Why Aren’t You Using A Headset On Your Phone?

Why Aren’t You Using A Headset On Your Phone?

While the cancer-risk of using a mobile phone is still causing debate, it is generally agreed that using a headset lowers that risk. So why aren’t more of us doing that?

Picture by David Terrar

A survey of 2,500 Australians by Canstar Blue found that 70% of Australians didn’t want to use a hands-free headset. What that makes me wonder is why that is. Are they too ugly? Are they too uncomfortable? Has the charge always run out when you need them? Do you only ever use them in the car?

When I want to make a lengthy call, I’ll usually plug in a headset, but that’s often got as much to do with multi-tasking as health concerns; if I’m speaking through the headset, I can take a walk or wash the dishes while I’m on the phone. But plugging in just for calls sometimes just seems too much of a hassle a lot of the time. What’s your reasoning? Tell us in the comments.


  • I recently (5 months ago) bought a Plantronics headset for my iphone. How i came to that? well, i was stuck in ridiculous traffic and not noticing there was a police car behind me, he pulled me over and gave me a $240 fine and lost 3 points. Mind you it took us about 5 minutes for the traffic to clear so we can actually turn into a street to be pulled over.. However, i do find i use it alot more than just in the car. The bluetooth device comes with a recharge carry case which will give it 2 more extra charges! Which is very handy. Ive even started bringing into work and using that, not only for multi tasking reasons, but also of the fact the Phone can get quite hot And that can’t be too good for your health.

  • I dont use mine because it makes you look like a douche. but since i’m using a tablet as my phone now, I’m looking to find a solution for this. there are bluetooth only mini phones now..

  • 1. find headset
    2. realise it’s flat
    3. charge headset
    4. turn on bluetooth on phone
    5. wait for device to connect
    6. realise the device isn’t on
    7. turn on device
    8. device connects

    this is usually how it goes when i try to use it.

  • my nokia bh 505 is brilliant. awesome quality and sweat proof (apparently) but as its a wrap round style i wonder is the blue tooth just as bad as the phone itself?

  • I tried using a headset for a little while when I wanted to talk to someone while driving. My main problems with that were:
    1. Keeping the bluetooth headset charged
    2. Turning on bluetooth on my phone before getting into my car.
    3. putting on the headset either before driving or when I get a call.

    In the end I have landed on not answering the phone at all.

    Aside from that, though, it’s my opinion that many people won’t wear headsets in order to not look like a self absorbed business man. I think that’s the image often conveyed by these things. Case in point – Ari Gold.

  • One word: earphones

    More often than not I see iPhone users talking into the earphones provided with the phone, presumably because they’re listening to music when the call happened.

    Sure a nice stereo Bluetooth headset could do the same job but most people can’t justify the cost, when the earphones they got “for free” with the phone works fine for their purposes.

  • I don’t use my phone enough to justify carrying around another piece of hardware. It’s also not much good if you normally using (music) headphones, as it’s just quicker to use the phone itself (and if you use your phone as a PMP then you don’t even need to take the headphones out). At home I’d rather use speakerphone. in the car it makes more sense, but then I’d still be happy with speakerphone.

    There’s also the security implications…

  • People use their phones for phone calls?!?

    That might be why I’ve never used a headset – I pretty much only use my phone for text messaging and internet – you’re more likely get a reply from me via twitter/facebook than actually calling my phone…

  • Interestingly enough while I was living in Sweden (and travelling around Europe) everyone wore these things for calls. Used to be a bit awkward because you couldn’t always see them through their hair so it would seem like they were talking to themselves (some may very well have been..)

    I wonder why we see them as douche accessories, yet the Europeans don’t seem to.

  • I have a stereo bluetooth headset that I purchased from COTD awhile back. It’s fantastic as I can control my music, Voice Control (iPhone), and the music quality is way better than the supplied headphones. I use it to play online games on my PS3 as well. Best part was the price, only $20.

  • With plans and even pre-paid caps that increasingly include unlimited text, my guess is that it’s really not worth the bother and expense – at least, not for me.

    A long phone call for me is anything over 5 mins.

    Anyway, Chris is right – what about bluetooth radiation? There is also electromagnetic radiation from everything we use; computers, mobiles, TVs, microwaves, the list goes on – if you sleep with your mobile phone on your bedside table (seriously, who doesn’t?) then you can bluetooth all you want, you’re still going to pick up some serious mobile phone radiation just by being within its field while you sleep.

    Long story short, if you don’t multi-task while on the phone, headsets are a total waste.

  • Phones are getting more and more ergonomic. That just beats me when I try to think of buying a headset and walk around with my sexy looking handset in my pocket! :/

    • “more and more ergonomic” in what way? The designs may get fancier or better looking, but ergonomics has little, if anything, to do with the vast majority of phones around today. As long as the minimum requirement of the earpiece and the microphone functioning is met, then the rest of the design is aimed at looking slick whilst providing as big a screen as possible.

      I think the pinnacle of design for using it as an actual phone (rather than as a web browser/entertainment device) was probably something like the flip or clamshell devices as the often followed the shape of the face and could be nice and small. If you use one of those these days you’re regarded as a bit of a fashion failure (though it’s rarely termed as such).

  • Those who worry about looking like a douche when using a bluetooth headset are the ones that are douches.
    Just get the fuck over yourself… its about being able to keep up and be safe.

