Statistics compiled by the law firm Edgar, Snyder and Associates indicate that texting while driving causes about 1.6 million crashes each year. Another way to visualize that troubling statistic is in terms of a ratio. One out of every four crashes involves a driver that failed to pay attention to the road because they were distracted by their smartphone. Some of the crashes are fender benders, but others are far more serious. In 2017, distracted driving resulted in 3,166 deaths.
The easiest way to prevent these kinds of accidents from happening is to turn off your phone every time you get in your car. But let’s be realistic– not everyone is willing or able to make that kind of sacrifice. Some jobs require you to use your phone while you drive. Uber drivers, postal workers and delivery men are constantly on their phones, for example. Bluetooth car speakerphones provide a safer way to use your phone while you’re behind the wheel. Here’s a quick overview of some of the very best Bluetooth car speakerphones you can buy online.
The best premium Bluetooth car speakerphone
The Jabra Freeway is a cut above the average Bluetooth car speakerphone in the features department. Most competing devices have one or two two-watt speakers, but this one has three three-watt speakers. Moreover, if you prefer to use your car’s speaker system instead, you can use that by sending transmissions via FM broadcasting. Voice assistance and multi-point connectivity round out the rest of the Jabra Freeway’s most notable features.
- High quality sound. Jabra says that the Freeway’s three speakers are capable of producing rich and clear audio.
- Send audio to legacy stereo systems via FM broadcasting. If your car’s stereo is better than the Freeway’s built-in speakers, you can use it instead by switching on the FB broadcast feature.
- Voice assist. You can dictate emails, text messages and post to Facebook and Twitter.
- Voice prompts indicate battery status. You can use voice assist or the Jabra Freeway smartphone app to check the status of its battery.
- Clear communication. Instead of just one microphone, there are two.
- Comes with a USB cable and car charger. Everything that’s required to get up and running is included in the box.
- Connect to multiple devices. The Freeway can receive audio from up to two connected devices via Bluetooth.
- The FM transmitter isn’t very powerful. The static isn’t much of a problem if you intend to listen to audiobooks, but it may distract you while listening to music.
- Limited battery life. The 14-hour battery provides below average talk time.
In a nutshell
No other Bluetooth car speakerphone we’ve seen comes close to the Jabra Freeway when it comes to specifications. Instead of a single two-watt speaker, you get three three-watt speakers. Another unique thing about this device is its built-in FM transmitter, which lets you use your car’s stereo system instead of the Freeway’s speakers. It is somewhat expensive, though.
The most user-friendly Bluetooth car speakerphone
The most unique thing about Avantree’s CK11 is its user-friendly interface. Instead of pressing or holding down a button to change the device’s volume, you just twist a dial. The dial also functions as a Bluetooth pairing button. The only other button you’ll need is the mute button, which is handy because it lets you quickly mute the microphone as needed. The fact that its battery can run for 22 hours continuously is another convenient perk.
- Easy-to-use multifunction button. The button doubles as a knob, which you can use to increase or decrease the volume to your desired level.
- Built-in mute button. Yet another handy ease-of-use feature, the mute button gives the ability to switch the microphone on and off at will.
- Works with voice assistants. It’s fully compatible with both Apple Siri and OK Google.
- Small size. The CK11 is smaller and lighter than most other Bluetooth car speakerphones and that makes it easier to store and transport.
- Dual connect feature. You can pair up to two smartphones via Bluetooth and use them both at the same time.
- Motion activated. It turns on automatically every time you get in the car.
- Responsive customer service. Avantree seems to care about its reputation because it tries to get in touch with people who write negative reviews of their products online.
- Small speaker. The single two-watt speaker probably works well enough for calls, but it isn’t ideal for playing music.
In a nutshell
The most interesting thing about the Avantree CK11 is its volume control knob, which also functions as a Bluetooth connect button. Most Bluetooth car speakerphones force you to either issue a voice command or press a button when you want to adjust the volume. With the Avantree CK11, you can quickly dial the volume to the appropriate level as needed.
The best hands-free bluetooth car speakerphone
VeoPulse B-PRO 2B
You’ll never need to touch the VeoPulse B-PRO 2B when you use it. A vibration sensor switches it on automatically when you get in the car, and the voice command feature handles the rest of the device’s functions. Compatible with OK Google and Siri, you can use the B-PRO 2B with both Android and iPhone operating systems. Most Bluetooth car speakerphones have these types of features, but VeoPulse seems to have put a special emphasis on making sure that all of its hands-free functions work smoothly.
