Stock earbuds that are included with the purchase of a phone don’t sound great or isolate sound well when you make or receive phone calls. You may not hear the caller’s voice clearly, and the inline mic is not the best for picking up your voice either. Another drawback is the cable which bounces, tangles and rubs on your clothes, causing annoying noises.
All these nuisances lead many people to shop for a decent Bluetooth headset that allows for total freedom when making a lot of calls every day or doing multiple tasks.
We considered some models with prices as low as $30 (and even slightly less) to come up with this list of picks.
If you are on a tight budget, the Mpow V4.1 Bluetooth Headset would be our top pick.
For the price and its 5-6 hours talk time, it deserves a closer look. While it might not have the stellar sound quality of higher-priced headsets, it really can’t be beaten for the money.
In a price range slightly up from that, you start to get into some of the best Bluetooth headsets one on the market.
A somewhat more sophisticated model like the Plantronics Explorer 55 delivers the kind of quality and features that most consumers are looking for in an affordable wireless headset including noise-canceling technology.
If you are primarily getting picking a headset for driving and commuting then check this article out.
Considering battery life, comfort, fitting, build quality, and call quality, here are our picks for top budget Bluetooth headsets on the market today.
Best Affordable Bluetooth Headsets
Mpow V4.1 Bluetooth Headset
The Mpow® V4.1 Headset offers clear and detailed sound for any calls you make.
This unit can be on stand by for up to an amazing 280 hours and gets 5-6 hours for music or continuous talk. The battery takes just two hours to charge. You may be familiar with the Mpow when it comes to Bluetooth gadgets they also make some very popular earbud models in this same price range.
The stylish all-black design with a rubber coating with silver-colored accents looks professional and modern. This unit is comfortable, especially for a headset in this affordable price range.
Another win in the plus column for this Mpow unit is its ability to connect to two Bluetooth smartphones at the same time for those of you that carry two cells (work and personal). This is somewhat of a rare feature for such an inexpensive headset.
- Impressive and slick design
- 280 hrs of standby, up to 6 hrs of talk time.
- Good noise isolation, comfortable
- Strong battery
- Over the ear wearing may not fit right to your ears.
Plantronics Explorer 55
Plantronics Explorer 55 is one of the most affordable headsets that made this list.
This is another entry in our list from Plantronics. If you are familiar with headsets, whether Bluetooth or office wired sets for phones, this is a common name and well-known brand. A go-to for call centers and large companies in part for its wide range of
This budget earpiece by Plantronics delivers an impressive 11 hours of talk time! It also has some useful functions like “Deep Sleep” mode to save on battery and the ability to pair with two devices at the same time.
As with any product, especially one in this low price range, there are some problems reported. The lifespan and long term durability of a headset this cheap is questionable.
If you need a budget Bluetooth headset, this offers a decent product for the price but it might not last as long as a higher-end headset. Some users report that it worked fine for months but then started having difficulty pairing with their smartphone. While this is a legitimate concern, unfortunately, it’s a relatively common issue for Bluetooth devices in this price range.
- Very affordable price
- Reliable Brand
- 11 hours talk time
- Deep Sleep battery saving mode
- Some problems reported of Bluetooth connection being unstable
- Bluetooth version 3.0 (see differences between version 3 and 4)
Plantronics Voyager Edge
The Voyager Edge Headset incorporates Plantronics well known audio technology with improved voice clarity using Bluetooth 4.0 and also has wideband audio support.
One of the coolest features of the Voyager Edge is its completely hands-free option. Taking advantage of Plantronics voice recognition technology, you can just say “Answer” or “Ignore” rather than pressing buttons.
This feature not only adds convenience but also a major safety consideration, especially if you talk and take calls when driving.
The headset comes with three sizes of ear tips (small, medium, and large) for maximum comfort.
- Voice recognition
- Includes three sizes of ear tips
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Wideband audio support.
- Buttons are too small for large hands
- Some users report problematic Bluetooth connection
- The lightweight build feels a little cheap
Samsung Level U
This may seem unexpected since it isn’t technically a headset.
However, the Samsung Level U is a popular set of Bluetooth earbuds that many users find a perfect substitute for a dedicated headset.
If you primarily listen to music with the occasional cell phone call, you should consider this option. While the neckband may take a little getting used to, the around-the-neck style earbuds are popular and a lot of users report them being more comfortable than a headset clip on their ear for long periods.
If you are looking for in-ear headphones that have headset functionality, around the neck style Samsung Level U is a perfect choice.
- Battery Life (11 hours talk/10 hours play/ 500 hours standby)
- Dual-Mic Noise Reduction
- Echo Cancellation for improved sound quality during calls.
- Not a traditional one-sided headset if that’s what you’re after
Other Headsets to Consider:
Earbuds are made for music, but mono Bluetooth headsets simply aren’t. Fortunately, there is a set that can either work as in-ear headphones or a Bluetooth calling headset. The SBH24 is supported by NFC, it connects to Bluetooth by just a couple of taps, and the Bluetooth range even pairs up to an impressive 15 feet.
In terms of design, the volume control button is quite small, and hard to press.
Aside from good call quality, it sounds like some of the best budget earbuds when listening to music. Bass is present but lacks a bit of and impact. You will, however, hear rich, clear sound at a reasonable level.
