The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission. Why trust us?

How we cover hearing aids: Our methodology for researching and rating devices

If your doctor or audiologist has advised you to buy hearing aids, you might not know where to start, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the abundance of models on the market. Finding the right pair is essential to give you better sound and enhance your quality of life, but there are lots of different factors that contribute to a device that works for you. 

While we would always advise discussing specific hearing aids with your doctor or audiologist before buying any, we have done the groundwork for you to help round up some of the best hearing aids available. It’s an important investment, but also not the cheapest either, so it’s key to know you’re choosing the right ones that will deliver comfortable sound quality and a brilliant user experience. You typically only find digital hearing aids these days, and these come with a lot of extra features compared to old analogue devices.

In order to provide accurate and objective reviews, we consider 20 different factors. How a hearing aid performs in each area helps us determine the best model for specific use cases. 

Each of the factors we examine fall into one of the following categories:

  • Cost and value for money
  • Design and sound quality
  • Technology
  • Customer experience

Each of these categories is weighted differently in our reviews depending on the use case. For example, a hearing aid with a good waterproof rating will be more useful for those with an active lifestyle than a cheaper device with no specialised features.

We always recommend having your hearing tested by an audiologist before choosing a product, as they can make recommendations on which models will work with your degree of hearing loss and specific circumstances. While our recommendations are no substitute for health advice, we have spent more than 1,000 hours researching hearing aids, consult with experts on our findings and vigorously fact-check every article to help you make an informed decision.

Hearing aid review stats

data points measured
categories considered
hearing aids compared
hours of research
customer reviews read
experts consulted

The hearing aid features we prioritise

When reviewing hearing aids, there are several features we think are the most important to consider before choosing which is the best for your needs:

  • Quality of sound
  • Design and appearance
  • Features and tech
  • Battery type
  • Customer reviews
  • Cost

Quality of sound

The quality of sound hearing aids can deliver will depend on different factors, and most brands and models cater for all degrees of hearing loss, from mild to profound. However, there are some brands that have more technology behind their pieces, which may be better suited to different hearing needs. One of our expert audiologists, Emily Woodmansey, points out how different hearing aid manufacturers have unique specialisms, so we aim to understand and highlight this as much as possible. 

Phonak is a good brand for those needing a bigger emphasis on clarity, for example, while Bernafon has trademarked hybrid technology, which gives more comfort with louder sounds and better clarity with softer noises. Bernafon also features a Dynamic Environment Control System for real-time and automatic sound detection and processing, which makes for a more seamless experience, and it’s these finer details that could make your decision a little simpler.

Design and appearance

Perhaps one of the most paramount factors to think about when picking out the best hearing aids will be the design itself and how visible the device will be when worn. 

Emily Woodmansey also notes how discretion might be one of your first hopes when choosing hearing aids, so we take the individual aesthetics of each into account, noting any benefits of in-the-ear (ITE), behind-the-ear (BTE), receiver-in-the-ear (RITE), or completely-in-the-canal (CIC) devices where necessary. 

Additionally, we consider the range of colours available with each model, as those looking for a more discreet option might want to choose a colour that will blend with their skin or hair tone; the more colours available, the more likely it is you’ll be able to find one that won’t stand out. Likewise, children and even adults may want to choose a fashion colour to match their personality, so bright colours are also a handy feature.

Distinct features and tech

With modern digital hearing aids, technology is now quite a distinct category in our research process. Just as the quality and design of hearing aids themselves has developed in recent years, many devices now come with smarter features that can streamline your day-to-day experience beyond enhancing your hearing.

Most manufacturers now have compatible apps with their hearing pieces, where you can do everything from customise sound settings to trace your hearing aids, should you lose them.  

Some can detect if you have taken a fall or track general health, and most will connect easily with other smart devices, such as your tablet, TV, or smartphone via Bluetooth. What will be important to you depends on your lifestyle, but we seek out and highlight any exciting features, to help you make your decision. Added tech naturally comes with a more expensive cost, so it’s important to weigh up whether the extra features will add value to your purchase. 

Additionally, we highlight whether a hearing aid has a telecoil or not. Furthermore, if there is anything else noteworthy, say if a hearing aid is waterproof or comes with a discreet charging case, we will factor that in as well.

Battery type

Most hearing aids now come with rechargeable batteries, but some are available with a replaceable option if that suits you best. Rechargeable batteries are better for the environment and may save you money in the long run, as you won’t need to buy as many replacements. It may also be easier to manage your hearing and your time, as they typically give a lot of power with short charging times. It’s a small but important consideration for us to highlight, as your hearing aids need to work with your routine, so if you think replacement batteries will better suit your lifestyle, that will refine your options.

Customer reviews

It goes without saying that how people experience hearing aids is essential, so we look at verified customer reviews to gain an understanding of how each hearing aid really performs in terms of comfort and quality of sound. We also look for feedback in terms of pricing and value for money, as well as experience with the brand, if relevant.


Last but not least, the cost of hearing aids is an important consideration. Our researchers look at the cost for a pair of hearing aids, since most people tend to need a device for each ear as opposed to just one. However, it’s important to note that some models can be bought individually if this is what your audiologist suggests. 

Price often comes down to the technology and other unique features of the hearing aid – the more features, the more expensive it is likely to be. It’s an important investment to make, so we highlight value for money and look for how this may be reflected in the overall cost.  

You can read more about our commitment to editorial impartiality and our editorial code on our About Us page.

Cam is an experienced writer and editor who has been creating content for more than 10 years. She studied English Language and Italian at The University of Manchester, where she started out blogging and copywriting on fashion and travel.

She’s worked for Groupon and its partnerships – including <em>The Guardian</em> UK and US, the <em>HuffPost</em>, and</i> – and has covered a plethora of topics, from kitchen design trends to the best ways to score a good deal on home insurance. S

Swifty tapping into her love for everything home decor-related, she moved into the interior design space and edited, part of Future plc, for three years, where she worked with a tonne of DIY and renovation experts.

She currently lives in North London and is passionate about helping others perfect their surroundings with stunning interiors and functional home additions, whether they own or rent.