These $150 wireless earbuds from a company you've probably never heard of made me want to ditch my $250 AirPods Pro

Soundcore Case

  • The Anker Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro earbuds offer great sound, long battery life, and a comfortable fit at an affordable price.
  • The Liberty 2 Pros also come in a compact case that's easy open with one hand and store in a pocket or purse.
  • They're lacking some of the features I've come to appreciate from Apple's AirPods, but they're still a worthwhile option for those looking to spend a little less on a great pair of wireless earbuds.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Apple may be responsible for popularizing the truly wireless earbud trend with its AirPods, which have become so popular they've inspired memes and helped make the company's wearables business as big as a Fortune 200 company.

But since the original AirPods debuted in 2016, dozens of platform-agnostic alternatives have entered the market - many of which are less expensive than the iPhone maker's cord-free earbuds. Advertisement

Anker's Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro earbuds, which launched in September, are one such example. Originally priced at $150 and currently selling for $110, they're cheaper than the $160 AirPods and noticeably less expensive than $250 AirPods Pro. Yet they still offer long battery life, a customizable and comfortable fit, and good sound quality.

Although they lack some of Apple's more useful features, I found that I didn't miss my AirPods much at all when making the switch.

Here's a closer look at what it's been like to use them.
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The Liberty 2 Pro earbuds fit comfortably and offer more customization than some alternatives.

The Liberty 2 Pro earbuds fit comfortably and offer more customization than some alternatives.

Although the ear tips that came on my Liberty 2 Pro's out of the box fit just fine, I appreciated that I had seven options to choose from. Anker offers tips in extra small, small, medium, large, extra large, and other sizes, giving wearers plenty of options to choose from.

I also found them to be more comfortable than alternatives around the same price range, like the $130 Samsung Galaxy Buds and $130 Echo Buds.

Similar to AirPods and the Sony WF-1000XM3, I found that I didn't have to adjust or fuss with the Liberty 2 Pros much to get them to fit snugly and comfortably in my ear. In fact, the Liberty 2 Pro's shape is similar to that of Sony's earbuds.

They also provide a much better seal than the standard $160 AirPods, which aren't designed for noise-cancellation despite being slightly more expensive than the Liberty 2 Pros. Soundcore's earbuds don't feel quite as light as Apple's AirPods — both the regular version and the Pro edition — but they're still very comfortable.

The audio quality is great, but Apple's AirPods Pro still sounded slightly better.

The audio quality is great, but Apple's AirPods Pro still sounded slightly better.

The Liberty 2 Pros offer crisp, vibrant sound that feels close to what I experienced when listening to music through the AirPods Pro.

Whether I was playing pop, rock, hip hop, or electronic music, I didn't notice huge difference in audio quality when switching back and forth between my Liberty 2 Pros and Apple's pricier AirPods Pro. The Soundcore app also has an equalizer that lets you optimize the sound according to genre, a feature that Apple doesn't offer.

Apple's AirPods Pro, however, were better at separating the various instruments in a song, especially when it comes to rock music.

And unlike the AirPods Pro, the Liberty 2 Pros don't offer active noise-cancellation. Instead, they offer noise-reduction, and the earbuds' design provides a tight yet comfortable seal that adequately blocks out sound.

When I wore them during the workday, the Liberty 2 Pros were capable of dulling the chatter from my coworkers, which represented an improvement over the standard $160 AirPods which provide no enclosure whatsoever. But the pricier AirPods Pro made it nearly impossible to hear what was happening around me when I turned on active noise-cancellation.

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The Liberty 2 Pros also seem to last a long time on a single charge.

The Liberty 2 Pros also seem to last a long time on a single charge.

I've been using the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pros sporadically for roughly three weeks, and I haven't had to charge the case since I first unboxed them.

That being said, I've mostly been using them in 25-to-40-minute increments during my workouts roughly two to three times a week. That means I've probably used them for approximately between three and four hours so far, and the battery level is still high.

Soundcore claims the earbuds can last for eight hours on a single charge and that the case will allow for 32 hours of battery life. That beats Apple's claims of 24 hours of listening time with the case for its AirPods and AirPods Pro.

The case is compact and easy to flip open quickly, although it's slightly larger than Apple's AirPods case.

The case is compact and easy to flip open quickly, although it's slightly larger than Apple's AirPods case.

I also appreciated how portable and convenient the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro's case is compared to other headphones I've tried from alternatives like Beats, Amazon, and Sony. The Liberty 2 Pro's case is slightly larger than that of the AirPods and AirPods Pro, but it's still small enough to easily hold in one hand or fit into a pocket.

The lid also slides open like a door rather than flicking open, making it easy to slip open with one hand. That's important for wireless headphones that are meant to be used on-the-go like the Liberty 2 Pros, making them easy to quickly pop in my ears as I'm waiting for the train or preparing to hop on the treadmill for a workout.

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But they're missing the features that make AirPods feel so convenient.

But they're missing the features that make AirPods feel so convenient.

The Liberty 2 Pros sound excellent, are comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and offer long battery life. But iPhone owners will be missing out on the features that make AirPods so great.

Soundcore's headphones, for example, can't detect when one earbud is removed from your ear to automatically pause audio — a handy trick that the AirPods as well as Amazon's Echo Buds offer.

They also don't seamlessly pair with your phone as soon as you flip the case's lid open the way that AirPods do. And you can't access your phone's voice assistant hands-free the way you can with AirPods and the Echo Buds.

Those may sound like small features, but taken together, they add a lot of convenience to Apple's AirPods. The Liberty 2 Pros do, however, include touch controls for accessing your phone's voice assistant, skipping tracks, and adjusting the volume.

So are they right for you?

So are they right for you?

If you're looking for a solid pair of wireless earbuds that aren't quite as expensive as the $250 AirPods Pro or $230 Sony WF-1000XM3, but still have more to offer than the standard $160 AirPods, the $150 Soundcore Liberty 2 Pros are an excellent option.

While they don't offer active noise-cancellation like the AirPods Pro, they're still capable of blocking out some sound from your environment. They're also comfortable to wear for long periods of time, come with plenty of ear tip choices, are sweat-resistant, and offer great sound quality for the price.

As an iPhone user, I sometimes miss the convenient extras that AirPods offer, like the custom Apple interface that pops up to display your AirPods battery level and confirm they're connected whenever you open the lid. But those omissions aside, the Liberty 2 Pros deliver where it counts.

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