Apple’s Airpods are great – they are easy to use, they are packed with features, and they offer great battery life.
But, they are expensive. Really expensive.
That’s where Anker’s Liberty Air wireless earphones come in.
These are half the price of airpods – but have many features and attributes that are just as good or better than the Apple AirPods product.
It’s Liberty Air Earphones Versus Apple Airpods – let’s compare and contrast these two choices.
Here’s our lineup in AirPods vs Anker:
How do we compare these two competitors?
Well – it’s simple – for a great set of earbuds you expect these features.
- Sound quality for playing music
- Sound quality for phone calls
- Comfort of wear and Retention
- Battery Life
- Ease of use and Reliability
Let’s take a closer look.
Sound Quality of Music
Let’s start with music – that’s the scenario that most people want for earbuds.
Having your tunes on the go is great – whether you are in the gym, commuting, or doing just about anything else.
How do these two competitors stack up in regards to sound quality?
We’ve got to give it to the Anker Soundcore model.
Why? It’s simple – these headphones just plain sound better.
There’s more bass in the sound – and that’s what you need for good music listening in most cases.
How has Anker outmaneuvered Apple in this regard?
The Liberty Air uses ear tips – these rubber inserts fit snugly in your ear canal.
That has two big advantages.
First of all, it is passive noise cancellation – it isolates your eardrums from external sound not coming from the speakers of the headphone.
And it makes a BIG difference.
Secondly, this sealed design let’s you get better results from these tiny speakers.
In particular in regards to the bass levels.
There’s more than one benefit to the ear tips though – they also let you use less volume to hear what you are trying to listen to.
Using airpods in a noisy location? You really have to crank up the volume – and that’s going to damage your hearing eventually.
To be clear – the Apple Airpods don’t have bad sound – but they simply can’t compare to the Anker model.
So, regarding excellent sounding music playback – the clear winner is the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air.
How about phone calls? We’ll talk about that next.
Sound Quality of Phone Calls
The other important use of any earbud that has a microphone is for receiving phone calls.
There’s two aspects to a quality phone call – both the incoming sound from the speakers and the outgoing sounds from the microphone must be up to par.
In this regard we find the Apple Airpods and the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air to be at parity.
That means, either work pretty well.
The secret is in the noise-reduction technologies in use.
For the AirPods, the chip within can recognize when you are speaking and it utilizes a pair of beamforming microphones to filter out external noise.
The Anker Soundcore uses a Dual-Mic Uplink Noise-Reduction. That means the chip within can determine which sounds are external (and not your voice) and it attempts to minimize that noise.
Having said that, it’s true that those snug ear tips on the Anker model do help more in noisy environments.
The mic might not be picking up external noise – but you still need to be able to hear the incoming sound from the other caller.
Of course, there is a flip side to Anker’s ear tips – not everyone enjoys that sensation of something jammed into your ear canal.
Secondly, when you speak your voice sounds much different while you are on the call.
But here’s the thing – the ear tips are OPTIONAL.
You can pop them off and use the earbuds for phone calls without any of these annoyances.
The Apple AirPods, on the other hand, have no such option. It’s no ear tips all the time.
As such, I’d give the Anker Soundcore a slight advantage in phone calls.
The noise isolation of the ear tips is just WAY BETTER than the Apple AirPod.
Style matters – we all want something that looks good.
And in this category we have to give the 1st place award to Apple.
The unique design and form factor of the Apple AirPods instantly.
And people know it’s a premium product.
At first the AirPod had sort of an odd aesthetic – but now it is common place and it is the design to beat.
Anker can’t copy the AirPod design directly – they’d be sued.
But we find the Anker Liberty Air to be a good looking product as well.
From a distance you might mistake it for an AirPod – but up close it’s a different story – it doesn’t look the same.
Therefore, for this category of our comparison – we’ll award the Apple AirPod as the winner.
Comfort of Wear and Retention
Earbud style headphones have to be comfortable.
And they have to stay put.
They are small and light-weight – which is great for comfort.
