Product Review: Anker SoundBuds Life

I currently own several variations of Anker’s SoundBud range, each of which get regular use depending on the task I am throwing at them such as hitting the gym or just relaxing in the garden. Anker have now expanded their SoundBud range further with the introduction of two neck-band style headsets, the sport oriented ‘Lite’ and professional aimed ‘Life’ models.

In the box

SoundBuds Life neckband
Micro USB charging cable
XS/S/M/L Earbud tips
Cloth storage pouch
Instruction manual and warranty card

Build and Features

Key features:

  • Magnetic earbuds with 10mm drivers (Lite model has 8mm)
  • up to 20 hour playback on single charge, 90min recharge time
  • IPX5 water resistance (that’s splash proof not submerging)
  • Bluetooth v4.1
  • Microphone
  • Vibration (of neck-band) - Power on / off and to alert of incoming phone call

As with all Anker products, the build quality is second to none despite the mainly all plastic construction. The Life model weighs in at 2oz (57g) and despite not feeling extremely light when in the hand, once around your neck it’s quite easy to forget it’s there. Earbud fit is excellent and thanks to the lightness (3g per bud) it does not feel intrusive to the inner ear like the Slim or NB10 models. Using for hours at a time is a pleasure and if it wasn’t for the music you would be hard pressed to notice them in the ear. No ear hooks but the earbuds remain in position even with a harsh head shake.

Controls are easy to access with four buttons covering the following;

Power - On/Off and Bluetooth pairing
Play - Play/Pause, Siri/Voice Assistant (Hold), Answer/End call, Reject call (Hold button)
Volume Up / Forward track (Hold)
Volume Down / Back track (Hold)

Magnetic ear pieces hold well when storing, in the bag or around the neck. Also welcome is the ability to remove single earbud without it pulling out the other thanks to the neckband design, I.e current SoundBud range. Allowed for easy communication when needed without having to remove full headset, such as quick conversations or the usual hello / see ya later.

Audio Quality

Gorgeously solid lush tones and power over various genres tested, clear vocals even under bass heavy sections of songs. Loudness is comparable to the SoundBud Slims making them suitable for most situations, such as in the garden, lounging in the house, computer use and for commuting where audio awareness of surroundings is not paramount. Solid bass compared to the Slims and in many ways the NB10 Sports but had a tendency to be a bit too heavy at higher volume in some genres (for me anyways).

Ideal Use

Due to neck-band design, I wouldn’t be choosing these as your goto’s for the gym (unless your just doing weights). Movement such as light jogging will have these bouncing in no time off your collarbones, or rapping the back of your ears with up and down movements. With the introduction of the neck-band and the battery life of up to 20hrs these are more suited to daily commuting, computer/laptop use and long periods of travel.

If gym or above moderate motion is required for use, your best going with the SoundBud Slims or NB10 Sport.

Mic and Voice Calls

Mic responded very well to FaceTime calls on iMac and basic audio call on iPhone 6s in light to average background noise, with no complaints of not being able to hear me (though they might have been hoping for that :smile: ). Unfortunately on the close end both landline and mobile calls had some parasitic oscillation (garble sound, like listening to a low quality mp3 file on a decent audio system). Something to take into account if you are buying with the sole intention of using or for those with heavy audio call use.

  • Note - When answering calls on iPhone, the ‘play’ button must be pressed on headset for the iPhone to automatically use the headset as it’s talking/listening device. Pressing answer call direct on the phone bypasses the headset to use the iPhone directly. Don’t have access to an Android device to confirm if behaviour is the same.


Despite having reservations when I first heard about possible neckband style EarBuds coming from Anker (which some could argue is a step backwards for BT headsets), I am in fact very impressed with the end product which has come to market. If your in the market for EarBuds with excellent audio quality, killer battery life and comfortable ‘forgot I’m wearing this’ fit for computer / music / commuting use, these would be an ideal purchase.

Rating - 4/5


Great review. I like that it seems to hang down lower. I was afraid that the earbuds would hang too high up but by your pictures, it looks like a good distance where it’s reachable without being awkward. Thanks for the thorough review. It would be cool if the earbuds magnetically snapped to the sides of the neckband, that way if you only want to use one earbud, the jealous one wouldn’t just dangle and wave wildly for you to include it too. LOL. Basically instead of clipping to each other, it would click magnetically just above the play button/Anker logo. Overall, I do like the clean look of the neckband. :slight_smile:

Great review @ndalby. Thanks for sharing your views on the item with us.

