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February 8, 2012

All ears! A pictorial history of Bluetooth headsets. Part 2

When Bluetooth headsets first launched at the start of the noughties they were a huge success. 40 million sold in the first four years. Then, despite ever improving features, they got a reputation for being techie toys. Fortunately, that perception is now beginning to change. To see why we asked Olli-Pekka Ahokas, Nokia’s Bluetooth headset guru, to show us how headsets have evolved in the last decade or so. In Part 1, he presented headsets from 2002 to 2006. Now he continues the journey to the present day.

2006 – Nokia BH-900

This was the first Nokia headset to improve voice quality by using digital signal processing (DSP). It was made for professional users who needed to be heard in even the most challenging environments. It also included a sliding microphone boom, which meant you could put the mic close to your mouth and was also handy for answering and ending calls. What’s more, this headset supported push to talk (PTT), which enabled a walkie-talkie type of feature among user groups.

2007 – Nokia BH-101

This was the second of the 100-series headsets, with many more to follow using the same concept. It started the trend of making Bluetooth headsets affordable for a larger audience.  It’s also a good example of what many people imagine when they think of a headset. The 100-series went on to be very successful.

2009 – BH 904

This was the first Nokia headset to support 2-mic DSP. 2-mic DSP is more advanced signal processing, which uses information from two microphones to “clean” the unwanted noise out from the speaker’s voice. This innovation significantly improved the call quality of BT headsets and is now the norm for most advanced headsets.


2010 – BH905i

The improved version of the BH-905, this headset is an audio masterpiece and top of our range. It has outstanding music and Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) performance, 2-mic DSP and works as a wired headset. On top of that, it has a battery life of 25 hours for Bluetooth use.  Probably not surprising then that it, and the BH-905, won all the tests they’ve been included in that I’ve seen.


2011 – Nokia J

The Nokia J takes its heritage from the BH-800 and several other premium headsets. Its most significant feature is the Always Ready function, which makes it easier to use and hugely increases its battery life. Its stainless steel design has prompted Engadget to call it the “most beautiful headset ever made”.  It’s also the first Nokia headset to include voice prompts to help users easily understand the headset status and guide them through the pairing process. A gold plated Nokia J is also available, in box, with the Nokia Oro smartphone.

It’s clear from Olli Pekka’s history that there’s been a massive change in both the way Bluetooth headsets look and the way they work. But is it enough to make you try one out? As ever, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.