The Anker Soundcore Life P3 have their foibles but noise-cancelling performance competes with many more expensive earbuds
- Excellent ANC for the money
- Highly customisable
- Attractive selection of colours
- Fit can be fiddly
- Hit-and-miss touch controls
Anker knows a thing or two about producing headphones that deliver premium features at affordable prices, and the Anker Soundcore Life P3 is a case in point.
These true wireless earbuds do a better job of attenuating external sound than many pricier in-ear alternatives and offer a broad range of customisation options to boot.
They won’t win any awards for accurate audio reproduction, but they’re not designed with that in mind. Instead, they seek to provide “thumping sound” while reducing the impact of the world on your listening experience – and they deliver on both counts.
Anker Soundcore Life P3 review: What do you get for the money?
There’s nothing particularly surprising or flashy about the Anker Soundcore Life P3 package, which is to be expected given the £80 RRP. They come with the obligatory charging case, five different-sized pairs of silicone eartips and a USB-A to USB-C charging cable. Wireless functionality comes courtesy of Bluetooth 5.0 and codec support is limited to AAC and SBC.
The buds offer up to six hours of audio playback with ANC on and roughly seven with it off, although these figures are of course dependent on the volume at which you’re listening. Anker claims that the accompanying charging case will see you good for another 28 hours if you’re not using any audio enhancements, which is reasonable by current standards.
There are five colourways available – black, navy blue, sky blue, oat white and coral red – and as far as budget earbuds go, they’re rather attractive. The Life P3 take the original Apple AirPods approach to design, with elongated stems that slant downwards out of your ears, but unlike the AirPods, the Life P3 are secured there by eartips.
To get the most out of the Life P3, you’ll want to download the Soundcore companion app, which lets you select which noise-cancelling and transparency modes you have active, customise touch controls and select from a huge number of EQ options. The app also provides access to playlists powered by Anker’s official streaming partner LÜM and a selection of white noise to help you unwind.
Anker Soundcore Life P3 review: What do we like about them?
As was the case with Anker’s over-ear Soundcore Life Q30, the Life P3’s stand-out feature is their hybrid active noise cancellation. ANC is becoming a more common inclusion in headphones costing under £100 but rarely is it executed as well as it is here. There are three levels of ANC to choose from – Transport, Indoor and Outdoor – and each works slightly differently.
Transport focuses on blocking low-end frequencies, Indoor seeks to eliminate voices and mid-range sounds, while Anker says Outdoor “reduces ambient sound on-the-go”. Both the Transport and Indoor modes worked very well in their respective environments, but I found the impact of the Outdoor option less pronounced. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by how little external noise made its way into my ears while wearing the Life P3 regardless of where I was and what was going on around me.
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I was also impressed by the Life P3’s audio quality. Like the over-ear Life Q30, boosted bass is the focus of the “Soundcore Signature” audio profile. However, it’s not nearly as overwhelming here, with the P3 striking a solid balance between robust low-end reproduction and clarity in the mid and upper registers.
If you’re clamouring for more bass, you can toggle on the BassUp feature, which boosts low-end frequencies even further. I didn’t feel the need for it very often but it did successfully add weight and depth to dancier, bass-heavy playlists.
BassUp is only available when using the Signature profile, which you may not find yourself using given there are 20 other EQ presets to choose from in the Soundcore app. There’s something for just about every genre, including Latin, Jazz, Pop and Piano.
You can also create up to three bespoke EQ presets via an eight-band graphic equaliser. Anker deserves a huge amount of praise for what it has achieved with its companion app – very few true wireless earbuds can be customised to the extent the Life P3 can.
Anker Soundcore Life P3 review: What could be better?
Although I found the Soundcore Life P3 very comfortable to wear, I did experience an annoying issue relating to their fit. Despite using the largest silicone eartips available, the earbuds would sometimes work themselves a little loose in my ears. Not to the point where they got anywhere close to falling out, but enough to affect their passive noise-cancelling seal.
This typically happened when I moved my jaw, while smiling or chewing for instance, and meant I needed to readjust the buds to reestablish an effective in-ear seal. This of course also hampers the earbuds’ ANC ability. Given that noise-cancellation is one of the P3’s strongest suits, it’s frustrating that it’s occasionally negatively impacted by an unstable fit.
My other main gripe relates to the Life P3’s touch controls. While the customisation options available are highly commendable, there were a few times when my inputs were registered incorrectly or not registered at all.
Commands can be assigned to single and double taps on the upper section of the P3’s stems, and you can also execute actions by holding your finger on the touch surfaces for two seconds. This ensures you have a comprehensive suite of controls at your fingertips but the touch-sensitive surfaces are quite narrow, which is likely why I found that some of my button presses weren’t picked up.
There’s one last thing I’d have liked to have seen Anker incorporate: wear detection. The Life P3 don’t automatically pause when taken out of your ears, which is a feature that’s becoming increasingly common on budget earbuds.
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Anker Soundcore Life P3 review: Should you buy them?
The Anker Soundcore Life P3 are the most effective ANC true wireless earbuds I’ve tested under £100. If you’re buying buds for their noise-cancelling capabilities alone, these are the earbuds to buy. They also have an impressive array of customisation options and look better than many of their rivals.
That said, the sub-£100 competition is fierce and, depending on which features you prioritise, you may be better served by one of their rivals. For instance, Cambridge Audio’s Melomania One Plus have the P3 beaten for audio quality and controls but lack ANC, while Huawei’s FreeBuds 4i have better battery life and a more neutral sound.
In terms of pound-for-pound value, though, it’s hard to look past the Creative Outlier Air V3. You sacrifice active noise cancellation for inferior active noise reduction but gain a big jump in battery life and support for Creative’s SXFI spatial audio technology. They’re also cheaper than the P3 so remain the best choice if you’re on a tight budget.