What to Know About Smart Headphones

Today's smart wireless headphones do much more than just play music.

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It wasn’t that long ago when headphones plugged into an AUX port and could only play audio. Today, wireless headphones are quickly becoming the norm, and they increasingly offer smart features that allow you to give voice commands, translate other languages and much more.

What Are Smart Headphones?

Smart headphones — also called smart earbuds or hearables — are high-tech in-ear devices that do more than transmit audio. These headphones are usually wireless, and they can sync up with your phone, tablet, computer or other Bluetooth-enabled device. The main appeal of hearables is convenience, as they allow you to complete common tasks without directly accessing your phone or computer.

How Do Smart Headphones Work?

Smart wireless headphones sync up to other devices using Bluetooth technology, and many of their features rely on data from your smartphone or computer. Some headphones come with built-in computing power, allowing them to operate free from another device, but this advanced technology isn’t widespread yet.

Many hearables also have built-in sensors that track things like movement or heart rate, as well as microphones that allow you to give voice commands. Some also offer on-board data storage so you can listen to music without your phone nearby.

Smart Headphone Features

Smart headphones offer a wide range of features, but functionality varies significantly between brands and models. These are some of the most popular hearable features:

  • Enhanced sound quality;
  • Voice commands, typically via a digital assistant such as Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant;
  • Hands-free phone calls;
  • Touch-based controls;
  • Fitness and/or biometric tracking;
  • Ambient noise adjustment or reduction;
  • Real-time translation of languages;
  • Water-resistant or waterproof design;
  • Wireless charging cases.

Some smart earbuds offers a few of these features, while others are equipped with more technology. Keep in mind that the more functionality a smart device has, the higher its price will be.

How Much Do Smart Headphones Cost?

As you might expect, smart headphones are significantly more expensive than standard wireless headphones, thanks to their advanced technology. You can find smart headphones on Amazon, through electronics retailers such as Best Buy or on-brand websites. Smart earbuds start at around $100, and prices range up to $400 or more for models with cutting-edge features.

For instance, Samsung Galaxy Buds come in at around $100 with only basic functionality like voice commands and ambient noise adjustments. On the other end of the spectrum, the $400 Nuheara IQbuds2 MAX offer noise cancellation, touch controls, directional focus and more.

Camryn Rabideau
Camryn Rabideau is freelance writer specializing in fashion, beauty, home, smart technology and general lifestyle content. She holds a degree in fashion merchandising from the University of Rhode Island and jumps at any opportunity to combine her love for fashion and writing.

Camryn is a regular contributor to popular media sites such as Martha Stewart, Food52, InStyle, Taste of Home, USA Today, Reviewed.com, The Spruce, Elite Daily and The Everygirl. She has also worked with several Fortune 500 companies to create engaging articles for their content marketing initiatives. Despite pressure from her peers, she remains on team #NoOxfordComma.