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Connect Bluetooth Headphones to Smartphone in 3 Quick Steps

Last updated: 1 month ago
7 min read

If you’re having issues connecting your Bluetooth headphones and earbuds to your smartphone, this article will help you solve all your problems.

We’ll show you easy steps to pair your headphones with iPhones (iOS) and Android smartphones.

Pairing headphones to smartphone
Quick Overview

    Step 1: Activate Pairing Mode on your Bluetooth Headphones & Earbuds

    Before connecting your Bluetooth headset to a smartphone, you’ll need to:

    • Activate pairing mode in headphones
    • And activate search mode on a smartphone

    Headphones and earbuds use slightly different methods to initiate pairing mode. There are also separate gestures and buttons you need to press depending on a headphone or earbud model. This article covers the most common methods.

    If you’re pairing headphones or earbuds from one of the more famous brands, you can check our in-depth articles on how to pair:

    Steps to activate pairing mode on Bluetooth earbuds

    Pairing mode in Bluetooth earbuds (true wireless earbuds, to be precise) is activated automatically or manually.

    Automatic pairing mode

    If you leave the earbuds disconnected for enough time, they should automatically jump into pairing mode. Here’s what you need to do:

    1. Remove the earbuds from their charging case and ensure they don’t connect to any other Bluetooth device.
    2. After a few seconds, you should hear a “Pairing” prompt or see LED blinking on one or both earbuds.
    TOZO T10 (Upgraded 2024) out of case

    Manual pairing mode

    If the automatic technique doesn’t work, you must activate pairing mode manually. Bluetooth earbuds typically have a button inside or outside their charging case, but you might need to use an ON/OFF method. Let’s cover both.

    Case button method

    1. With earbuds inside the charging case, open the case’s lid.
    2. Find and press the button on the charging case and hold for a few seconds or until you see an LED flashing on the case (or you’ll hear a “Pairing” prompt).
    Apple AirPods 3 case button

    ON/OFF method

    1. Take the earbuds out of the charging case.
    2. Press and hold the controls on both earbuds for a few seconds to turn them OFF.
    3. Re-press and hold the controls on both earbuds to turn them ON. Keep holding until you see LED(s) on the buds flashing. That means they’re in pairing mode.
    TOZO T20 reset

    Steps to activate pairing mode on Bluetooth headphones

    Bluetooth headphones have at least 2 different manual methods to activate pairing mode depending on whether you have a Bluetooth button or not. They can also activate it automatically.

    Automatic pairing mode

    Similar to earbuds, headphones also go into pairing mode if left unpaired for a while.

    1. Turn your headphones ON and ensure they don’t pair to any other Bluetooth devices.
    2. Wait a few seconds until you see the LED under one of the ear cups start flashing (or you hear a “Pairing” prompt).
    Sony WH-CH710N on a desk

    Manual pairing mode

    First, let’s focus on the most universal method without the Bluetooth pairing button.

    1. Turn your headphones ON while holding the power button for a few extra seconds.
    2. Wait for the LED under the ear cup to start blinking, or you will hear a “Pairing” prompt.
    Sony WH-1000XM5 pairing

    Now, here’s what you need to do if your headphones have a Bluetooth button.

    1. Locate the Bluetooth button on your headphones and press it while the headphones are turned ON.
    2. You should see an LED start blinking or a “Pairing” prompt from headphones.

    Step 2: Connect Your Bluetooth Headphones to an iPhone (iOS).

    Pairing headphones or earbuds to an iPhone involves 2 methods, depending on whether you’re trying to pair AirPods or headphones from other brands.

    However, to quickly summarize the steps, what you need to do is to:

    1. Go into Bluetooth settings on your iPhone and enable the feature.
    2. Enable pairing mode on your headphones or earbuds.
    3. Click on your headphones’ name when it appears inside the iPhone’s Bluetooth settings.

    Detailed way to connect headphones to an iPhone

    Pairing AirPods to iPhone

    1. Open the lid of the charging case (or remove the AirPods Max from their protective cover).
    2. When a white LED blinks, a pop-up message should appear, asking you to connect to your AirPods.
    iOS pairing older AirPods
    1. If you don’t see a blinking LED, hold the button on the back of the case for a few seconds (or the “Noise Control” button on top of the right ear cup on the AirPods Max).

    Pairing other headphones to iPhone

    1. Swipe from the upper-right corner to access quick settings. Tap “Bluetooth” to enable the feature.
    iOS swipe Bluetooth
    1. Tap and hold the Bluetooth icon to extend the widget. Tap on “Bluetooth Settingsā€¦“.
    iOS swipe Bluetooth settings
    1. Next, ensure that your headphones/earbuds are in pairing mode.
    2. In the Bluetooth settings menu, check under “OTHER DEVICES“. Your headphones should shortly appear in there. Click on them when they do.
    iOS pairing Sony

    Step 2: Connect Your Bluetooth Headphones to an Android Smartphone (Android)

    Connecting headphones to an Android phone involves two methods: the standard way or using Google’s Fast Pair (if supported). Samsung’s method is also similar to Fast Pair and Apple’s seamless pairing.

    But in general, what you need to do is to:

    1. Enable Bluetooth on your smartphone and wait for the Bluetooth menu to pop up.
    2. Activate the pairing mode on your headphones and click on their name when it appears in the pop-up Bluetooth menu.

    Detailed way to connect headphones to an Android device

    Standard method

    Use the standard method when your wireless headphones don’t support Google’s Fast Pair feature.

