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Anker Soundcore Life P3 review: Cheap noise-cancelling earbuds impress

Entry-level wireless earbuds with effective ANC

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review
(Image: © Regan Coule/Future)

Our Verdict

The Anker Soundcore Life P3 is a pleasantly surprising pair of earbuds, with strong sound that matches its powerful noise cancellation — all for less than $80.

For

  • Customizable, warm sound
  • Surprisingly good ANC for the price
  • Numerous features via Soundcore app
  • BassUp technology has been improved
  • Lengthy playtimes

Against

  • Mediocre call quality
  • Finicky touch controls
Anker Soundcore Life P3 specs

Price: $79

Colors: Black, Navy Blue, Oat White, Sky Blue, and Coral Red

Battery life (rated): 6 hours (ANC on), 7 hours (ANC off), 30 hours (with charging case and ANC on), 35 hours (with charging case and ANC off)

Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0

Processor: BES2300Y

Size: 1.5 x 0.9 x 0.9 inches (per bud), 2.4 x 2 x 1.2 inches (charging case)

Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud), 1.8 ounces (charging case)

Anker continues its trend of stealth releases, recently dropping the Soundcore Life P3 out of nowhere. This product essentially replaces the disappointing Life A2 NC as the brand’s flagship ANC model under $100. It comes with bassy audio and enough features to give even the best noise-cancelling earbuds pause.

Aesthetics have been upgraded to give this third-gen version moisture and water protection, while battery life has been increased to enjoy playback for several hours. However, not everything runs smoothly on the Life P3: call quality and the touch controls aren’t as reliable as one would expect from a new release. Are these deal-breakers? Read our Anker Soundcore Life P3 review to see whether these drawbacks even matter when breaking down overall performance. 

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review: Price and availability

  • $79 MSRP
  • Five color options

The Anker Soundcore Life P3 is available from Anker or Amazon. It will run you $79 and is sold in five colors: Black, Coral Red, Navy Blue, Oat White, and Sky Blue.

Anker provides great noise neutralization and sound for less than half the price of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro ($199) and nearly a third of the AirPods Pro ($249). If you’re seeking wireless earbuds with tenable ANC for a lower price, the Edifier TWS NBQ ($59) is worth a look. 

For all of the latest headphones sales, bookmark our best headphones deals page.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review: Design and comfort

  • Dull, but practical
  • Fit is comfortable enough

The Life P series isn’t exactly known for its looks. A redesign would have been appreciated for the Life P3, but, instead, we’re given the same unibody build with long-stem silhouette and minimalist details. These buds do bear more resemblance to the Liberty Air 2 Pro rather than the Life P2, except they have protruding touch panels and bigger mic enclosures for “boosted call quality.” The Soundcore logo is nicely printed at the top and the shiny matte finish is elegant.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Construction is sturdy with the all-plastic frame capable of withstanding the daily abuse you’ll put these buds through; they won’t crack open if dropped from a high distance. IPX5 water resistance ensures protection against rain and sweat, too.

The pebble-shaped charging case also looks similar to the Liberty Air 2 Pro case, only instead of a slide-up door, it has a flimsy lid top to open or close shut. Size is perfect for portability, and the case can be conveniently stored in denim pockets or any travel bag. I like the soft touch finish with imprinted logo on top. Placing a Bluetooth button in the middle is a thoughtful gesture that comes in handy when you need to manually pair the buds.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Moderately comfortable is one way to describe wearing the Life P3. The buds rest pleasantly on the ears, though your concha might feel sore after about 2 to 3 hours of use, which is a longer stretch than what most other wireless earbuds give you. Fit is fine with the ear tips creating a tight seal around the ear for proper stabilization.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Anker also took a page out of Apple’s playbook and developed its own Ear Fit Tip Test, which analyzes your ears to determine the best fit for optimal performance. It’s OK, but I thought Apple’s and Sony’s versions generated better feedback; with the Life P3, the answers were similar no matter which size tips I installed.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review: Controls and digital assistant

  • Supports assistants, but not hands-free activation
  • Touch controls can be unresponsive

The Life P3’s control scheme consists of digital assistance and tap/hold gestures, which are a mixed bag. Google Assistant and Siri work well, interpreting and executing voice commands correctly. My only issue is the piercingly loud prompt when activating Google Assistant on Android devices – there's no way to fix this. I also would have loved to see voice activation, but the buds won’t respond to the “Hey Siri” or “Hey Google” action phrase.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Anker programmed the Life P3 with a full suite of media controls, including playback, volume, and listening mode activation just to name a few. These can be assigned to single and double taps or a 2-second hold. If only the touch panels were more responsive to taps. Multiple attempts were often required to trigger an action.

