Hearing aids not only vary from the outside, but also by the technology they hold and thus, their applications. Some hearing aids are only compatible with certain devices, while others have no connectivity capabilities; which can leave you confused when you’re about to pay a hefty sum for a shiny new pair of hearing aids. A common question you may ask yourself is: are these hearing aids compatible with my smartphone? While this article is focused primarily on Made For iPhone hearing aids, it also gives a rough overview of how MFi differs from other protocols, including ASHA and Bluetooth LE Audio, installed in different hearing devices; which make them compatible, or incompatible, with certain smartphones.
Using MFi Hearing Aids To Stream Audio From iPhone To Hearing Device
MFi Hearing Devices Allow Bidirectional Connection Between Hearing Aids And An iPhone or iPad

Made For iPhone Devices

What Is MFi?

First things first, before banging on about technicalities; what does Made For iPhone actually mean? MFi refers to devices which only connect to Apple products, particularly iPhone and iPad, via Bluetooth technology. You might be thinking: but, many wireless hearing aids have bluetooth. You’re right. However, initially, for wireless connectivity via bluetooth between hearing aids and smart devices, a hearing aid accessory was necessary. This is because regular bluetooth demands high energy, which isn’t something hearing aids can support. Back then, MFi hearing aid accessories were required in order for hearing aids to connect to an iOS device, without any additional hardware.

Cutting Out The MiddleMan

Apple made an advancement and launched a Bluetooth Low Energy solution exclusively for Apple devices; this was named the MFi protocol, which was made available to hearing aid manufacturers to sell products under the name ‘MFi Hearing Aids’. The MFi protocol, therefore, bypassed hearing aid accessories and negated their use.
This connectivity was at first unidirectional; that is, from iPhone to hearing aid.The benefits of this were numerous. For one, the hearing impaired could now stream movies and music directly from their Apple smart devices allowing them to hear media clearly with their hearing aids. With continual development, MFi now allows the bidirectional movement of data; which translates to hands free capabilities; as seen in the Hear+Hi Acuity MFi Hearing Amplifiers. It is fair to think that this low energy audio solution would yield a poor audio experience. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth; the quality of sound delivered to hard of hearing users is excellent and this is known to be one of the best features of MFi hearing aids.


MFi Hearing Aids Negate The Necessity For Wireless Hearing Aid Accessories To Stream Audio From Apple Devices
MFi Protocol Allows Bluetooth To Stream High Quality Audio From iOS Devices To Hearing Aids, Without The Need Of Any Additional Hardware

MFi As A Welcome Addition To Hearing Aids

Although such hearing aids’ use is restricted to working with Apple devices, the reason why manufacturers produce MFi hearing aids is two-fold: 1. Apple dominates the premium smartphone market and so, MFi hearing devices would appeal to a huge number of individuals 2. MFi hearing aids were the first truly wireless hearing aids, negating the requirement of an intermediate hearing aid accessory. Apple even claims that “these hearing aids deliver a power-efficient, high-quality digital audio experience”.

Google’s Rival Protocol: ASHA

Google, through working with a hearing aid manufacturer, didn’t come slow; launching its very own Bluetooth LE solution: ‘Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids’ protocol. This gave MFi a run for its money, as android users could now also connect their hearing aids to their android smartphones. Having said that, it’s important to remember that MFi has been around longer and thus is more stable; whereas, ASHA is relatively new and still in its experimental phase. It’s important you know that ASHA is only compatible with smart devices having Android 10 or later.

Bluetooth Low Energy

The limitations of Bluetooth technology, with regards to hearing, weren’t just recognized by Apple but also Bluetooth itself; thus Bluetooth came up with its own solution. The power constraints, which prevented direct connectivity between hearing aids and smart devices, were tackled with the rise of Bluetooth version 4.0. This new technology has been named, by Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group), as ‘Bluetooth Smart’; this power-friendly Bluetooth version is useful in all small devices, like heart rate monitors and hearing amplifiers.

What Makes MFi Hearing Aids So Special?

Anything that is Made For iPhone, whether it be hearing aids or a battery pack, is only of any use if you own an iPhone. The Acuity MFi Hearing Aids by Hear+Hi is an example of a hearing device with crisp audio streaming from iOS devices and seamless controllability using Apple Controls. Made For iPhone is also the frontrunner for hands-free enablement, transforming hearing aids into an all-in-one audio-enhancing device. And, with the protocol being older than its counterparts, MFi is a more mature and refined software; lending to its increased stability and reliability.
Of the lot, MFi hearing aids are probably the most reliable and provide the best quality sound when streaming from an iPhone. They also, by being associated with Apple, are expected to be premium products.
So, if you own an iPhone 5 (or a newer version) and are hard of hearing, then MFi hearing aids should definitely be at the top of your list of audio solutions.

FAQs about MFi Hearing Aids

How Do I Know If My Hearing Aids Are MFi?

Usually, upon purchasing, the manufacturer will boast its MFi status either in the description or product title. If you can’t find it mentioned in either, then it is likely the hearing aids are not MFi. However, you can go a step further and contact your hearing aid manufacturer or check Apple’s Official Support Page.

How Much Are MFi Or iPhone Hearing Aids?

iPhone compatible hearing aids labeled MFi or Made For iPhone, come at different prices depending on the manufacturer and specification. They can range anywhere between $300 to $6000. Hear+Hi’s Acuity MFi hearing amplifiers are a great bet if you’re looking for affordable MFi hearing aids.

Can I Use Apple AirPods As Hearing Aids?

For the hard of hearing, it’s always strongly recommended that hearing aids are used.
However, those suffering from very mild hearing problems can use Apple’s Airpods as an assistive listening device by pairing it to their smartphone. For mild to severe hearing loss, hearing aids are a must; get yourself a pair of Bluetooth, True Wireless Stereo, or MFi hearing aids that work in conjunction with your smartphone to provide you with the greatest audio support possible. Check out Acuity MFi Hearing Aids or TWS Hearing Amplifiers by Hear+Hi.