Bluetooth hearing aid compatibility: Which phones have it (2024)

More and more people have some form of hearing impairment in this increasingly loud day and age. You may remember hearing aids as bulky devices sitting behind your ears that are barely good enough to make people hear again, but this is far from the truth today. Most hearing aids support some form of audio streaming. Still, you need a compatible Android phone for most of them.


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Google's ASHA protocol

To make hearing aids and smartphones work together, they must support the same standards. Google created one Bluetooth-based solution for all Android devices, called ASHA (Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids — not to be confused with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association). The open source standard was introduced with a handful of devices on Android 10 in 2019 and has since become available on most modern flagship phones with Bluetooth 5.0 and higher.

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The Google Pixel 3 pictured here was one of the first Android phones to support ASHA.

In contrast to regular Bluetooth Audio, ASHA is more energy-efficient and offers extra features. When your phone and hearing aids support ASHA, you can use a few advanced features in your phone's Settings app or quick settings toggles.

Here is a list of the prominent models sold in the US that support ASHA:

  • Asus ROG 6 (Pro) and newer
  • Asus Zenfone 8 series and newer
  • Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL and newer
  • Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL and newer
  • OnePlus 8 Pro and newer
  • OnePlus 8T and newer
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 series and newer
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 series and newer
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 2 and newer
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 and newer
  • Samsung Galaxy A21s
  • Samsung Galaxy A51 and newer
  • Samsung Galaxy A71 and newer
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 series and newer

Due to the number of Android phone models, this list isn't exhaustive, but it's a good starting point. To check for compatibility, make sure the phone you have or want to buy is compatible with ASHA. This should be noted somewhere in its manual or specifications.

You should also check with your hearing aid specialist or the manufacturer of your hearing aids, no matter what the compatibility in this chart says. Some hearing aid manufacturers individually verify that their products work with each phone, so it might take some time until those hearing aids support the latest smartphones.

Connect Bluetooth hearing aids to Android

Most Bluetooth hearing aid manufacturers offer a dedicated app to manage your device on Android and iPhone. It also makes the pairing process easy and seamless. The steps to connect your device to an Android differ from one manufacturer to another. If your device doesn't have a separate app, use the steps below to connect it to an Android phone.

  1. Switch on your Bluetooth hearing aid.
  2. Open Settings on your phone.
  3. Tap Connected devices and select Pair new device.
  4. Wait for your hearing aid to become available, then tap it.
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Apple's MFi hearing devices program

While matters are complicated in the Android world, Apple makes things easier. That's partly because there are only a handful of smartphone models the company and hearing aid manufacturers need to develop their products for, which allows them to reach a significant number of potential users — especially considering that more than half of the US smartphone market is owned by Apple.

Apple offers a similar custom Bluetooth standard as part of the Made for iPhone (MFi) program. It uses a Bluetooth Low Energy standard that streams audio at a high quality but with less energy consumption.

According to an Apple support page, the following products are compatible with MFi hearing aids:

  • iPhone 5 or later
  • iPad Pro (all models)
  • iPad Air (all models)
  • iPad (4th generation) or later
  • iPad mini (all models)
  • iPod touch (5th generation) or later

The company also has a well-maintained list of supported hearing aids, which you can reference when making your hearing aid purchase decision.

Connect a Bluetooth hearing aid to an iPhone

If you have one of the supported hearing aids, go through the steps below to connect it to an iPhone.

  1. Turn on Bluetooth on your iPhone from the Control Center.
  2. Connect your hearing aid to a power source for around 20 seconds.
  3. Launch Settings and scroll to Accessibility.
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  4. Tap Hearing Devices.
  5. Select your hearing aid.
  6. Disconnect the hearing aid from a charger and tap Pair or Connect on the iPhone.
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When you pair your hearing device with more than one Apple product, it automatically switches to the device playing audio, much like it works with AirPods. Changes to your hearing profile you make on one device are respected by your other Apple devices.

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Apple offers a handful of settings for hearing devices. You can choose to play audio through your hearing aids or to use the last audio source. When you pair hearing aids, you can use the Hearing Devices settings page to its full extent. In it, you'll find options to control audio routing and where ringtones should play, if you can control your hearing devices via nearby Apple devices, whether audio should be handed off automatically, and if you can control the hearing aids on your lock screen without unlocking.

Hearing aids with regular Bluetooth Audio support

If none of the phones on this list intrigue you, you may need to switch your strategy. Most hearing aids only support the custom BLE protocols for energy-saving reasons, but a few manufacturers offer hearing devices that can connect to any Bluetooth source. This gives you the most flexibility, though the downside is that the experience may not be as optimized as the one for hearing aid-specific standards.

You will miss out on the integrated hearing devices settings provided by Apple and Android when you go this route. However, most of the time, you can tweak options in an app provided by the manufacturer. The other downside is worse battery life than BLE hearing aids, which use a less power-hungry standard than Bluetooth Audio. Many manufacturers combat this issue by opting for single-use, replaceable batteries, which offer longer battery life than rechargeable models.

Some hearing aid manufacturers also offer extra devices that offer regular Bluetooth connectivity for phones and other devices and connect to your hearing aids via T-Coil, allowing you to connect to anything that can stream Bluetooth.

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Phonak is one brand that offers hearing aids with standard Bluetooth connectivity.

Picking out good hearing devices and smartphone combos might get easier in the future. The Bluetooth SIG developed a new Low Energy Audio standard (LE Audio) that is supposed to bring all audio devices under one roof, whether they're only used for entertainment purposes or to improve hearing. This new standard is about as energy efficient as the one that hearing aids are using right now without a perceivable loss in quality. If you have hearing devices and want to upgrade, consider holding out for one or two more years. On the smartphone side of things, most of the phones released in 2023 support Bluetooth LE Audio.

The new standard also enables improved assistive technology like Auracast, which allows venues to broadcast a Bluetooth signal to multiple recipients, all but replacing T-Coil and making such a system accessible to any Bluetooth device. Speaking of T-Coil, we only recommend using this feature if your hearing aids offer it. It allows you to hear better in public spaces that have the appropriate wiring for this, and you can also turn it on in your phone's settings to hear better on phone calls when you aren't connected via Bluetooth. You'll find more information on the technology in Healthy Hearing's telecoils guide.


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Don't worry if your phone is not compatible

If your phone isn't compatible with your hearing aids, it doesn't necessarily have to stay that way. Hearing aid manufacturers and smartphone makers constantly update their software, so your devices may eventually be compatible.

You must also remember that you're gaining a lot with hearing aids, even if you can't stream audio to them. Your quality of life will improve in any case, with you finally being able to hear your surroundings and peers better. If you want to stream audio and better hear the world around you, learn about hearables, which are like earbuds with advanced hearing augmentation.

Bluetooth hearing aid compatibility: Which phones have it (2024)
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