Android Central Verdict
The Soundcore Life P3 are yet another example of how really good earbuds don't have to come at a high cost. Anker serves up plenty with this pair, and your ears and wallet will both appreciate it.
Good sound quality
Surprising ANC performance
Pretty comfortable fit
Decent battery life
Solid app support
Wireless charging support
Finicky touch controls
Can slip during workouts
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Some brands make a name for themselves by undercutting the competition, and that's often the spot Anker finds itself in. The company keeps finding ways to deliver products that are not only more affordable, but also offer serious bang for the buck.
That's where the Soundcore Life P3 aim to take you when you put them on: giving you performance underpinning a good deal, and features that more expensive wireless earbuds already offer.
Anker Soundcore Life P3: Price and availability
Anker launched the Soundcore Life P3 in June 2021, and as one of the company's more popular pairs, they are easy to find in retail. They started at $80, though sometimes come down a bit if there's a sale. They don't shift in price as much as other Soundcore earbuds do, but their starting price is arguably still a bargain, given what you get. They come in black, navy blue, oat white, coral red, and sky blue variants.
Anker Soundcore Life P3: What's good
Like any pair of stem earbuds, the Soundcore Life P3 will always conjure up references to the AirPods. But the similarities pretty much end there once you see and hear what these earbuds have to offer. It's not often you see this kind of variance in color options, so the aesthetics are off to a good start.
The fit and comfort follow a similar pattern to other Soundcore earbuds, like the Liberty Air 2 Pro — a good thing, because they're not likely to slip out when you nestle them in right. As is so often the case with earbuds, the quality of the fit affects the quality of the audio, particularly the bass response, and that's no different here.
Anker tries to make that easier with five pairs of ear tips in the box, ranging from XS to XL, so odds are good you'll find the right pair for your ears.
There's some power behind the 11mm drivers, and it shows right out of the box. Much like the design resembles the Liberty Air 2 Pro, I would argue the sound is fairly consistent with it as well. The Air 2 Pro have a clearer sound profile that wards off distortion at higher volumes, whereas the Life P3 rumble just a little more, particularly in the lows and mids.
That's not to say that distortion is a problem here, as it really isn't, at least not at volumes you're more likely to listen to. I've grown to like the way Anker tunes its earbuds based on how they exceed expectations. The Life P3 are hardly audiophile quality, but they don't sound like earbuds that sell for this cheap a price.
It's all the more appealing when you consider they don't support a wide range of codecs. Other than the standard SBC, there's not much to note, though I did find it interesting that Anker threw in a gaming mode for lower latency sound when playing games or watching shows and movies.
Adding to the appeal is the excellent support from the Soundcore app. Between the eight-band EQ and 21 presets, there are a number of ways to tweak the sound the way you want, or depending on the content you're listening to. That kind of variability is nice for more budget-conscious earbuds, and it helps that the comfy fit and solid default audio provide an excellent foundation.
The same could be said for the active noise cancelation (ANC), which has three distinct modes: transport, outdoor, and indoor. The Life P3 won't snuff out background noise the way the best in the industry can, but that's to be expected. I found them effective in most situations, coming away impressed with the consistency, regardless of where I was. Even the outdoor setting proved useful when riding a bike with some wind gusts.
Transparency brings in ambient noise, and here too, there are two options. The regular mode brings in all sounds, whereas the Vocal mode tries to highlight voices. You have to go into the app to switch between them, but when you make a selection in the app, the earbuds remember it, so when you do ultimately switch, you don't have to go back and do it all over again.
Phone calls aren't bad at all, with clarity on both sides. Not the best I've seen in this price range, but certainly good enough for what you're paying. Much like other Anker earbuds, the Life P3 will go with whatever setting you had last. If it was ANC, then you won't hear much of the background (including your muffled voice). If it's Transparency, then it feels more like holding your phone to your ear. Also, you can get away with using only one earbud in mono, if you want.
One thing Anker is trying here is a way to knock you out with its Superior Sleep feature. You choose amongst a series of different sounds, most of which are of nature, and they then play together as a mix to lull you to sleep. It's an interesting thing to add to budget earbuds, but I like it. It's worth trying if you have trouble sleeping.
The only thing is you may not find the earbuds the most comfortable to wear if you're a side sleeper. Set a timer and the sounds play for a limited duration to save the battery.
Speaking of battery life, the Life P3 offer a respectable six hours per charge when you have ANC on. Leave it off and you're likely to crack seven hours. That's not a big drop-off between ANC or Transparency being on and off. Mix them up, and listen at a reasonable volume, and you're likely going to hit the numbers Anker claims.
The case is superb, offering an extra four full charges, plus support for wireless charging. Keep a USB-C cable handy to top it off when you need to. Fast charge support gives you two hours of playback after only 10 minutes of charging.
Anker Soundcore Life P3: What's not good
I wasn't overly thrilled with the touch controls on these earbuds. While it's great how Anker lays out the ability to customize the controls, it's when you actually tap them that the inconsistencies show. Part of the problem is that the actual touch-sensitive section isn't as easy to figure out when feeling for it. It's supposed to be where the Anker logo is, but I just felt there were too many times where I would tap and not get the result I wanted.
Another cost-cutting move was to hold off on wear sensors, meaning the earbuds won't automatically pause when taking them off. Same with playing when putting them back on.
The IPX5 rating is fine for doing some workouts, though I'm not super convinced these will stay in place during a run or rigorous workout. Their comfort is offset by a smoother plastic that does get slippery with perspiration. That does stand in contrast to regular, leisure situations, where they hold in place well, but it can happen once you start sweating in them.
Anker Soundcore Life P3: Competition
There are plenty of tough competitors catering to those on tighter budgets, especially when looking at the best cheap wireless earbuds currently available. The Creative Outlier Pro are a good example of earbuds that not only sound good and cancel out noise, but also offer unmatched battery life. Good sound and a great fit for smaller ears, the 1More PistonBuds Pro are an excellent choice because of the balance they bring to the table.
If you prefer to have that stem design, the Soundpeats Air3 Pro are an option. These buds have a nice mix of great sound, codec support, solid ANC, comfortable fit, and even a reliable gaming mode. You lose out on a dedicated app, though.
Anker Soundcore Life P3: Should you buy it?
You should buy these if...
- You want great sound
- You care about fit and comfort
- You want an EQ in an app
- You like good value for your money
You shouldn't buy these if...
- You want more codec support
- You want better touch controls
- You want something more rugged
- You don't like stems
It's not always the best wireless earbuds that have all the best traits. The Soundcore Life P3 prove that in a number of ways, making it clear you don't always have to go premium to get what you're looking for. And if you're going for that AirPods-like look, these stems will certainly look the part.
The best part is that Anker doesn't abandon its earbuds or leave them in the lurch. Firmware updates do come along, and the depth of features and customization in the app add personal touches. That they sound good and cancel out noise well almost feels like a bonus. That's the mark of a solid pair of earbuds.
The Anker Soundcore Life P3 are one of the best pairs of affordable earbuds you can find right now. An excellent collection of features and performance deliver more than you bargained for.
Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar. Often times, that will be with a pair of headphones or earbuds playing tunes. When he's not testing something, he's working on the next episode of his podcast, Tednologic.