A single earpiece (aka Bluetooth headsets) that sticks to your ears just works for calls. Bluetooth earbuds offer stereo sound (even surround sound) for both calls and listening to music. While picking a Bluetooth headset is an easy task, picking a pair of Bluetooth earbuds for phone calls is trickier.
So What Are the Best?
The neckband bluetooth earbuds are the winner in this category because of their long battery life, solid Bluetooth connection and high quality calls. Some true wireless earbuds are also in our top list though their battery life is shorter, only 5 hours for calls. And with recent development in ANC and transparency feature, TWS are built with more mic allow TWS do more tasks, so the call performance even becomes better. Till date up to 3 mics have been spotted in TWS to identify human voice, ambient sound and wind noise to provide a quality call.
So you have options for true wireless earbuds or regular Bluetooth earbuds.
1 Anker Liberty Air 2 – If you don’t like the wire dangling
Having long stem like Airpods allows the mic placed close to user’s mouth so it captures the voice better. The Air 2 are comfortable and block out the noise. All these combined it delivers a good call quality.
The Anker Soundcore Life P2 (cheaper model – read review) also offers a good call quality though less clear than the Air 2. The Life P2 features CVC 8.0 Noise Reduction, adding more clarity and background noise reduction capacity.
Though the Air 2 lacks of the feature called “sidetone” that their Pro version have. The Air 2 Pro model is more expensive, added ANC and it can be used to improve the conversion in noisy places by filtering out the ambient noise.
2 OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 – Call performance is stellar
The form factor – neckbank is always great for anyone who often has to take calls, once the call ends you just let them dangle down.
The Bullets Wireless 2 get 10 hours of talk time in just 10 minutes of charging. And if not for calls, it offers clear sound, strong bass.
The Jabra Elite 25e is a solid Bluetooth headphone. The call quality is good with the mic is placed on the right neckband and the earbuds are noise-isolating – you will hear the caller’s voice more clearly than un-sealed headsets.
Apple redesigned BeatsX – lighter with the same W1 Bluetooth chipset – but Beats Flex sound better and offer better call quality since Apple repositioned the mic on the control module on Beats Flex.
5 Apple Airpods – True wireless earbuds with Apple’s W1 Bluetooth chip
If you have a iPhone, the Airpods would be a Bluetooth headset for it. This pair only work great if you make phone calls in quite places, because earpods are unsealed earbuds they aren’t good at noise-isolating.
The Airpods come with an nifty charing case, once the earbud pops out of the case, they will automatically pair with your phones and ready for a quality calls.
To consolidate the list I include the most recent pair of TWS the Galaxy Buds Live – perhaps the most unique earbuds just joined in the competition.
Samsung claims the bone conduction tech helps the buds deliver better call quality even in noise environment.
The SoundElite 72 are a rare pair of wired Bluetooth earbuds that support CVC 8.0 which filters out the noise pretty good for calls. I am very picky for this type of headphone, but I have to admit they do offer solid call quality.
The SoundElite 72 are basic for all your needs for daily life – listening to music, working out.
These buds won’t lock your ear with eartips like AirPods, They are cheap and provide quality call with Bluetooth 5.0 support, Airoha 1356 chipset. Despite the open design, it provides impressive (if not incredible for the price) call quality even outdoor – the ambient noise such as traffic and wind blowing are filtered out with substantial amount.
1MORE Comfobuds TWS
I recently reviewed the 1MORE Comfobuds TWS that sound good and have clear sound for taking phone calls. With dual mic on each earbud they block out the noise nicely while on phone call mode. If you look for Airpods alternative for better noise isolation, bass definition I would champion the 1MORE Comfobuds TWS.
Jabra Elite 65t – the true wireless experience
Last but not least is the Plantronics Voyager UC, weigh over its price tag 300$ you have business-grade call quality.
Bose QuietControl 30 – neckband bluetooth headphones with Active noise cancelling feature
The noise cancelling feature is a plus for calls.
Sennheiser HD1 – Quality, authentic leather neckband
BeatsX – hybrid neckband and Bluetooth earbuds
BeatsX are rated as best wireless earbuds for iphone X, for the phone calls they never miss the ranking.
Mpow X3 with ANC
The Mpow X3 deliver great sound for the price – strong bass and decent clarity. This is an upgrade model from Mpow for better call.
The fitting mechanism is much like Liberty Air 2, the Mpow X3 have a feature that let you hear your voice while making calls.
