Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 27, 2022

JBL Synchros S400BT.

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Headsets without wires

Bluetooth options for your smartphone

The headphone jack is gone from the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The only way you can use the new devices is with wireless earbuds or an extra connector. Apple is clearly setting a new standard for all cell phones. Expect to see the rest of the cell phone pack to follow. A host of new wireless devices are on the market with more coming on every week.

Before you toss your wired headset into that drawer full of obsolete devices and their myriad of connectors, it’s worth pausing to consider the pluses and minuses of headsets generally.

The wired variety is so ubiquitous, so many people wear them, so much of the time they can almost be considered a fashion accessory. The technology took a leap forward around the time the iPhone 4 was launched. The sound quality of the earbuds was good enough to listen to your favourite music without having to wince. Apple headsets have come a long way, but the sound they reproduce is still not as good as that of many other headsets.

Also, the connected microphones worked well enough to use them even on sensitive calls. These days you can’t tell if passersby are listening to Drake or Debussy or getting lab results on their latest urine test.

And the wires do dangle. They get caught in hair and clothing and they tangle, oh how they can tangle! So doubtless Apple is on the right track going wireless as they have been with many previous innovations.

With technological upgrades, there’s usually a downside. Bluetooth headsets whether in-ear or over-ear do not deliver quite the same sound quality as their wired counterparts. The difference is small particularly in higher quality devices, but here’s the real zinger: Bluetooth sets have to be charged to operate, some of them overnight, every night. An insufficient remaining charge would be a major annoyance if they cut out when you’re on an important call.

Pairing to most devices and to Apple products with IOS is straightforward, except, possibly, to the iPhone 7 which has a new chip that makes it very easy to connect to Apple devices, but more difficult for non-Apple products to connect (Apple says they’re working on a solution.)

Choosing a wireless headset that’s right for you is highly personal. For all their benefits, they can also be finicky and prone to wear out. Most earbuds are intended to be used during exercise and by far the majority of the hundreds on the market are in-ear. Prices range from about $15 to well into the hundreds. Here are three with decent reviews — price does not always mean better when it comes to wireless headphones.

Bluetooth earbuds by E Tronic Good fit, lightweight, clear sound, strong bass, eight hours on a charge. $39.97.

Sony SBH-80 Solid sound, older, proven Bluetooth 3.0 technology, five hours on a charge. $79.99.

JBL Synchros S400BT Good to very good sound, 15 hours on a charge, carrying case. $139.99.


Win your choice of one of three wireless headsets by entering the Win the Gadget of the Month contest here.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.


Showing 9 comments

  1. On October 13, 2016, Andries said:
    One more way that Apple Inc is making more money from their customers!
  2. On October 14, 2016, Lauren said:
    sounds good to me
  3. On October 14, 2016, ilmar said:
    No lines to choke you make listening privately safe now.
  4. On October 17, 2016, Glenn Loy Son said:
    What a great prize it would be. No longer wires to worry about. Great for traveling.
  5. On October 22, 2016, jagdish said:
  6. On October 29, 2016, Martin Robichaud said:
    Nice for traveling
  7. On October 30, 2016, greg said:
    already have (dated!) wireless for my Macbook Pro; this looks like a great replacement option
  8. On November 2, 2016, Laverne Paul said:
    My daughter watches a ton of U-Tube videos...I'm sure she would really like to have this :)
  9. On November 4, 2016, Gayle Garber said:
    Plan to buy an apple phone, would like to have the headphones

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