  • I don’t care about looking like a douche and freely admit I probably do. I like the idea of a headset cos I have a young baby and have lots of time (but no hands) when I’m walking with the stroller or b’feeding or trying to do the million and one boring jobs in the house. The cords on the Apple iPhones get in the way with my baby grabbing them or them getting caught on the stroller handles – also get bigger range with a headset.

    That said, I have a Seinheiser(sp?) headset and am continually frustrated by the stupid hong feeling like it’s going to fall off my ear – espec if I’m wearing sunnies. . Annoying.

    • This is exactly why I bought one.

      I run my own business, my clients know I have a young bub and I take calls frequently. My boy yanks any headphone cable right out of my ear and it’s impossible to juggle the phone and him.

      The BT headset is the only option for a working parent to be… well…. an actual working parent.

  • If I’m using a headset, then my phone is in my pocket. And if my phone is producing damaging radiation, the question becomes whether I would prefer that radiation be next to my head or in my hip pocket next to, well, other things.

  • I often use the Jabra BT3030, I slip it under my shirt and it ends up looking like a normal pair of headphones. I can press the button through the shirt to control the music/calls.

    When I’m not listening to music or on a call, I tuck the headphones under my collar, so they’re always close at hand.

    I find it very handy, especially when carrying my young child on and off public transport, and simultaneously coordinating the pick-up at the other end.

    The Mic is good enough to just talk normally in most situations, so there’s no need to shout. Though there are some odd looks on the train…


  • I think most people don’t use headsets all that much because most wired headsets are for both ears. It is rare to find a headset for just one ear as used to be common. Scansound (no connections) is the only company I am aware that sells a single earbud headset.
    And yes, a bluetooth headset just makes you look like a limo driver.

  • “While the cancer-risk of using a mobile phone is still causing debate, it is generally agreed that using a headset lowers that risk”

    Citation please. I’d like to see the general agreement on lowering the risk of something that may or may not exist.

  • On the subject of bluetooth headsets, I present to you a conversation I had with myself in my head.
    “Why dont I get a bluetooth headset since it would work well with keeping the non-ionizing electromagnetic radiating phone away from my head?”
    “So, Im going to do this by sticking another non-ionizing radiating device in my ear?”
    “I think not…”

  • Back in my youth you saw a guy talking to himself and you thought “keep clear, nutter” now you think “douche with bluetooth” but maybe it’s an undercover nutter?

  • No. Because I’ve seen too many too many well researched, peer reviewed reports that lean towards saying they don’t cause cancer. Others in the area lean towards no evidence either way. And xkcd says they don’t cause cancer and that’s good enough for me ๐Ÿ™‚

    Plus you look like a douche.

  • I probably look like a DOUCHE without a headset.

    I have 2 phones I carry everywhere with me.
    My jawbone icon headset connects to both at same time so I never have to find which phone is ringing and allows me to even put one on hold while answering the other phone.

    Without the headset I would be driving with a phone in each hand .. probably not good at round a bouts. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I rarely get calls but if I make a call I prefer to use the headphones style if possible because I can hear it better. I wouldn’t have time to find them normally if someone called though.

  • “While the cancer-risk of using a mobile phone is still causing debate, it is generally agreed that using a headset lowers that risk.”

    Incorrect – if you don’t agree that mobile phones carry a cancer risk, then by nature you don’t agree that a headset lowers the risk. You can only accept that using a headset will lower the risk, if you accept the original premise that mobile phones can cause cancer. You can’t lower the risk of something that has no risk in the first place.

    Which I also point out has no credible evidence behind the concept that mobile phones are carcinogenic.

  • I sometimes use the Apple In Ear Earphones but most people don’t know that there’s a mic in those earphones and they’d probably think I’m… Mentally disordered..

  • Uuhhhhmmmmm… It’s generally agreed amongst those educated on such matters that bluetooth has a high probability of increasing the risk of cancer in individuals when using bluetooth-enabled devices in close proximity to the brain (best example of this: mobile phone headsets).
    Whilst the study/debate on whether or not mobile phones themselves may or may-not increase the risk of cancer is an unproven and highly speculative hypothesis (not unlike the hypothesis that mobile phone signals may interfere with aircraft communication equipment.)

    A little bit of research IN ADVANCE OF writing a such superficial, half-baked mass of word-diarrhea would have perhaps resulted in this ‘article’ never having emerged.

    A+ journalism.

  • I bought one. Never use it.
    Feel like a douche wearing it.
    Wish I didn’t though because its so much louder than the phone itself or the headphones that come with the phone. The sound quality is great. Ideal for woking in a loud environment. Being able to multitask is great – talking and using laIt’s also illegal to have headphones in both ears according to my local friendly policeman.

  • Digitize and format them any way you like – cell phone, Bluetooth, Blueant, they are all still radio waves and their intensity is directly proportional to their transmission strength and inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source to your brain. Since the phone’s signal has to be able to reach the nearest cell tower, you would expect it to have a much higher strength than a Bluetooth transmitter, which only has to reach a few metres. Also, assuming the skull is about 3cm thick at the ear, a phone held to your ear would expose the brain to about 1000 times the radiation of a phone one metre away.

  • I’ve got a 7″ tablet and I use a headset coz I look less like a douche with Bluetooth than I would holding a 7″ phone to my ear!

    Any chance of a feature on Bluetooth headsets (which to buy) Lifehacker? I need to buy a new one as my current Blueant one isn’t that good.

    • Thanks for the suggestion.

      I’ve also got the v9. I was looking for a nicer headset than that. I want one I can put onto my ear quickly without having to wear it 24×7.

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