The October 2022 thread on this topic was closed as it did cover a lot of general ground, but my post here is unique to the PHONAK brand of Lumity Life rechargeable aids vs their battery-powered Marvels.
I’m posting this new thread cuz I feel there are always people coming here with purchase decisions to be made, whether they be Oticon vs Phonak (or other vendor), or rechargeable vs battery-operated aids. I wanted to summarize my last week’s experience and the lessons learned, as I am both an owner AND user of Phonak Lumity Life rechargeable and Marvel battery-powered aids. I’ve asked my previous AND new audiologists to please forward a copy of this post to their Phonak rep in the hopes that it can get to someone in Product Development faster than if I mailed a letter to Customer Support.
PHONAK LUMITY LIFE HEARING AID CONCERNS:
I have real concerns about Lumity Life rechargeable aids as a long-term solution, and am disappointed that new Phonak releases are no longer battery-powered.
Rechargeables are more expensive for users
Phonak is missing an important market of users who prefer disposable batteries. For users like me, who require a pair of backup aids, these rechargeable aids require a LOT more cost and care to ensure they charge up the day they’re needed. I would never have opted for a rechargeable aid if Lumity Life was available in a battery format. For less than $50, with my usage of batteries I get over 1.5 years of power from just a couple boxes of batteries at Amazon. By comparison, the cost of a charging base is $175.
Rechargeables have more reliability issues
The fact that my primary pair of Lumity Life rechargeables no longer hold a charge after just 4 mos of use does not compare favorably with battery-operated aids that run for several days on a single pair of batteries (not just several hours), are easier to store for backup use, and far more reliable for day-to-day use. The only issue I had with my Marvel aids was when each speaker failed once while under warranty.
Rechargeables have critical performance issues
The other huge issue for users is the OS requirements on our cell phones. No one informed me that Android 13 was necessary for longer battery life of my rechargeable Lumity Life aids. I bought a second pair of these aids because the first pair only gave me 12-13 hours of use each day – not enough to take me from waking up to going to bed at day’s end. In mid-January 2023, I learned of the critical importance of OS on a hearing forum – not from Phonak – even though Phonak passively posted an announcement on its website listing cell phone make/models that would need Android 13 OS to achieve optimal battery life. After spending an entire day searching for and downloading Android 13 (a highly complex process), my Lumity Life aids now deliver 17.5 hrs of normal battery life per day. I really didn’t need that second pair of Lumity Life aids at all because I have a working pair of Marvel battery-powered aids that I could’ve used as a backup.
Rechargeables are a challenge to trouble-shoot
When rechargeable aids fail to hold a charge, the cause is more complicated to diagnose than for battery-powered aids. Recently, I experienced rapid battery drain and confusing signal lights on my aids. So I had 2 chargers and 2 sets of aids to swap back and forth to see where the problem was. Again, sub-optimal vs Marvel battery-powered aids which can be tested by changing the battery only. (I am still experiencing charger-related issues independent of my installing Android 13 on my cell phone.)
Phonak’s customer communication needs improving
Phonak has a database of users via the serial numbers on our hearing aids. It should be an easy matter to send us an email advising us to have firmware updates as needed. Instead, users have troubling and inconvenient issues that require immediate action. We are left to scramble for an immediate appointment and potentially be left for days without functioning hearing aids.
Phonak’s claims of being “waterproof” are misleading
I learned from my first pair of Lumity Life aids that NO contact with water is the best strategy. The speaker is the weakest link, and even though the BTE unit is hermetically sealed, I ended up killing a pair of new Lumity Life aids thinking they were actually waterproof. The marketing message is simply not accurate – not the text with the accompanying photos or website videos that show active people actually IN the water (pools, kayaks, pouring rain, etc.,). Credibility is damaged when the marketing message does not equal the user’s real life experience.