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Lifewire / Claire Cohen
Excellent all-day battery life
Crisp, precise audio clarity
Non-intrusive design features
Super affordable price point
Slightly flimsy wire
Underwhelming bass response
You won’t impress hardcore audiophiles with the Anker SoundBuds Slim+, but the insane battery life, great detail during phone calls and music, and a sleek design will perfectly suit almost everyone else.
As a brand, Anker is known for a lot of different mobile accessories ranging from power banks and wall chargers to speakers and, of course, headphones. The $29.99 SoundBuds Slim+ are one of the many affordable wireless earphones Anker sells, and they surprised us in a lot of ways.
From perfectly serviceable audio and reliable battery life to a nearly perfect fit, these Bluetooth earphones make us wonder why so many manufacturers place such a premium price on their audio products. If you’re on a budget, but don’t want to compromise on quality, the Anker SoundBuds Slim+ won’t disappoint.
We spent about a week with The SoundBuds Slim+ in New York City as our main on-the-go listening device, evaluating comfort, audio quality, and battery life.
The design of these is about as simplistic as it gets: an all-black housing with a chrome-colored ring on the outside, outlining the Anker brand logo. The short curved wings are actually pretty pleasing and match the look and feel of the wires. It’s very unassuming and will fly under the radar when you’re wearing these around town.
Another interesting design choice is the inclusion of a magnet on the back of each bud that allows them to be clipped together, which not only keeps them compact in the case, but it’s also pretty satisfying to just snap them together when you’re done. The included circular hardshell case fits the all black stealth look and, though it’s a bit big for the earphones, it’s an on-brand inclusion for the whole package.
When you term something “forgettable,” that doesn’t usually entail anything good. In this case, these earbuds are so light (under 0.6 ounces, barely readable on our scale), that you’ll forget you have them in your ear. The weight is so adequately centered, we stopped noticing them after 10 minutes of jogging.
Like most other earphones there are a few tips for a better fit (the silicon tip sizes include about 1/3rd of an inch and ½ inch in diameter, with the default tips sitting right between). The one-inch wings that come standard are very soft and very flexible, and they toe a nice line between comfortable and solid. Plus, there are a few other sizes of those in the box, too.
The wire itself is just under two feet long, giving ample room whether you feed the wire over your ear or under, behind your neck or in front. Though we do wish that the wire were flat to ensure it doesn’t tangle, there wasn’t too much of an issue there. We also really liked how close the remote is to the right earbud, giving you ease of access to adjust volume and pause/play tracks.
The pairing on these earbuds is nothing special — right out of the box, just hold the center remote button for at least three seconds and it will power on the headset and enter pairing mode. On computers and phones these earbuds pair easily. The quick start guide included with the SoundBuds says that you must hold both the volume up and down buttons simultaneously for three seconds to unpair a device and repair, but we found it easier to just long press the center button while the earphones were off to re-enter pairing mode.
You’ll get IPX5 levels of protection on the Slim+ which translates to protection from reasonably pressured water being sprayed on the headset. It’s important to note that this doesn’t cover submersion (you’ll need IPX6 or IPX7 for that). These ratings sound flashy, but what this means in real life is peace of mind that the headphones will survive even your sweatiest workout and won’t quit on you in the rain or snow. Just don’t drop them in the toilet or take them to the beach.
With a beautifully functional set of features, good levels of water resistance, serviceable sound quality, and a pleasing, professional set of packaging, you have a real steal.
The SoundBuds Slim+ find a way to offer reasonable sound quality across the spectrum without a harsh high end, and some low end despite their small drivers. On paper, they do cover exactly the range of human hearing (20Hz to 20kHz), but that only means the capability is technically there. In our experience, these worked great for podcasts and phone calls with solid detail, and were great for fuller genres like rock and pop. If you’re looking to listen to quieter music or something really bass-heavy like EDM, though, you might find that these lack presence and oomph.
The other piece of the sound quality picture is Bluetooth. As a technology, Bluetooth (4.1, in this case), has to use its own compression to transfer audio wirelessly, losing you some audio fidelity even if your computer or phone is playing music that is lossless.
These headphones use Qualcomm’s proprietary AptX that uses a smarter algorithm to leave as much of the original audio intact. It seems to work well for these headphones, resulting in plenty of detail and very little skipping in the connection. All in all, the clarity of sound quality paired with the surprisingly stable Bluetooth connection led to great phone calls on both ends of the line.
Because the SoundBuds Slim+ are fairly small, we had our hopes set pretty low for battery life. Most earbuds in this class promise around eight hours of playback, so when we saw seven hours written on the box, it didn’t bode well. But after a weeks’ worth of gym sessions, subway rides and phone calls, we can confidently say that you’ll easily get more than eight hours of battery life on these.
Your mileage will vary depending on how loud you listen to music and how many times you connect and disconnect them. Regardless, the included 5V micro-USB charger will have them back up to full charge in about 90 minutes according to Anker (closer to 75 minutes in our tests). Overall, we were pleasantly surprised.
After a weeks’ worth of gym sessions, subway rides and phone calls, we can confidently say that you’ll easily get more than eight hours of battery life.
Like many other headphones in this class, the price is the best feature. At the time of this writing, their price is $29.99 on Amazon, but we’ve seen these on sale for as low as $22. When you pair this with a beautifully functional set of features, good levels of water resistance, serviceable sound quality, and a pleasing, professional set of packaging, you have a real steal.
In the $20 to $30 price range you won’t find a lot of offering from known brands, which sets the SoundBuds Slim+ above the rest. Anker is an established company and unlike the Mpow Flame, these earbuds didn’t fail during testing. If you want the peace of mind that you’ve chosen a set of affordable earbuds with a ton of reliability, and most importantly good detail and great battery life, then you really can’t go wrong. Audiophiles should steer clear, as these do lack power, but at $29, you probably already knew that.
Want to look at other options? Check out our list of the best wireless earbuds you can buy online.
The ideal headphones for all budgets.
The Anker SoundBuds Slim+ do exactly what they’re supposed to do, providing solid audio and far surpassing their advertised battery life. The wire does feel a bit flimsy, and the bass response is lacking a bit (owing to the small drivers), but with the inclusion of aptX Bluetooth compression and great clarity for phone calls, you aren’t likely to have buyer’s remorse with these earphones.
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