Sadly, Anker left on-ear detection off the spec sheet, so the buds won’t automatically pause when removing them from your ears or resume playback when placed back on.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review: Sound quality

  • Strong bass at slight cost of mids and treble
  • Gaming mode for minimal latency

The default Soundcore Signature EQ runs the show and produces warm, satisfying audio. A BassUp toggle was added to the setting for increased bass response. Those familiar with Anker headphones know about this tech; it's been a bit gimmicky in the past, but it's improved on the Life P3 and works well. If you’re the type that wants rumbling lows blasting through the 11-millimeter drivers, enabling BassUp will leave a Joker-like smile on your face. Just know that clarity takes a hit in certain areas.

LL Cool J’s “Murdergram” put on a headbanging clinic, led by fiery rhymes and rattling uptempo drums that blended superbly over the ominous bass loop. Despite this recording being a live performance, the overall production sounded tight. Even understated sonic elements like the crowd interaction and siren-like effects were given shine. Disabling BassUp toned down the low end, but it still packed a mean punch when listening with ANC on.

The Life P3 clearly favors bouncy, contemporary music genres, but also performs decently in others. On acoustic tracks like Sam Smith’s “Latch,” mids were well represented with vocals carrying strong over the melodic piano-inspired backdrop. Turning on BassUp did bring down the quality.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

There isn’t much high-end presence on these buds either. While I could hear the steady hi-hats on Ahmad Jamal’s “The Awakening,” they lacked emphasis and got lost in the background once louder instruments and notes were played.

Anker also developed a Gaming Mode that advertises less latency and enhanced sound effects when mobile gaming. However, there is one caveat: the inform tab states that connection instability may occur. I don’t do much mobile gaming, but from the 30 minutes that I played Mario Kart Tour, the only major connectivity issue I encountered was the startup screen taking longer than expected to load. Those with detailed hearing may find that the drifting and weapon effects sound better than when listening in standard mode.

Codec support is limited to ACC and SBC; aptX would have ensured the best streaming quality possible.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review: Active noise cancellation

  • Three different ANC modes
  • Not a huge difference between them, but they're effective

There are three levels of active noise cancellation on the Life P3: Transport, Indoor, and Outdoor. The differences between them are marginal, but the good news is that all three are effective at blocking out distracting noise.

Transport was designed to target low-end frequencies like engines and road noise,  and does the least convincing job of making you feel that it offers a unique ANC experience. You may not even be able to tell it apart from Outdoor, which is better engineered to deal with environmental noises. On walks, I barely heard cars whisking by and joggers using their Apple AirPods for calls. Further fracas like the barge work taking place on the waterway near our house was silent. Neither ANC mode is strong enough to put a kibosh on high frequencies, but they do an admirable job of minimizing them; ambulance sirens and crying babies don’t sound so loud.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review

(Image credit: Rrgan Coule/Future)

Indoors was my favorite of the three and served well during office hours. I managed to block out my wife’s Zoom calls, along with door buzzers, loud TVs, and kitchen appliances running in the kitchen. This mode also decreases humming noises at a high level; the centralized AC unit and deep freezer never distracted me. Trying to avoid my baby’s intense cries wasn’t so easy, though at least the Life P3 made his grunting less noticeable.

