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April 13, 2016
1.1 x 2.13 x 2.13 inches
Anker has been on a roll making speaker after speaker that ends up on one best list or another. The smallest speaker in their product line is the Anker Soundcore Nano. It’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and cheap enough to raise a few eyebrows. Can Anker keep their winning streak going with something so inexpensive? Or is it just a business move to get anything in the sub-$20 market? Let’s find out.
The Soundcore Nano comes in a blue and white cardboard box typical of Anker. When you open it up you’ll be greeted by the speaker. You’ll also get an instruction manual, customer satisfaction slip, micro USB cable for charging, and a micro USB to 3.5mm cable for connecting to non-Bluetooth devices.
Build & Design
Anker has been known to sometimes use less than premium build materials in order to keep the price down. That said, you won’t find us complaining because the sound quality usually makes up for it. But they don’t seem to have done that with the Nano.
The Soundcore Nano is made entirely of metal save for a rubberized bottom to keep it from moving anywhere. The top of the speaker has tiny speaker holes and the Anker logo placed along the bottom of it. At the very top of the of the speaker you’ll find a micro USB input and a small LED light. It’s also ideal if you’re looking to bring this with you while you’re out and about. On the lefft side it has a small hole for the included wrist loop. Oddly enough that’s also where the microphone is located. One interesting feature to note here is that there’s only a single multifunction button on the bottom of the speaker.
Just like you might expect from it having the word Nano in its name, this speaker is tiny. It measures about two inches in height and width and just over one inch in depth. It’s pretty surprising Anker was able to squeeze a single full range driver along with a battery in here. Overall if you’re into minimalism, you’re going to love the design of the Soundcore Nano. Even if you’re not, it’s still easy to appreciate the size and toughness of this little guy.
Anker claims a range of 30 feet, which is pretty much what is to be expected from most Bluetooth speakers. It kept a decent enough connection that you won’t have any issues as long as you stay within the 30 foot range. We were even able to push it to about 35 or 40 feet with no issues. That said if you’re about 20 feet away with a wall in the way you should expect some stuttering.
The Soundcore Nano has a surprising amount of functionality considering it only has one button. Pressing it while off will turn the speaker on and enter it into pairing mode. Once paired, that same button switches functions and lets you control playback. A single press will pause/play music and two taps will skip to the next song. If you get an incoming call you can accept it or reject simply by tapping this same button. That said, you can’t adjust the volume, access Siri or Google Now, or return to previous tracks. So as impressive as the single button is, it’s still missing some key controls. Minimalism comes at a price.
Anker claims a battery life of 4 hours of constant playback, which would be pretty great coming from a speaker of this size if it were true. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case for us. Anker does specify in the instruction booklet that playback time depends on what you play and at what volume, which is the case with all portable Bluetooth speakers. In my testing, from the time I took it off the charger until it died, I only got 1 hour and 18 minutes of constant playback at max volume. We were able to make it last up to four hours with music on 50% or less, but what’s the point? The Nano is already pretty small, I was hoping it would handle battery life a little better when on or close to max output.
The Nano is as portable as it gets, so we did all of our testing wireless to try and recreate real life use cases. It also gets decently loud. In our tests we found it maxed out at about 115 dB so even though it’s small, it packs a punch.
This should probably go without saying, but you shouldn’t expect much from the Nano in terms of bass. The single driver can only do so much, and the low end isn’t where it’s priorities are. Sounds under about 80Hz just aren’t present, though the Nano does try valiantly to recreate it in the lower mids. The bass kicks in “L.E.S” by Childish Gambino just aren’t as deep as they’re supposed to be. They’re shallow and seem to be sharing a space right behind the vocals.
The mids are definitely the strong point of the Nano. One song that was particularly enjoyable on the Nano was “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) by Billy Joel. The gritty guitar, rhythmic piano stabs, vocals, and (of course) the horn solo all live in the same space more or less but they sound great together. That said, it isn’t the most detailed performance but for the size it’s pretty impressive.
The Nano is pretty mediocre when it comes to the high frequencies. Hi-hats and cymbals seem to be pretty low in volume across the board. If you really listen hard you can hear the slight shimmer of cymbals but they seem to be so far in the background that it doesn’t really matter. One example of this is in the chorus of “Generator ^ Second Floor” by Freelance Whales where the cymbals basically disappear with everything else that’s going on. Still, for only having a single tiny driver it’s doable.
The Anker Soundcore Nano is a great speaker if you’re looking to only spend about $20, but it isn’t a great speaker. Expectations have to be curved somewhat for a speaker of this size and price, but a part of me was hoping for some of that Anker magic to blow me away. In the end I wasn’t blown away. The Nano’s build quality and design are top notch, but the sound suffers a bit and the battery life wasn’t even long enough for me to finish writing this review. All that said, the most important factor is price. For only $20 the Soundcore Nano is a great little speaker to throw in your bag or carry in your pocket, which is enough to justify the downsides for most people.