December 2022 update: the BT Angel has been replaced by the less colorful, but better, BT Pods. Read the BT Pods review here.
The BT Angel is one of the most exciting hearing aids to come to market recently. One of the most common drawbacks of Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids is that they don’t connect to your phone or allow you to listen to music. The BT Angel does allow you to take phone calls on a rechargeable hearing aid that completely disappears in your ear.
We’ve seen this setup before in the Olive Union Pro, the first device I found that offered an all-round approach to bluetooth. With the Olive, I wasn’t particularly impressed. It performed well as a pair of regular earbuds, but its performance as a hearing aid left much to be desired. I have no doubt that technological advances will get us there, but I don’t know if the BT Angel hearing aid will get us there.
In this review, we’re going to find out. I’ll walk you through key features, potential downsides, and a general description of how the BT Angel functions. Before I give you a final buying recommendation, I’ll discuss several alternatives. As always, I’ve summarized my findings in a visual review at the bottom of this post.
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The BT Angel is a smart hearing aid. This qualification can mean different things in different brands. In this case, it means you control the Angel with your smart device through bluetooth. Not only do you use bluetooth to adjust the sound you hear, but you can also use bluetooth to listen to music or take phone calls – a technology that has been around for ages. In essence, the Angel gives you a smart bluetooth speaker for your phone that doubles as a hearing aid.
They look more like the regular wireless phone earbuds than hearing aids, too. The model is best described as Completely In Canal, although they’re not as inconspicuous as the Eargo hearing aids (their more expensive and extensive brothers) and don’t fit completely in your ear canal.
Aside from their model type, they come in a charging case that’s perfect for travel, too. We’re seeing this setup regularly now, for example in the Neosonic B10: you charge the case, which in turn charges the hearing aids on the go. The Angel gives you a max of 5 days of usage before you need to find a USB port, which helps when you’re on the road.
Who is this hearing aid for?
The BT Angel hearing aid is especially made for people who want to combine hearing aids with ear buds. People who’ve experienced difficulties with their hearing aids when making phone calls would also benefit most from buying the BT Angel. If you’re looking for a pair of bona fide hearing aids and don’t foresee using the streaming feature, there are probably better options out there.
How well does the BT Angel work?
That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the Angel. It features four channels, a new digital chip, and three listening modes. The layered noise reduction is nothing less than you’d expect in modern hearing aids. It also features a button for volume control, which means you don’t just depend on the mobile app to adjust your listening experience.
The rechargeable case isn’t really anything special anymore. Simply charge the case using a regular USB cable (included in the box) and the case in turn charges the hearing aids. The latter takes two hours and gives you about 25 hours of usage – unless you’re streaming Bluetooth to your hearing aids.
What’s not to like about the BT Angel?
The battery usage from streaming is a lot less impressive: a mere 2.5 hours. That means if you watch an in-flight movie or listen to a podcast, you’ll hardly have any battery left to use your hearing aids as hearing aids. While I understand the technological constraints (on a device less than $300), I don’t like that battery life.
Other than that, I’m also not a big fan of the CIC model, but perhaps that’s a matter of taste. Aside from the (expensive) Eargo range, CIC models are simply less equipped than the standard behind-the-ear hearing aids. As with the Olive Union Pro, the BT Angel is a pair of ear buds with (good) hearing aid capabilities rather than the other way around.
Alternatives for the BT Angel
If you’re looking to upgrade from the BT Angel and keep the streaming capabilities, the BT Omni comes to mind. Brought to you by the same company, the Omni is a smarter hearing aid: it features self-fitting technology and has a fancier charging case that indicates how far along the charging process is. It also gives you double the ‘streaming’ time at 5 hours, but has a limited charge for its normal hearing aid functionality.
If you’re more interested in the hearing aid half of the BT Angel equation, I recommend taking a look at the Neosonic B10. It shares many of the same features, but is a better hearing aid. Other alternatives are the Neosonic MX or Otofonix Sona. If you prefer the CIC model, take a look at the MDHearing NEO.
Should you buy the BT Angel Smart Hearing Aid?
If you’ve got time to wait for the perfect hearing aid with Bluetooth listening capabilities, I’d hold out. Although the BT Angel shows an improvement compared to the Union I’ve looked at before, it doesn’t convince me just yet. If you’ve been looking for a hearing aid that allows you to stream to your phone, the BT Angel is an interesting option. Its biggest drawback is the short battery life when you’re streaming, but if you only stream now and then, that shouldn’t be a problem.
As of the moment of this review, the BT Angel costs around $300. Please consult the product website for the real time price.
The app is both available for iPhones in the App Store and for Android devices in the Play Store.
The device that fits in your ear is a bit larger than a kidney bean.