But it’s not so great if they fall out of your ears and get dirty on the subway platform – or anywhere else.
This is another area where the Anker product comes out ahead – provided you are using the ear tips.
Remember – those fit snugly in your ear canal. And they provide four different sets of ear tips to ensure you get the right fit.
And that helps hold them in your ears.
To be clear, neither is as secure as headphones with a headband or neckband – but they both do pretty well.
The Apple AirPods win for comfort – because they lack the ear tip. You don’t have the sensation of something jammed in your ear hole.
Both weigh about the same – so weight is not a factor.
An Apple AirPod weighs about 4 grams, and the Anker Liberty Air weighs 5 grams.
You can’t tell the difference in weight.
Similarly the charging cases weight the same as well – 1.6 ounces each – but the Anker charging case is significantly bigger.
As you can see from the picture, it’s about 25% physically larger even though it weighs the same.
We dont’ know why this is. The headphone itself is not any larger than an AirPod – perhaps Anker has a less expensive and less dense battery cell within?
Battery life is very important for wireless earphones.
After all – there’s no wires – so when the battery is done, the fun is over.
The Apple AirPods win the battery life contest.
Both manufacturers claim their product is good for 5 hours of use – but Apple wins because that more efficient charging case battery is good for 24 hours total.
In contrast, the Liberty Air’s case (even though it’s physically larger) is only good for 20 hours, according to the specs.
And while this is a difference, it’s really not a big deal in practical usage.
You can charge the Soundcore charging case with a mini-USB connector – which are plentiful nowadays.
The Apple AirPod charging case uses a Lightning connector – Apple’s proprietary cable design.
But, if you have an AirPod – you already have an iPhone (it doesn’t work with Android) – so you probably have a Lightning cable as well.
Ease of Use and Reliability
One of the most amazing things about the Apple AirPod is just how well it works and how easy it is to use.
From the initial setup, pairing, using with multiple devices like your phone, Macbook, and more – it’s just a very high quality experience.
The Anker Liberty Air does a pretty good job too – it’s easy enough to pair – and it holds a strong, stead connection thanks to support with Bluetooh 5.
As an added bonus – the Liberty Air works with Android – and the Apple AirPod does not.
Apple products are known for quality and reliability and the AirPod is no exception.
Combine that with some of the newer features – like Siri support, seamless switching between multiple devices – and the Apple AirPod is hard to beat.
Certainly – if you have multiple Apple products (like an iPhone, Mac, and iPad) you really should probably get the AirPod.
It will work seamlessly with all those devices.
Having said that, if you are not in the Apple ecosystem – the AirPod is not an option.
And that’s where the Anker Soundcore shines.
It’s a great product – but is available for more devices – and it’s cheaper.
Does it match the Apple AirPod feature for feature? No.
But it doesn’t have to, to be an excellent wireless headphone option.
It’s good to have some level of water resistance in your earbuds.
Earbuds are small, and they get dropped a lot – like when you are relaxing by the pool or at the beach.
They can also be exposed to spraying water – or rain.
The Liberty Air have an IPX5 rating.
The dual digit IP rating means they have not been tested for dust (solids) protection, but they have a 5 rating for water protection. A 5 means the device can resist a sustained, low-pressure water spray.
As such, these are sweat-resistant and rain-resistant – but you can’t drop them in the water.
In contrast, the Apple AirPod carries no IP rating whatsoever – but that only means Apple has chosen not to test it.
AirPods certainly can survive the amount of sweating you do during a workout.
Anker Liberty Air Earbuds vs Apple Airpods – In Summary
For people deeply in the Apple ecosystem (iPhone, iPad, Mac, etc.) the Apple AirPods make a lot of sense.
But if you are looking for a cheaper alternative for use with Apple – the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air are a great pair of earphones for a lot less money.
And if you are using Android – they are an excellent product that is fully compatible with your device.
We hope this review has been helpful – we’ll update later in the year as we conclude our long term testing.
Looking for more earbud options? Check out our article about AirPod alternatives.
Some photos are property of the manufacturer.