Stereo Bluetooth Headphones Showdown: Motorola S9-HD vs. Motorola S10-HD vs. Plantronics Backbeat 903

Bluetooth Comparison
By Jared DiPane on 15 Apr 2012 04:21 pm EDT

Music is a huge part of many lives. Whether sitting at home or on the go, many of us love to listen to our favorite tunes with great quality. If you are on the go and moving constantly, odds are you want to simplify your life, and instead of having a wire connected from your device to your headphones, you are probably looking for a new bluetooth option. Stereo bluetooth headsets are a great convenience when on the go and listening to your music; not only do they give you stereo sound without the wires, but they give you the ability to answer your phone calls as well. 

With several different options available to be purchased, making the right decision can be a difficult task. Is the price tag of the Motorola S9-HD the most appealing to you, or the 8 hour battery life of the Motorola S10-HD's what makes the deal? Would you rather have the added flexability of the Plantronics Backbeat 903's instead of the fixed style that the Motorola headsets offer? Fear not, CrackBerry nation, we are here to help you answer some of these questions. Let's hit the break and check out how they compare, and help you decide which one is right for you.


When it comes to design, both the Motorola S9-HD and the S10-HD are nearly identical, with just a few very minor changes. The overall style is the same; they are both a wrap around style headphone with volume, track, and play buttons on the left and right sides near the ear buds. On the back of the units are the power buttons and the charger ports. The Motorola S9-HD has a mini-USB charger which is less ideal than the Motorola S10-HD's micro-USB charger, because it is likely yet another cable to carry along with you. As far as the comfort aspect, I found both of the Motorola headsets to be more comfortable with the fixed design, and the three different earbud sizes allowed me to find the perfect combo to fit my ears.

The Plantronics Backbeat 903s feature a very different design than both Motorola headsets. They are connected by plastic wrapped wires which makes them very flexible and able to fit various head shapes. Unfortunately they have placed the volume and track buttons on the back of the left earpiece which makes them less than ideal to access. Attempting to select the correct button while they are in use is nearly impossible, unless you have smaller fingers. While I thought the flexible design of the Plantronics headset would allow them to be more comfortable, I found the buds to be a bit harder to fit in my ears, and less comfortable during long periods of use.

Battery Life

The range in battery life across these various headsets ranges from 6 hours to 8 hours, not a huge difference when you break it down. The Motorola S9-HD comes in with the 6 hour battery life, though depending on your usage habits, and how often they are in standby, you may get a bit longer out of them. The Plantronics Backbeat 903 will give you 7 hours of battery life, while the Motorola S10-HD will bring 8 hours of battery life with them. The minor difference is likely not enough to be the deciding factor in your purchase as each of them will get you through a day's usage with ease. 

Sound Quality

Breaking down the sound quality differences between these headsets is not an easy task; they are all very similar in overall quality. No single headset stood out above the others in this catagory, though if I had to pick one it would be the S10-HD. Listening to a wide variety of music, it is very hard to select a headset that is perfect, but the testing that I have done gave some pretty good results.

As far as best overall sound quality, both highs and lows, the Motorola S10-HD seemed to handle the ranges the best. They gave a nice bump in the ears as well as crisp vocals. The Motorola S9-HD are quite similar in quality, except I did not notice the bass to be as pronounced. While the range of the Plantroincs Backbeat 903 is rather wide, the highs got a bit drowned out by the lows in certain songs.


Having a great sounding headset is one thing, but it needs to be portable in order for you to actually want to use them on any type of regular basis. In this category the Plantronics Backbeat 903 wins hands down. Their flexible design allows you to pack them in the small included carrying case and throw them in your bag when on the go. Both Motorola headsets are about the same size, and won't take up much space in your bag, but the ability to fold them would have been great. 

As stated above, the Motorola S9-HD require the use of a mini-USB charger, which means when traveling with these you will likely need to pack an additional charger instead of being able to make use of the micro-USB cable which has basically become the standard. Not a huge deal to many, but for those who like to pack light, and travel with as few things as possible, this may have an impact on the decision.


There is no standout winner in this showdown. Each of these headsets offers a few advantages and disadvantages over the competition, and it will come down to personal preference. If I had to pick one pair to purchase again that would bring me great comfort, excellent battery life, and a solid sound quality I would likely personally go with the Motorola S10-HD headset for my personal use. Be sure to hop into the ShopCrackBerry Store and check them out for yourself, and pick some up today!

