The best AirPods alternative? – Review Geek

Rating: 9/10 ? 1 – Absolute hot waste 2 – Sorta lukewarm waste 3 – Severely flawed design 4 – Some pros, many cons 5 – Acceptably imperfect 6 – Good enough to buy on sale 7 – Great, but not the best in its class 8 – Fantastic , with some footnotes 9 – Shut up and take my money 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: 80

With the Soundcore Life P3 earbuds in my hand.Andrew Heinzman

Anker’s audio brand called Soundcore manages to routinely undercut the competition with its affordable yet impressive wireless earbuds. And the company’s latest rate takes things to a new level. The Soundcore Life P3 earbuds are only $80, but they offer impressive sound quality with great bass, solid ANC and Ambient modes, and an app that doesn’t suck.

This is what we like

Surprising sound quality and bass Decent ANC and Transparency modes Small, lightweight and comfortable Solid battery life Sync button makes pairing with new devices a breeze

And what we don’t do

Touch controls are unpredictable Poor call quality No ear detection for auto-pause

As far as I’m concerned, the Life P3s are arguably the best stem-shaped earbuds not made by Apple. And while the Life P3s are quite different from AirPods, they are one of the few “AirPods alternatives” that I think is worth taking seriously.


Drivers: 11mm Earbud weight: 4.5g each Case weight: 54.5g (63.5g with earbuds) Active noise canceling: Yes Transparency mode: Yes Single earbud mode: Yes Bluetooth: 5.0 Codecs: AAC, SBC Battery life: 7 hours on earbuds, 28 hours with case; 35 total Charging cable: USB-C Charging time: 2 to 3 hours Wireless charging: Qi Control type: Touch controls (customizable) Additional tips: Small, Medium, Large, XL Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz IP rating: IPX5

Comfortable design, solid build quality

The Soundcore Life P3 earbuds in the colors blue, red, white, black and blue.They come in many colors! sound core

Like most Soundcore earbuds, the Life P3 has a comfortable stem design. They are very similar to AirPods, although they come in multiple colors (including beautiful coral red) and have silicone ear tips.

And that’s the first area where Soundcore wins brownie points: The Life P3 earbuds come with five sets of eartips, perfectly sized for small, medium and giant ear holes. An in-app test will help you choose which earbuds are best for you, which is very important, as the Life P3’s ANC and transparency features won’t work if your ears aren’t sealed properly. (Many earbud manufacturers seem to overlook this detail.)

Once you’ve found the right earbuds, the Soundcore Life P3s are very comfortable and safe. They won’t fall out on a trip to the gym (unlike AirPods), and their IPX5 sweat resistance rating ensures they won’t suffer catastrophic failure during an intense workout, assuming you’re not completely soaked with sweat.

In fact, the build quality is fantastic. The Life P3s are lightweight, but feel solid and have no sharp plastic edges. The same goes for the charging case, which has a nice spring-loaded lid (for one-handed operation), three LEDs to indicate battery life and a sync button to help you quickly pair the Life P3s with a new device.

As for battery life, Soundcore promises 7 hours of continuous playback or a total of 35 hours with the charging case (which charges via USB-C). Those numbers drop to 6 o’clock and 30 o’clock with ANC turned on. This is my least favorite thing to test – wearing earplugs for more than a few hours sucks. But I managed to drain the Soundcore Life P3s a few times, and they only lived up to the advertised battery life when listening sessions included a long phone call.

Shockingly good sound for the price

The Soundcore Life P3 earbud housing, charging cable, and replacement earbuds.Andrew Heinzman

Good sound can make or break a pair of earbuds, and I’m happy to say that the Life P3s offer very impressive sound quality for the price. Bass is the big highlight here – the Life P3s have big 11mm drivers, so they have a lot of rumble.

The default Life P3 sound profile is warm and satisfying, especially for dance music, hip-hop and modern R&B. While the Life P3s don’t have the flat “studio” sound of Apple’s AirPods, I think some people prefer Soundcore’s emphasis on bass.

And for those who love rumbling music, the Soundcore app includes a BassUp switch to boost the low frequencies. Soundcore likes to include BassUp in most of its audio products, and while I usually hate the feature, it’s quite fun to use with the Life P3 earbuds.

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Andrew Heinzman

Andrew Heinzman

Andrew Heinzman

Of course, the Soundcore app lets you choose from several preset sound settings, and you can even build custom presets with an eight-band EQ. But I found that even with more conservative EQ settings, the Life P3s work best with contemporary music. Songs recorded before the 80s don’t translate perfectly on these earbuds, at least not for me.

