hearing aids available for connecting to a mobile phone so you can simply answer calls with no streamer and no hassle, but they aren't an all round solution. Phonak do offer a special streamer for your TV or really any audio source, but it isn't something that you are going to use on the go.
LiNX 3D Hearing Aids
The Resound Linx 3D hearing aids are the latest Made For iPhone hearing aid technology from GN Resound. While the new devices include Resound's fifth generation of wireless technology. They are in fact their third generation of Made For iPhone hearing aids. Pretty damn good hearing aids as well. Resound's strategy has been different from everyone elses. While all the other hearing aid brands have introduced a Made For iPhone model, Resound have made all of their premium hearing aid ranges MFI. In the LiNX range alone there are eleven different hearing aid models in three levels of technology. They also have just released a new Super Power MFI for people with severe to profound hearing loss.
Made For iPhone, Not Android
The ReSound LiNX 3D connects directly to the iPhone using Apple's protocols. However, they will not connect to an Android phone or any other phone without an intermediary streamer. Many people don't like the idea of a streamer, I don't really understand that. I suppose that it is another device to look after, more hassle?
When answering calls on your mobile, the audio is directly streamed to the hearing aids. However, in order to talk to the caller, you need to lift the phone to your mouth or hold it to your ear in the usual way. When using the devices with an Android phone, the streamer device is used to talk back to the caller. So it isn't as free and easy as the Audeo B-Direct for phone calls, however, it comes into its own when you want to stream audio from the phone.
Audio on Demand
Like I said, I listen to a lot of audio, audiobooks, podcasts, music, you name it. The pure joy of lining up my book or music, playing it and then just doing my thing while it streams to my hearing aids just can not be overtsated. I would imagine that I am not the only one. With an iPhone it is direct streaming and the audio quality is excellent and the connection pretty solid. With an Android device it is a case of using the streamer, again, the audio is excellent and the connection is probably even more solid.
Which One is Best, What is Most Important For You?
The key here is that the hearing aids are pretty solid, yes they have different strategies and proprietary technology, but the bottom line is that they will both make a dramatic difference to how well you hear. So essentially, if both of these hearing aids are suitable for you, your lifestyle and your hearing loss the crunch is down to what is most important? Is it the freedom of mobile phone calls with complete ease while using the only hearing aids in the world to offer a headset functionality? Or, is it being able to use the mobile phone with ease while also enjoying streamed music and audio on the go? Here is a complete run down of the headline features and how they stack up:
|Feature Comparison||LiNX 3d||Audeo B-Direct|
|Direct Wireless Connectivity To iPhone||Yes||
|Direct Wireless Connectivity To Android||No||
|Stream Phone Conversation||Yes||
|Answer Phone With Hearing Aid||No||
|Phone Conversation in Both Ears||Yes||
|Streaming of Audio From Phone||Yes||
|Use iPhone as Remote Microphone||Yes||
|Find Lost Hearing Aid Feature||Yes||
|Remote Fine Tuning of Hearing Aids||Yes||
|Tinnitus Therapy Feature||Yes||
Your mission if you see fit to accept it is to choose. If you have any questions, drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org
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Posted by Geoff
Geoffrey (Geoff, anything else makes him nervous) Cooling has been involved with the hearing aid industry for over ten years. He has worked in private practice dispensing hearing aids and as a manufacturer's rep. He has written two books and they are both available on Amazon. He loves technology, passing on knowledge and is legendary for many other things, primarily the amount he curses, his dry and mischievous sense of humour and his complete intolerance of people who are full of themselves. Please feel free to connect with him
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