Another surprise launch from the portable electronics giant, the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 serves as Anker’s newest flagship noise-cancelling headphones. This model upholds many of the same hallmarks as the Life Q30, including bold sound, hybrid ANC, and long battery life, while adding LDAC technology and AI-enhanced mics into the mix.
Colors: Obsidian Blue
Battery life (rated): 40 hours (ANC on), 60 hours (ANC off)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Size: 7.7 x 7.1 x 3 inches
Weight: 9.6 ounces
Not a major threat to category leaders like the Apple AirPods Max, Sony WH-1000XM4, and Bose 700, the Life Q35 is considered a disruptor with plenty of performance to stoke budget shoppers that want feature-laden noise-cancellers at an attainable price. At the same time, they bear many flaws that will have you questioning what is the better investment: this version or the original? Read our full Anker Soundcore Life Q35 review to see if it's worth the extra coin.
Anker Soundcore Life Q35 review: Price and availability
- $129 from Anker or Amazon
- Available now, but only in blue
Anker is offering adequate noise neutralization and personalized sound for half of the Bose 700 ($399) and Sony WH-1000XM4 ($350), and a third of the Apple AirPods Max ($549). Meanwhile, you can check out the original Life Q30 ($80), which performs similarly, but doesn’t come with LDAC technology.
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Anker Soundcore Life Q35 review: Design and comfort
- Great looks
- Not very compact, but still comfortable
Sometimes the right color can make the design on a pair of headphones. The blue shade that Anker created for the Life Q35 is absolutely gorgeous and it gives this version a more premium look over the original, which also looks attractive with a nice black and gold color scheme. Small details like the airbrushed “active noise cancelling” text on the side of the yokes and embossed Soundcore logo on the front of each earcup make the Life Q35 pop as well.
There isn’t any difference in build quality between the two models, as plastic, aluminum, and faux leather make up the entire construction. It is a massive improvement from the Life Q20, though I find other models in the same price range (like the Cleer Enduro ANC) to have a fancier, more progressive design than the Life Q35. Don’t get me wrong though, because this pair of cans is still pretty and durable.
At 9.6 ounces, the Life Q35 is lighter than most competitors, but much bulkier with a frame similar to circum-aural, closed-back headphones (peep the Focal Celestee for reference). Despite this, the headphones provide moderate comfort, thanks to memory foam padding on the headband that doesn’t suffocate the skull.
The protein-leather on the earpads is gentle on the ears as well. Fatigue does set in after 1.5 hours of wear. You’ll also achieve a stable fit with the yokes presenting multiple settings to accommodate different head sizes.
Anker Soundcore Life Q35 review: Touch controls and digital assistant
- Responsive, well-placed buttons
- Siri is effective, Google Assistant struggles
The same control scheme as the Life Q30 is present, consisting of physical buttons that support a full suite of commands, including playback, call management, volume, voice assistance, power on/off, and enabling ANC/Transparency mode. Anker did manage to integrate one touch control that lets you cycle through the different listening modes when leaving your finger for 1 second on the right ear cup. The buttons protrude on the rear side of each earcup and are spaced out conveniently to identify and locate them. They’re also responsive, so you’ll feel reassured that intended commands are being met with every press.
On-ear detection is also available to automatically pause music when removing the headphones and resume playback when placed back on your ears, but only seems to work half of the time.
Voice assistance is 50-50 with Siri being the more reliable option for executing voice commands. Using the headphones on my MacBook Pro, I was satisfied with the Life Q35’s speech recognition, as well as the accuracy of results when verbalizing requests. There was noticeable latency when firing up the feature, but nothing too worrisome. Google Assistant did not afford me the same performance, often misinterpreting basic inquiries like “what is my next event?” for “when is my next alarm?” and only registering the last word of long-winded requests. This was odd, especially since I used the voice assistant primarily in quiet settings, that way the mics didn’t pick up any ambient noises.
Anker Soundcore Life Q35 review: Active noise cancellation
- ANC worse than on the Life Q30
- Sensitive to wind
Anker has made strides with its hybrid active noise-cancelling technology, but I thought it was weaker on the Life Q35 compared to its elder sibling. Where the Life Q30 blocked out 80% of external sounds, the Q35 teetered around 75%.
There are three different ANC modes available: Transport, Indoor, and Outdoor. Each of these are engineered to deal with noise in specific environments, but also perform alike and struggle to minimize ambient noises at the highest level.
I was able to ignore distractions like cat meows, kitchen appliance timers and loud televisions when inside the house. On the other hand, I could also hear common annoyances like keyboard clatter and running faucets, along with my infant’s grunts that made for unwanted background effects on hip-hop tracks. Outside was where ANC struggled. The engine noise produced by my father-in-law’s Jeep Wrangler Rubicon sounded disruptive, plus wind had a strong presence.
Since the mics are overly sensitive to noise, this made using the Transparency Mode a bit unsteady. I could understand what people were saying when conversing face to face, but voices sounded very distant when speaking from only a few feet away. Furthermore, some noises just came off as harsh. The whooshing sound created when walking in drafty conditions didn’t allow me to hear what else was transpiring around me. There was also a slight echo whenever I spoke to people.
Cutout was a major problem when listening to music and switching between modes. This mostly occurred when cycling through the three different ANC modes.
Noise isolation wasn’t impressive in Normal mode either. I could hear doors shutting and my wife’s conference calls when sharing office space, as well as cars whisking by during daytime walks. Adding insult to injury, the headphones bleed out sound at a high rate, as my wife mentioned twice during work hours.