    1. Swipe from the top of the screen to access quick settings. Tap on the Bluetooth to enable it.
    Android enable Bluetooth
    1. After a second, a Bluetooth window should pop up.
      • If you accidentally close it, long-press the Bluetooth icon in the quick settings to access full Bluetooth settings.
    2. Ensure your headphones or earbuds are in pairing mode.
    3. Scroll all the way down in the Bluetooth settings to find “Available devices“. When the name of your headphones appears under available Bluetooth devices, click on it to connect.
    Android Bluetooth searching

    The same steps apply when connecting Bluetooth headphones or earbuds to a Huawei device running the HarmonyOS operating system.

    Google Fast Pair

    Typically, a symbol on the packaging indicates your headphones support this feature. Many JBL and some Sony headphones support it. If they do, all you need to do to pair is to:

    1. Enable Bluetooth by swiping from the top of the screen and accessing quick settings.
    2. Enable the pairing mode on your headphones and look at the smartphone’s screen. You should see a pop-up message asking you to connect the headphones to your Google account. Tap “Connect“.
    Android Google Fast Pair Sony WF-1000XM5

    Samsung’s proprietary pairing solution works the same way. You simply enable Bluetooth and pairing mode and wait for the message to show.

    Troubleshooting connecting Issues on Bluetooth Headphones and Earbuds

    Modern Bluetooth versions are pretty stable and shouldn’t cause any stutters. However, Bluetooth is still susceptible to glitches, which affect how it works and even prevent it from pairing/connecting to a headphone.

    Here are the possible problems you might encounter when connecting and using your Bluetooth headphones with a smartphone and all the ways to fix them.

    Glitch preventing connection

    Bluetooth connection can sometimes be affected by a glitch that prevents you from pairing your headphones with a smartphone. This glitch occurs when a line of code is initiated unsuccessfully.

    Since the glitch might originate from a smartphone and headphones, you should troubleshoot them both.

    On a smartphone

    1. Accessing quick settings, turn the Bluetooth OFF and back ON.
    2. To really ensure your smartphone starts from scratch, reset it entirely.
    Restarting your smartphone

    On headphones and earbuds

    1. Place the earbuds into the charging case and close the lid (hold the power button on the headphones).
    2. After several seconds, reopen the lid and activate the pairing mode (hold the power button on the headphones until they turn ON).
    SoundPEATS Air4 Pro earbuds in case

    Firmware problem

    Check for the new updates if you last updated your smartphone or headphones a while ago.

    Check updates on a smartphone

    Swipe from the top of the screen to access quick settings. If you aren’t yet connected to the internet, tap on Wi-Fi or Mobile Data (the update can be around 300MB big, so make sure you have enough free data in your carrier plan).

    1. Tap the “gear-looking icon” to access the main Settings.
    2. Scroll down and tap on “Software update“.
      • Alternatively, in Settings, click on the magnifying glass icon and search for “software updates”.
    3. Tap on “Download and install“. If the new update is suggested, install it.
    Android checking updates

    Before updating, ensure you know your SIM card’s PIN number.

    Check updates for your headphones

    Updating headphones’ firmware can be difficult if you have problems connecting them to your smartphone. Only a few brands offer the option of updating firmware via USB cable.

    One such brand is Bose, which offers a downloadable app for your PC. Follow the steps on their website to update your headphones successfully.

    Bose Updater web app

    Headphones connected to another device

    When you connect the headphones to a device, they will immediately start searching for that device when you turn them ON.

    This means that before pairing your headphones with a new device, you must turn OFF Bluetooth from all previously connected devices.

    Continuing Bluetooth glitch (Reset headphones)

    If the glitch preventing you from connecting headphones continues even after restarting and checking other possible options, perform a factory reset.

    Note that you don’t need a factory reset on your smartphone. Restarting it should be enough.

    There are multiple ways to initiate a factory reset for headphones and earbuds (some also offer soft resets), so we’ll only cover the most common method.

    Reset headphones

    1. Turn them OFF and back ON while holding the power button for at least 10 to 15 seconds.
    2. Headphones will first go into pairing mode, but after a few seconds, the LED should start blinking differently.
    3. Release the button when that happens.
    Sony WH-1000XM5 reset

    Reset earbuds

    1. Place them in the charging case and leave the lid open.
    2. Hold the power button for at least 10 to 15 seconds.
    3. The earbuds will first go into pairing mode, but after a while, the LEDs should start blinking in a different pattern or color.
    4. Release the button and wait for the blinking to end.
    5. Close and reopen the lid.

    As mentioned, there are numerous ways to reset headphones. Some brands even use different gestures for different models, so always consult the included manual.

    While you’re at it, you can check our extensive guides on how to pair, reset, and confront issues with different brands:

    FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

    Why won’t my Bluetooth headphones connect to my phone?

    Your Bluetooth headphones won’t connect to your phone because they either aren’t in pairing mode, don’t have enough battery (are turned OFF), or have a Bluetooth glitch (or your phone has it).

    Can you use Bluetooth headphones with any phone?

    You can use Bluetooth headphones on any phone that supports Bluetooth connectivity. This means that all modern phones should connect, except really old ones.

    How do I put my headphones in pairing mode?

    You put your headphones in pairing mode by, while powered OFF, holding the power button to turn them ON. Hold a few more seconds to see the LED blinking (or hear a “Pairing” prompt).


    Hopefully, your headphones are already playing music from your smartphone, and you fixed all the accruing issues along the way. If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.

    Learn how to connect headphones from the brands below to any device you want, not just to a smartphone:

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