- Control everything with your voice. The only buttons on the device are for volume, but you can adjust that with voice commands as well.
- Automatic activation. A built-in vibration sensor switches the device on and off automatically.
- Works with OK Google and Siri. Like most Bluetooth car speakerphones, the B-PRO 2B supports the two most popular voice assistants.
- Easy to install. All you have to do is clip it to your visor and connect whatever Bluetooth device you want to use with it.
- Dual connectivity. You can connect two phones to the B-PRO 2B so that they can both send audio to its speakers.
- Everything you need is in the box. Along with the device itself, you also get a USB charger and a car charger.
- 30-day money back guarantee. VeoPulse advertises that it will give you a complete refund if you’re not completely happy with the B-PRO 2B.
- Limited microphone performance. The one-mic design means that you have to talk directly at the B-PRO 2B if you want to be heard.
In a nutshell
The VeoPulse B-PRO 2B’s primary focus is hands-free operation. While most Bluetooth car speakerphones offer OK Google and Siri compatibility, dual device connectivity, and automatic activation, VeoPulse seems to have put an emphasis on making sure that these types of features work especially smoothly. Just make sure that you position the device near your face, because the microphone requires this.
The best Bluetooth car speakerphone that supports Bluetooth 5.0
Bluetooth 5.0 represents a significant step up over previous versions of the protocol. Devices like the BK06 that have 5.0-compatible chips have better range and don’t drop signals as often. Another nice thing about the BK06 is that it has two 2-watt speakers. Many Bluetooth car speakerphones only have one 2-watt speaker. The vibration sensor that switches the device on is sometimes too sensitive, but you can disable that if it becomes a problem.
- Bluetooth 5.0 offers improved range and stability. The BK06’s Bluetooth 5.0 chip supports the new standard’s extended range and other improved features.
- Inexpensive price. This two-speaker Bluetooth car speakerphone costs half as much as similar devices that only have one speaker.
- Dual speaker design. Both of the BK06’s speakers are rated at two watts, which means that they can output as much as 93 decibels each.
- Built-in voice assistant button. A click of the microphone button activates Apple Siri or OK Google.
- Connect to two phones at once. Like most Bluetooth car speakerphones, it can handle up to two concurrent Bluetooth connections.
- Auto power on toggle switch. You can either use the manual power switch or let the BK06’s vibration sensor automatically activate the device.
- 20-hour battery life. Besign claims the BK06’s batteries will last for 20 hours of continuous use.
- The vibration sensor is sometimes too sensitive. If you leave the automatic power off switch on, bumps in the road may cause your BK06 to switch off as you’re driving.
In a nutshell
Some Bluetooth car speakerphones cut out frequently. One reason for this could be that their Bluetooth chips are out of date. The latest Bluetooth standard is more efficient and offers greatly improved long-range performance. The Besign BK06 features a Bluetooth 5.0 chip, which takes advantage of all the communication standard’s recent improvements.
The most battery-efficient Bluetooth car speakerphone
Motorola Sonic Rider
One of the most annoying things about Bluetooth car speakerphones is that they can’t be charged up and used at the same time. If you don’t use your speakerphone device very often, that’s not much of an issue. However, if you are always chatting with your friends as you drive or if your job requires you to make lots of phone calls, battery efficiency could be a priority. That’s where the Motorola Sonic Rider comes in. One charge yields 45 hours of talk time.
- 45 hours of talk time on a single charge. No other Bluetooth car speakerphone we’ve seen can compare with the Sonic Rider when it comes to battery life.
- Elegant design. The clean lines of the device add to its appeal.
- Voice prompts deliver device status updates. You’ll get audio alerts when the battery is low as well as announcements that tell you who is calling before you pick up.
- Noise reduction. The Sonic Rider’s noise filter algorithm is designed to clarify the audio signals that it transmits.
- Two-watt speaker. Speakers that are rated at two watts can output 93-decibel sound.
- Multipoint device support. Like most modern Bluetooth car speakerphones, it supports two simultaneous Bluetooth connections.
- Simple setup. Essentially all you have to do is clip the Sonic Rider to your sun shield and pair it with your phone.
- There’s only one speaker. Even though the two-watt speaker is probably loud enough for most situations, the fact that there’s only one speaker may be a limiting factor.
- No automatic activation. Since there’s no vibration or motion sensors, you have to power it on manually each time you enter your car.
