Whether you're driving, jogging, have broken both your hands in a freak accident, or just don't want to hold your phone, a Bluetooth headset is a worthwhile investment, as it enables you to make hands (and wire) free calls.
But with numerous models, many of which either have almost identical names or just a catchy string of letters and numbers in lieu of a proper moniker, it can be hard to sift through them and find the best of the bunch.
But fear not, because to save you time and the risk of ending up with a useless oversized ear accessory we've curated a list of ten of the best.
(Editor's note: If you're looking for a hands-free solution AND want better audio clarity from your mobile device, check out our list of the Best In-Ear Headphones, many of which offer a built-in microphone for phone calls on top of higher-quality audio components.)
The Jabra Motion has pretty great call quality, which aside from actually turning on is surely the single most important thing for a Bluetooth headset. The sound quality isn't perfect but with motion and environment-sensitive noise-cancelling it holds up well even in loud environments. It's also easy to sync, set up and use and with a battery that can last for up to seven hours of calls this isn't likely to let you down. All of which makes it well worth the steep asking price, just make sure to try it on before you buy, as despite being adjustable for size and wearable on either ear it won't be a perfect fit for everyone.
Plantronics Voyager Legend
The Plantronics Voyager Legend is getting on a bit but it's still one of the very best Bluetooth headsets around. It's designed with comfort in mind, so you can wear it for extended periods without it bothering you and it sits securely in place too, so it won't fall off. It's also completely hands free, as caller ID will announce the name of whoever is calling you and you can simply say "answer" to take the call. Its noise-cancelling is effective even in busy environments and multiple microphones ensure strong voice quality, for a great all-round Bluetooth headset.
Plantronics Voyager Edge
This wasn't the first Plantronics headset to make the list and it won't be the last, which is a testament to just how good Plantronics is at making Bluetooth headsets. The Plantronics Voyager Edge is designed to be compact and discreet, but despite its small size there's a whole lot of tech packed in, including three microphones and a boom arm for clear voice quality. Like the Voyager Legend the Edge also supports voice commands (with multiple language support) and it's smart enough to know when you're wearing it, so if you put it on when you get a call it will automatically come through on it. NFC ensures you can pair it quickly and easily and it does a good job of cancelling out background noise. Its small size does mean its battery life isn't quite as good as some competitors, but at six hours of talk time it's still not bad.
The Plantronics Voyager Edge may be small, but the Jawbone Era is tiny, so if you really don't want it to be obvious that you're wearing a Bluetooth headset this is the one to go for. Not only is it small, but it also fits snugly in your ear and is in no danger of falling out. You could even wear it while jogging. Then there's NoiseAssassin, which cleverly detects vibrations in your skin, so it can tell the difference between you talking and the background noise, enabling it to completely mute everything around you. It's clever stuff, though it occasionally has issues staying in contact with your skin and like the Voyager Edge the battery life isn't the best.
Plantronics Marque 2
The Plantronics Marque 2 isn't as feature packed as some headsets on the market, but it gets the basics right and does a bit more besides. It's small, comfortable to wear and can last for up to seven hours of calls, which is a great start. It can also be used to deliver voice prompts from GPS apps, can be connected to two devices simultaneously and features noise-cancelling technology, though it's not quite as good at this as some rivals. It's not overly stylish and sound quality is good but not great, but with such an affordable price tag it's a very solid buy.
The Plantronics M55 is a truly budget headset, but you get a lot for your money. While it doesn't have a premium build it's perfectly comfortable to wear, it supports voice commands for truly hands-free use and the sound quality is good, especially when aided by the built in noise-cancelling tech. The M55 also has a DeepSleep mode which activates when it's separated from a paired smartphone for 90 minutes and leaves it with up to five months of battery life, but simply bring your phone within range and it will quickly wake up again.
With a talk time of over eight hours the Jabra Wave is a Bluetooth headset which just keeps going and going, making it a great choice if you're going to be away from a charger for an extended period. Its fairly large size means it's not the most discreet of headsets, but it's a worthwhile trade-off for all that battery life. It also features strong audio quality and is good at suppressing noise, especially wind. Add to that easy pairing and the ability to connect it to two devices at once and the Jabra Wave is a good option.
Jabra Supreme UC
With excellent call quality and the ability to pair it with both a smartphone and a PC simultaneously the Jabra Supreme UC is an effective and versatile headset. You can switch between sources by holding the end call button for two seconds and that allows you to almost seamlessly switch between using it for a phone call or other services like Skype and Google Hangouts. The faux-leather ear pad makes it comfortable to wear, though isn't quite as secure as in-ear headsets and it features great call quality and effective noise-cancelling, along with voice controls for just about everything, so it really is the complete package.
If you're after a truly budget option then the not-at-all catchily named JETech H0781 is for you. Despite the low price it's surprisingly full-featured, with a noise-cancelling microphone, simple pairing and an LED battery status indicator. It's not the smallest Bluetooth headset around and there are definitely better options, but this is a cheap and cheerful solution if you're on a tight budget or just don't plan on using it much.
- More in the market for wireless headphones? We've got you covered there too.