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About 37.5 million adults in the United States have some trouble hearing, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. And nearly 29 million adults could benefit from hearing aids.

While older adults may be more likely to have hearing loss, young adults, teens, and children can also have trouble hearing as a result of exposure to noise, a congenital condition, or certain health issues.

A hearing aid is a device that makes sounds louder to help you hear better. And Starkey models pair artificial intelligence (AI) technology with features and app connectivity.

There are so many brands on the market, and it can be difficult to know where to start. This review will focus on the popular brand Starkey, including its features, different models, and pros and cons.

Here are the overall benefits and drawbacks of Starkey hearing aids.

Pros

  • rechargeable battery and good battery life, according to Starkey
  • smartphone connectivity
  • wireless connectivity
  • good sound quality, according to Starkey
  • multiple features

Cons

  • can be pricey
  • cannot buy directly from Starkey

Starkey is a company that makes hearing aids, including those with AI technology.

Some models offer additional features through its Thrive app, such as fall detection, health tracking, and a “mask mode” that helps enhance sound when someone is wearing a mask.

There are a variety of types of hearing aids, so you can find the one that works for your needs and lifestyle. They include:

  • behind the ear (BTE)
  • in the ear (ITE)
  • receiver in canal (RIC)
  • in the canal (ITC)
  • invisible in canal (IIC)
  • completely in canal (CIC)

According to customer reviews, Starkey hearing aids have good sound quality, tinnitus technology, feedback management, and other perks.

Here’s a look at the five models Starkey currently offers.

Picasso

  • Average cost per hearing aid: $900
  • Style: available in ITE, ITC, IIC, and CIC
  • Telecoil option: no

The Picasso is Starkey’s basic option. Features include:

  • feedback management
  • wireless streaming
  • music enhancement
  • tinnitus technology
  • Bluetooth connectivity

Pros

  • It’s simple to control the sound settings from the app.
  • You can choose from six neutral color options.
  • The hearing aids are equipped with feedback cancellation technology for listener comfort.

Cons

  • It uses replaceable batteries and it’s not rechargeable.
  • It doesn’t have telecoil as an option.
  • It’s not suitable for people with profound hearing loss.

Livio

  • Average cost per hearing aid: $2,000
  • Style: available in BTE, RIC, ITE, and ITC
  • Telecoil option: yes

A step up from the Picasso hearing aids, these are available in BTE, RIC, ITE, and ITC varieties. They have all the features of the Picasso with the addition of:

  • better sound quality
  • rechargeable battery
  • single-sided technology
  • smartphone connectivity

You can also use these hearing aids with the Thrive app. The app allows you to control and adjust your hearing aids from your phone.

Cons

  • It’s specifically made for iPhone users. So, if you have an Android phone, you’ll need a wireless accessory to stream.
  • It doesn’t share all the same tech-forward features as the Livio AI models.
  • There’s no language translation, “find my phone” feature, or tap control.

Livio AI

  • Average cost per hearing aid: $2,500
  • Style: available in BTE, RIC, ITE, and ITC
  • Telecoil option: yes

Livio AI hearing aids are rechargeable and have a 24-hour battery life.

Livio AI hearing aids have all the features of the original Livio hearing aids, but you can also access brain and body tracking to track your steps, time spent standing, and more.

Additionally, you can transcribe your voice and access Thrive Care. It’s an app that allows caregivers to check in anytime and see how the people they provide care to are doing.

Pros

  • It has brain and body tracking.
  • The “mask mode” feature allows you to hear people who are wearing face masks more easily.
  • They’re the smallest rechargeable hearing aids available, allowing up to 24-hours of wear.

Cons

  • It’s costly compared to some other options.
  • It may not be suitable for you if you’re not tech-savvy.
  • There may be a steep learning curve when first using the app.

Livio Edge AI

  • Average cost per hearing aid: $3,300 and up
  • Style: available in BTE, RIC, ITE, and ITC
  • Telecoil option: yes

These are rechargeable hearing aids and have a 24-hour battery life.