There's also a two-level Transparency Mode to either gain greater awareness of your surroundings (Fully Transparent) or emphasize vocals to hear people speak more clearly (Vocal Mode). Neither option worked as well as I would have liked. I had to drop the volume to 50% in order to hear people speaking, and even then, I could barely make out their words. Some external sounds came off harsh and were difficult to identify.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review: App and special features

  • Very feature-rich app
  • Huge amount of EQ presets and sound modes

It seems like the Soundcore app continues to grow with every new headphone release, which works for me. Much of the same functionality remains intact, but you might notice one or two extra features that have been thrown into the mix. ANC, Ambient Sound, BassUp, Gaming Mode, control customization, and the Tip Fit Test have already been discussed. Let’s get to the rest of the goodies.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

When opening the app, all eyes will be directed towards the Equalizer, which has 22 presets and lets you create sound profiles by tweaking frequency levels. I can tell Anker has worked hard to improve most of the EQs, offering up more variety to complement all music genres along with content like movies, podcasts and eBooks. 

Anker also created a soundscapes mode (Superior Sleep) to help improve your sleep. I don’t see anyone wanting to wear earbuds overnight, even if white noise helps earn them a great night’s rest. What I will say is that the 11 different sound profiles help to relieve any anxiety or tension you’re experiencing throughout the day.

You also have access to the LÜM music service, which is available on the app’s homepage and lets you discover thousands of independent artists. Battery level indicators for the earbuds, toggle controls, firmware updates, a quick start guide, and a Find Device setting round out the Soundcore app.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review: Battery life and charging case

  • Better longevity than AirPods Pro
  • Decent fast-charging

Anker rates battery life at 6 hours with ANC on. Our testing saw the buds last 5.5 hours when using the feature, which is close enough. Playtime can be extended to 7 hours when turning off ANC, but volume, streaming, and other special features drops it by 30 minutes to 1 hour. No complaints here, especially since this is more than the industry-average time set by the regular AirPods: 5 hours. Not to mention ANC playback is higher than the AirPods Pro (5.5. hours). A full charge should be OK for a few days of moderate listening.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

The charging case holds an additional 24 hours, giving it a max capacity of 35 hours. Again, a much higher amount to work with compared to the AirPods Pro charging case (24 hours). Anker added wireless charging for good measure.

Quick charging is not mentioned on the Life P3’s product page, but its spec sheet lists the fast-charging time at 10 minutes for 2 hours. I saw battery levels increase from 70 percent to 90 percent in 5 minutes. Anker states that fully charging the buds takes 2 hours, while the charging case takes 3 hours.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review: Call quality and connectivity

  • Respectable mic performance in most conditions
  • Only Bluetooth 5.0, but works reliably

I’d place call quality at above average. The Life P3 is most serviceable indoors for voice and video calls. My wife mentioned that volume and clarity were almost as good as if I was talking directly through the phone, at least until I walked into the laundry room, where clicks and other noises produced by the washer made their way into our conversation. Talking outside was a bit polarizing, as the mics managed to block out the majority of background sounds,, yet calls had an echo-like effect as if I was speaking in a small room. This made communicating difficult.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

These buds run on Bluetooth 5.0 and get you stable connectivity. Pairing to mobile devices and laptops was instantaneous and re-pairing to my last connected device was even quicker. It would have been nice if the Life P3 received Bluetooth 5.2, especially when seeing other budget audio brands like EarFun and Tribit featuring the technology on their newest releases. In addition, multipoint technology, which would have allowed users to connect the buds to two devices simultaneously.

Anker Soundcore Life P3 review: Verdict

Anker gets affordable ANC right on the Soundcore Life P3, presenting an adequate noise-cancelling solution that is attainable for all. It won’t outperform the Liberty Air 2 Pro in most areas, but the fact that it’s capable of going toe-to-toe with its pricier, more powerful sibling says a lot. 

The Life P3 beats the AirPods Pro in standard audio performance (not including spatial audio), pumping out dynamic lows and solid mids. Versatile ANC gives you multiple ways to block out ambient noise in various settings. Battery life is also sufficient, no matter what listening mode or features you employ.

If the boring design or finicky controls seem like deal-breakers, the Beats Studio Buds ($149) are another relatively affordable competitor worth checking out. Otherwise, don’t hesitate to spend the $80 on these buds, and even consider gifting a pair to someone if you’re feeling generous.

Alex Bracetti

A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.