You want budget-friendly Apple AirPod alternatives? You're not alone. We're always compiling lists of such things. With competition naturally breeding innovation, Anker's gone into fifth gear to deliver, launching five new true wireless models (plus a traditional wireless model with a wire between the two buds, for $49.99) at a recent event in New York.
Despite longtime associations with power bars and chargers, Anker has latterly diversified into Bluetooth speakers (with the Anker Soundcore 2 , for example) and is clearly now heavily focused on the rapidly-growing true wireless headphone market.
The five new true wireless in-ear models will be available from early October in the States, with UK availability expected (although not confirmed) soon after. Want to cut to a quick rundown of what Anker's bringing to the table? Allow us.
The entry-level offering in the Liberty series, these are in-ear type 'buds with Bluetooth 5.0 and aptX support. Anker claims eight hours of playtime, plus an extra 32 hours in the battery case. Cost: $99.99, launching next month.
Liberty Air 2
The Liberty Air 2s are a bit bigger overall than the Liberty 2 – and the most AirPod-y in design. They still have Bluetooth 5.0 and aptX, but there's the addition of Qi wireless charging. Battery life isn't as impressive as the Liberty 2 with a promised seven hours per charge and 28 hours from the case, but the cost is the same: $99.99. Launching next month.
Liberty Pro 2
Top of the pile, the Liberty 2 Pro headphones look similar in design to the Liberty 2 in-ears (or, if you ask us, the excellent Sony WF-1000XM3s), but Anker claims they include more well-balanced and powerful drivers than the rest of the Liberty family. There's Bluetooth 5.0, aptX, wireless charging, and the same battery life as the Liberty 2. Anker also states that these earbuds have a Type-C port, plus cVc 8.0 and four noise-canceling microphones. The Liberty 2 Pro will retail for $149.99 when they launch on October 8th, but Anker is taking pre-orders now.
Spirit Dot 2
True wireless but cheaper than the Liberty series, the sports-focused Spirit series Dot 2 headphones only list five-and-a-half hours of playback and 16 hours with the charging case. You do get USB-C charging though, and they're a potential bargain at just $79.99. Launching next month.
You're not wrong, they do look a lot like the Beats Powerbeats Pro, and if you're a fan of that can't-fall-out earhook design, they'll set you back significantly less than the former brand, at only $99.99 when they launch next month.
They have bigger drivers and better battery life than the other earbuds in the Spirit family, and they're IP68 rated – meaning guaranteed protection in water up to 1.5m deep for half an hour, as well as dust resistance. The case has a USB-C port for charging, too.
And a traditional wireless model... the Spirit 2
OK, so there are six new Anker wireless headphone models to count, if you include this "traditional" wireless set of in-ears – a model with a solo wire connecting the two units. Anker claims they offer 14 hours of use per charge, and there's a USB-C charging port meaning a five-minute charge before you hit the gym should give you an extra two hours of playtime. They're available immediately too, for $49.99.
How do these new pocket-friendly true wireless contenders sound? We don't know – yet.