When it comes to selecting hearing aids, there are many options available. The top six manufacturers have great offerings, but how do you choose the right one? To help in your search, we’ll look at two popular options: Phonak and Widex, and compare them in five key areas.
Let’s dive into Phonak and Widex.
Comparing Phonak and Widex Hearing Aids
Round One | Style: Shapes, Sizes, and Design
Regarding style, Phonak and Widex have different looks to their hearing aids.
Phonak has a sleeker appearance:
While Widex has a more boxy-style appearance:
Both brands each offer a variety of colors for their hearing aids, so that you can select an option based on your personal preference, skin tone, or hair color. Of note, Phonak also makes a pediatric line of hearing aids, which come in more kid-friendly colors like Precious Pink, Lava Red, or Electric Green. You can also select a matching earhook color or pick a fun two-color combination.
That being said, Phonak is the winner in this category. The combination of streamlined design and a wide range of color options (including pediatric), sets it apart from the competitors.
Round Two | Bluetooth Connection: Phone Calls, Podcasts, and Music
Phonak and Widex offer similar Bluetooth capabilities in terms of connectivity with other devices. However, the way they connect is slightly different and each company has its pros and cons. With either brand, you can connect your hearing aid to an iPhone or Android, or other devices for hands-free phone conversations or listen to music through streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music. But, Phonak uses Bluetooth Classic and can connect to any device with Bluetooth capability, while Widex uses Made for iPhone (MFi) to connect to an iPhone. More recently, Widex has added options for Android connectivity via Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA). Now you can connect your Android phone to use it like a Bluetooth headset and earbuds.
Okay so, what are the cons? Some Android users have reported that the ASHA connectivity doesn’t always work smoothly for their devices. Especially if you like to have multiple Bluetooth devices connected at once, problems are likely to occur. On the other hand, Phonak has one downside that users take issue with regarding silencing messages and alerts. Unfortunately, even if your phone is silenced, you’ll still hear a ping from messages in the hearing aids, and the hearing aid microphones will cut out briefly each time. If you’re in an important meeting, call, or a class, this could be rather disruptive.
While each company has advantages and disadvantages here—Phonak tends to have a more stable Bluetooth connection.
Round Three | App Controls
Phonak and Widex provide user-friendly app controls, allowing you to adjust settings such as volume or sound quality from your phone or tablet device. This is particularly helpful if you need to make quick adjustments without fiddling with the settings by pushing the button on the device itself.
In my experience, patients are a bit thrown by the Phonak app that allows users to customize a hearing aid program. Unfortunately, when we connect to programming in the office, any custom programs saved in the app get erased.
On the other hand, Widex makes it easy to adjust the app to the ‘intention’ (aka, sound clarity) you’re looking for. For example, suppose you are at a restaurant with friends but want to hear the live piano music in the background. In that case, you can select your intention in the app rather than tweaking individual settings in the custom program section.
Widex also has another advantage in the app: A feature called locate my hearing aids. Of course, everyone misplaces keys or other items from time to time. But what if you could use technology to help locate a lost hearing aid? This is a feature that many patients ask about when we discuss hearing aid options, and Widex wins this category.
Round Four | Special Features
Special features can include anything from noise reduction technology to tinnitus relief programs. In this regard, Phonak and Widex offer a wide range of unique features designed to help improve hearing comfort and clarity for users. Regarding specifics, each brand has some unique offerings that may be better suited for specific individuals depending on their needs or lifestyles.
Phonak offers convenient tech features like tap control and motion sensor hearing. However, you’ll need either the advanced (70) or premium (90) technology for the tap control or motion sensor feature. Tap control is convenient if you like to answer your calls without taking your phone out.
Widex offers soothing options for tinnitus with their Widex Zen Therapy. A hearing healthcare professional can enable this feature to help manage tinnitus and its symptoms. Widex Zen Therapy uses fractal tones—think, relaxing wind chime sounds—per an individual’s hearing loss to deliver supportive sounds.
It’s a tie here. Both brands come with great features, so it will depend on your needs which one is the winner.
Round Five | Sound Quality
Last but not least, sound quality is one of the most critical factors when choosing a hearing aid. In terms of sound quality, both Phonak and Widex offer good sound quality, but each has its own philosophy on sound processing.
Ultimately, which device sounds better will depend on individual preference and the type of hearing loss being treated. With this in mind, both brands provide reliable sound quality across the board for all users regardless of specific needs, lifestyles, or preferences.
Widex’s philosophy is to create a natural sound experience, which is achieved with the new ZeroDelay and PureSound technologies. These new features help make this the most natural sound experience from Widex yet.
Phonak’s SmartSpeech technology and StereoZoom feature help you hear your best, even in noisy environments. According to an internal Phonak study, Phonak achieves a 3.0 dB SNR improvement compared to its previous Real Ear Sound technology. That’s an impressive boost that can make quite a difference when trying to hear your friends in a noisy restaurant. Phonak’s SNR boost in noise gives users an edge here.
And the winner is…
While both Widex and Phonak are great options and in our head-to-head examination, Phonak was the winner.
Choosing the right hearing aid can be difficult, but it comes down to individual preferences that can make one the better choice for you. By comparing different brands in critical areas such as styles, Bluetooth connection, app controls, special features, and sound quality, you can quickly narrow down your choices until you find just what you're looking for.
We hope this has been helpful in helping you decide between Phonak vs. Widex hearing aids so that you can make an informed decision about which one is best for you!