From long battery life to great sound, Anker's newest truly wireless earbuds are a great alternative to Apple's AirPods, especially at a fraction of the price.
Price: $80Bottom line: Anker nails a good combination of sound quality, portability, and value here.
Since Apple released the AirPods back in 2016, other companies have tried to mimic the style and functionality of them, some more successfully than others. Bluetooth headphones used to be pretty clunky, they had a wire connecting the buds, and just lacked inspiration. I'm not one to care too much when companies "copy" other companies, as long as the product that is put out is a good one, and that's the case with Anker's new Soundcore Liberty Air headphones that were released a couple months back.
- Long battery life
- Comes in two color options
- Multiple ear tips for optimal comfort
- Great sound quality
- No USB-C or Lightning cable support
- Can't use left earbud independently
Big sound, small package
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air Bluetooth headphones: What I like
When I first got my hands on the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air headphones, I was a bit nervous about them since the charging case was larger than expected, and I was so used to my AirPods, but I was quickly impressed. The setup process simply includes opening the Bluetooth settings on your phone and pairing them once. While not as magical as the W1 chip allows some others to be, the process is painless and you only need to do it once.
The headphones come in both black and white, which is great because I feel like the black ones were a little less noticeable once in my ears, so if you've had a concern about people thinking you look silly in AirPods, this is a great way to avoid that worry.
Charging the case itself takes a bit before the first use, but once it's charged the case gives you an additional 20 hours of battery life on top of the five hours of playback you get from the battery inside the headphones themselves. This allowed me to basically charge once every week to two weeks, depending on how often I used them, and whether I was just listening to music or using them for calls (which kills the battery faster). The ear tips were impressively easy to change, which is something I generally have a harder time with on various sets of headphones I've used in the past.
Audio quality is great, and while the noise canceling on these may not be quite on par with what you get out of the Bose QuiteComfort 35, it's definitely nice to be able to block out some of that outside noise so you can focus on what you're listening to.
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air Bluetooth headphones: What I don't like
Part of the magic about these completely wireless earbuds is that you can take them out, pop one in your ear, and you're set. Apple allows you to use either the left or right one independently, but unfortunately, that's not the case on Anker's option. While not the end of the world, the fact that you can only use the left earbud on its own is a bit frustrating, partially because I prefer to use the right one mainly, and in order to do that now I need to use both.
Aside from this, my other major gripe with these headphones is actually about the charging case, and not the headphones themselves. The case feels a little clunkier than it needs to be, and that can be a problem considering these are something that you'll just want to toss into your pocket and go about your day. It would be nice to see a more modern connector on the case, like USB-C, or even an option to purchase a version that the case charges via Lightning, but it's not a deal breaker considering the headphones come with a cable to use.
A worthy alternative
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air Bluetooth headphones: Bottom line
If you're looking at alternatives for Apple's AirPods, these are the pair that I would recommend to anyone. This form factor seems to work better for myself and several others that I know, and the multiple ear tips help make them comfortable for just about everyone. They're normally priced at around $80, and I find myself having a hard time justifying paying nearly double that for some of the alternatives that are out there.