Wow, looks good wearing this! Yes, I agree this product is more suitable for daily commuting instead of doing excise. :grin:

@Nhi @SZak2015 @AnkerOfficial Thanks!

Now that would have been a cool feature, plus it would help when it’s being stored in it’s cloth pouch

Very nice review!

Another great review, @ndalby!

Overall, is the audio quality a lot better vs the Slims?

I would say they are an improvement over the Slim’s in terms of audio quality (better drivers) and a touch louder to sections (low range) of songs I have tried. However audio quality is subjective based on the end user and the improvement could be a trade off depending on how you are wanting to use them.

Depending on your intended use, combined with the battery life and improved fit (well to my ears) they could make a decent upgrade to a Slim owner when they are on an offer.

So I won (random selection) the Lite or Life version, if I get the Life version I was thinking these would be my home working on the phone all day audio solution due to battery life and my current buds Lite which i need to recharge mid-afternoon can be more for other situations.

Your comment about the microphone audio quality concerns me, I don’t understand your comment there, can you expand?

Have you got an email with shipping confirmation yet?

Nope. I’ll ask in the correct thread

To test the mic and hands free capabilities I tried being on both the receiving end of a call from the SoundBuds Life (SBL) aswell as using them to make and receive calls, both to landlines and mobiles.

Ongoing SBL voice calls to mobiles and landlines sounded more normal, well as normal as they can for a call, when I was listening on the receiving end. Now on the SBL end, calls from either landlines or mobiles had a slight garble, is the best way I can describe it, when the remote party was speaking. Like the remote party was hearing audio at 320kbps when I spoke but the audio I was hearing from them was at a downsampled 96-128kbps.

It’s not often I use headsets for phonecalls, so it was not that big a deal to me overall but I thought it was worth mentioning for those who might be choosing them solely for that feature.

As I’ve said though, audio is a subjective thing, it was my take on it but others might think theres nothing wrong…

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Just got mine.

I agree once around the neck one easily forget they are there, the weight is spread around it is easily to notice not present. The weight distribution seems intelligently sublime.

The odd thing is the fit in the ear, I usually have the default fitted medium size buds on but for these I had to move to the larger non-default supplied size to get a good fit. So the buds seem on the smaller than average size.

Pairs with Chromebook (what I usually use around the house) easily, which not all BT devices do (good).

The BT distance is the best ever of any of my devices. Oooooh…

One surprise benefit of this design is the one-ear method works better than I have experienced, because the weight is in the neck and little on the wire-bud, means I can use one-ear to keep the other-ear clear to hear surroundings, there isn’t the wire dragging down. So I can be one-ear and moving my head around and the one bud stays in place. Good.

I have another horse for a different course.

Watching BBC News at Ten on Iplayer and works ok…


Yeah they do, had to line them up against my IE10 one’s to get a handle on the sizes they were using. One US review said they came with large attached and went up to XL size.

Nice review @ndalby. Very descriptive👍.

Nice review. I ended up buying the Soundbuds slims when they first released, now that I see these, I want to replace them for these.

@Edy_Diaz @Element321 , thanks for the feedback. While the Slim’s have been my favourite for home use in the past, these have now become there replacement. The Slims are now my work pair :smile:


Have you done anything in that that could cause them to fall out? You know like running, exercise, yard work, or just leaning over multiple times to pick things up? I know some brands with this design can have issue if you have an active life style.

I have these buds. For active up/down events the neckband would just bounce up and down and yank the buds out of the ears. These are excellent for motion not bouncing up/down, so for example cycling, walking, general motion moving the head, but not running.

There is no in-ear retainer to force them to keep inside the ears, they do a very good job of keeping in the ear as the in-ear buds are very light and the bud+wire weight is very light so they do not want to pull out when walking and turning the neck.

The primary benefit of the band is it allows a far bigger battery and more powerful charging circuit for excellent battery life and fast recharging and good bluetooth signal strength, but that neck weight of the band means its not really for high energy neck moving up/down type.

Because there is a long wire between the ear and the band, relative to wired buds which connect directly between the ears, they stay in the ear better when moving the head a lot, so good where the head moves a lot up/down left/right.

So to your specific questions:

  • “running” - no.
  • “exercise” - probably not but it depends on the exercise, say cycling would work well as the shoulders not moving up/down much.
  • “yard work” - probably.
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