scorecardApple's $160 AirPods might be all the rage, but after trying Anker's alternative for half the price, I decided I don't need them
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Apple's $160 AirPods might be all the rage, but after trying Anker's alternative for half the price, I decided I don't need them

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black liberty vs airpods

Yutong Yuan/Business Insider

Soundcore Liberty Air in black (left) and Apple AirPods (right).

  • Tons of people swear by Apple AirPods, but with a $160 price tag, I'm not quite a believer.
  • I tried Anker's half-price alternative, the Soundcore Liberty Air, and although I've only used the AirPods for a few hours to test them out, I can confidently say I think they're a better value.
  • Soundcore Liberty Air headphones might not be as fancy as AirPods, but they get the job done well. They feature Bluetooth connectivity, 20 hours of battery life, and touch controls for pausing and playing music, answering and ending calls, and activating Siri.

When the Apple AirPods were first released, public opinion was pretty divisive. Some people thought they were the best smartphone accessory since the charger itself, while others thought they were funny-looking, useless, and overpriced. I personally was of the latter option.

More than two years later, my opinion on true wireless headphones has mostly changed - the look of two little pieces of plastic floating in people's ears isn't so bad, and with headphone jacks being a thing of the past, they actually are useful. But my biggest gripe with AirPods still exists: the price.

At $160, Apple AirPods are downright expensive. That, paired with the horror stories I've heard of people having to buy second and third pairs after one slipping out of their ear to never be seen again has kept me from buying a pair for myself. In an attempt to keep up with technology without spending so much money, I went with Anker's half-price alternative: The Soundcore Liberty Air.

Soundcore Liberty Air


With a much more affordable price tag of $79.99, the Soundcore Liberty Air headphones have many of the same attributes that make the Apple AirPods great. They feature Bluetooth connectivity, a pocket-sized case for up to 20 hours of battery life, and touch controls for pausing, playing, and skipping music, answering and ending calls, and using a voice assistant like Siri.

I've been using Soundcore Liberty Air headphones for a couple of weeks now and they've been a wonderful extension of my smartphone. In my opinion, they're a great value in true wireless headphones because of the price point, quality, and all-around functionality.

Read more: The best truly wireless earbuds you can buy

For me, the set-up/pairing process is the first indication if I'll like a tech product, and the Soundcore Liberty Air proved to be hassle-free. Granted, they won't automatically pair to your iPhone like AirPods, but they're super easy to set up nonetheless. Just take them out of the charging case, go into your device's Bluetooth settings, and select "Soundcore Liberty Air." Once they were paired, I didn't have any issues with connectivity, device unpairing, or no audio from one or both headphones. However, you can turn the left headphone off if you'd like to use one headphone (the right side is the master headphone).

One small, but very notable difference that I like about the Soundcore Liberty Air headphones is that they're available in both black and white. I personally went with the black pair and think they're a bit more subtle than white earbuds. If you want AirPods, you're stuck with only white.

Unlike AirPods that seemingly use magic to stay in your ears, the Soundcore Liberty Air headphones use an ergonomic design and assorted ear tips for a secure fit. I found the medium-sized tips (which come on the headphones out of the box) to be a good fit for me, but if you need a better fit, you'll find extra small, small, and large tips included in the box. These gave me the confidence to work out with losing them, where sweating and lots of motion would probably cause AirPods to fall out.

In terms of sound quality, the Soundcore Liberty Air headphones are extremely solid for in-ear wireless buds, but compared to over-ear headphones, they're nothing to write home about. If you're looking for spectacular studio-quality sound, these aren't the headphones for you, but if you want a pair that sound pretty good, you'll likely be happy with these.

The call quality is also very good. There have been times where I was testing headphones and the poor audio quality was immediately obvious to the other person, but that wasn't the case here.

The touch-sensitive controls add a lot of usability to the Soundcore Liberty Air headphones, but they're not the easiest to control at first. Since they're not as tactile as the volume rocker on your phone or as visual as a pause/play button on your screen, it takes some getting used to. After spending a few days with the headphones, the tap controls felt very natural to use.

Soundcore Liberty Air


The left headphone is used to activate Siri, while the right is used for controlling audio and calls.

Overall, there's nothing I can complain about when it comes to the Soundcore Liberty Air headphones - especially at this price point. Whether you're an iPhone user looking for a cheaper alternative to AirPods or you're a diehard Android fan who would never do something as blasphemous as pair your smartphone to Apple headphones, these are the true wireless headphones you want to buy.

Maybe it'll take an improved version or a drastic price drop to make me a believer of the Apple AirPods, but for right now, I'll be sticking with my Soundcore Liberty Air headphones.

Shop Soundcore Liberty Air Headphones for $79.99 on Amazon here

Shop Soundcore Liberty Air Headphones for $79.99 on Best Buy here

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