Available in Black

Review: These Are Worthy AirPod Alternatives for Half the Price


January 22, 2019 Reviews By Photo by chandler bondurant

Anker has released several true wireless earbuds in the last year and, generally, they’re all good and affordable options. We named the Zolo Liberty ($99) as the “best budget” option in our roundup of best true wireless earbuds. The company has also released cheaper and premium models of those same earbuds, the Zolo Liberty Lite ($60) and Zolo Liberty+ ($150), respectively, which differ in things like battery life and smart assistant integration. More recently, however, Anker came out with a different style of true wireless earbuds — Soundcore Liberty Air ($80) — that don’t look like any of its previous models. Instead, they have an uncanny resemblance to Apple’s AirPods. Just for half the price. So, how do they stack up?

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The Good: The Liberty Air are the best AirPod alternatives that actually look like AirPods. And despite being half the price, they still feel premium. The charging case feels very similar to the one that comes with AirPods, but has the added feature of LED lights, which show battery life. The swappable silicone tips allow for more flexibility in terms of fit, which AirPods don’t have. Battery life is good. And they’re available in black or white.

Who It’s For: Anybody that wants true wireless earbuds and doesn’t want to spend more than $100. Whether you have an iPhone or Android, the Liberty Air earbuds will work for you.

Watch Out For: They charge with micro-USB, so you can’t charge with the same cable as your iPhone. No W1 chip means pairing isn’t as automatic. The sound quality isn’t quite at the same level as AirPods. Touch controls can be a bit wonky.

Alternatives: If you’re just looking for true wireless earbuds, there are many alternatives. But if you want something affordable, I’d suggest Anker’s other options: the Zolo Liberty ($99) or the Zolo Liberty Lite ($60).

Review: The market for true wireless earbuds is more saturated than ever. Every single audio company seems to be making its own version, from Klipsch to Bang & Olufson, Jabra to Sennheiser, and they’re all so different. The most popular true wireless earbuds is undoubtedly Apple’s AirPods, having been released before most others and offering unique compatibility, thanks to Apple’s W1 chip, with iPhones. But at $159, they’re relatively expensive, so there are a lot imitators out there too; you can find copious knockoff AirPods on Amazon right now, which are wicked cheap and, in my opinion, pretty terrible.

Anker’s latest true wireless earbuds, the Liberty Air, are definitely geared for people who want AirPods, but just don’t want to pay a premium. Unlike the cheap ones you’ll find on Amazon, these are actually AirPod alternatives you can count on. They’re built solid. They have a good battery life. And the charging case is actually really nice. (I wish the AirPods’ charging case had LED lights to show battery life, like this one has.) And lastly, after testing numerous pairs of Anker’s affordable true wireless earbuds, I feel confident saying that you can trust them. They make solid headphones, including noise-canceling over-ear headphones, especially considering the prices.

That said, the Liberty Air are not AirPods and they lack many of the cool perks associated with them. Your iPhone won’t automatically detect them, for one, so you’ll have to go the conventional Bluetooth pairing route. And there are no optical sensors to detect when the earbuds are in or out of your ears; the audio will keep playing if you remove one or both Liberty Air earbuds from your ears, and will only stop when place them back in the charging case.

There’s also the issue of these not being AirPods, and anybody familiar with AirPods will be able to tell. As somebody working in tech and living in New York City, and who sees people wearing AirPods , I know that for better of worse AirPods hold some status. They’re cool. And if you have true wireless earbuds that aren’t AirPods… well, that’s a thing.

The fact that these aren’t AirPods does hold some advantages, however. The Liberty Air earbuds come with a number of swappable silicone tips so you can adjust the fit. AirPods don’t have that. This also made me feel more confident about working out or running with the Liberty Air. (My sweat has killed too many pairs of Apple’s EarPods to recommend running with AirPods.) And they’re available in both black or white models; Apple only offers its AirPods in white.

Verdict: Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air are worthy AirPod alternatives for those that don’t want to pay the AirPods’ premium. Sure, there are some trade-offs, such as micro-USB charging and sound quality, but overall these are solid true wireless earbuds that work well and also have the look and fit of Apple’s AirPods.

What Others Are Saying:

• “So should you get the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air? If you don’t already have a pair of true wireless earbuds, these are hard to beat. Sure, they’re not perfect. They do stumble on a few important features like volume control and adequate playback controls, not to mention the design of the actual earbuds is atrocious, but they sound great, have exceptional battery life, and a borderline perfect charging case. There are better sounding true wireless ‘buds, and one pair with a better battery life, but these hold their own all for less than $100.” — Adam Molina, SoundsGuys

• “At $79.99, the Soundcore Liberty Air are among the more affordable true wireless earphones that don’t break the bank. Coupled with good sound quality and battery life, Anker has a winner here. If you are looking for true wireless earphones and are not a fan of Apple AirPods, I would strongly recommend Soundcore Liberty Air.” — Damien, Make Tech Easier

Key Specs

Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2
Charge: micro-USB
Battery: 5 hours per charge, 20 total with case
Features: tap controls, access to virtual assistant
Colors: black or white

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Anker provided this product for review.

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