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Picking the Right Cellphone

Posted Oct 01 2009 12:00am

I got my new pair of hearing aids around the same time I was eligible for a phone upgrade from Verizon Wireless. I'd been eligible for awhile, but I was happy enough with my previous phone, which was nothing fancy. I've always had difficulty hearing on the phone, so I didn't really think about phone technology or anything like that when it came to picking out my cellphone. I had that and a Bluetooth bracelet from Thinkgeek that would have alerted me to any incoming calls if I actually wore it. Unfortunately I was always too slack about putting it on.

After I got my hearing aids, I won't lie that I was (and still am) enamored with everything they can do. I got the Streamer, which is a device made by Oticon that allows the wearer to take advantage of the hearing aids' Bluetooth to answer calls, listen to music, etc. My old phone could make calls via Bluetooth, and I quickly paired the phone with the Streamer and tested it out. I liked it - but although that phone could play music, too, it couldn't stream the music over the Bluetooth. I decided to use my upgrade and get a phone that would work with me and my hearing aids. I didn't particularly want or need anything fancy... just something that would make day to day life with the aids and Streamer easier and more fun.

I eventually decided on the LG Versa. There were several things that attracted me to the Versa and finalized the decision for me:

It's LG
I've always had LG phones, save for one time when I had a Motorola Razr. I vastly prefer LG over the other manufacturers that Verizon carries. I'm used to the operating system in their phones and the features they typically come with are what I like. LG phones and Canon cameras are my two main brand loyalties.

It Has M4 Compatibility
It was important to me to have a phone that's rated M4. Cellphone companies are mandated to list the rating of their cellphone's compatibility with hearing aids (based on their radio-frequency emissions). M4 is the highest, rated "excellent." Many, many phones these days are M4, which I was happy to see. The Versa is also rated T4 for the telecoil, but I rarely use the telecoil function of my hearing aids, so that wasn't a factor for me.

It Has Bluetooth Streaming Music
I wanted to have Bluetooth streaming music so that I could eliminate my mp3 player from the items I carry in my purse and make my cellphone both my music player and my phone. I simply saved my music to a micro SD card and put it in the phone. With the Streamer connected to my phone wirelessly, I can now hear the music in my hearing aids without headphones or cables.

It's a Candybar Touchscreen
The Versa is a "candybar" phone that doesn't flip open. I didn't want to deal with flipping open the phone to navigate if necessary - the Streamer "beep"ing and "boop"ing in your ear while you navigate menus can sound... strange. And the touchscreen has allowed me to set my music as a shortcut on the main page of the phone, allowing me to simply tap the shortcut and start my music playing. It's efficient and elegant.

So far the Versa is definitely working out for me. I thought it might be difficult to get used to a touchscreen but it's been extremely simple. The quality of the music in my aids is remarkable. Certainly better than listening to the radio. I will definitely be using the above criteria when it comes to a new phone in the next 2 years.
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