Blog Post

Of iPhones and Hearing aids…

Yes, I realize I brought up this topic before, but I wanted to revisit it, now that the beloved iPhone has landed. My hope is that some people can answer a couple of questions I have:

1. M3/M4 Hearing-aid compatibility?

– This is a quick one: how well does iPhone play with hearing aids? In the past, GSM phones have been known for their terrible interference with hearing aids when in a “telephone/telecoil” mode. My Verizon-based Treo is okay with my ‘aids, but my dad’s Cingular-backed Blackberry (fairly recent model) is terrible. If I remember correctly, the U.S. has some sort of law now in effect that most cell phones be compatible with hearing aids, so this might not be a problem.

2. Better headphones?

– Apple’s been including the white earbuds with iPods since day one, so this may not change, but I’m not a big fan of them, as my ears are already too crowded. There are some that agree with me, but for different reasons. Indeed, these earbuds don’t fit too well in smaller or differently-shaped ear canals. I’m a frequent user of the around-the-ear (“studio-style”) headphones, which often provide better bass, and keep out outside noise better than Apple’s earbuds. I take the Metra train on my commute into Chicago, and most people on the trains use something other than earbuds because of the noise.

This will especially be an issue with the iPhone, as you can’t answer any calls with your average set of headphones… if you can even get the plug to fit without an extra bulky adapter. Are there any 3rd party headphones coming for the iPhone that will allow for answering calls?

Sadly, due to the lack of advanced Bluetooth in the iPhone, we’re unable to use stereo Bluetooth headsets. Here’s something funny, though: Bluetooth often causes interference with telecoils in the form of a “click… click… click…” sound, but my Motorola Bluetooth headset works fine for me. Are they improving the Bluetooth spec?

3. Volume?

Even if I don’t use the “telecoil” mode to use the iPhone, will it be as loud as my Treo? I was unable to really test the volume, as the times when I was testing the iPhone, it was in noisier areas. My Treo 650 is great for volume… how does the iPhone compare when you put it up to your ear to make a call?

Note: The M3/M4 compatibility may not be as much of an issue on second thought: the two primary sources of interference with the telecoil of most hearing aids are the Bluetooth/GSM chipsets (CDMA is not quite as severe) and electrical interference from the display screen backlight on some phones. Older Motorola phones were especially bad, giving off a horrible “bzzttt” while the backlight was on. If the iPhone turns off its display, then that may be fine. Hopefully, they’ve worked out the radio interference issues. Some of this same interference is the reason that we’re asked to turn off our phones when getting ready to fly.

If any of you current iPhone owners out there are familiar with what I’m talking about, and have answers for these questions, please drop me a note in the comments slot below. Thanks!

9 Responses to “Of iPhones and Hearing aids…”

  1. Is there an iphone Ap that can make the iphone work as a hearing enhancement device. That is using the internal microphone in the iphone to feed surrounding sound to iphone headset jack, to make the iphone act as a hearing enhancement device. Does such an Ap exists?
    [email protected]

  2. John Jacobs
    This website has an adaptor that will allow any (2 circle) 3mm jack sterio headphone connector to work with the 3g iPhone for $10.99 incl shipping. It is small and has a microphone in the recepticle for the 3mm jack and a clip for your shirt. The cord between the clip and the iPhone is about 36″ so you can carry the phone in pocket (as I do) or on a belt. I use a pair of Sony behind the neck/over the ears head phones and they work great. You can listen to music, answer calls (the phone interrupts the music with your ringer sound)by pushing the button on the clip/microphone. I wear the phillips CIC hearing aids. The button will cancel/end the call and return you to the music. The button can be used to mute the music as well to speak with someone without having to remove the headset.

  3. OK now lets put some of the rumors to rest. I did go to the Best Buy and they had a live iPhone to use. I plugged in my Geemarc neck loop put both of my aids on tele coil and proceeded to make very good easy to hear phone calls!!Hmm me thinks there is foolery afoot here. Why is it that my neck loop and my aids on tele coil work just fine. I was even aible to log onto and make a call even could hear the other person well and still had the back up of captioning. Pretty thourough test. Sooooooooo just as you may want to know if I have said in the past. I am very severe/profound hearing disabled I wear two Rexton Power Aids HP2. I use a neck loop. I also use a fm transmitter that i purchaed for 190 dollars to use in the car so my passengers can converse w me thru my telecoil. I do NOT use my cell in the car even hands free. My phone is set to default to telephone number that takes my voice mail transcribes to text and sends me a text msg that i can read later and respond back to. Ok lay it on me tell me why my hearing aids work just fine w the iPhone??

    thanks and of course best of all to you my good friends keep the dialogue open. from your Happy Deaf iphone user. Loss is in the 90% and to 100% range loss

  4. Ok here is my take on the issue. I am server/profound disabled I use my tcoil with very mixed results however when i use the blue tooth it seems fine. Yes there are hearing aids out there that are blue tooth enabled Oticon Epoq is one. Lets hope that the bluetooth app fixes that problem. I am going to find out straight away as I am going to go to the iphone store and try it out.

    also for all of the folks that cant do phones well like me check out the sprint webcaptel service it is free and the hamilton webcaptel service also free. By the way the sprint captel service works w the apple Iphone. I much prefer to read captioned phone calls than trying to muddle thru a very garbled verbal call. It embarasses me and it embarasses the caller that i have such difficulty communicating. Yes there solutions available and i for one am extreemely grateful for that and for this wonderul web site for exchanging ideas. Bless all of you from your number one fan…Leslie

  5. CIC in both ears

    haven’t found a headset yet. Have the Motorola headset and loved it with my Chocolate phone but haven’t tried making it compatible without wiring it directly to iPhone…..haven’t actually tried that yet either….still experimenting…..waiting for the perfect headset for CIC wearers….. Thanks for posting this blog.

    Mac should learn that if CIC wearers are going to pay $2600.00 per hearing aid and $400+ for an iPhone, that we’re REALLY wanting a bluetooth headset that’s compatible!

  6. HearHear!

    I don’t have any good and quick answers for you, but thanks for posting on this topic… I’ve always had a difficult time getting “hearing” issues resolved when I get a phone.