How to Answer the Phone with Earbuds

Samir Sampat

Hands-free technology is a great asset and today it’s become a part of everyday life for most people, both personally and professionally. Between wireless technologies like Bluetooth and the innovative ways that smartphones are becoming a part of everyday life, this might seem like an article that’s a little “too much, too late” for many. 

But, if you’re like many, you still haven’t mastered the art of hands-free communication. Whether it’s because you’re concerned about the quality of calls, security, being able to hear, or even if you just don’t think that you need earbuds or headphones to go with your smartphone, until now, you’ve not bothered to upgrade. Now, however, is a better time than ever before.

When you have earbuds to answer calls, you are freeing up your hands for more important things that require your attention. For example, if you’re in the office, you could also be looking things up online, filing papers, or getting other things done while having a conversation. In the car? Well, that’s a no-brainer—it’s just safer to be hands-free in the car. 

And while most cars today have built-in Bluetooth so that you can play phone calls over the car’s audio speakers, you might not want to share your call with the entire carload. Perhaps you’ve got sensitive business to discuss. Maybe you just don’t like the echoes or feeling like you’re surrounded by someone talking to you through the car speakers. In either case, earbuds are a great choice. 

The caveat, of course, is that it’s not safe, and possibly illegal in some states, to wear headphones or earbuds in both ears while you drive. You won’t be able to hear the sounds of traffic and you could be distracted by whatever you’re doing, making your driving less safe. If you’re going to use earbuds to make phone calls in the car, we advise sticking with one earbud on the call and the other ear on the road. 

Now, back to answering calls with these precious little gems. Spoiler alert—it’s a lot easier than most people think. 


Do you need special earbuds?


This is often the first question that most people have. Fortunately, almost every pair of headphones or earbuds made today also includes a microphone and some type of volume control. Audio headphones may still not be equipped to answer phone calls, but you will find a whole market of Bluetooth and wired earbuds that are designed to be used with any smartphone or tablet. 

This includes being able to take and make calls. If you’re less picky, you can simply find a pair of earbuds that has the features that you want and start using them. If, however, you’re concerned about fit, features, or other aspects, there’s a little more investigating to do. 

Think about how the earbuds will fit and feel—this is often hard to tell from the package, but if you have smaller ears, for example, you might want smaller buds. There are also plastic earbuds and then some with softer earpieces to make a more comfortable fit in your ear. And of course, you’ll have a myriad of colors to choose from. 

If your phone is one of the latest models that doesn’t have an audio jack (we’re looking at you, iPhone), you’ll automatically be limited to wireless earbuds to make and take calls. Fortunately, there are just as many styles of those available today as you’ll find for wired earbuds. That includes models that won’t cost a small fortune. 


How much should I spend on a good pair of earbuds?


Speaking of costs, a lot of people wonder what they are going to need to spend to get a good pair of quality earbuds. Fortunately, the answer is pretty flexible, thanks to the aforementioned growing market of brands and styles to choose from. For example, while AirPods are still retailing for $80, $100, and up to $200, there are several other brands out there today. 

Other brands offer wireless earbuds for as little as $15-$20 these days, and they often have similar features and qualities as the more expensive Apple version. For those who aren’t using iPhones, this is a welcome reprieve. You can spend as much (or as little) as you want on your earbuds. Just remember it’s to help you make and take business calls, so it’s an investment that’s worth spending a little money on if you find something that you like at a higher price point. 

And if not, there’s no shame in finding a good pair of $20 earbuds that will handle all of your wireless and hands-free calling needs. And in that case, if you decide after a few weeks that you’re not pleased with the quality, you can exchange them or even just buy new ones and not be out a ton of money. Even better, if you lose one of your earbuds (the biggest concern with these wireless tech nuggets), you’ll only be out a few bucks, not a few hundred. 


Answering the call: your options


Ok, so let’s get to the important part. How do you use earbuds to answer a call? There’s the obvious choice to pick up your phone and swipe or tap to answer the call, and then use the earbuds to talk. While that is an option, most people are looking for a way to be hands-free and be able to make and take calls even if their phone is in their pocket, on the dash, or sitting on the desk. 

You have two basic ways to go here. If you have instructions with your earbuds, you’re already ahead of the rest. In the event that the manufacturer is doing you no favors, or you’ve somehow failed to understand the instructions, we’ve got you covered. Below, we’ll discuss the most common ways to answer calls so that you can make the most of your earbuds. 


