When we reviewed Jabra’s Stone2 Bluetooth headset, we found its short battery life and middling voice quality made it a poor purchase. The Jabra Stone3 ($129.99 list) doesn’t fix the product line’s problems. Many better Bluetooth headsets are available, including our Editors’ Choices, the Jawbone Era and Plantronics M55.
The Stone3 looks almost identical to the previous Stone2. Its curved headset loops behind the ear, looking organic and smooth. Measuring 2.2 by 1.9 by 0.9 inches (HWD) and weighing 0.2 ounces, it’s especially light.
The outward facing side is a matte black plastic, while the inside has a soft-touch black coating, though it’s somewhat fingerprint-prone. It’s also availabe in white. The rubber gel tip doesn’t force its way into your ear to transmit the sound, making it much more comfortable to wear for long periods than headsets which force a rubber tip into your ear canal. The Stone3 also comes with three extra tips of different sizes. The headset won’t fall out of your ear thanks to its hook-like design. It felt secure, though the larger the ear the better the fit.
There’s a single button on the edge of the device for answering and rejecting calls, checking battery life, and pairing to other devices. Adjusting the volume is as simple as sliding your finger up or down the outside of the Stone3.
The pebble-shaped charging cradle holds up to 8 hours of extra juice when you need a charge. Unfortunately, if you lose the charging cradle, you also lose the only way to charge the Stone3. The headset comes with an AC adapter, a micro USB cable for charging through the cradle, and three ear tips.
Pairing is easy enough: just hold the single button until the Stone3 goes into pairing mode, select the device in your Bluetooth settings, and wait a few seconds for it to recognize the Stone3. Pairing to a new device followed the same process. Turning it on and off is also possible by simply popping it in or out of the charging cradle. NFC pairing works with any Android device with NFC. Just tap it on an NFC-equipped phone and it’ll enable Bluetooth and pair with the Stone3.
The audio quality of the Stone3 is less than stellar. When tested with the Verizon iPhone 5s, Sprint Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and AT&T Samsung Galaxy S3, my calls suffered from static and digitized speech, but were still intelligible. Noise cancellation wasn’t especially useful, as car horns a block away were still audible. Volume was higher on the Note 3 than the rest, but call quality was worse. During music playback, a faint hissing is always present, permeating any music or podcast you may be trying to enjoy. During one music test, the Stone3 would intermittently cut out and reconnect with my iPhone 5s.
As for the Stone3′s range, it’s in line with most Bluetooth headsets—around 50 feet it starts to get spotty and drop in and out.
Battery life is a major issue here. Headsets like the Plantronics M55 can go for 8 hours on a single charge, while I received a “low battery” warning from the Stone3 after about 75 minutes of use.
If you’re after style, the Jabra Stone3 fits the bill, but its performance just isn’t up to snuff. The Jawbone Era looks fine and performs much better, and there’s a new version on the market that we’ll review very soon. If you don’t feel like paying more than $100 for a headset, the Plantronics M55 has a volume control button and excellent battery life for $49. With its high price point and questionable audio quality, the Stone3 doesn’t deliver beyond its looks.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc