BlueAnt Z9i – Truth or Fiction?

3767I told you about one month ago in BlueAnt Z9i Bluetooth Headset about my purchase of the BlueAnt Z9i. This unit had rave reviews. My comments were more restrained. However, my experience, both then and in the weeks following, has been mostly positive.

My BlueAnt Z9i Bluetooth Headset post, unlike most of my posts, received a blizzard of comments, mostly negative. For example, Ileana, C. Scott and Raj are frustrated by repeated disconnects, whereas MrsDotOne and PME are slowly being driven mad by incessant beeping. The comments also discuss the long-promised but thus far non-existent firmware upgrade.

Yet, the rave reviews keep coming. CrackBerry just posted Review: Blueant Z9i Bluetooth Headset. Strangely, these reviews contain nary a mention of the problems reported by our readers.

What is going on? Are the reviewers shills who are “paid off” by the device vendor? I don’t think so. Their credibility is vital to the continued success of their website. Does Mobile Barbarian attract kooks and crackpots who like to whine and complain? Nonsense! Our readers simply are sophisticated users who are frustrated by a device not quite ready for prime time compounded by poor support, an all too common scenario nowadays.

My speculation: The reviewers likely are not testing the Z9i the same amount of time as are our readers, who actually are using the Z9i in real life. Further, the reviewers likely are not testing the Z9i with the variety of phones that our readers collectively are. As the comments reflect, the Z9i seems to work better on some phones than others.

The solution of course is not for the user to buy another phone, but for BlueAnt to fix the Z9i. I hope the upcoming firmware upgrade solves the many reported problems. Perhaps the slippage in the firmware upgrade release date is because new problems keep being reported? Stay tuned.

18 Responses to “BlueAnt Z9i – Truth or Fiction?”


  • Hey guys,

    I am having a static problem with my z9i paired with my iPhone 3g. I actualy thought it was a faulty unit but after taking it back and upgrading the firmware on the new one I still have the same problem!! Albeit not as frequently. Only after looking around on the web did I find this forum. Too bad of I had seen this I would have avoided it altogether!!

  • Ah yes, after only 24 hours of z9i ownership (replete with the newer v1.1 firmware) the symptoms are all too scary and familiar.

    1. Awful crackling sounds marring audio when listening.
    2. Called parties complaining that the sound quality is awful, unintelligable.
    3. Called parties just can’t hear me.
    4. Z9i disconnects from phone, MFB button press does not reconnect.
    5. LEDs stop showing status (no flashing LEDs anytime).
    6. Medium length MFB press does not switch to MAX voice isolation.
    7. Pressing and holding ‘+’ for 3 secs does not redial last number.
    8. Connect the Mac to the z9i for Skype (and it doesn’t work well, so I switch to the internal mic), press ‘+’ and ‘-‘ keys together to disconnect, headset logo does not show up on Sony mobile phone.

    It does look purdy though. 🙂

    Pairing with:
    1. Sony Ericsson z750i mobile (new), phone been released for 12 to 18 months, latest firmware loaded.
    2. MacBook (white, 2.4Ghz, Intel, latest OS X 10.5.6).

    Thanks for all your contributions.

    I doubt the problem is my phone; it’s been around for a year so they’ve probably ironed out bluetooth/headset bugs on their side.

    And the z9i is charged (i.e. not low battery).
    And I’ve upgraded and rebooted the Mac.
    And I’ve pulled the battery out of the phone and powered on again.
    Several times.

    And there is a pair of generic Bluetooth speakers that I’m around around sometimes (BT900’s) which may not play well with others.

    Here’s what I suspect from reading this thread and others:
    1. The z9i, paired with just a single phone and v1.1 firmware, probably works well for many phones.
    2. The multipoint feature (two active bluetooth pairings) is probably very buggy. From my brush with it, I’d describe it as “alpha” or “beta” software – not production quality. After my phone and my Mac have had their way with the z9i it enters a degenerating spiral of failing functionality, finally being reduced into a screaming heap of a pretty – but useless – shell.

    So, multipoint might work with two well behaved phone-like devices (as some users have reported).
    But throw in a PC to the multipoint, or a PDA (from what I’ve read), and it has a slow meltdown.

    Conjecture (from a Bluetooth noob): Good mobiles will use the “Handsfree” Bluetooth service to interact with the z9i (it’s richer, provides all those cool features).
    The Mac will use just the dumber “Headset” profile.
    Maybe shifting between these two in multipoint mode causes a headache for the z9i.

    I couldn’t get the beastie (z9i) to reset.
    I followed Al Hughes excellent reset instructions above (e.g. switch off bluetooth in other devices) and got the z9i to reset.

    Al’s instructions (to save you looking):
    “With the z9i powered on. Turn off the Bluetooth for all paired phones. You will hear a repeating twiddling tone indicating that you are out of range. Wait for the twiddling to stop and finish with a single low tone. You can now perform a three button reset”

    I’m now going to experiment with z9i monogamy. It’s going steady with my Sony mobile for a few days. I’m going to see if they get along, if they can hear each other, if the z9i’s lights will keep flashing happily. I’ve have high hopes.

    If this goes well, I’ll try bring the Mac (for Skype) back into the mix, but probably in a very limited way (disconnect z9i from mobile phone, connect from mac to z9i, use skype, disconnect mac from z9i, perhaps turn z9i off then on, reconnect z9i to mobile phone), progressively getting looser to see where the z9i can’t handle the fluid boundaries of a multipoint relationship…

  • Bad Support, pairing and broken plug receptacle.

    Purchased my headset and within 3 weeks it broke. Now it is useless, I have called support and unless I have my receipt they wont do a thing to help resolve this issue.

