Cheap true wireless earbuds are having their time in the sun, lapping up every ray that comes their way. Anker wants in on the fun with the Anker SoundCore Life P2. These may be another pair of AirPods lookalikes but they afford so much more for so much less.
Editor’s note: this Anker SoundCore Life P2 review was updated on June 26, 2020, to address how the Life P2 compares to the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 in the FAQ section.
Who should get the Anker SoundCore Life P2?
These earbuds are built to do a little bit of everything, making them great for general consumers. They have a familiar aesthetic and make use of USB-C charging, rather than its dated microUSB ancestor. Battery life is above average, but if you want something more specialized—say for exercise or travel—you should look at a designated workout or noise cancelling headset instead.
Using the Anker SoundCore Life P2
Anker used a formulaic recipe to create the SoundCore Life P2 totally wireless earbuds: an all-plastic build with a stemmed design that mimics the Apple AirPods. It’s uninspiring but it works, and I was happy to see the company used dedicated nozzles for a better fit than the original AirPods.
Each earbud is outfitted with a button showcasing the SoundCore logo, and these buttons are incredibly difficult to press. I initially thought just the left earbud housed a button because it required so much force to press the right button. I suspect this will loosen over time, but it creates quite a bit of pressure against the outer ear.
It isn’t a stretch to call this painful, and the workaround is to hold the base of the stem between your thumb and middle finger while pressing the button with your index finger. Doing so alleviates the pressure placed against your ear but you shouldn’t have to do this in order to skip a track or access Google Assistant. If you’re someone who relies on onboard controls, you may want to grab the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 instead.
You can workout with the earbuds, but there are better options
The earbuds stay in the ear well enough for general cardio like running but fell out of my ears with more vigorous movement like jumping jacks. What’s more, the stems frequently got caught on my towel as I wiped sweat away. This caused the ‘buds to fly out of my ears multiple times during testing. If you’re weightlifting or just taking a stroll around the block, the earbuds should stay in just fine.
Despite the cheap feel of the Anker SoundCore Life P2, they’re rather durable and can be fully submerged for up to 30 minutes. Onboard storage isn’t available, though, so the earphones can’t actually be used while swimming. For that, you’ll have to turn to something like the JBL Endurance Dive.
These earbuds are durable but not the most ergonomic for working out.
If you’re looking for everyday earbuds that you may work out in a few times a month, these should be fine. If, however, you want these to be your go-to pair of workout earbuds: look into something else, like the Creative Outlier Gold, JLab JBuds Air Icon, or Jabra Elite Active 75t if you’re willing to shell out the cash.
How do you connect the Anker SoundCore Life P2?
To initiate the pairing process, remove the Anker SoundCore Life P2 earbuds from the case and wait for the LED indicators at the bottom of the stems to flash white. Then, open the Bluetooth menu on your desired source device and scan for a new Bluetooth device. Select the “Anker SoundCore Life P2” and allow it to pair with your smartphone. Setup should take just a few seconds and you’re ready to rock and roll with the earbuds.
The Anker SoundCore Life P2 don’t support multipoint connectivity, so you have to manually switch between a smartphone, laptop, and tablet. In order to do so, manually disconnect from the primary device and manually connect to the secondary one. It’s an extra step but not a huge deal. For anyone who views multipoint connectivity as a necessity, you’ll have to look at Jabra’s totally wireless earbud lineup.
Although the Anker SoundCore Life P2 doesn't support multipoint connectivity, it does support both aptX and AAC Bluetooth codecs.
Anker supports aptX, AAC, and SBC for wireless streaming; whether you have an iPhone or Android smartphone, you’ll hear high-quality audio. While these earphones use Bluetooth 5.0 firmware, they lack True Wireless Stereo Plus technology, meaning they’re not impervious to connection stutters and lag between making a command and having it executed (e.g. skipping a song).
How good is the battery?
The Anker SoundCore Life P2 earbuds hold out for 6 hours, 41 minutes until the batteries tap out, outlasting the original Anker SoundCore Liberty Air. If you’re in a pinch, you can always rely on quick charging to provide an hour of playback after just 10 minutes of charging. The chunky USB-C case provides an extra 4.7 charge cycles for on-the-go listening. With this great capacity, it would have been neat to see dual-charging capabilities like the JLab Epic Air Sport. This omission makes sense, though, as a means of keeping costs down.
What do the Anker SoundCore Life P2 sound like?
The Anker SoundCore Life P2 reproduce surprisingly accurate audio given the economical price. Bass notes are lightly emphasized to make fundamental vocal frequencies easier to discern from other sounds. The 600Hz-2kHz crest adds a greater sense of perceived clarity since that’s where many instrumental resonances lie. Generally speaking, this is a great headset to get if you want to transition from something like Beats to more neutral-leaning headphones.
