[u] Top Stereo Bluetooth Headsets for iPhone & iPod touch

Yesterday saw the release of a major software update for the iPhone and iPod Touch.  The update brought over 100 new features, 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 and without wires connecting to your phone.  As Stereo Bluetooth has been around for years there are plenty of Stereo Bluetooth Headsets to choose from.

Thereare 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.

UPDATE: It appears that volume control when using a Bluetooth Headset is a bit of a mystery – it works on some headsets, but not on others.  We’ve tested the headsets shown here and listed whether or not the volume levels can be adjusted.

UPDATE: April 9th 2010 iPhone OS 4.0 was previewed yesterday by Apple and early development previews show that Apple have now included support for volume adjustment, but music controls still don’t work as the AVRCP profile still seems to be excluded. It’s a step in the right direction, but still not ideal. Hopefully this will change between now and the official release of iPhone OS 4.0 in June. Look out for an updated post nearer the time.

Right, on to the headsets!  With so many to choose from, it can get a bit overwhelming, so I’ve been through our current range of Bluetooth Headphones and compiled a list of my top 5 Bluetooth Headphones for the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3G S and iPod Touch 2G.

Sony Ericsson HBH-IS800 Stereo Bluetooth Headphones

Sony Ericsson HBH-IS800 Stereo Bluetooth Headphones

Sony Ericsson IS-800 Stereo Bluetooth Headset
These are without doubt my favourite Bluetooth Headphones, hence they’re at number 1 in my list. It’s 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 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

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 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.

Nokia BH-501 Stereo Bluetooth Headphones

Nokia BH-501 Stereo Bluetooth Headphones

Nokia BH-501 Stereo Bluetooth Headset
The baby brother to the BH-604. A smaller more compact design that goes around your head rather than over it, and folds away neatly when not in use. The controls for music and calls are mounted on the outside of the earpiece and are easy to use. One of the more comfortable headsets thanks to the large, padded earphones. We weren’t able to test the volume control on the BH-501, but as all Nokia Headsets work in the same way, we would expect the volume controls to work perfectly fine on this headset.

This isn’t the full range of Stereo Bluetooth Headsets for the iPhone and iPod Touch, so if you’ve not seen one here that does what you want, take a look at all our Stereo Bluetooth Headsets.

If you’ve got any questions or queries about Stereo Bluetooth on the iPhone get in touch with us using the comments form below!

24 thoughts on “[u] Top Stereo Bluetooth Headsets for iPhone & iPod touch

  1. Hi Lars, when we wrote this post, the headsets that we tested did work, however this was back in june last year. Since then there have been a number of updates to the iPhone OS which might interfere with compatibility.

    I’ll try and get my hands on an iPod touch running the latest software and test them out. Which VOIP app are you using?

  2. I am a bit puzzled about whether microphones on Bluetooth headsets is/will be supported for iPod Touch 32GB (late 2009). My BH-503 headset does not seem to work with VOIP apps on my iPod Touch. In the article you write, however (which seems contrary to what Apple Support writes, but I hope that you have found a fix, please and thanks):

    “We’ve tested these headsets with a 2nd Generation iPod Touch running OS 3.0 and can confirm that the microphone on a Stereo Bluetooth Headset will work with VOIP apps on an iPod Touch

  3. my apologies then. if your sources from apple tell you it’s officially not a 3rd gen, then i take your word(or theirs) for it. im using one of the late 2009 model. it’s funny that even some review sites are calling it 3rd gen. boy i’d hate it when the time comes that the real 3rd gen does come out though. some naming confusion might happen. ..helpful article by the way. i just bought a ds205. will update once i get to test it more

  4. Sorry, but officially not! If you take a look at the link to the Apple website, the current model is iPod touch (late 2009). The third gen touch was supposed to be out last september, with a camera as well as the speed boost. Apple made it clear to our suppliers that the current model is NOT the 3rd gen. Rumours have it that we’ll see the 3rd Gen touch in the next few months

  5. The ipod touch is currently on its 3rd generation right now. The 32gb and 64gb version sport faster processors and higher ram. They dont possess the camera that’s been rumored but they are for all intents and purposes considered to be 3rd generation.

  6. HI Glenn,

    Nothing’s changed really. iPhone and iPod touch are still both running the same software and we’re told that the current iPod touch isn’t the 3rd generation one – we’re expecting that early next year and will feature a camera. Apple officially list this one as the iPod touch ‘late 2009’. They were quite vocal in september about this not being the third gen. Only real difference was a faster processor and more memory. (see apple site http://support.apple.com/specs/#ipodtouch)

    Volume is still hit and miss, although seems a lot more stable since the last mini update. Will try and review a few more headsets in the next week or so.