Option one: follow the manufacturer’s instructions


If you have gotten a pair of earbuds, they should come with instructions. These will include information on how to use, store, and charge the earbuds. Connectivity should be covered, which usually involves pairing the earbuds to your smartphone. Then, you can use the buttons and functions of the earbuds to answer and make calls while you’re on the go. 

Today, because there are so many different products, brands, and styles out there to choose from, some people end up with a discount product (or even a big name brand, in some cases) where instructions were less than helpful. If that’s the case, you can move on to option two, which basically tells you what just about every manufacturer will suggest in their instructions. 

If you’ve followed your manufacturer's instructions to the letter and you’re still not having any luck making or taking calls, you might want to call them and discuss the issue. Their tech support team can determine if there’s a resolution or if you need to exchange your product for one that isn’t defective. 


Option two: generic answering tips and instructions 


If for some reason, you don’t have the manufacturer's instructions, or if they aren’t clear in helping you learn how to make calls, you’re not out of luck. We can provide you with some general insight and advice to help, no matter what brand or style of earbuds you’re using to take and make calls via Bluetooth or wireless technology. Here’s what you need to do. 

Pair your earbuds. When you first get your earbuds, you want to make sure they are charged and powered on (if using wireless). If you’re using wired headphones, just plug them in. 

Pairing wirelessly can be done by choosing the Bluetooth option on your smartphone, finding the headphones in the list, and then selecting them to activate. You may also have a “pair” button on your headphones that needs to be pressed to complete this task. Again, follow the manufacturer’s instructions when you can, but they’re all fairly similar. 

Once your earbuds are paired or plugged in, you should be ready to go. When a call comes in, there will be a button on the earbuds that you press to answer calls. That will connect the call and allow you to carry on a conversation without having to physically hold your phone. You can generally end the call in the same way, or by allowing the other person to hang up first. 

Some earbuds have buttons that you can use to place calls on hold, too, or to switch between calls. Check for volume controls and a physical “Mute” button, because those features could come in handy. You can do a lot more than just answer calls on your earbuds, too, so make sure to consider that, as well. 


Making calls and other functions


Of course, you can use these earbuds to listen to music. That’s a given, in most cases. You can also use earbuds to make calls, send texts, and more. If you have a smartphone with a voice assistant like Siri or Samsung’s Bixby, you can simply activate the earbuds, and then tell your smartphone what you would like to do:

“Call Joe Smith”

“Text Mom”

“Email Jeff about the sales conference”

Your device may even be able to type out the email or text that you want to send and then read it back to you, verbatim, so that you can confirm the details before you send it. And all this can be done with no hands. 


Wired vs. wireless earbuds


Although wireless earbuds have become quite popular, they’re still not for everyone. They have their pros and cons, which leads many people to the question of whether they should use wireless or wired earbuds for their calling needs. Ultimately, it’s less about whether they have a cord and more about the quality and features that they offer. 

That is, of course, unless you’re worried about losing the wireless buds—then, the wire makes all the difference. Otherwise, you’ll want to consider things like the audio quality, buttons and features for making calls and listening to music, and more. Wired headphones are limited by the wire, but some people don’t mind that. On the other hand, wireless earbuds offer:

  • Freedom of mobility
  • Compatibility with later model devices
  • Better sound quality
  • Premium features and functions

While they are a bit more expensive and have to be charged regularly, these are minor issues at this point. After all, you can charge these buds in a matter of minutes, and they’ll hold a charge for impressive amounts of talk time and storage. Ultimately, the choice will be yours, but the market is trending toward wireless technology. It might be time to bite the bullet and get on board yourself so that you can get the best out of your handsfree communications moving forward. 


Or, let someone else answer the calls when you partner with Smith.ai 


You’re running a business and you probably have a lot on your to-do list. Making and taking phone calls doesn’t have to be one of them. Or, you can at least make sure that you’re only getting the calls that require your specific attention. When you choose to partner with the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai, you’ll know that your communications are taken care of, and we can even help with your admin tasks, too. 

Ask about the services that we offer, including after-hours phone answering, scheduling and lead intake, live website chat (24 hours a day!), and even payment collection, and so much more. Plus, we’ll craft the perfect plan to manage it all and create a solution that grows with you over the years. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss what the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do for your business, from fielding calls and chats to handling your front office, and so much more. You’ll also find us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 


Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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