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Anker Soundcore Liberty Neo Review

inexpensive truly wireless buds that work well for light use, but generally stand up well to extended wear or working out
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Price:   $65 List | $50 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive for a truly wireless pair, fairly portable
Cons:  Not comfortable for extended wear, insecure when used for athletic endeavors
Manufacturer:   Soundcore
By Max Mutter and Michelle Powell  ⋅  Jul 29, 2019
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53
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#16 of 17
  • Sound Quality - 30% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 4
  • Athletic Performance - 20% 3
  • Battery Life - 15% 4
  • Portability - 15% 8

Our Verdict

Offering surprisingly good sound quality and a truly wireless design for a fraction of the price of most competitors, the Anker Soundcore Liberty Neo is a fantastic deal if you want the freedom of zero wires on the cheap. However, that cost savings does bring some sacrifices. We found the fit of these buds to not be super secure, so chances are they'll fall out during your workout. The battery life of 3.5 hours can also feel limiting to many modern users that tend to have their earbuds in for the majority of the day. Finally, the microphone on these buds tends to pick up and amplify any ambient noise, so unless you're making a phone call from a silent room the person you're calling may not be able to understand you. But if you're just looking for truly wireless earbuds that can entertain you with music or podcasts on your walk to work the Liberty Neo provides all you need for a very low price.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $65 List
$49.99 at Amazon
$170 List
$168.99 at Amazon
$100 List
$79.95 at Amazon
$200 List
$199.99 at Amazon
$100 List
$99.95 at Amazon
Star Rating
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Pros Inexpensive for a truly wireless pair, fairly portableGreat sound quality, secure fit, great for working outGood sound quality, good for working out, low profile design, relatively inexpensiveSecure fit, great sound qualityIncredibly crisp audio, comfortable
Cons Not comfortable for extended wear, insecure when used for athletic endeavorsExpensive, relatively short battery lifeMay not fit large ears wellExpensive, can get in the way of sunglassesBass relatively weak compared to other high end models, not great for athletics
Bottom Line inexpensive truly wireless buds that work well for light use, but generally stand up well to extended wear or working outThe best sounding and most comfortable buds we've found for working outA sleek package that offers high end performance at a mid range priceGreat sounding earbuds that can stand up to the most rigorous workoutsTop notch clarity makes for a great listening experience, as long as you’re not working out
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Rating Categories Anker Soundcore... Jabra Elite 65t JBL Reflect Mini 2 Beats by Dr. Dre... Beats by Dr. Dre...
Sound Quality (30%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
Comfort (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
Athletic Performance (20%)
10
0
3
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
4
Battery Life (15%)
10
0
4
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
Portability (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
7
Specs Anker Soundcore... Jabra Elite 65t JBL Reflect Mini 2 Beats by Dr. Dre... Beats by Dr. Dre...
Weight (oz) 0.4 0.4 0.54 0.9 0.75
Microphone Yes/No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Claimed Battery Life (hours) 3.5 5 10 12 8
Measured Battery Life (hours) 3.5 5.25 11.5 10 8
Carrying Case Yes/No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
EMF Measurement 10.7 V/m 4.1 V/m 3.7 V/m 5.8 V/m

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Soundcore Liberty Neo is one of the least expensive ways to get truly wireless earbuds, and if all you're looking for is musical accompaniment for walks or while doing chores, they work great. However, the lack of an athletic fit and a relatively short battery life make these buds a bit less versatile than most of their pricier truly wireless competitors.


Performance Comparison



Sound Quality


The Liberty Neo sounded quite good in our testing. We certainly wouldn't call these buds the most mellifluous of the bunch, but our complaints are minor.


Overall, music sounds quite good on the Liberty Neo, but it certainly doesn't feel like a luxury listening experience. Overall we'd say these buds are about on par with the $10-$20 wired buds that come in the box with most smartphones. If you're expecting a huge upgrade in sound quality over those standard wired earbuds, you'll probably be disappointed with the Liberty Neo. If you're mostly looking for a truly wireless experience on the cheap and aren't too fussy about sound quality, we think these buds will more than past muster with your eardrums.

These buds sound reasonably good  but don't expect much of an upgrade over the wired bud that probably came included with your phone.
These buds sound reasonably good, but don't expect much of an upgrade over the wired bud that probably came included with your phone.

Phone Calls


Phone calls sound fine on the Liberty Neo but the microphone picks up so much ambient noise that, unless you're in a silent room, there's a good chance the person you're calling will have trouble understanding you.

Comfort


In our testing, we felt the Liberty Neo was comfy enough for a half hour stroll, but found ourselves wanting to pry the buds out if they were in our ears for more than an hour. We were able to get a secure fit with the buds, but it took more effort than with many other models.


In order to get these buds to sit securely in your ears, we found that you either have to push them fairly deep into your ears, or use one of the included ear fins. If you push them deep into your ears, it feels a bit like having earplugs in, with a slight feeling of inward pressure on the eardrum. If you can get over that feeling, this orientation blocks out a lot of ambient noise, which is great if that's what you're going for, but can be a bit disconcerting if you're outside and want to be at least somewhat aware of your surroundings.

If you opt for the ear fins instead of pushing the buds deeper into your ears, you essentially trade an inward pressure for an outward pressure, as the fins tend to tug out a bit on your ears. Either way, we generally found ourselves wanting to take these buds out within an hour of putting them in.

Also, no matter how you wear the buds, most of their weight sits away from the ear, so if you move around at all you tend to get an annoying tugging sensation, unless you walk with the grace of a ballet dancer.

The Liberty Neo works well for a walk  but generally  don't feel stable enough for a run.
The Liberty Neo works well for a walk, but generally, don't feel stable enough for a run.

Athletic performance


After spending some time working out with the Liberty Neo, we would not recommend the buds for most athletic endeavors. If your workout is generally low impact, say riding a stationary bike or maybe using an elliptical, the Neo might be secure enough to stay in your ears. However, of the 7 testers we had use these buds for athletic pursuits, only 1 felt they fit securely enough in their ears to stay put during a light jog, while the rest experienced the buds actually falling out at least once.


Battery Life


In our tests we measured the Neo's battery life at 3.5 hours, which is right in line with the manufacturer's specification. The included charging case also holds about 2 more charges. Of all the buds we tested this is one of the shortest battery lives, making these buds a poor choice for marathon listening sessions.


Portability


These earbuds come with a very slim carrying case and weigh just 0.4 ounces. Overall they take up barely more space in a pocket than wired earbuds. However, they missed out on a top score because of the shape of their case. While skinny in one dimension, it is relatively thick in the other, which can make it slightly uncomfortable when shoved into a tight pocket.


Value


The list price of $65 makes the Soundcore Liberty Neo some of the least expensive truly wireless earbuds on the market. And for light use, they present a good value. However, if you want to use them for anything more than an hour long stroll, the extra comfort and more secure fit of some of the pricier truly wireless models will be well worth the extra cost.

The Liberty Neo and the relatively slim charging case.
The Liberty Neo and the relatively slim charging case.

Conclusion


The Soundcore Liberty Neo earbuds are quite inexpensive for truly wireless buds, but are only really designed for light use (say, accompanying you on your half hour stroll to work, and the half hour stroll back). If you want something that can be worn for longer or that can stand up to a strenuous workout, you'll either have to shift to a wired pair or spend more on some of the higher-end truly wireless buds.


Max Mutter and Michelle Powell