Jabra Halo Smart – Another neckband option for phone calls
If you work in an open space, where sometimes you need to hear what your co-workers speak to you, then a Bone conduction Bluetooth earbuds are the best option. Because this type of headphones won’t fit into your ear canals they fit on the back of your ear instead and well while you are on phone you still get the idea what your co-workers talks about.
The sound for calls is crystal clear and bright, though for music it may not hit the low-ends you would love.
While AfterShokz Trekz Air are great for calls, if you are a business man its seems not to be a good pick because of sturdy design.
Airpods Pro: Apple redesigned the Airpods technically with Active Noise Cancelling feature. Airpods Pro offers better call performance than Airpods – with three microphones, one of which is to filter out the background noise such as wind noises and the noise isolating design with eartips ensures users have a clear voice from callers.
1MORE DUAL ANC BT Neckband Headphones (Model: 1MORE E1004BA) with ANC they cancel out the noise so you will hear better caller’s voice. Quick charging is a plus and the dual drives have better sound than any sets in this post.
The headphone also offer wired-listening mode (Type C to 3.5mm Cable you plug into your phones) just in case you hear the pop – the battery is low, use the cable to continue listening.
Plantronics Voyager 6200 UC, the company lists the product as “Business-Ready Bluetooth Neckband Headset with Earbuds” that I think it’s ready for call while your are listening to music. The call performance is good, and it vibrates when a you get a call you can also hear your own voice
With smart AI for noise reduction, the Taotronics Soundliberty 79 is one of the best true wireless for calls, we compared this set with the Anker Liberty Air 2 and it’s somewhat on par. The reason we don’t top-pick it because of its size, though it offers better noise isolation than the later.
What defines a great pair of Bluetooth earbuds for phones calls?
- Mic noise cancelling technology: this integrated tech enables the ability of filtering out the ambient noise of the mic, so once you talk the mic only captures your voice, the caller won’t hear any other noises. Whether you’re at metro station airports, busy streets background sound such as people taking, windy sound will be suppressed. Qualcomm® applied their cVc™noise cancellation tech in their Bluetooth chipset. And how many microphones are used for calls depending on the Bluetooth chipset supports, currently 3 mics are the maxium number that can be built into earbud. Though mic noise cancelling depends large on the algorithm (how Bluetooth chipset will process to filter out wind noises)
- aptX Voice Audio will be implemented for better voice call quality that Qualcomm claimed delivering 32kHz voice call quality for Bluetooth headsets and earbuds.
- AI noise reduction tech increases the noise reduction capacity and ability to capture your voice
- Sound quality: if Bluetooth earbuds sounded good for listening to music so do they for the calls
- Noise-isolation is also important: if the earbuds don’t seal in the ear, the sound leaks and you won’t hear clearly especially in noisy places such as open space offices. Bluetooth headsets offer semi-in ear inserts that allow you to hear your voice, Bluetooth earbuds with great noise isolation will make calls sound and feel less natural, this can be fixed with sidetone feature – you can hear your voice through microphone. TWS earbuds such as Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 having this this feature and we’re expected other will soon adapt.
- Comfort and battery life: If you often make calls, wearing earbuds comfortably is a big deal, and they won’t turn of while you are on calls.
- Bone conduction tech will be the future for true wireless earbuds, Galaxy Buds Live have this tech and it improves the call quality. An Apple patent for bone conduction audio have been applied and probably it will be included in the next gen of Airpods.
- TWS Bluetooth earbuds are missing an important feature that they can vibrate or make some sound notification like phones, it will be extremely convenient since you will remember to put your earbuds on your ear again, if they are laying on the table or dangling down your neck. Note that some neckband Bluetooth earbuds such as Mpow Jaws Gen5 or LG TONE Ultra α™ (HBS–830) their neckband can vibrate when receiving an incoming call.
Other than phone calls, you may take calls on Messenger, Whatsapp, Slack, Skype, conference calls or IP. That’s when the call quality is varied – either better or worse.
How do we evaluate the phone call quality
Earbuds’s background noise reduction capacity and audio latency are key points to evaluate how well the earbuds perform for calls. The international standard for audio latency is 220ms, less than this value should be OK. The Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro with 134.80ms is an example.
Earbuds can differentiate between human voice and background noise, the noise reduction is rated according to the international standard, scored from 1 to 5, with 5 is the highest rating, in which N-MOS and S-MOS are evaluated respectively, the score should be higher than 2.3 for N-MOS and 3.0 for S-MOS.