Anker Soundcore Life Q35 review: Audio quality
- LDAC grants lossless support
- However, boominess overpowers details
The big upgrade introduced on the Life Q35 is LDAC technology, which allows for lossless sound even over Bluetooth: a subject Apple's AirPods recently tripped over. Truthfully, you won’t really pick up on those subtle nuances, as the 40mm dynamic drivers are overly aggressive with lows, giving the sound profile more punch than necessary. Bass lovers might enjoy this, but critical listeners expecting a more prominent-sounding cowbell on the Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” might be disappointed.
DJ Khaled’s “Sorry Not Sorry” featuring Jay-Z and NaS delivered head-rattling bass that was decently balanced. The legendary rappers’ vocals took a hit and lacked crispness, though they were still audible to get some enjoyment out of the listen. Switching to something more melodic and smoother, I played D’Angelo’s “Cruisin’” and was somewhat impressed by how emphatic the syncopated bass line sounded, but also disappointed due to its boomy presence hindering the singer’s serene harmonies.
My gut told me tapping into jazz classics would offer a sense of detail that these cans were programmed to deliver, and the decision paid off. The instrumental separation was superb on Freddie Hubbard’s “Weaver of Dreams,” starting with the steady hi-hats at the beginning, which demonstrated great depth, and leading into some upbeat, pleasant-sounding double bass and piano notes.
Two other quick tidbits to know: the bundled aux cable offers a slight bump in mids and there is some occasional skipping when streaming music via LDAC on an Android device.
Anker Soundcore Life Q35 review: App and special features
- Extensive sound customization
- Sleep Mode offers relaxing background noise
The Soundcore app is the hub for extended functionality and provides different ways to personalize the cans, from ANC performance to sound customization. Most of your time will be spent playing with the EQ that hosts 22 presets, each one made for a specific music genre or content. You get some cool inclusions like Podcast for enhanced vocal clarity, while Electronic is ideal for EDM songs. I’m also a fan of the Acoustic and Jazz presets since they do a noteworthy job of emphasizing instruments. Users can also create their own sound profile by tweaking the decibel levels manually.
A Sleep Mode is available at the bottom right of the homescreen that is basically Anker’s version of a soundscape mode, something that Jabra and Bowers & Wilkins have also developed for their headphones. I don’t see anyone wearing these to bed, but the different settings are useful if you require some sort of white noise to mellow out during stressful times.
The widget function returns as well, which allows you to instantly access listening modes directly from your smartphone; select the information icon in the Ambient Sound setting for details on how to enable it.
Other features rounding out the app are the Ambient Sound setting to manually change the different listening modes, along with firmware updates, toggle controls, and a battery indicator for the headphones.
Anker Soundcore Life Q35 review: Battery life and charging case
- Very good longevity
- Decent fast-charging
Battery life remains the same: 40 hours with ANC on and 60 with ANC off. Obviously, these playtimes are reduced by about an hour or two when taking high volume, streaming, and ANC into consideration. Even then that is still an incredibly sufficient amount of listening time to have and crushes the 20 hours of playtime both the AirPods Max and Bose 700 generate on a single charge. The Enduro ANC delivers over 50 hours with ANC, though.
I’ve used the Life 35 for about 3 hours daily over the past week and have about 60% left in the tank. If you’re the type to hawk battery levels, the Life 35 has fast-charging capabilities to ease your anxiety and net you 4 hours of use on a 5-minute charge.
Anker Soundcore Life Q35 review: Call quality and connectivity
- Largely clear call quality
- Long Bluetooth range with bonus NFC
Call quality is a step up from the Q30, granted it’s far from perfect. Anker employs two beamforming mics that use an AI algorithm to produce clearer-sounding calls and do away with unwanted noises. The missus mentioned that my voice sounded muffled, both inside and outside the house, but said it wasn’t as bad as other ANC headphones. My voice was mostly clear with most distractions around the house being completely absent from our calls. Outside presented challenges, as construction tools and wind found their way into my conversations.
The Life Q35’s unsung feature is connectivity with Bluetooth 5.0 performing exceptionally well. I could pair and re-pair to recognize devices instantly and enjoyed some of the lengthiest range in the category: 50 feet of wireless listening.
Anker also added two more wireless features to enhance the wireless experience: multipoint technology and NFC. The former lets you connect two devices simultaneously and seamlessly switch from one to the other, while NFC lets you pair the Life Q35 by placing the back of a compatible smartphone onto the right earcup. Both worked flawlessly.
Anker Soundcore Life Q35 review: Verdict
The Anker Soundcore Life Q35 isn’t this vast upgrade that the price would lead you to believe. Don’t mistake that for failure because these are still some sleek headphones with lots of features to personalize the listening experience. Only a handful of models can match its superior battery life and the several wireless technologies supported allow for excellent connectivity.
If you’re asking whether the additions of LDAC and on-ear detection are worth spending an extra $50, I must respectfully say no. You also need to account for the model’s several drawbacks. The hybrid ANC on these cans don’t perform as well as on the Life Q30, nor does Google Assistant or some of the smart controls.
For Anker fans who value wireless sound and long playtimes, the Life Q35 does offer some value, and it’s inexpensive compared to other sub-luxury ANC headphones. However, if you’re seeking something just as powerful with better audio and noise cancellation, the $149 Cleer Enduro ANC is an attainable and highly recommended option.