I have been using Apple AirPods since they came out in 2016 and love them, but I find it amazing that it’s only in the last year or so that they have really become popular.
When they were first launched, you’d never see them out and about, but now, they’re everywhere.
Well, you can now buy lots of much cheaper alternatives, including the Anker Soundcore Liber Air headphones that retail on amazon.co.uk for £79.99.
There’s a lot to like about the Liberty Airs including the price that’s a lot less than a set of AirPods. The Liberty Air’s are truly wireless free headphones, that come with their own charging case that provides you with up to 20 hours of battery life. The headphone batteries are good for up to five hours on a single charge, but the charging case can fully charge them another three times. In my testing, I got close to this, but in general, they were good for a full day of heavy use.
The charging case is a little bigger than the AirPods, but I love that you can stand it up thanks to a flat edge. You can also see the battery level thanks to three white LED indicator lights on the front of the case. The pairing process is nice and easy — open the case, take out the earbuds, then open Bluetooth settings on your phone or tablet. The Soundcore Liberty Air’s will show up here where you can click pair. That’s it, nothing as fancy as the AirPods and W1 chip or even the Galaxy Buds, but it works and you only have to do it once. When you want to use them just open the case and take them out and they’ll connect automatically to your paired device.
Unlike the AirPods, the Liberty Airs come in either black or white. I’m so glad Anker sent me the blacks to test. The case is matte black while the buds themselves are glossy black. I feel that while in your ears the black ones don’t stand out as much.
It’s hard to fully appreciate just how convenient truly wireless headphones are like the Liberty Airs until you use them for a while.
There are no wires to get tangled and it’s so much easier to bring them with you on trips or just have in a pocket. Of course, this convenience comes at a price and it’s up to you whether or not that price is worth it.
Built into Liberty Air’s earbuds are discreet touchpads to allow you to play, pause, and skip music and answer calls with simple touch commands, which I found worked well most of the time. However, I didn’t like tapping on the earbuds that were pressing against my inner ear.
There are some things I didn’t like about the Liberty Airs including the fact that the charging case uses a micro USB port for charging instead of the now standard USB-type C. If you only want to use a single earbud for taking and receiving calls, for example, it has to be the left one. Also, there’s no software to allow you to tweak settings, customise touch controls or adjust the sound parameters. Not the end of the world, nor a dealbreaker, but worth noting.
I’ve tested a lot of in-ear and over ear headphones and find that sound quality is very subjective. So much will depend on factors like ear shape, so how well the headphones fit you, but also the music that you listen to. I listened to a lot of podcasts, YouTube videos and a vast range of music styles while testing the Liberty Airs. My overall conclusion is that as long as you use the correct size ear tips (it comes with XS/S/M/L), the Liberty Airs sound pretty great.
The sound improves if you make sure to push them right into your ear cavity — they get louder and the bass improves greatly. I also found them fairly comfortable, ever for prolonged periods. While watching videos, the sound is in sync with the video, something that hampers other Bluetooth headphones I’ve used.
Overall, I’d recommend the Soundcore Liberty Air headphones for those looking for a cheaper alternative to the AirPods whether you’re an Android or iOS user.
Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 PD Power bank
Anker is better known for their power banks and I’ve been using the Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 PD. This comes with a massive 20100mAh battery capacity.
It can charge USB-C devices like laptops, tablets and obviously phones up to 24W. It comes with a USB-C to USB-C cable in the box which is only 90cm long and no charger.
However, for the price (£49.99 amazone.co.uk) it’s not too surprising.
In my time of testing, I’ve got more use from the 20000 PD than any other power bank I’ve used because of its versatility and massive capacity. I have a 27W Apple USB-C charger that charges it in four hours, which is slower than I was hoping for, but not a big deal. If you use a smaller charger then it’s definitely an overnight charge.
The 20000 PD will charge something like an iPhone 5/6 times, Macbook 2016 once, or an iPad Air2 1.8 times. It comes with an 18-month worry-free warranty and friendly customer service.