  7. Hi
    Any chance of you updating this review now the third gen ipod touch is out, or does this just stay relevant? Im wanting some bluetooth stereo headphones that work fully, i.e. volume change, talk function etc? is this possible?

  8. Once it’s paired you need to launch iPod on your phone and then tap the bar at the bottom of the screen to tell the ipod to use the bluetooth headphones. You may need to adjust the volume level too on the handset/headset.

  9. Can anybody please help I went yesterday to purchase Sony BT50 Bluetooth headset to work with my original iPhone.
    According to apple web site & their tech dept there should be no compatibility problems, however in the Sony centre recognition and pearing worked fine but headset remained mute, what am I doing wrong? Everyone tells me that with os3 installed no problems should occur.
    My contract is up next month so I could upgrade to 3g, will this resolve the issue if I go ahead and spend £150 on the headset and will the also work with my iMac 24″ 3.06g machine?
    urgent reply required only 1 pair of headphones left in store
    thanks Arthur.

  10. I have just received my Jabra BT3030. It would be perfect except that it’s minimum volume setting is too loud. It’s very annoying that the volume works fine when making calls, but cannot be reduced (enough to be comfortable) when listening to music. Bloody fast delivery by mobile fun though. I guess I will hang on to it in the hope that apple improve the bluetooth access to include volume

  11. Just to let you know, we’ve now volume tested 4 of the 5 handsets listed here and the only one that seems probelmatic is the DS-800, but only because it doesn’t have volume controls on the headset itself.

    All the rest can adjust the volume using controls on the headsets.

  12. you can adjust the volume on ds200. press the play/pause button and HOLD it. it will cycle through the volume .. stop when you hear the right level. It works on my ipod touch OS3 wonderfully. :-) loving it!

  13. Yes, for mono headsets the iPhone volume control works. For stereo, this is apparently not the case. If so then you can only use headsets that have an integral volume control.

    Thanks for revisiting this analysis.

  14. Hmm, this will take a bit of investigating then – I only have access to my own stuff this weekend, and I can adjust the volume on the phone and on my Parrot MKi9000 Car Kit (when connected via bluetooth), but when paired with my motorola S9’s (which do have volume control buttons) volume is completely fixed.

    This might be because the phone doesn’t support AVRCP. Leave this with me and when I’m back in work tomorrow I’ll get all these headsets out and check them again to confirm whether they will work or not.

    Thanks for drawing this to our attention.


  15. Hi Andy,

    I’ve seen lots of other reports saying that the iPhone doesn’t control volume for stereo BT headsets, which is what I based my comment on. I’ve even seen someone selling a set on ebay because they weren’t compatible with his iPhone.

    For example:
    (about 6 posts down).

    I’m quite happy to adjust the volume on the phone, if this works properly.

    Are you fully certain that this works?


  16. Hi Mark,

    You can still adjust the volume on the phone, and some stereo accessories do support changing the volume through the headset, With the IS-800’s their size doesn’t allow for any controls at all other than a play/pause, so you’d need to adjust the volume using the phone, but it can be changed and is not fixed.

  17. I was interested in the HBH-IS800, but the lack of volume control seems to be a complete killer. While the iPhone supports volume control for mono BT headsets it doesn’t for stereo ones. As such you need volume controls on the headset itself if you want to be able to change the volume. The HBH-IS800 don’t have these controls, which means you only have a fixed volume to listen at.

    Real shame, since otherwise they look like a great option.

  18. Hi Bill,

    I’m going to try and get my hands on a 2nd Gen Touch this weekend. The only ones we have here for testing are first gen, which don’t support bluetooth.

    As soon as I’ve tried it I’ll update the post with my findings. If you find out any more before then, please let me know!


  19. I like many iPod Touch 2nd Gen owners, are now looking for Bluetooth Stereo Headsets with mic. I want to be able to listen to my music, make calls on Skype,or my mobile and game on my PS3. The only one of Andy’s 5 recommendations that appeals is the Nokia BH-501 Stereo Bluetooth Headset,as I do not fancy earplugs, but then Andy says’We’ve not yet been able to confirm whether the microphone on a Bluetooth Headset will work with an iPod Touch, but we’re working on finding out. If you’ve managed to get one working please let us know using the comments below’
    I am puzzled, as I want something where ‘everything’ works!
    I currently own Sennheiser PXC 250 could they be plugged into Jabra 3030? Apologies if that is a stupid question.


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