I also want to praise the Life P3s for their soundstage. Stereo effects feel super wide with these earbuds, and I can hear clearly when a sound is panned to the left or right channel. It’s something different that I didn’t expect for $80.

Unfortunately, the call quality stinks. There are three microphones in each earbud, but the sound they pick up is quiet and tinny. That said, I didn’t experience any dropouts and found that call quality remained usable whether I was indoors or out.

Soundcore also neglected to include aptX in the Life P3s. This codec is said to maximize sound quality on Android devices, although I don’t think the average person would notice the difference. It’s just a shame that manufacturers continue to neglect the technology in mid-range products.

Unpredictable touch controls

The Soundcore Life P3 earbuds and charging case.Andrew Heinzman

Robust touch controls allow you to adjust most of the Life P3’s settings without taking your phone out of the box. There’s support for play and pause, the ability to activate ANC and Ambient modes, and even a “tap and hold” command that calls up Google Assistant or Siri.

These touch controls require you to double tap the earbuds, which should prevent accidental input. Plus, you can customize the Soundcore app controls — a handy option for those who want one-tap control.

Here’s my problem; the touch controls are unpredictable. They don’t always respond quickly, so I often find myself tapping the earbuds to pause the music. It doesn’t help that the controls are sluggish so I always have to wait to see if the earbuds are being picky or just taking my time.

There is also no ear detection. This feature makes earbuds automatically pause when you take them out of your ears, and would be really nice to have in the Life P3s given the shaky touch controls.

Usable ANC and Ambient modes

The Soundcore Life P3 earbuds and charging case.Andrew Heinzman

You really can’t expect a pair of $80 earbuds to deliver world-class ANC. That said, Soundcore has managed to pull off something special, and I’d happily recommend these earbuds to anyone looking for an affordable noise canceling solution.

The Life P3s are surprisingly good at blocking out the rumble of an engine or the noise of an air conditioner. You can control ANC directly by tapping the left earbud or opening the Soundcore app to adjust the ANC intensity.

My only major complaint is that the strongest ANC mode, called Transport, noticeably reduces the music quality. Not to the extent of comparably priced ANC earbuds, but enough to have me reaching for a more expensive product when I know I’ll be in a super noisy environment.

Soundcore also knocked it out of the park with “Ambient Mode”, the company’s name for Transparency Mode. It just works: I use Ambient mode to bring in external noise while cooking, as it saves me from taking the earbuds out if someone decides to bother me. (That said, I found Apple’s Transparency mode to be a bit more effective.)

Holy crap, I love the app!

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Andrew Heinzman

Andrew Heinzman

Andrew Heinzman

There are many things I hate about Bluetooth headphones and earbuds. But headphone apps have a special dark place in my heart and I avoid them as much as possible. The Soundcore app (iOS/Android) is an exception; it is awesome.

I’ve already mentioned some of the many features of the app: you can choose from preset sound profiles, build custom EQs, adjust the ANC intensity, and run a test to determine which earbud is best for you. This stuff is pretty mundane, so why is the Soundcore app so special?

Simply put, the app is easy to use and has not caused me any problems. Everything you need is there, clearly labeled. You can even activate a low-latency game mode with a single tap or quickly program a sleep playlist using built-in ambient sounds.

My favorite part of the app is the detailed eight-band EQ. Changes you make to the EQ are immediately noticeable on the earbuds; there is no crazy delay. It makes dialing in a sound super easy, which my experience with other earbuds isn’t.

The Essentials: A Great Bass-Heavy AirPods Alternative

The Soundcore Life P3 packaging.Andrew Heinzman

Those hoping to find the form factor, quality, and style of AirPods at a lower price point should give the Soundcore Life P3s a shot. At just $80, they’re less than half the price of what Apple has to offer, yet deliver a great listening experience with ANC and Ambient modes.

To be clear, the Life P3s are not a copy of the AirPods. Both products have their own characteristics and the Life P3s are unique in the company’s emphasis on bass. If you’re looking for a more neutral sound, you may want to look elsewhere or make the $180 for a pair of AirPods.

This is what we like

Surprising sound quality and bass Decent ANC and Transparency modes Small, lightweight and comfortable Solid battery life Sync button makes pairing with new devices a breeze

And what we don’t do

Touch controls are unpredictable Poor call quality No ear detection for auto-pause

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