Phonak, a Sonova company, has launched the world's first lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aid. Based on the Belong platform, this new product called the Audeo B-R, is now available. It is promoted to last 24 hours on a single charge – providing you limit yourself to 80 minutes of streaming audio. The battery unit is built-in and has a quick charge option. Battery life is expected to be 4 years.
Although a great improvement on current rechargeable systems, consumers must be aware of the cost of such technology. There is a premium on the hearing aid itself when you purchase the rechargeable units, as compared to the identical non-rechargeable devices. Should the battery fail, the cost of battery replacement is equivalent to a standard repair fee, as confirmed by Phonak's Customer Service. The combined fees may add up to several hundred dollars, increasing the overall lifetime cost of the device. In comparison, the base cost of regular batteries remains less than $30 per year for two hearing aids.
At Findlay Creek Hearing, we are still waiting to test the devices to see how the new platform performs from an audiological perspective and will update this post once we have had time to analyze. In the end, if convenience is a key factor, the Phonak Belong Audeo B-R is a great option.