Livio Edge AI hearing aids have all the features of the Livio AI hearing aids, but you can also access:

  • Fall detection and alerts. If you fall, the device can send out an alert.
  • Language translation. According to Starkey, the device has the ability to translate different languages to your hearing aids in real time.

Pros

  • It has a language translation feature using the Thrive app and allows you to choose from 27 languages.
  • It has outstanding sound performance even in challenging listening environments.
  • It can detect falls and sends alerts to selected contacts.

Cons

  • It has a high price and most insurers don’t cover hearing aids.
  • The translation app is available only for iPhone users.
  • There are some reports of unstable Bluetooth connection and performance.

Evolv AI

  • Cost: $3,500
  • Style: available in BTE, RIC, ITE, CIC, and ITC
  • Telecoil option: yes

These new to the market hearing aids are Starkey’s most innovative model. These hearing aids make up to 55 million adjustments every hour, according to the company, to provide optimal sound quality.

The Evolv model has improved connectivity and should work seamlessly with Android.

Pros

  • Evolv delivers 2-way audio so you can stream your voice directly back to your phone and tablet for hands-free conversation.
  • It works seamlessly with the Thrive Hearing Control app to easily change settings, adjust volume, and more.
  • It monitors physical activity, social engagement, and other factors of well-being.

Cons

  • It requires a smartphone for many of the features.
  • It may not be a great option for people who aren’t as comfortable with technology.
  • You must use an authorized provider to purchase.

PicassoLivioLivio AILivio Edge AIEvolv AI
Price$900$2,000$2,500$3,300$3,500
Phone app?NoYesYesYesYes
Telecoil?NoYes Yes Yes Yes
Rechargeable?No Yes Yes Yes Yes

According to Starkey’s website, their hearing aids can cost from $500 to $6,000, depending on the features and accompanying professional services the hearing aid comes with, such as adjustment and maintenance.

There are many ways you can pay for hearing aids:

  • private health insurance
  • flexible spending accounts (FSAs); these dollars can be used pre-tax to pay for medical expenses
  • health savings accounts (HSAs)
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • veterans benefits
  • state vocational rehabilitation programs
  • credit financing programs
  • service organizations
  • charitable foundations

These payment options may offer complete or partial coverage, or help you offset the cost.

They won’t be available to everyone, but look into the ones you may be eligible for. Also ask your audiologist whether they offer any discounts.

Starkey offers two apps through Google Play and the Apple App Store. They’re available with hearing aid models that are sensor-enabled, such as the Livio Edge AI.

Thrive Hearing Control App

This app offers:

  • body (activity) tacking
  • brain tracking
  • fall alerts
  • reminders
  • “find my phone” feature
  • translation
  • transcription
  • self-check to check hearing aid performance
  • mask mode for hearing enhancement when people are wearing masks
  • Thrive Assistant (to ask questions about volume adjustment, etc.)
  • personalized memories, which allow your hearing aids to automatically adjust to places you’ve visited before
  • hearing adjustments delivered straight to the device
  • adaptive car mode

Thrive Care App

Designed for loved ones of the person using the hearing aid, this app connects to the Thrive Hearing Control app of the user. The app user will get the following updates via the app:

  • hearing aid connection status
  • battery levels
  • body (activity) tracking
  • brain tracking
  • fall detection

Starkey accessories

The company offers numerous add-ons, including:

  • TV streamer
  • microphones (table and remote)
  • remote
  • SurfLink accessories to connect Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices with your hearing aid
  • hearing protection, such as custom-fit earplugs
  • accessories for musicians, such as in-ear audio monitors

When choosing a hearing aid, consider the following:

Style

There are lots of different hearing aid styles. Here’s what to ask yourself:

  • Do you want a hearing aid that’s invisible or behind the ear?
  • Do you want one with more features?
  • Do you want rechargeable hearing aids?
  • Where do you have the most difficult time hearing?

If you’re having trouble determining which style is right for you, Starkey offers a Hearing Aid Finder Tool that can help you find the style best suited for your lifestyle.

