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Best Bluetooth headsets of 2016 (so far)

If you thought ranking the world’s best Android smartphones, tablets or wearable devices was difficult, considering ever-increasing competition, the sheer sizes of the three markets and diversity of consumer preferences and budgets, we’d like to see you try to compile a mobile accessories top picks’ list.

Best Bluetooth Headsets

There are so many things to factor in when rounding up, for instance, the finest Bluetooth headsets that it comes as no surprise today’s top ten directory already looks very different from the September and April 2015 rosters.

Bluetooth headset

Thus, without a doubt, we’ll need to refresh the 2016 best Bluetooth headset collection at least once before the new year wraps up, but for now, let’s focus on the current cream of the crop, ordered from most recommended:

Plantronics Voyager Legend

Plantronics Voyager Legend

Cheaper than ever before, the “legendary” Bluetooth 4.0-enabled mono Plantronics Voyager Legend headset withstands rain, sweat and coffee spills, can separate your voice from 80 Db’s of background noise (which is a lot, trust us), and automatically answers calls if you just start wearing it all of a sudden.

At the same time, it redirects audio to your phone when it senses the user doesn’t want to activate hands-free endeavors, and understands two very straightforward spoken commands – answer or ignore. Pretty intuitive UI at such a low price.

JayBird X2 – starting at $129

JayBird X2

As the successor to the incomparable Bluebuds X, we always expected the X2 headphones to cost far more than most of their low-profile new rivals. There are a number of good reasons for that, including brand loyalty and product reliability, the latter of which is supported by Amazon’s four-star review average.

Then you have a minimalistic, timeless, unparalleled design, six different coats of paint, ranging from “alpha” to “storm” to “ice”, a lifetime sweat proof warranty, SignalPlus technology for skip-free music outdoors, 8-hour battery life, and Shift Premium Bluetooth audio quality. It’s perfect for professional and novice athletes, business users, audiophiles and travel enthusiasts.

Samsung Level U Pro – $90

Samsung Level U Pro

Don’t let the manufacturer’s name fool you into thinking this is a Galaxy-exclusive “appliance.” It can work fine with any type of Bluetooth-enabled Android handheld, and even iPhones. It’s good for wirelessly initiating and answering voice calls, but especially playing music, courtesy of Ultra High Quality Audio (UHQA) features delivering a “true” 24bit digital audio experience on the tiniest imaginable earbuds.

Flexible and neck-adjustable, the Level U Pro can also handle its occasional splash, and technically lasts up to 9 full hours of talk or play time on a single charge.

Jabra Move – $86

Jabra Move

Before you even start, we know, we’re comparing apples and oranges, i.e. over-the-ear and in-ear headphones. But both classes of devices work towards the same end goal, the former typically edging out the latter in audio quality and the latter easily winning the portability battle.

Besides, we’re not telling you to choose the Jabra Move over the JayBird X2 or vice versa. We’re simply urging you to consider every possibility, including paying just 85 bucks or so for a pair of large yet lightweight stereo headphones that look extremely similar to your “premium”, overpriced Beats Studio.

Jabra Stealth – $80

Jabra Stealth

Why in the world would you ever go for a mono earbud when it costs the same or more than decent stereo mobile accessories? Well, because sometimes, it’s wise to keep an ear free and connected to the surrounding reality, and because the Jabra Stealth ensures “crystal clear sound at both ends of phone calls.”

This bad boy’s built-in mic is the best in the biz, and through tricks that may often feel like magic, it somehow manages to reduce background noise to the absolute minimum. Oh, oh, oh, and it’s got a dedicated physical button for remote activation and voice interaction with Google Now. Also, NFC for easy pairing, Multiuse for controlling the audio on two handhelds at once, and 6-hour autonomy in HD voice calls.

LG Tone Pro – $40 and up

LG Tone Pro

And we’re back to stereo headsets. To an industry classic, that is, which ergonomically bends around your neck for an ideal fit and stellar ergonomics, taking less than two hours to charge and then resisting up to 21 days in standby or a whopping 15 hours in talk time.

The design for this LG Tone Pro received awards, enhanced bass response, HD Voice, aptX compatibility, echo cancellation and noise reduction cover everything you need in both call and music modes, but unfortunately, the advanced age comes with a Bluetooth 3.0 speed tradeoff.

Photive BTH3 – $40

Photive BTH3

Here we have a cheap as chips over-the-ear wireless Bluetooth headset with built-in mic and 12 hour battery that doesn’t look very glamorous, but pulls off its duties honorably, generally satisfying almost 3,000 Amazon customers.

A four-star review average means the bang for buck factor is as delightful in reality as it looks on paper, though compared to some of our list’s headliners, the Photive BTH3 may not be so great for high-fidelity audio detail playback.

AYL V4.1 – $26

AYL V4.1

The AYL brand name probably doesn’t ring many bells, the design is by no means special, but at the end of the day, there has to be something special about this in-ear stereo headset, since Amazon currently lists it as its general best seller in Bluetooth cell phone headsets.

Granted, that doesn’t directly make it the best Bluetooth headset of 2016, not even to date, but it goes to show you don’t need to spend a full Benjamin to enjoy decent wireless smartphone audio controls, including on two devices simultaneously, with EDR APT-X decode technology, CVC 6.0 digital noise reduction, and 10 meters range.

SoundPeats QY7 – $20

SoundPeats

Bluetooth 4.1 capabilities? Check. Ergonomic, lightweight design? Double check. Lengthy endurance? Semi-check, at 5 hours in “premium quality talk/play time.” Partial liquid protection? You got it. Why only 20 clams then? No idea, but let’s keep it on the down low, before the little known manufacturers realize they could get more.  The SoundPeats QY7 is the true underdog of this list.

Mpow Wolverine – $20

Mpow Wolverine

You thought the Mpow Cheetah was flashy, eye-catching and, well, ear-catching with a decidedly cool name? Mpow Wolverine takes everything to the next level, clawing its way on our top ten list of today’s best Bluetooth headsets thanks to 4.1 compatibility (read easy pairing with all the new high-end Androids), “dynamic”, rich sound (they all say that, though), a unique, rectangular look, robust aluminum shell, Noise Cancellation 6.0, and 8-hour battery performance under heavy use.

We don’t remember ever seeing the X-Men listen to any tunes, but Hugh Jackman can sure sing and dance, so we wouldn’t be shocked to hear him endorse Mpow. For free, even, given the profit margins here are likely razor-thin already.