    I wouldnt recommend or purchase any Blueant products

  • Purchased the Z91 on recommendations from the wireless store where I purchased the iPhone 3G. Wrongly assumed you could update the firmware from a Mac. What is this about? No Mac support. That is a deal breaker out of the gate. Couple that with poor sound, poor battery. Constantly having to turn on and off and trying to reconnect. Recommendation: Don’t walk but run from this vendor and their products.

  • A bad product!! bought it after reading great reviews at cnet and other web sites. working with a motorola v3I results with horible noise. to a level when it is hard to understand. Workoing with Nokia 5800 results with endless disconrctions. very sad. the suport don’t even answers mail.

  • I have used this BT since it first came out and have used it with no problems whatsoever. I have used it on multiple phones ie; Motorola E398, Motorola W490, Tmobile Dash, Lg ENV2 and currently a Tmobile G1. Absolutely perfect. Since not all BT are created equal, it’s possible that it all comes down to which handset you are using with this BT also, which ear you have it in. Customer service does indeed answer emails as I have purchased replacement earkooks for an older Blueant Z3. As far as no Mac support, don”t blame Blueant fully, the wireless agent should have known and informed you prior to purchase.

  • Great post by Taz!
    I have used only two bt ear pieces: Plantronics 510 and the BlueAnt Z91. Despite the rave reviews that have been posted for the BlueAnt, I have found the device less than stellar. I use a nokia 6682 and now a N73. The device itself is comfortable and works fairly well. but I really don’t like how small it is- I am am constantly losing track of it or dropping it between the car seats and that clip is useless. I have also had complaints by people whom I am calling about the sound quality being not as good as the previous Plantronics ear piece. The quality on my end is comparable, it is the people I call who have noticed the difference. It is to the point where I would rather risk the “brain cancer” than deal with constantly repeating myself (joke). Now, with new phone, the nokia N73, I am having the same connectivity issues that have been written about here.

  • similar problems. just bought a ‘new’ z9i, had old firmware (1.0) upgraded it, but it still won’t correctly pair with two phones.

    first one (even if it was the second one paired) will always ‘connect’ when you click the blueant button.

    even if phone #2 is ringing. you click button, it answers the not ringing first phone.

    instructions on resetting it don’t work.

    (and it WAS reset when I loaded new firmware).

    if the other products work, find, but this one does not live up to expectations.

  • I thought i was in love with my Blue Ant until it suddenly stopped disconncting my calls by pressing the little ant on the ear piece..I have removed the battery and i have tried repairing it several times and it still has not fixed the problem..By the way, I have a Blackberry.

  • I was a BlueAnt follower for sometime. My recent experience with BlueAnt however will forever have me on the war path agains them. I can no longer recommend thier products. Support has degraded to the point where they are governed by a script instead of common sense.

    I am on unit number 3.

    The first worked for almost a year then seemed to die since the calls were very staticky. The second unit lasted for about 3 months, when the it appeared the speaker inside the housing became loose and giggled when moved (very annoying noise). The third was defective from the moment I recieved it, it would auto-answer all calls when it was paired with the phone.

    It was this last experience which really got to me. They wanted to pair the unit with a different phone to see if it auto-answered there too. But so what. The previous Z9i’s didn’t auto-answer. This was the same phone and the previous, same firmware, same everything, yet they want to test on a different phone. I WANT THE Z9i TO WORK WITH THIS PHONE.

    Based on how long each one lasted, and looking at the shorter durration times inbetween, I would have to say thier quality has gone down hill fast.

    Stay away.

    And this is sad because I spent months looking for the “right” headset, the right feel, the right fit, the right sound… this seemed to have it all (for me). Headsets are a very personal thing and getting the right fit is hard, everyone’s ear dimensions are different.

    Farewell BlueAnt.

    Crap, pardon me while I prepare for a new quest.

  • Can’t get this Z9i to NOT auto-answer. Not good!

    • Same here… have had it for a few days as a gift, but the autoanswer is really driving me crazy. I have an Iphone 3gs and t
      it pairs up nicely, but I’ve been looking everywhere for a way to switch autoanswer off and haven’t been able to find ANY type of help. Not on any apple support page or any BlueAnt one. VERY SUCKY!!!!!

  • I think the same way, let’s will be incorporated

  • My blueant Z9i would not work with my Nokia N900 phone. Doesn’t even work with my Macbook. Every time I connected to wifi on my phone, my blueant Z9i would disconnect for a few seconds and then reconnect. This would happen constantly. I also had crackling sounds in my headset. I’m not sure what was causing the problem. I contacted Nokia’s customer service and blueant’s customer service, sad to say, but they both SUCK big time!!!! I got rid of my Nokia N900. Sold it back to the store and got my money back. I still have the blueant unfortunately.

  • I came to this blog from Google and just wanted to say thanks for the reviews you wrote about on this page. I am thinking about about purchasing one myself.

  • Excellent write-up man, I sincerely like the look and also the feel of this unique site. You write seriously well, you really should be a aware guy. Will surely come back

  • hey i have been reading your blog for about a week now! great stuff. keep up the good work!

  • Z9i brilliant sound, features and functionality so I have endured an ongoing issue with compatibility with my Nokia E75 whereby most days it will drop connection every 90 seconds or so then reconnect. (Apart from the annoying tone all day, the E75 battery runs out by mid afternoon) Not great for a work phone or good to finish early each day for a golf game perhaps?
    Other days it runs faultlessly all day and is really sweet. Comfortable, quality sound, great voice call activation etc etc. Really brilliant those days so best described as love hate relationship. (Any suggestions for the best headset to replace it?) Quality #1 then cost

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