Best Hearing Aid Compatible Phones

Best Hearing Aid Compatible Phones (2021): Top Models + Expert Buying Guide

By jwilder

Best Hearing Aid Compatible Phones

If you are among the roughly ten million people in the US with a hearing aid, you likely enjoy much clearer communication in person than you did before you got them.

Talking on the phone, however, can be a different story - there is no guarantee that your hearing aids will help you have phone conversations. That’s why it’s important to find a phone - cell phone, landline, or both- that is compatible with your hearing aids and hearing impairment!

In our guide to the best hearing aid compatible phones, you’ll learn:

  • What hearing aid compatibility is,
  • How it works,
  • See the top cell phones and landlines for people with hearing aids,
  • And get some advice on how to choose the best hearing impaired phone for your individual needs.

Let’s get started!

What is Hearing Aid Compatibility on Phones?

All phones are required by the FCC to meet a minimum standard of compatibility with hearing aids. The regulations require phones to have a Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) Rating of at least M3/T3.

What does that mean? The HAC Rating describes how well a phone works with hearing aids in two different modes. The first mode, microphone mode, is the most common technology in a hearing aid. The M-rating is given on a scale from 1-4, with 4 being the highest. The better a phone works with a hearing aid in microphone mode- in terms of clarity, volume, and lack of noise- the higher it is rated.

The T-rating on hearing aid compatible phones describes how well the phone works with hearing aids in telecoil mode. Telecoils, small metal coils that respond to tiny magnetic waves, are included in about 60% of hearing aids. When in telecoil mode and used with a phone that also has telecoils, there is less noise and interference, making the call quality much higher.

The best HAC rating that a phone can have is M4/T4; the lowest is M1/T1, though devices with this rating are no longer allowed to be produced in the US. The most common rating is M3/T3, and describes a device that meets the minimum requirement and should work well enough with your hearing aid. An M4/T4 HAC rating means that the device has gone above and beyond to accommodate people with hearing impairments. If you have moderate to severe hearing loss, looking for a phone with the maximum HAC rating will help ensure that you get something you can use productively.

How Does a Hearing Aid Compatible Phone Work?

In order to receive a satisfactory HAC rating, a phone needs to ensure that it will allow people with hearing impairments to hear and communicate well. This means that they need to be loud enough for the user’s hearing aid to register the noise. They also have to have enough sound clarity to let people understand what is being said, rather than hearing a succession of unintelligible noises.

Phone manufacturers also need to ensure that their devices do not give off any signals or magnetic pulses that would interfere with the electronics in a person’s hearing aid. If there is interference between the phone and the hearing aid, the two devices can cause a loud buzzing, screeching sound. This sound is projected directly into the user’s ear and can be very painful. This is one of the reasons that it is so important that phones be made up to FCC standards!

Best Hearing Aid Compatible Cell Phones for 2021

1. Best Hearing Aid Compatible Phone (Overall): Google Pixel 5

Google Pixel 5 - 5G Android Phone - Water Resistant - Unlocked Smartphone with Night Sight and Ultrawide Lens - Just Black

The Google Pixel 5 has an M4/T3 HAC rating, is 5G-ready, and comes with one of the most powerful cameras on any cell phone. It’s got enough volume that most people should be able to hear through it just fine, even if they have light-moderate hearing loss. It has Bluetooth capabilities, too, so you can connect it directly to your hearing aids if they also have Bluetooth.

The best part of the Google Pixel 5, however, isn’t its camera, waterproof design, or even the hearing aid compatibility. The best thing about this phone is the Live Caption feature, unique to smartphones designed by Google. Live Caption transcribes, in real-time, everything that is being said on the other end of the call. The moment the person you are talking to speaks, you can see what they said on the phone’s screen!

This captioning technology has existed for a while, but never as fast or efficient as in the Pixel 5. You can have full conversations without missing a word or asking the person on the other end of the call to repeat themselves. The Live Caption feature was demonstrated in this popular ad, with a heartwarming phone call between a deaf father and his son.