More Stereo Bluetooth headsets (Behind the neck design)
Samsung HM3300 Inexpensive Bluetooth Headset With Crisp Sound Quality
The Samsung HM300 offers 3 different sizes of earbuds which gives you a better fit than other headsets like the Plantronics M55. Some users don’t like the earhooks which are worn over the ears. Even though the earhooks are flexible enough for a custom fit, they sometimes loosen up. The call quality is impressive, offering consistent, crisp and clear audio at all times.
Despite not being able to make voice command prompts or an app to sync to, this is still a great Bluetooth headset for the price with a bunch of useful accessories.
Plantronics M55 Refine And Flashy Design
Depending on your personal budget you might not consider this necessarily “cheap”, however since everyone has a different concept of what’s expensive or not, we did include this one. For the quality features this model is relatively affordable.
The Plantronics M55 is a comfortable and lightweight Bluetooth headset. It has a small, simplistic yet flashy design. It is easy to carry anywhere and has features like voice prompts and multi-point tech.
However, it works better indoors than outdoors as ambient noises or wind may significantly interfere with the mic. When used indoors it offers great voice call quality.
The battery of the M55 wireless headset is strong and efficient. A built-in DeepSleep function will automatically turn the headset off when not in use to preserve the battery.
One size doesn’t fit all, however, and this headset features just one size of earpiece which may fit snugly or loosely in your ear. If this happens to be a snug fit for you, they provide excellent noise isolation. A looped stabilizer is soft and adjustable, providing an extra secure fit to ensure the headset won’t fall out.
One Option to Skip:
Several years ago, we looked at lots of “no-name” brands, these were unknown brands (at least to US shoppers) that sold online on sites like Aliexpress, Alibaba and other low-cost retailers, many of them that shipped from Asian like this one by “Hoonshop”.
At the time, these $25 headsets (and some even cheaper), seemed like a great option. They were so affordable compared to other headsets you’d find in the US at a fraction of the cost. So for someone who just needed a budget headset that would pick up a call and give decent connection while they commuted to work these were a decent solution.
However, in recent years the cost of Bluetooth technology has come down and there are many affordable headsets flooding the market. With so many quality wireless headsets now available, including several name brands (Plantronics, Samsung, Sony) at very reasonable prices, we no longer recommend going for these cheap options. While you may save a few bucks, for us personally we don’t think it’s worth the hassle and international shipping – especially if something goes wrong with the set and you have to deal with trying to get a refund or replacement.
Either of the first two options we described above seems like a no-brainer compared to this outer route.
Bluetooth Headset: An Absolute Necessity
If you often chat on the go, wired headsets are not always the best option and would lead you to look for an alternative without a cable. Bluetooth headsets are gaining popularity from consumers and manufacturers – most devices today are made with built-in Bluetooth hardware.
Types of Bluetooth Headsets
Bluetooth headsets have been integrated with a lot of great features like noise cancellation, voice command prompts, application syndication, and much more. Based on the sound channel they can be divided into two main categories: mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets.
Mono Bluetooth Headset: While keeping your left ear free, a mono headset is worn on the right ear only.
Stereo Bluetooth Headset: These have 2 earbuds that are connected to a base, neckband (LG Tone Infinim HBS-900 Wireless headset), or just a short cable. The controls can be inline or on the right earbuds.
How To Pick A Bluetooth Headset
Before shopping for a wireless headset there are five factors you should be interested in: battery life, design, size, functionality, and prices.
Remember to consider what your main use for it will be whether that is VoIP calls, personal computer audio, or music. Also keep in mind where you will use your headset: in a noisy office, quiet room, car or cafe. For some, fitting is the most important factor when deciding a headset should be secure and fit comfortably for long periods of time. Additionally, audio quality needs to be good enough to hear callers in any situation. The battery life of Bluetooth headsets varies, ranging from 4 to 6 hours, and the high-end model usually last longer.
Battery life. Bluetooth headsets should last for at least 5 hours of talk time. To measure the battery life, after the headset has been connected with our host phone via Bluetooth, it will continuously stream audio.
Plantronics produced some of the best Bluetooth headsets, with high-end models like Plantronics Voyager Edge and Voyager Legend UC B235-M which are very popular among professional users who frequently have business calls, work at a call center or in a customer support department. For smartphone users, the Bose Series 2 is the most expensive headset and has excellent sound and noise-canceling functions.
If you are a music lover, look for a Bluetooth headset that can enable you to enjoy stereo sound and decent call quality. This type of personal gadget is a favorite among office workers who want music along with call functions. Most stereo headsets come with a band that rests on your neck.
Legal issues: In some states (for example in Florida), you are not allowed to wear headphones or other audio devices while operating a vehicle. In most cases, you are required to wear headsets if you want to talk on the phone while driving. Whether or not your state has laws requiring hands-free calling while driving, Bluetooth headsets are the safest choice while driving.
Here we’ve rounded up the best wireless headsets on the market. Call and audio quality were ranked by Thewirecutter and CNET.
|Model||Wearing style/Photo||Battery Life (talk time)||Features||Price|
|Plantronics Voyager Edge||6 hours||$$|
|Sennheiser Presence Basic||10 hours 20 minutes||$$$|
|Plantronics Explorer 500||7 hours||$$|
|Plantronics Voyager Legend UC B235-M Bluetooth Headset||7 hours||Noise cancelling||$$|
|Mpow® FreeGo||4.5 hours||$$|
Noise-canceling feature built into the microphone
This feature helps the caller hear you better by only capturing your voice instead of ambient noises such as wind. The effectiveness of this feature depends on the mic position, design and technical specifications. High-end Bluetooth headsets have a number of microphone styles that work better for noise cancellation, making them ideal for taking calls in any environment.