I am mad with Google and other Android OEMs who all have enthusiastic in removing headphone jack, but not making an affordable Bluetooth or USB-C earphone
There are a few categories of gadgets that never work well for me. The top one in the list will be Bluetooth headsets. Over the years, I should’ve at least a dozen of them, I am unable to recall being happy even with one of them. I am not an audiophile, but I enjoy good audio quality, so I get satisfied with a reasonable reproduction. Till now I have not been able to find a Bluetooth headset that has allowed me to make clear voice calls when I am outside.
After much research online, I bought Jabra Elite 65t for Rs.13, 000 (USD 180). Within a few days, I realised it was useless to make calls when I am walking on the road or at the local park. Anyways, I lost it during a Delhi trip.
After which I went cheaper with a Sony WI-C300 for Rs.2,400. This was slightly better than Jabra Elite for voice calls, but still, the people I speak to were complaining of external noises during my calls. A friend recommended I go with the famous Plantronics headsets which feature a boom mic. They are expensive in India, so I checked in Amazon USA, I was overwhelmed with the models which started from $25 and going up to $150. I didn’t want to overspend money by going for the top-end one or by a model which didn’t have good call support by going for a middle one.
Disclosure: I write reviews about products that I have bought for my usage and paid in full. There were no sponsorship or advertisement, or commission of any sort involved in this post.
Lastly, I checked AliExpress where many Chinese sellers were sporting models which resembled the Plantronics models. I purchased the “K10 Wireless Business Bluetooth Headset” from AIRERSI for US$22.61 (Rs. 1565) including free shipping to India, as many other sellers were selling the same K10 model under their own names, so I figured this should be a successful one. This seller had explicitly called out the feature I was interested in – “Ambient noise cancelling: the headphone with a microphone comes with CVC 6.0 noise isolation technology and ANC (ambient noise cancelling) earbuds, creating a quiet environment for you to enjoy music or making calls in a crowd“. Though it was estimated to be delivered in 18-25 days, I received the parcel in 10 days.
I am liking the well-placed controls on the headset for volume up/down (which double up as skip and rewind), power ON/OFF, and a dedicated mute button. The best part is the in-built MicroUSB port for charging, you don’t need to open a flap or attach a separate coupling for charging. I am yet to try it out extensively. In the initial few days of usage, my friends who I call, say they are able to hear me well even when I am walking on the road or under a fast running ceiling fan. The battery life seems to hold. The Audio quality when listening to songs or podcasts is good for a single earpiece. If you are looking for Bluetooth headset that is cheap and can make good voice calls, and you don’t mind experimenting with a “Chinese” made from AliExpress, you can try this.
Yesterday, while I was travelling by a local autorickshaw, I saw the driver making hands free calls while driving the auto and it felt like the other party was able to hear him properly. If a headset can work on a noisy auto, then it will work easily on my walks. On enquiry, the driver told me about the various headsets he had tried and recommended two models – the first (which he was currently using) was the Mi Bluetooth Headset for Rs.899 (US$13) and the other was from Samsung Bluetooth Headset (HM1100 or HM1000) which retails for about Rs.1000 (US$15).