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Samsung SBH500 Bluetooth Headset review: Samsung SBH500 Bluetooth Headset

Samsung SBH500 Bluetooth Headset

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
3 min read

Though it was once a rare find in music cell phones, in the last year stereo Bluetooth has become a common feature. That's a good thing, even if the wireless music quality isn't always reliable, as we like being able to walk around a room while we're listening to our tunes.


Samsung SBH500 Bluetooth Headset

The Good

The Samsung SBH500 stereo Bluetooth headset offers easy-to-use controls and decent call quality.

The Bad

The Samsung SBH500 stereo Bluetooth headset is so uncomfortable to wear that it hurts. Plus, music quality was variable.

The Bottom Line

The Samsung SBH500 stereo Bluetooth headset is marred by a poor, uncomfortable design. Call quality is solid, but we give a pass in all respects.

To help you get the most out of that functionality, several cell phone manufacturers, Samsung among them, have introduced stereo Bluetooth headsets. However, just because you're good at one thing, that doesn't mean that you're good at another. We liked Samsung previous stereo headset, the Samsung SBH170, but its Samsung SBH500 stereo Bluetooth headset is rather disappointing. Sound quality is acceptable and the controls are easy to use, but the design is so uncomfortable that it's pretty much unusable. As such, we wouldn't recommend it, even for the reasonable price of $79.

At first glance the SBH500 looks promising. The foam padding around the earphones is soft to the touch and the controls are large and well designed. It's also quite light (0.54 ounces) and the band connecting the two earphones seems sturdy but flexible.

In the center of the right earphone you'll find a multifunction control for pairing the headset and placing and ending SBH500's calls. It's slightly recessed so you can locate it easily when you're on a call and it's surrounded by a circular status light. Surrounding the multifunction button are the music controls, which include a play/pause button, a skip control, and a rewind button. They're also large and easy to use. The volume rocker rests on the rim of the earphone. As it always faces "up" when you're on a call, we had no problem finding it even on the first try.

The power switch and the charger port are located on the left earphone. The former is a bit hard to locate when you're wearing the SGH500, but to be honest we doubt you'd be using the power switch during a call. The charger port has a sliding cover. It's a nice touch, but it's not totally necessary.

Sound good so far? Well, we thought so too. The bad news is this: the SBH500 is extremely uncomfortable, so much so that we couldn't leave it on for more than a few minutes. It has a behind-the-ear neck design so the problem wasn't with the connecting band, but rather with the way the SBH500 rested against our ears. On either side, protruding ridges on the connecting band dug into the backside of our ears so sharply that it was almost painful. Even though its design is flexible enough to accommodate larger heads and the foam padding on the earphone is nice and soft, we had to fiddle with the SBH500 constantly to secure an even remotely comfortable fit. But to be honest, finding such a state was near impossible. Even when we did get it almost right, the connecting band would then rest against the back of our neck. We're not sure what Samsung was thinking when they designed this one.

We also have to mention how you look when you're wearing the headset. Though the earphones are only about 1.75 inches in diameter, the behind-the-ear design makes you look as if you're wearing earmuffs. Either that or just you look like Princess Leia.

On the upside, the SBH500 offered respectable call quality when we tested it with the Motorola Z9 (sorry, but we didn't have a spare Samsung music phone to use). The volume could be louder, but the connection remained strong and the voice quality largely reflected that of the Z9. Music quality wasn't quite as sharp. There was a slight hissing sound at times and some music was rather bass-heavy. On the upside, we liked that the SBH500 makes a sound to reflect when the phone is vibrating for an incoming call. As with most headsets, the music pauses automatically when you get a call.

Other voice dialing, three-way calling, call reject, and last number redial. The Samsung SBH500 stereo Bluetooth headset has a rated battery life of 12 hours talk time, 11 hours music time and 8.5 days standby time.