Anker SoundBuds Slim review: £20 wireless earphones that – amazingly – sound quite good

Anker is renowned for its affordable, high-capacity power banks but that’s not the only type of product in its repertoire. Cables, gaming peripherals, audio products and even robot vacuum cleaners all come out of Anker’s factories.

The SoundBuds Slim are among one of the cheapest products the company produces – and one of the most popular wireless earphones listed on Amazon – and there’s now a brand new version.

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Anker SoundBuds Slim review: What you need to know

The SoundBuds Slim are wireless in-ear headphones that connect to your phone via Bluetooth. They’re available in three colours: black, blue and red – although it’s only the flat cable that connects left and right earpieces that’s coloured – and, conveniently, they clip together magnetically when out of your ears, making them easier to find when dangled down your chest and less likely to fall off your neck.

They won’t, however, pause or switch off when clipped together, which is an aspect I liked about the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2.

Designed primarily as sports earphones, the Soundbuds are fitted with rubber hooks around the earpieces to keep them in place during workouts and three sizes of these are provided in the box. Anker also provides five sets of different sized silicone rubber tips, which help you get the perfect seal. In the box, you’ll also find a cable management clip, a shirt clip and even a soft carrying pouch; all of which make the earphones more convenient to take out the house.

That’s pretty impressive considering how little these headphones cost but there’s more. They’re also IPX7-rated, which means they can be submerged in water at a depth of one metre for up to 30 minutes. You will, however, need to ensure the rubber flap that covers the microUSB port is sealed shut.

I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that the SoundBuds Slim support both SBC and AAC codecs. The latter is a rare sight in budget earphones and it has a positive impact on sound quality, as long as your connecting device supports it.

It’s a subtle difference, but when connected via AAC the sound these Anker earphones produces is a touch more airy and a little less congested. Stick to AAC and you’ll have a fine old time: bassline kicks in Chris Brown’s ‘New Flame’ sound tight and well-controlled and there’s plenty of detail in the trebles, too, although the highest frequencies can sound a tad sibilant when you crank up the volume.

Another strength is instrument separation. Taio Cruz’s ‘Rainfall’ is an excellent test for this with the guitars starting at the foreground and moving to the background and the artist’s voice becoming more prominent as the song progresses. By comparison, the Brainwavz Delta struggle to cope with such complex material, sounding congested and with a much narrower presentation.

The SoundBuds Slim do suffer from recessed mids and, as a result, vocals can sound a little subdued. However, none of the earphones I’ve listened to at this price excel in this department so it’s hardly a surprise.

My only real complaint with them is their inherent ability to funnel wind noise into your ear canals, which can have a negative impact on sound quality; it’s a result of having a rather bulky design that sticks out of your ears. This, of course, will only be an annoyance if you wear them while cycling or running. 

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Anker SoundBuds Slim review: Price and competition

At £20, the Anker SoundBuds Slim are certainly cheap but they’re not without rival at this price.

Of the headphones I’ve tested, you have the iTeknic’s IK-BH001 at £22 but these don’t sound as good and aren’t as waterproof; battery life is good, though, at a full 24 hours. The TaoTronics TT-BH07 cost £19 and, impressively, support Qualcomm’s aptX codec but they’re not as sonically able as the Anker set, either. If you want to completely eliminate the cord there’s also the Tronsmart Spunky at £35; these have a similar sound signature to the SoundBuds Slim but I don’t find they fit my ears particularly well; your mileage may vary, of course.

Anker SoundBuds Slim review: Verdict

In short, at £20, it’s hard to fault the Anker SoundBuds Slim. They mix excellent design, great build quality and useful features with surprisingly decent sound quality. Truly, if you’re on a budget, these are the best Bluetooth earphones money can buy.

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