HAC Rating: M4/T3

Pros

  • Live Caption feature transcribes in real-time
  • Powerful phone with fast speeds and a high-quality camera
  • More affordable than iPhones and Galaxy models

Cons

  • Can be too complicated for some senior’s preferences

2. Best Hearing Aid Compatible Android Phone: Samsung Galaxy S21

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G | Factory Unlocked Android Cell Phone | US Version 5G Smartphone | Pro-Grade Camera, 8K Video, 64MP High Res | 128GB, Phantom White (SM-G991UZWAXAA)

Galaxy phones are very popular among people who dislike iPhones but still want a cell phone that performs with world-class speeds and smoothness. It has an 8K camera (an ultra-HD rating that is the same as what you’d find on a professional movie camera), a large screen, and an M4/T3 HAC rating.

If you’re an Android user, this is the best phone for you, loud enough to work with any hearing aid. It’s stylish, thin, and tough- unlike many modern smartphones, won’t break the first time you drop it. It isn’t the cheapest phone in the world (quite the opposite), but it is cutting-edge and should last for at least 3 years before it becomes obsolete.

HAC Rating: M4/T3

Pros

  • 5G-ready, fast and smooth performance
  • Tough- shockproof and waterproof
  • Cheaper than iPhones
  • Ideal for hearing aids that don’t have telecoils

Cons

  • Not as loud as phones designed specifically for the hearing impaired

Best Hearing Aid Compatible Landline Phones

3. Best Hearing Aid Compatible Cordless Phone: Clarity XLC3.4 Amplified Cordless Phone

Clarity XLC3.4+ DECT 6.0 Extra Loud Big Button Speakerphone with Talking Caller ID

Clarity has been making phones for people with hearing impairments for more than half a century, and the XLC3.4 is one of their best-performing models. The ringer on this phone reaches a maximum volume of 95 decibels, louder than a motorcycle! If you have moderate-severe hearing loss, the loud ringer will be a tremendous help, as will the ability to boost the phone’s volume by up to 50 decibels.

The XLC3.4 also has a very nice speakerphone, much clearer and louder than the speakerphones on other landlines. If you’ve had trouble hearing people over the phone, even with your hearing aid, this extra-loud landline is for you. It doesn’t have an answering machine, which is the only true drawback it has. Outside of that, it delivers in every way!

HAC Rating: M4/T4

Pros

  • Extra-loud ringer and 50 decibels of amplification
  • Amplifies your own voice by 15 decibels to benefit the people you speak with
  • Excellent speakerphone that is both loud and clear
  • 4 adjustable tone settings

Cons

  • Does not have an answering machine

4. Best Panasonic Hearing Aid Compatible Cordless Phone: Panasonic KX-TGM420W Amplified Cordless Phone

Panasonic Amplified Cordless Phone KX-TGM420W with Enhanced Noise Reduction and Digital Answering Machine - 1 Handset (White)

This Panasonic phone amplifies the voice in your phone by up to 40 decibels and allows you to adjust the tone with 6 different settings to make every conversation as clear and productive as possible. The ringer also has a flashing light, helping you remain aware of when you have a phone call, even if you cannot hear the ringer.

The KXTGM420W has one very unique feature that can help people with hearing impairments communicate effectively: “Slow Talk”. This feature takes the sound that is coming through the phone and instantly slows it down- just a bit- giving you more time to comprehend and understand what is being said. If you’re tired of asking people to repeat themselves or missing out on crucial information, this phone was made for you!

HAC Rating: M4/T4

Pros

  • Slow Talk feature helps you understand things without missing information
  • 40 decibels of amplification
  • 6 tone adjustment settings

Cons

  •  The speakerphone isn’t as clear/loud as it should be

5. Best Captioning Hearing Aid Compatible Phone: Hamilton CapTel 2400i

Hamilton CapTel 2400i Captioned Telephone Large Touch-Screen Captioned Telephone with 40dB Amplification

CapTel uses live captioning technology and large digital screens to offer phones that will give you an instant digital transcript, right on your phone! The captioning makes sure that you never miss any important details, fully understanding every part of your phone conversations and never interrupting their flow. The phone itself has 40 decibels of adjustable amplification, large buttons, and a Caller ID/answering machine.

You may expect that a live captioning service like this would cost lots of money upfront and incur service charges in addition to your monthly phone bill. However, you’ll be happy to know that CapTel’s phones are very affordable (the cheapest on our list) and the live captioning service is completely free! Each minute of captioning is paid for by a government fund that was created to help people with hearing impairments!

