or years, I’ve suspected my hearing was not what it
should be. I decided to use this column as an excuse
to get my ears checked and learn about Made for
iPhone (MFi) Bluetooth hearing aids.
I did some googling and discovered Dr. Jason Aird, an
audiologist and technophile working in Southeast Iowa. On
our first meeting, he found mild and moderate hearing loss in
my left and right ears and gave me an overview of the benefits of using MFi hearing aids.
What Makes MFi Hearing Aids Different
MFi hearing aids function like wireless earbuds. While
any hearing aid equipped with Bluetooth can connect to the
iPhone or an Android phone and may have its own app, only
MFi hearing aids can stream phone calls, music, and podcasts
from your iPhone. (Users with non-MFi Bluetooth hearing
aids can hear phone calls through one ear but can’t stream
other audio.) With an MFi hearing system, a user can control
volume, battery status, presets, and Live Listen directly from
the iPhone or by using the manufacturer’s app. Presets are
pre-programmed audio settings for different environments,
such as partying, music listening, hearing sounds from behind, and driving. Live Listen is a special MFi feature that
streams audio from your iPhone microphone to your hearing
aids, allowing someone across the room to speak into the
iPhone and talk to the hearing aid wearer.
Hands on with the Widex Evoke Hearing Aid
Dr. Aird let me test the Widex Evoke and the Siemens
Signia Wi-Fi hearing systems. Both sets cost between
$3,000–$5,000 and are unobtrusive—other people can’t see
I’m wearing them. Dr. Aird customized them for me using
software on his PC. I ended up settling on the Evoke because
of aesthetics, custom presets, and Apple Watch support.
Soon after leaving Dr. Aird’s office wearing the Evoke hear-
ing system, I went to a restaurant. The loudness of people at
adjacent tables startled me. From the iPhone, I lowered the
volume, which helped, and I started listening to a podcast. A
The first phone call I received was garbled. I rebooted the
iPhone and used the Evoke app to play with the sound mixer.
Since then, phone calls have been acceptable. In general, the
hearing aid audio and music quality is OK but does not rival
the sound quality of my AirPods.
Dr. Aird told me that software glitches are somewhat
frequent, but that over time MFi hearing aids have become
more stable. He said iOS updates can cause problems with
a particular manufacturer’s product, though Apple fixes problems quickly with subsequent updates.
In my office, I have a noisy window air conditioner. The
Evoke app let me customize a preset. As with an eye examination, the app took me through A/B tests asking if I could
hear better with one setting versus another. Once completed,
I saved the result for office use.
The MFi hearing aids work with any paired iOS device. As
a test, I stopped an audiobook on my iPhone and started a
movie on my iPad. Automatically, my hearing aids picked up
Are They Worth It?
Overall, I am happy with the quality and the unobtrusive-ness of my choice. I wear them as needed, mostly in social
situations. But before you invest in a pair, you and your audiologist need to discuss what’s best for you. �
Should You Invest in Made for iPhone Hearing Aids?
Hal, along with his wife Rita, founded i Phone Life’s original publishing company, Thaddeus Computing, in 1985. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out Hal’s
new book at meditatingentrepreneur.com.