Often, less is more. Just ask Aliph, which has released the new Jawbone, the sequel to its best-selling Bluetooth headset. Although it’s 50 percent smaller than its predecessor, it still boasts clear voice quality, thanks to its military-grade NoiseAssassin noise-canceling technology. This device also maintains the elegant aesthetic of the original.
Call it Earwear
The box for the Jawbone says “earwear,” and with good reason. Compared with the original, which was twice the size and had large perforated holes on the front, the new version rocks a sleeker design. Measuring 2.1 x 1.0 x 0.6 inches, it has a raised diamond pattern, which adds subtle elegance. Ours came in matte black, but you can also buy it in Silver and Rose Gold. For maximum comfort, Aliph includes three silicon earbuds and four ear hoops—two of them genuine leather.
Inside are two invisible touch controls: one on the front face for answering and ending calls and turning the headset on, and one on the top edge for adjusting volume. They’re spaced far enough apart that it’s nearly impossible to press the wrong one by mistake. The same button that controls volume also toggles the noise-canceling technology on and off; to do this, you simply hold the button down longer.
The silicon earpiece fit snugly inside our ear without being irritating. The optional leather earhook, in particular, helped the headset stay put as we walked down the street. This is a significant improvement over the original Jawbone, which had a hard earpiece with no coating and earhooks that didn’t rotate. When we reviewed the Motorola Motopure H12, we praised it for being more wearable than the original Jawbone, but the new Jawbone is just as comfortable as the H12 and more stable, too. Pairing the headset to our Samsung phone was easy; the handset instantly recognized it.
The Jawbone comes equipped with NoiseAssassin, a noise-canceling technology that claims to block up to ten times more noise than its closest competitors, the Jabra JX10, Motorola H12, Plantronics 665, and Plantronics 925. Originally developed for military use, NoiseAssassin requires that the headset be placed against your jaw, so that its Voice Activity Sensor (VAS) can “feel” your speech and distinguish it from ambient sounds. Then, the headset’s proprietary algorithms subtract the background noise.
We left a voicemail while standing on a busy street with a truck idling next to us. Although the headset didn’t eliminate background noise, the roaring of the truck sounded less overwhelming in our message than it did in person. Although some words sounded distorted, we sounded loud, and it was easy to follow what we were saying. We found no significant drop in voice quality when we disabled NoiseAssassin in a moderately noisy environment (a city sidewalk). But there’s no reason to disable NoiseAssassin; its impact on battery life is minimal.
The headset has a range of 33 feet, but we were able to understand our caller from as far away as about 50 feet. It wasn’t until about 60 feet that the connection broke up. Unfortunately, the headset lacks multipoint technology, so you can pair it with only one device at a time.
The Jawbone vs. Motopure H12
Although both the Jawbone and the Motopure H12 ($119) deliver excellent voice quality, the Jawbone fared better in the noisiest environments. On our end, the H12 delivered slightly higher volume, although the clarity was comparable. While we wouldn’t say the Jawbone is ten times better than this competitor (as Aliph claims), it was noticeably better.
When it comes to comfort, the Jawbone wins: It felt sturdier than the H12 as we walked briskly down the street. On the other hand, the H12 is rated at 5.5 hours of talk time, whereas the Jawbone gets just 4 hours. After making intermittent phone calls over two days with NoiseAsassin enabled and keeping the phone on and paired, the headset’s battery was still kicking. It charges quickly: 80 percent in 35 minutes, and 100 percent in less than an hour. So if you’re in a hurry, you can easily get a sufficient charge in even less time.
When talking in noisy environments—airports, busy streets—a run-of-the-mill headset won’t do. In such situations, the Aliph Jawbone’s NoiseAssassin technology excellently reduces background noise so that callers can understand what you’re saying. You can’t go wrong with the Jawbone’s superb sound quality and sturdy and comfortable fit.