Here at AndroidGuys we review a lot of accessories. Lately we have been reviewing quite a few wireless headphones, as just about every manufacturer has a set of their own to offer. The wireless headphone market is extensive, where you can get a set for less than $20, with some working their way up into the $500 range.
The advantage to Bluetooth headphones is its obvious lack of a cable that connects to your audio output device. Sacrificing the audio cable means your headphones can no longer be powered without a battery, and the data transmission will be over Bluetooth which can degrade the quality.
2016 has been a big year for wireless headset makers as they have not only dramatically improved the sound quality on wireless headphones, but they’ve also increased durability, battery life, and features.
The latest wireless headphones I have been using is the Jabra Halo Smart Bluetooth headset. If you like accessories with lots of intelligent features, you won’t find a smarter set than what’s offered by Jabra.
Behind the neck design
When it comes to wireless earbud style headphones, they mainly come in two design styles. The first is like you see with the Jabra Halo Smart headphones, in the image above, where the hardware internals that power the device are contained within the neckband. The other style is where the battery and other internals are contained within the earbud themselves. The latter design tends to lead to bulky earbuds that can be uncomfortable to wear. The neckband design allows for small earbuds, but adds weight around your neck.
The Jabra Halo Smart neckband is where its battery is located with the technology that make the headphones so “smart”. The back is where most of the weight resides, and the sides are where you will find the three button controller, in addition to the microphone and microphone button.
On each side of the neckband, there are internal magnets that stick to the metal inside of each earbud. This is for keeping the earbuds from dangling around your neck and chest when you aren’t using them. Included in the box are three sizes of ear pieces as well as a charging cable (microUSB).
- IP54 water resistant rating
- 10mm drivers
- 17 hour talk time, 14 hour music playback time
- Siri and Google Now integration
- Flexible neck band for comfort
Out of the box the Halo Smart headphones pair up to any Bluetooth enabled smartphone or tablet with ease. Putting the headphones on my neck offered a comfortable fit, and my first impressions of music playback was somewhat tamed. Features seemed pretty standard with the controls: short press the +/- buttons for increasing and lowering volume, long press +/- buttons for fast forward/rewind with the center button controlling power/Bluetooth connection.
At first these headphones seemed like your typical Bluetooth style headphones. And for the price of $79.99, I assumed this is what I would get with your typical headphones.
Read the instructions…
I was left wondering why Jabra named these headphones “Smart”. So I broke down and read the box and realized there was an app (Jabra Assist) I could install to maximize the potential of these headphones. While I was evaluating what I could do better, I also swapped out the ear pieces for the large style which fit my ears better than the regular size.
After installing Jabra Assist, and repairing my Halo Smart headphones to my Galaxy S7 edge, I woke up and realized these were some of the coolest and smartest headphones I have ever used.
Going through the app offered me tips that I had not realized were integrated into the headphones such as:
Stopping music or ending a phone call with a simple attachment of the magnetic buds together.
Or answering a phone call by detaching the magnetic earbuds apart from each other.
Also, the headphones and app have a GPS style ability to locate where your headphones are currently residing. This is a great feature for those who tend to lose things.
The app also keep track of battery life, standby time, offers other tips like how to use Google Now, and it also reads texts messages through the headphones. These are easily the smartphones headphones I have ever used. The little features that Jabra integrated into the Halo Smart headphones make them really easy to use and give me a new appreciation for smart wearables.
Jabra has been an industry leader in voice technology over Bluetooth for almost a decade. Like other headsets I have used from Jabra, the Halo Smart excels in this department. Taking phone calls, no matter if I am in a high-background noise environment, is a pleasure. I easily took over 30 calls over the last two weeks with this headset, and not one person complained of hearing background noise, or had trouble hearing me.
The Bluetooth receiver in the Jabra Halo Smart headphones is extremely powerful. I never went through the dreaded Bluetooth drop or interruption that can occur frequently on other wireless headphones. I even tested it out by leaving my smartphone in my office and walking to the living room with the headphones. Even with a wall between my phone and I, there was a strong connection that allowed me to stay connected to my music uninterrupted.
After finding the right set of ear pieces, I put on my jams again and was thoroughly impressed with the sound reproduction of the Halo Smart headphones. They aren’t the best I have heard for wireless headphones, but in the $80 price category, I can’t think of anything better. The bass is prominent, but not overpowering, and detail is where these headphones shine. Mids and highs are very clear, but the balance leans more towards the low end with bass.
Lastly, the Google Now feature is impressive. With a simple click of the microphone button, I activated Google Now on my S7 edge. It worked like a charm and I was texting and controlling my music with voice commands.
The Jabra Halo Smart headphones excel and set the bar with its advertised 17 hour battery life. I can confirm with several recharge cycles that this battery life is true. On music playback only, I got 12:45, 13:31: 14:24, 12:30 hours of battery life on four separate recharge cycles which is three times longer than some of the best wireless headphones I have used before.
With 12-14 hours of playback, I easily get through one week without a recharge. That is perfect for me since I exercise every night for an hour with my headphones. I also use them when I walk my dog at night for an hour too. It’s a very nice feature to have and I only need to truly recharge them once a week.
With best in class battery life and microphone clarity, the Jabra Halo Smart headphones would make the perfect headset for phone calls. But with high quality music playback in addition to smart controls, the Jabra Halo Smart headphones are the best overall wireless headphones under $100 hands down. The comfortable flexible neck band in combination with the small earbuds make these easy to wear for extended periods as well.