BTE Vs. ITE Hearing Aids - Choose the Right One for You

Written by the Nano Hearing Aids Team
Reviewed for Accuracy by Lindsay Roberts, AuD.

Lindsay Roberts
BTE Vs. ITE Hearing Aids - Choose the Right One for You

Hearing aids help us to listen better and communicate with other people easily by amplifying the sounds and providing other convenient features. Hearing aids can be of different types based on designs, features, etc. Based on where they are worn, hearing aids can be of different types, such as-

  • BTE or Behind-The-Ear Hearing Aids
  • ITE or In-The-Ear Hearing Aids
  • ITC or In-The-Canal Hearing Aids
  • RIC or Receiver-In-the-Canal Hearing Aids
  • CIC or Completely-In-The-Canal Hearing Aids
  • IIC or Invisible-In-The-Canal Hearing Aids
  • RITE or Receiver-In-The-Ear Hearing Aids

Each type of hearing aid comes with a different set of benefits and features. Each different type works better for specific types of hearing loss problems. Among all the types, BTE and ITE hearing aids are used the most due to their high convenience and availability. People who want more features and convenience usually go for BTE hearing aids, and people who want to go for looks and discreteness, usually go for the ITE ones. The main difference between these two types of hearing aids lies in their designs. 

BTE vs. ITE Hearing Aids

Let’s have an in-depth look at these two types of hearing aids. 

In-The-Ear Hearing Aids

In-The-Ear Hearing Aids

In-The-Ear hearing aids are typically custom-fit which is based on intuition taken by the doctor during your consultation regarding hearing aids. They are worn in the ear canal. ITE hearing aids are usually available in colors that match with various skin tones that will blend with the tone of the outer ear. There are some kinds of In-The-Ear hearing aids that fit within the user’s canal very deeply, while the other ones are nearer to the outer part of the ear. It is recommended to choose ITE hearing aids that completely fit inside your ear canal, just like Nano CIC.

Hearing Aids

The bespoke design of ITE hearing aids might be the best option for someone that is struggling to find hearing aids that will feel natural against their ears.

Behind-The-Ear Hearing Aids

Behind-The-Ear Hearing Aids

Behind-The-Ear hearing aids sit on top of or behind the outer ear. These hearing aids use tubing for routing the received sound into the user’s ear canal through an earmold that’s custom-fit, or a specific done-like style that won’t block the opening of the ear canal. Behind-The-Ear styles are available in various colors for matching the tone of skin or hair. They are also available in more showy designs for a more personalized flair. BTE hearing aids are almost invisible Nano Ultra for example.

Best Hearing Aids for You

It can be difficult to understand and select what type of hearing aid will be right for you. As when it comes to hearing aids, there are various styles and features available to suit the various needs of people with hearing loss. There are a number of things that you need to know before choosing a specific type of hearing aid for yourself. Among these things, the most important one is to know what kind of hearing loss you have. Based on the type and degree of your hearing loss problem, you’ll need to choose a type for yourself.

BTE Vs. ITE Hearing Aids - Side by Side Comparison





Oversized and can be clumsy

Better Designed


Very visible

Nearly Invisible


Can be a bit uncomfortable

More comfortable

Battery Life

Bigger and better

Smaller and less powerful

Life Span 

Can go up to 8 years

Maximum of 7 years


Better amplification 

Poor in comparison


Better for the price

More expensive

In the following few sections, we will take a look at the two types of devices and how well they score on some important benchmarks. These benchmarks are used universally when it comes to assessing a hearing aid device. So, let us dig deeper into the subject.


When it comes to design ITE hearing aids are generally custom-made for the individual who will be wearing them. This is one benchmark that ITE hearing aids crush quite comfortably and is a lot more flexible than the BTE hearing aids. The BTE ones are usually a lot more clunky and have a lot more stuff going on. 

In terms of design, in particular, ITE hearing aids have a clear advantage over their BTE counterparts. Then there is also the question of discreteness - a lot of people simply do not want to show their hearing aids as they may be embarrassed by their condition. For these people, ITEs are the way to go. 


Another fairly obvious metric to judge a hearing aid device by is the visibility factor. As mentioned above, a lot of people are simply not comfortable to “announce” to the world that they are living with a disability like hearing loss. 

ITE hearing aids are obviously the ones which someone who is not ready to open up about their hearing loss will prefer. The BTE models can be quite bulky and it becomes very obvious when someone is wearing the hearing aid. 


ITE hearing aids are normally designed specifically according to a particular individual’s needs. They are, therefore, much better suited for providing a sense of comfort that other types of hearing aids simply cannot provide. 

BTE hearing aids, on the other hand, are quite bulky and difficult to carry around. They are much bigger and a lot more clumsier than their ITE counterparts. 

Battery Life

This is another department where BTE hearing aids have a clear advantage over ITE hearing aids. They are a lot more reliable when it comes to battery life, a highly desirable function in hearing aids in general. 

This means that people who use BTE hearing aids will not have to charge their devices as often as those who use ITE hearing aids. Another important point to mention here is that as the batteries are bigger, they will be able to provide a lot better amplification than devices with smaller batteries. 

Life Span

There are a lot of variables that come into play when we are assessing the life span of any device. These variables include how well the device has been maintained, how it has been used and also, how well the particular device has been made. In general, ITE hearing aids can last from anywhere from 3 to 7 years when you factor in those variables. 

BTE hearing aids, on the other hand, have a much better lifespan and they can last for up to 8 years. However, that is provided the device has been taken care of properly. 


The way that BTE hearing aids are made enables them to provide much better and stronger amplification than other types of hearing aids, like the ITE devices. These devices, the BTE hearing aids, perform very well when it comes to amplifying sounds on both ends of the spectrum. That means it is able to provide solid low frequencies and a crisp high end. 


In general, the price of the device is completely reliant on how advanced the hearing aid is. The more advanced it is, the more expensive it is likely to be. 

It makes sense then that  BTE hearing aids are the ones that are better for the price. This is pretty obvious as these ones are easier to make and operate properly due to their size, shape, and features. On the other hand, ITE hearing aid devices are a lot more expensive as they have to fit in a lot more stuff in a much smaller space. 

So, Which Hearing Aid Is Better Behind the Ear or in the Ear?

It depends on what type of hearing loss you are suffering from, what type of hearing aids you are used to using, your needs and preferences, etc. Both these types of hearing aids have their own set of benefits and features. You’ll need to understand which ones you want for your hearing aids, and which ones you need. Then you’ll be able to select a type for yourself easily.


If you want to know which type of hearing aid is better among these two types, you should know that the answer is that they are very close in terms of performance. According to the metrics we used to judge these devices by, BTE hearing aids just narrowly beat out ITE hearing aids. BTE hearing aids performed better in just one extra category. That’s how close the comparison was. 

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