Bells and whistles

Some Starkey hearing aids have extra features, such as the ability to stream music or the audio from TV shows through your hearing aid. You can also monitor your health through the Thrive app.

Purchase agreement

Know what the trial period is, the warranty, and how to obtain service and adjustments when needed.

Starkey has an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau (BBB). And while it’s been in business for more than 50 years, it was accredited by the BBB in February 2021.

There are just six customer complaints listed on the BBB website. It appears that the company has made an effort to resolve each one.

On Trustpilot, there are currently 204 reviews, with 72 percent of those being “excellent” or “great.”

Customers say the hearing aids have exceeded their expectations, are comfortable, and come with great support and service. They also praise the slim design, saying that it looks more like an earbud than a hearing aid.

When it comes to negative reviews, people report problems with Bluetooth connectivity, issues with ship time, and unhappiness with the limited warranty.

One of the larger issues is that you can’t buy Starkey hearing devices from the company itself. Rather, you have to go through an authorized hearing care professional.

Some customers have had problems with the person or store they went through, noting poor service, unresponsiveness, and an inability to know the product well or resolve issues with the product itself.

Starkey offers a 30-day, money-back guarantee. However, because it can take months to realize the full potential and customization of your hearing aid, the company urges you to consult your audiologist to make the necessary adjustments.

Starkey offers a limited warranty. For details on your hearing aid’s warranty, ask your hearing aid specialist or audiologist.

The company also has a “Worry-Free Warranty,” which covers failure, damage, and loss for all hearing aid brands.

StarkeyOticonResoundSiemensPhonak
Primary models58956
Price range$500-$6,000$1,200-$3,700 $1,500-$3,500$1,500-$4,500 $1,500-$4,500
Phone app?YesYesYesYesYes

You can’t buy a Starkey hearing aids online. Instead, you’ll need to make an appointment with one of Starkey’s authorized hearing care professionals.

If you’re not sure whether you have hearing loss or could benefit from a hearing aid, Starkey offers an online hearing test that takes 5 minutes. It asks a series of questions and plays various sounds to test your hearing abilities in different environments and conditions.

You can also call the company directly with any questions about purchasing Starkey hearing aids.

If you’re considering hearing aids, here are some frequently asked questions and their answers to help you with your purchasing decisions.

Does insurance cover Starkey hearing aids?

Most medical insurance plans don’t cover hearing aids, including those from Starkey. Some insurers may provide optional plans for hearing care costs, but they may only cover hearing tests and hearing aid fittings.

You’ll need to contact your health insurance provider directly to see if they cover hearing aids or associated costs.

Does Medicare cover Starkey hearing aids?

Original Medicare doesn’t cover Starkey or other brand hearing aids. It also doesn’t cover hearing exams or fitting for hearing aids. On the other hand, some Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) may cover some costs.

If you have Medicare Part C coverage, you should contact your provider to see if hearing aid coverage is included.

Which is better, Starkey or Phonak?

Starkey and Phonak are premium hearing aid providers that offer a range of solutions for people with hearing loss.

In terms of features, both manufacturers are fairly competitive. Starkey provides technologically advanced models, such as the Livio Edge AI, which has built-in artificial intelligence to improve its sound performance.

The best hearing aid company for you depends on the features you require and the model you choose.

Both companies offer hearing aids of a similar price range and quality. The best option for you depends on your personal choice.

Starkey hearing aids have positive reviews overall. It’s important that you team up with an audiologist you trust who can recommend the right brand and model for you.

Many customers like the Bluetooth connectivity as well as the number of additional features Starkey offers.


Zia Sherrell is a health copywriter and digital health journalist with over a decade of experience covering diverse topics from public health to medical cannabis, nutrition, and biomedical science. Her mission is to empower and educate people by bringing health matters to life with engaging, evidence-based writing. When she’s not writing, Zia enjoys traveling and chasing after her dogs.


Jessica Migala is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, and fitness content. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two young sons, and rescue pup. Find her on LinkedIn or on Instagram.