HAC Rating: M4/T4

Pros

  • Inexpensive telephone with clear audio, answering machine, and caller ID
  • Live captioning service, provided for free
  • 40 decibel amplification

Cons

  • Captioning service requires an internet connection
  • Bulky unit

6. Best Value Hearing Aid Compatible Phone: VTech SN5127 Amplified Phone

VTech SN5127 Amplified Cordless Senior Phone System with 90DB Extra-Loud Visual Ringer, Big Buttons & Large Display, White

The VTech SN5127 performs just as well as any of the other phones on our list, but costs under $80. Clarity phones routinely cost at least $100, making the SN5127 a great deal on a phone that goes toe-to-toe with other popular models in terms of performance.

With 50 decibels of adjustable amplification, automatic equalization that emphasizes the human voice, and a 90-decibel extra-loud ringer, the VTech SN5127 is well-suited to the needs of any person who has a hearing impairment.

The VTech SN5127 also has one feature that few other hearing aid compatible landlines do: a 1,000 number blocked caller list. If you are sick of dealing with robocalls and telemarketers, this feature will be a great help! Each time you get an unwanted call, you can add them to the list and slowly watch those calls occur less and less frequently.

HAC Rating: M4/T4

Pros

  • One of the most affordable amplified phones
  • 1,000-number blocked caller list
  • 50-decibel voice amplification and digital equalization

Cons

  • Easy to accidentally hit the “block number” button
  • Digital screen is small and might be hard to read

Buying Guide: How to Choose a Hearing Aid Compatible Phone

Where to Buy Hearing Aid Compatible Phones

Online

Amazon has a massive selection of hearing aid compatible phones and is famous for its ultra-fast shipping and easy returns. If you’re looking for a phone, it makes sense to start here. You can compare different models, shop around for the best deals, and read customer reviews until your eyes wear out- it’s the best place to find exactly what you need!

However easy it may be, Amazon isn’t the only place to shop for phones online. If you’re looking for a cell phone, it can sometimes make more sense to shop on your carrier’s website to ensure that the phone will work with your service provider! AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon all have websites that show each of their compatible phones, and the sites are generally very easy to navigate.

In-Store

If you’re interested in buying your hearing aid compatible phone in person, the following stores should be at the top of your list:

  • Best Buy: With hundreds of US locations, Best Buy is never too far away. The biggest draw for shopping here is that Best Buy trains its staff well, meaning they know how to answer your questions. If you’re in the market for a phone but feel like you need lots of help, Best Buy is the place to be!
  • Carrier Stores: These days, it seems as though there is a Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T store on just about every corner. If you are getting a cell phone and want to remain with your current service provider, taking a trip out to their nearest location is never a bad idea.

Tips for Buying the Best Hearing Aid Compatible Phones

  • Try More Than One: Each person’s ears and hearing issues are different. This means that the phone that works best for one person isn’t a surefire guarantee for everyone. Before getting your heart set on one particular model, accept that it may take a few tries to get the right phone for your needs. Many people find the right phone on the first go, but there is no guarantee that will happen for you!
  • “Locked” Cell Phones: There are two types of cell phones: locked and unlocked. A “locked” phone means that it is only compatible with one carrier; an unlocked phone can be used with any carrier. If you are buying a cell phone online, make sure that it is unlocked or that it works with your carrier to avoid a costly mistake.
  • Equalization, Tone, and Clarification: These three terms are used interchangeably with hearing aid compatible phones. They describe a phone’s ability to highlight or emphasize sound frequencies that correspond to the human voice, making it easier for people’s voices to stand out against background noise. If you struggle to hear people clearly, even when the volume is quite loud, look for a phone that has adjustable tone, equalization, or clarification (because they all mean the same thing in this context)!

Conclusion

If you have a hearing aid, you need to make absolutely sure that your phone isn’t just compatible with it but that it lets you communicate with optimum efficiency. Phones that go above and beyond to deliver louder, clearer, and simpler conversations are your best friend. They may even help you feel like you’re talking with people no differently than you did before you had a hearing issue! Which phone from our list stood out to you the most? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


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