Photo illustration: dealer
I use headphones just like everyone else: to answer phone calls, block out distracting noises at work, or to listen to music and audio books while training and backpacking. They have been reliable for me for years. I bought one pair of wireless AirPods after I saw the wires in my ears, a few years back.
It wasn’t long before I realized that they were not right for me. I can’t keep the buds in place while running or hiking if I don’t hold them at an exact angle. These fit problems mean that I can’t use the AirPods for anything other than working on my computer. The AirPods don’t have noise cancelling and are not able to block out ambient noise. These AirPods (and their case too) lose their charge quickly, so I must save my external battery to power my headlamp and phone.
After taking a few mountain hikes last year, I decided to purchase better (for me) headphones. I was not willing to spend more than $100 after I had spent on AirPods. So I did some digging and started looking for in-ear headphones that were cheaper. Then I sorted them by popularity, then ratings. Anker Soundcore Liberty Neo Wireless Earbuds was the top-rated model. It seemed smaller than AirPods but also had a case and rubber tips. This design is what I was searching for as it felt more secure in my ears. They cost only $ 45. I decided that even if they weren’t better than my AirPods I could still leave them at home and use the cheaper options on the trail. I didn’t have to worry about them breaking or being stolen. I’m not advocating negligence. $ 45 is a much less expensive price than $ 160 for new AirPods.
There are a few options for the earbuds: You can choose from white ones with a white casing (see photo), or black ones with a blue, red, or black casing. Gray ones have a gray-yellow casing.
A year later, I can report that the headphones have outperformed my AirPods almost in every situation. Anker earbuds have three sizes of soft rubber earbuds, and three sizes rubber tips called EarWings. These rubber tips slide over the earbuds for a more customized fit. (I use the middle size on both of them. You won’t fall out even during the most bumpy runs and hikes. They fit better so they block out ambient noises better. This tight fit results in better sound quality and clarity. These AirPods allow you to pause, rewind or skip playback by touching the earbuds during your run. The battery life is impressive as well. I forgot to take my earbuds out of the truck last winter. They (and their luggage) were fully charged when I pulled them out. In recent times, I have been using them for hours every day during a 23-day backpacking expedition and only had to charge them once. The earbuds never got completely drained in the year I owned them so I don’t know how long they will last.
They are great, but I wouldn’t consider the Anker headphones perfect. They work well with my iPhone, but they were difficult to use for business calls. Sometimes I can hear them, but not always. These tracks were paired with reviews that I read. It is possible to disconnect and then reconnect to your phone’s Bluetooth. This is a tedious task for me so I use my AirPods only to make phone calls. For everything else, my Anker earphones stay in place and are secure.
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