For more information and to purchase Motorola S9-HD
For more information and to purchase Motorola S10-HD
For more information and to purchase Plantronics Backbeat 903

Jared DiPane Jared DiPane "News Writer for Mobile Nations
Father | Husband | Chipotle Addict"
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Reader comments

Stereo Bluetooth Headphones Showdown: Motorola S9-HD vs. Motorola S10-HD vs. Plantronics Backbeat 903


I had the Backbeats for a while. The incoming call quality was poor I assumed the outgoing call quality was bad too. I took them back. They were comfortable they paired up easy, music sounded as good as streaming music and mp3s can sound. There was a lot of concern about sweat messing them up too, I read in reviews later. It was a bummer to go back to ear buds but for the price thats what I did. Back a while I paid 130.00.

I've been using the backbeats for a while now, and find those to be the most comfortable to use out of those three. The motorola's would hurt my ears after a while, but they did seem to have better sound quality. The power button was also a pain to use, it wouldn't always register and i would have to use my fingernail to press it. I have 2 problems withe my backbeats though, the button placement like you mentioned (though the skip track forward/back can be accessed by using a press and hold on the volume buttons) and the audio skips in and out a lot when used outside depending on which pocket i have my phone. Inside they work great though.

I have two sets of Plantronics Backbeat 903 in my household, both users are very pleased and looking forward to order soon one more. Not perfect but I would say one of the best of its kind on the market now.

P.S. The price varies dramatically according to the place you buy them from.

Love my S9's. As to a charger, I carry a Belkin Travel 3-plug mini power strip (model BZ103050-TVL) that I bough at Canada Computers for $10. Acts as a surge protector and has two USB plugs so I just bring a USB to mini cable.

I tried the Backbeat's but they just weren't for me. Instead I bought the Moto S305's for about $30 and I like them a lot. They sound pretty good, the controls are pretty good once you get used to the button placement and, they're pretty comfortable. I've had them for a couple of years now and they've preformed well. People never seem to have an issue hearing me when I'm talking to them and for the price, they're a great BT alternative to wired headphones.

I owned the Backbeats for a month or so. They were certainly very comfortable for my ears and the sound quality was fairly good - good bass and decent treble. Unfortunately, my good experience with them ended there. Like other reviews you may find online say, they are very sensitive to moisture. I used them all the time when working out since it felt like I wasn't even wearing them. The moisture destroyed them within a couple weeks - they would not hold a charge and would start initiating voicedialing on my phone when paired while they were just sitting on my desk. Also, when walking outside the audio would skip depending on where I put my phone in my pockets. Perhaps if you treat them with great care they would be perfect for you though!

Is this being recorded in a wind tunnel? :-/
I bought the S9 original a while ago on a super clearance sale (yeah, they're old now). Unfortunately they didn't work properly with my 9900. The audio controls didn't work which was the main reason I bought them - to wear around the house while doing work in the yard, etc. So they went back. Sound quality wasn't great... I've heard the HD upgrade made them much better.

In the cheap end, you can try the Rocketfish RF-MAB2, it sells for $25 on ebay, and sometimes goes on sale at BB or FS at the same price. They are on ear headphones with full handsfree and stereo support, and it comes with 4 DSP profiles (normal, live, high vocals, and something else). Best bang for the buck, imo.

+1 I bought these about a week and a half ago. Battery life is very good. Music sounds very good plus there's an equalization (presets) option. What I like best though is that it pairs with my PlayBook and phone at the same time with the audio controls synced to my Playbook and phone controls to my phone. There's a mic and phone call quality is more than acceptable.

How about a pair of Jabra halo 2 i have them pared with my 9930 and my mac pro and they work wonderfully! Battery gets me 5 days with average use

I have not tried any of these but read up on them individually. I like the comparison article but I would like to throw the JayBird Bluetooth headset into the mix. I decided to get these and have not had any problems with them. I use them in the car and when training at the gym. I love them.

I have the Backbeats...I like them, and use them often, but wouldn't recommend them, simply because they are prone to drop sound with the slightest bit of interference. When I walk around my building, my music always seems to drop out at the same (geographical) spots.

Crackberry Store says that the S10 does not work with the PB. Is that still the case or is that an old warning?

Hmmm. just when I was thinking about getting the 903+ I see that Plantronics just came out with the Backbeat GO model ( P/N: 86800-01) [link:] . Maybe a review is now in order and a contest!