Phonak hearing aids stand out in recent durability testing

An unprecedented test of endurance assessed the durability of Phonak hearing aids in harsh environments compared to 2 competitor brands. Learn about the findings and what they mean for your clinical practice.

In graduate school, I once heard an audiologist describe the function of a hearing aid in a unique way: “Imagine driving a race car through a swamp for 16 hours a day, every day, all while powered by a flashlight battery.”

Now this statement takes a few artistic liberties, but I think it rings true. Hearing aids are high-performance computers, placed in one of the most inhospitable parts of the body. Hearing aids endure sweat, debris, movement, handling, hair, skin products, and other nasty stuff on a daily basis for years at a time, while still delivering the hearing performance needed to help that client hear their best.

It’s not as easy as it sounds, and at Phonak, we have dedicated ourselves to building hearing aids that can withstand whatever your clients throw at them.

Not every brand is created equal

But how do we know our hearing aids can endure harsh physical environments unlike others? Recent internal benchmarking studies have pushed the boundaries of what we know about hearing aid durability.

In an unprecedented test of endurance, Phonak Audéo L-R (yes, Audéo L-R NOT Audéo Life) hearing aids were subjected to extreme conditions alongside 2 competitor brands, including prolonged exposure to synthetic sweat, high humidity, and high temperatures, far beyond the typical IP68* testing standards.

The results? Phonak hearing aids outlasted the competition, proving that when it comes to reliability in the harshest of environments, Phonak stands alone.

Testing protocol

The test protocol consisted of 17 rounds of testing over 3 weeks. In each round, the hearing aids spent 20 hours in a test chamber subjected to synthetic sweat spray at 50°C/122°F, high humidity condensation at 50°C/122°F and high-heat drying at 60°C/140°F with humidity ranging from 100% to 10%.  

After each 20-hour test round all hearing aids underwent a listening check, a functional test of the push button, a charging test, and acoustic tests. All devices were cleaned and tested with a new receiver to ensure this was not the reason for any failures. Results of these tests are shown in the chart below.

Test results for Phonak and 2 competitor brands

As you can see, Phonak was the only brand of the 3 tested that passed the acoustic tests after 17 rounds. In fact, by the 11th round all hearing aids from brand B had no acoustic output. Meanwhile, only 3 Audéo L-R hearing aids failed the acoustic tests, with the other 7 passing.

What this means for your practice

This testing is crucial, not just for the sake of comparison but for the real-world implications it has on your clients. Moisture and extreme temperatures are common challenges faced by hearing aid wearers, from the humid conditions of a gym to the dry, hot air of a summer day. The testing simulated these conditions, providing a clear picture of how different brands hold up and, more importantly, which can be relied upon when it matters most.

For you, the implications of these findings can be profound. Have you ever quantified the time you spend on repairs? Based on Sonova internal data, repairs can consume up to 30% of your clinic time. Imagine redirecting that time towards helping more clients, providing additional care, counseling, and other services that enhance the clinic experience.

When a product withstands such rigorous testing, that translates into trust – your clients’ trust in your care. After all, you fit them with hearing aids that reconnect them to the world, no matter the demands of the day. Our commitment to excellence in this area is not just about creating durable products; it’s about enhancing the lives of those who rely on these hearing aids every day.

* IP68 indicates that the hearing aid is water and dust resistant. It survived continuous immersion in 1 meter of fresh water for 60 minutes and 8 hours in a dust chamber as per the IEC60529 standard.