In a nutshell
The Sonic Rider’s long-lasting battery gives it an edge over competing devices. The industry standard for battery performance appears to be about 20 hours– some brands offer more, others less. With the Sonic Rider, you get 45 hours of continuous use out of a single charge. If you plan on using your speakerphone frequently, this could be the deciding factor.
Buying guide for Bluetooth car speakerphones
Speaker number and wattage
Most of the Bluetooth car speakerphones we looked at were equipped with a single two-watt speaker. Some, however, featured two. The most high-end Bluetooth car speakerphones have three speakers. Since this makes them louder, you may want to go with one of these if you have a noisy car or if you prefer to drive with your windows open.
Microphone type and quality
Standard Bluetooth car speakerphones are equipped with a single microphone, but some have multiple microphones and these tend to be more sensitive. On the other hand, single-microphone devices can sometimes be more precise– but they may not pick up your voice from some angles.
If you’ve experienced technical difficulties using Bluetooth devices in your car, you may want to go with a speakerphone that supports the new Bluetooth standard. Bluetooth 5.0 brings a handful of important updates to the communications protocol, one of the foremost being improved connectivity and range.
For whatever reason, most Bluetooth car speakerphones can’t be charged and used at the same time– that’s why it may be worth it to check and see how much usage you can get out of a charge before you buy. If you only use your phone occasionally when you drive, the number of hours you get out of a charge won’t be a big factor. On the other hand, if you need to access your phone frequently when you’re behind the wheel, battery efficiency may be worth considering.
Voice assistant compatibility
Most Bluetooth car speakerphones work with both OK Google and Siri, but some are also equipped with their own proprietary voice recognition apps. If your prospective Bluetooth car speakerphone does have its own app, it may be worth reading its reviews before you buy.
Dual device connectivity
Multi-point Bluetooth connectivity is another common feature that most modern Bluetooth car speakerphones offer. Devices that support this can connect to two different smartphones and the same time.
If your Bluetooth car speakerphone supports automatic activation, it’ll switch on by itself and connect with your phone as soon as you enter your car. Some devices rely on a vibration sensor to do this, while others use a motion sensor to determine your presence.
Built-in FM transmitter chips are handy because they let you use your car stereo instead of the device’s own speakers. On the other hand, the quality of the signal will vary depending on how much FB interference there is. If you live near a big city, you may have trouble finding a signal-free frequency to use.
Basic Bluetooth car speakerphones cost around $25. At this price range, manufacturers are forced to make sacrifices. Usually that means deciding to go with one speaker instead of two, or choosing cheaper, less efficient rechargeable batteries.
Bluetooth car speakerphones that fall within the $30 to $40 price range have slightly better hardware. You should expect some type of automatic activation feature and a battery that allows for at least 20 hours of continuous usage.
If you’re willing to pay around $75, you’ll be able to get better and more speakers as well as features like FM transmission.
Frequently asked questions
Q: I have a limited cellular data plan. Will my Bluetooth usage count against me?
A: The short answer is: no. Bluetooth is a device-to-device communications protocol that’s totally separate from the internet. However, you will consume data if you use your phone to access data from the internet while you’re connected to your Bluetooth car speakerphone. Calls will not count against your data plan at all, though.
Q: What is the difference between Bluetooth 5.0 and Bluetooth 4.2?
A: Bluetooth devices that support the 5.0 standard consume less energy, support dual audio and feature improved connectivity. Phones started supporting Bluetooth 5.0 back in 2017. If you have an iPhone 8 or later, you can benefit from a Bluetooth 5.0 car speakerphone. Android O-compatible devices can take advantage of the new standard as well.
Q: Will using Bluetooth drain my phone’s batteries?
A: Yes, but the effect on your phone’s battery life will be minimal if it supports Bluetooth 5.0. In addition, the amount of energy you’ll burn depends on how you’re using your Bluetooth connection. Music consumes much more energy than phone calls.
- Having connection issues? Try putting your phone right next to your Bluetooth car speakerphone. The human body is known to interfere with Bluetooth signals. Other Bluetooth devices in the vicinity can also disrupt connections.
- Consider your specific needs before you make your purchase. If you have a noisy car or enjoy driving with your window down, you may want to pick a device that has powerful speakers or one that can connect to your car’s stereo system.
- Place your device as close to your face as you can. Most manufacturers equip their devices with one or more directional microphones. If you’re positioning is wrong, it won’t pick up what you’re saying.