Tom's Guide Verdict
Anker's Soundcore 3 is big on sound and battery life, but lightweight enough to be easily portable, and at just $51, is something of a bargain.
Surprisingly big sound
Good battery life
Useful Soundcore app and EQ modes
Sound hardens up at higher volumes
Rubberized case marks easily
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
Colors: Black; blue; red; silver
Size: 6.75 x 2.25 x 2.25 inches
Weight: 13 ounces
Water resistance: IPX7 rated
Battery life: 24 hours
The Anker Soundcore 3 has almost everything you could wish for from a portable Bluetooth speaker, and is a real bargain too. Benefitting from several upgrades over the Soundcore 2, the 3 is lightweight enough to be easily portable, and its impressive 24-hour battery life means you can enjoy music and podcasts for a usefully long time between recharges.
Water resistance has been upgraded to the IPX7 standard, which makes it a great companion at the pool or in the bathroom. What's more, PartyCast enables listeners to sync playback from one Soundcore to up to 100 others.
Is this enough to make the Soundcore 3 one of our best Bluetooth speakers? Read our full Anker Soundcore 3 review to find out how it performs as a standalone speaker at home and how it stands up to life on the road.
Anker Soundcore 3 review: Price and availability
Pricing for the Anker Soundcore 3 starts at $51 (£56) for the black finish, while blue, red and silver finishes cost $56 (£63). All color options are available directly through Anker's website or via online retailers including Amazon and Walmart.
Anker Soundcore 3 review: Design
Measuring 6.75 x 2.25 x 2.25 inches and weighing in at 13 ounces, the Soundcore 3 is roughly the same size as the Sonos Roam but just a couple of ounces lighter. Like the Roam, the compact speaker is easy to toss into a bag and take with you. A carry strap is supplied to loop through the fixing hook at one end of the cabinet. This gives a useful degree of extra security with the strap wrapped around your hand for transporting the speaker from room to room or around the garden.
In terms of how the Soundcore 3 looks, the rectangular shape is perhaps more utilitarian than some of the portable Bluetooth speaker designs featured in our best Bluetooth speakers guide. But it has nicely rounded edges and a rubberized finish that looks like it will adequately protect the Soundcore 3 from any knocks or scrapes while on the road. The finish is nicely tactile and the only downside I can see is that the black version reviewed here marked very easily, and showed up fingerprints within seconds of being unboxed. A quick wipe over with a damp, lint-free cloth cleans these off nicely, though.
The Soundcore 3 is rated at IPX7 for waterproofing, which means it's protected from water ingress even if submerged in up to 3 feet of water (around 1 meter) for 30 minutes, making it perfectly suitable for poolside parties or bathroom playback.
Anker Soundcore 3 review: Setup and controls
The raised buttons on the surface of the Soundcore 3 are a delight to use and provide a good amount of tactile feedback. From left to right, functionality is as follows: power on/off; decrease volume; playback control; increase volume; Bluetooth pairing.
The Soundcore control app is freely available to download via the iOS App Store or Google Play for Android devices, and provides access to playback controls, EQ settings and zoomable PDF of the detailed instructions. An instruction booklet is supplied, but the print is likely to be too small to read for many. A USB-C charging cable is also included, but there's no plug-in wall adaptor in the box.
With the Soundcore app downloaded and the speaker paired to my iPhone, the app set about downloading a firmware update for a bug fix that was needed. The update took about 10 minutes to complete and the Soundcore 3 automatically restarted; the Bluetooth connection to my phone was also maintained.
The app provides four preset EQ modes, including one designated Signature Sound, plus the flexibility to tailor the sound to your own preference. There's also the ability to set an auto-power off time.
Anker Soundcore 3 review: Sound quality
Anker rates the power output of the built-in amplifier at 2 x 16W, and the Soundcore 3 packs plenty of sonic punch. The Signature Sound EQ setting gave the best sonic balance and the little device drives the forward-firing speakers with ease to deliver a far bigger sound than its diminutive dimensions might suggest.
Just visible behind the mesh speaker grille on the front of the cabinet are two circular drivers to handle stereo left and right high frequencies. These silver-colored drivers feature titanium cones, which is a rigid material found in popular speaker designs for the way it drives soundwaves forwards. Soundcore claims to be capable of delivering high frequencies up to 40kHz — this is a bold statement indeed, given this is beyond twice that of human hearing capabilities.
Anker doesn't specify the material used in the racetrack-shaped mid-driver placed at the center of the speaker to take care of mid and low frequencies. It works in tandem with a passive radiator at the rear of the cabinet, and the combo pumps out low frequencies to remarkably impressive effect.
To see just how well the Soundcore 3 handles low frequencies, I stream Dave & Ansel Collins' "Double Barrel" from Spotify. The vocal at the beginning of the track has more gravitas than I anticipated, and even when the piano and double bass kick in, I found myself enjoying the performance from this little speaker more than I expected.
Anker's BassUp technology works to pump up the bass. The delivery sounds a bit ragged with the reggae beat, and I can almost hear the little speakers reaching the limit of their excursion as they push out the big bass sounds, but it's impressive all the same.
Percussion and drums on Kate Bush's "Watching You Without Me" really stand out and have plenty of oomph even at low volume levels. Kate's voice sounds remarkably clear throughout and seems to sore out of the little speaker without any sense of unbalance or distortion. The Soundcore even manages to handle the broken and slightly unsettling vocal effect towards the end of the recording.
Bass output is less impressive with classical music, and although I was initially impressed by the warmth and depth on display during the opening to Hans Zimmer's "Time" from the movie Inception, the louder the orchestra got the more the Soundcore struggled to produce the soundtrack without sounding confused and muddled.
Anker Soundcore 3 review: Connectivity
The Anker can't connect to your home Wi-Fi network, but at the price this really isn't any kind of criticism. Voice commands can be given to your smart playback device in the usual manner once you've established a Bluetooth connection, and I was able to select tracks and stream playback through third-party music apps like Spotify using Siri voice commands via my iPhone 12 Pro.
Unlike the UE Megaboom 3, which supports multiple DJs at once, the Soundcore only allows one source to be connected at a time. You can connect several Soundcore devices together at once, however. In fact, Anker claims you can link over 100 Soundcore speakers together wirelessly through PartyCast and sync music to each. Sadly, I didn't have another Soundcore model to hand to try this feature out.
Soundcore hasn't specified the Bluetooth 5.0 range, but connectivity remained stable even when streaming from other rooms around the house.
Anker Soundcore 3 review: Battery life
Battery life is rated at 24 hours, so the Soundcore 3 has a useful amount of play time, making this one of the best portable speakers I've experienced in this regard. In practice, it managed to play in the background while I worked for at least a couple of days before needing a recharge. This is a much better result than we've experienced with the Sonos Roam and even better than the UE Megaboom 3, which both rank at the top of our best Bluetooth speakers guide.
The time for a full charge is specified at between 3.5 and 4 hours; a USB-C charging cable is provided but you'll need a 5V/2A wall charger. The power light flashes red once the battery is running low and a steady red when charging. The unit turns off once the battery is fully charged.
Anker Soundcore 3 review: Verdict
The Anker Soundcore 3 really is a better all round performer than I expected — I was blown away by how well this low-cost Bluetooth speaker sounds.
The solid build, industry-beating battery life and better-than-average sound delivery are quite remarkable given the speaker's size. SharePlay sounds like a handy feature for those wanting to sync multiple Soundcore speakers for an even bigger sound, and ultimately this kind of flexibility and performance gives the Soundcore 3 the edge over many Bluetooth options at the price.
As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.