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Isolation isn’t great: the earbuds hardly do anything to filter out external noise. I was diligent about finding a proper fit with these earbuds because bass notes quickly fell to the wayside once background noise made its way through the earbud barrier. If you plan to take these on your commute, you’ll benefit from a pair of memory foam ear tips. Anker doesn’t include that here as it does with the SoundCore Liberty Air, though, so you’ll have to buy your own.
Lows, mids, and highs
Virginia to Vegas’ song Just Friends Derik Baker’s vocals are rendered accurately and are easy to parse apart from the accompanying bassline and riffs. The chorus, when the greatest number of instruments contribute to the song, sounds clear through the earbuds and rivals slightly more expensive sub-$100 options.
That said, the treble emphasis is detrimental to the song: finger snaps are incredibly clear but made it difficult for me to focus on Baker’s vocals during the choruses. Skip ahead to 0:40, and you’ll hear snaps which are more accurately rendered with the Master & Dynamic MW07 Go or even the Samsung Galaxy Buds. This isn’t necessarily bad and I enjoyed it at first, but eventually wanted to be able to concentrate on more important parts of my music, even within the song Just Friends.
Microphone quality is fine for phone calls
Despite the impressive jargon surrounding the four-microphone array, mic quality isn’t very good. Low-frequency notes are de-emphasized to the detriment of clarity. We’ve seen other more adept mic systems do this in order to combat the proximity effect, but in the case of the Anker SoundCore Life P2 it just results in poor voice quality. Nearly anyone who uses the headset will sound “off.” I wouldn’t recommend it for professional use unless it’s a very brief call, but you can decide for yourself if it will suit your needs.
Anker SoundCore Life P2 microphone demo:
How does the Anker SoundCore Life P2 compare to the competition?
Anker’s headsets are hard to beat in their given price brackets: the company has mastered the art of making high-value, low-cost earphones. The biggest drawback to the Anker SoundCore Life P2 is its difficult-to-press onboard controls. It’s one thing if a headsets controls are unresponsive—that’s just annoying—but it’s a completely different issue when operating the controls causes pain.
Anker SoundCore Life P2 vs. Anker SoundCore Liberty Neo
A much cheaper alternative to the Life P2 is the Anker SoundCore Liberty Neo; this follows Anker’s high-value, low-cost philosophy without causing ear pain when operating the tactile controls. The Liberty Neo forgoes the stemmed look, instead opting for a more traditional true wireless earbud shape. Just like the Life P2, the Neo earbuds support just AAC and SBC.
They protrude quite a bit from the ear, which proved annoying when wearing a beanie, but the fit is excellent. Sounds were effectively filtered out, thanks to the strong seal created by the ‘buds. The Liberty Neo are also more durable than the more expensive Life P2, and received an official IPX7 rating.
Anker SoundCore Life P2 vs. Anker SoundCore Liberty Air
Listeners looking to stay within the $60 range should consider the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air. These retail for $79 and retain the same stemmed design with touch controls, rather than buttons. This means, you just have to tap, rather than push, to skip a track. You run into different issues with the Liberty Air, though, as the glossy plastic is a fingerprint magnet and the case uses microUSB charging. You’re also sacrificing some durability (IPX5 compared to IPX7), but autoconnect works seamlessly. Plus, sound and microphone quality are great for the price.
At that point, you might as well bump up to the Liberty Air 2 for an extra $20: battery life is greater, wireless charging is supported, and a host of more premium features are supported.
Look beyond the Anker SoundCore brand
Cheap true wireless earbuds are no longer a rare breed. Quite the contrary, they’re all over the place. If you want a seamless Android experience, the Samsung Galaxy Buds is a stellar option. Since the advent of the Galaxy Buds Plus, the original Buds have dropped quite a bit in price but still supply great battery life and sound quality in a portable package.
Alternatively, the Creative Outlier Air and Outlier Gold are some of our favorite true wireless earphones under $100 because of their durability, fit, battery life, and sound quality. Both headsets support AAC and aptX, are IPX5-rated, and have great microphone capabilities.
Should you buy the Anker SoundCore Life P2?
The Anker SoundCore Life P2 is an interesting headset and would be such an easy pick to recommend if not for the painful button controls. If you’re someone who never uses onboard controls anyway, you can get away with the Anker SoundCore Life P2 and really enjoy it. For the rest of us, we’re better off avoiding the hurt and getting one of the company’s alternative models, or looking outside the Anker SoundCore family altogether. Fortunately, we’re at a true wireless apex and it seems there are fine options everywhere you look.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 is a more premium headset that perfroms much better than the Life P2: the Liberty Air 2 buds are more comfortable and use touch controls that don't require you to painfully push the nozzles into your ear canals when switching songs. The Liberty Air 2 case supports wireless charging, something the Life P2 lacks. Aside from that, the microphone quality is much better with the Liberty Air 2 than the Life P2, as is isolation. For a better, painless user experience, we recommend the $99 Liberty Air 2 earphones.