I have beta tested this product for over 5 months. This product was initially called Life NC then changed the name to Journey U and back to Life NC again at the launch. You can see the product packaging I have is named Journey U but the Soundcore app recognizes it as Life NC. There is no UPC number or final FCC id on the box either.
It comes in classic white and blue Anker box. Outside there are pictures of product as well as some of the features highlighted. Once the box is opened like a book it shows the actual headphone in a molded product casing. This is where it becomes really weird to pull the headphone out. In my case (an early beta version but still a retail packaging) headphones are held in this casing way too tightly and you need to be very careful not to rip any wires or cause scratches to the headphone while taking it out. Anker may have changed it and I did report this issue to them very early on. Underneath the headphone case you will find a padded soft case of the headphone. This case has a zipped pocket in it (pretty cool) where all the accessories are kept. This includes charging cable, 4’ long micro-usb to 3.5mm airline adapter cable (more on that later) and some tips and earwings. Inside the box there is also a user manual. There was no happy/unhappy card or warranty card? Don’t know the reason for that but my unit came directly from China rather than Amazon USA.
It contains standard eartips (XS/S/M/L/XL) and Earwings (XS/S/M/L) and a microusb charging cable “no surprises here”
Surprise is a microusb to 3.5 mm audio cable (this is 4 ft long cable) - There is no mention of this in user manual but on top of box it says an airline adapter. By plugging this cable to headphone microusb charging port, the bluetooth is disabled and headphones work without power (just like a standard wired earphones). This is really cool to have when you are travelling and there is either a no bluetooth use permitted or you run out of juice from headphones.
Fit and Feel:
Headphones are really lightweight and are flexible. The part of headphone that goes behind neck is really soft and flexible (it is not hard plastic) that makes putting on or removing very easy. Earphone part is magnetic (awesome Anker) and can be held together when not in use.
Headphone Features and Performance:
Input : 5V, 500mA
Charging Time : 2 hours (via micro-usb port)
Play Time: 10 hours (ANC on); 15 hours (ANC off)
Waterproof Rating : IPX5
Weight : 60.5 g / 2.1 oz
Impedance : 16 Ohms
Driver (Full Range) : 12 mm x 2
Frequency Response : 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Bluetooth Version : 5.0
Range : 10 m / 33 ft
When turned on or off this headphone vibrates strongly. When call comes in it vibrates as well (this is a great feature). Headphones have 4 microphones for better performance (2 on each side). On the left side of band there are power button and play/pause button. Power button also doubles as mode button. Play/pause button also doubles as call answer/reject. On the right side of band there are volume +/- buttons which also doubles as forward/skip button (long press).
These headphones by default turns on with ANC on. Pressing mode button once takes it to transparency mode (where outside sounds are transmitted to ears using the 4 microphones). Pressing it again brings the normal mode (transparency and ANC off). Mode button cycles between ANC/Transparency/Normal mode with each press. A female voice announces the mode it is on (very helpful).
Performance is spectacular on these. These have 12 mm drivers and produce a great quality sound. With ANC on you can reduce the listening volume. In transparency mode, volume doesn’t increase beyond certain maximum (possibly 50%). Normal mode is just like ANC but without ANC.
Bass is very good in both ANC and Normal mode. Mid and Treble are very well defined and I can hear all the instruments being played with wide soundstage.
Transparency mode is an awesome feature. This is for environments where you need to hear outside sounds. Once activated you can continue conversation without taking out the earplugs from your ears. It can come really handy if you are commuting or are in a public place or office and need to hear outside sounds.
Sound and Call Quality:
The most important aspect of these headphones is for listening music etc and for phone conversations. These headphone shines in both departments. It has stunning sound quality and with more control over bass using the app, you can fine tune it to your exact liking. Call quality is also top notch. No issues from either end.
Simultaneous connection with 2 devices:
This earphone is capable to simultaneously connect to 2 devices. Pair the earbuds with first device, then press the mode button twice to reenter the pairing mode to pair with second device. Any calls from both devices will be taken through the earbuds. If you want to change device to listen to music, pause the current music on current device and then play to listen to music on other device.
Battery Level Indicator:
When connected with iOS this headphone reports battery level to the phone (even without using Soundcore app).
Corresponding App (Soundcore App):
This works with Soundcore App from App store. This app also interacts with Flare, Flare+, Model Zero, Model Zero+, Flare S+ and this (Life NC).
In App you see battery level bar and a picture of Life NC. Below are 3 buttons. First is Wave Equalizer (Original, Bass Boost, Office); second is max volume limiter and 3rd is customize button to fine tune play button. Finally there are 3 dots at the bottom which gives option to update firmware and shows connected devices.
When connected to iPhone and Soundcore App it shows 2 connections (with same name).
About Bluetooth Chip and Performance Benchmarks:
This headphone has a CSR (Cambridge Silicon Radio owned by Qualcomm) chip but still has no aptX support. This only supports AAC and SBC codecs. Its throughput rate is 256 kb/s. See the audio graph below.