Impressively affordable wireless sports earphones that impress with their design, but not their sound
- Very low price
- Solid design
- Great features for the money
- Bluetooth breaks up in busy areas
- Coarse sound
- Review Price: £18.99
- Aluminium earpieces
- Bluetooth wireless
- 110mAh 7-hour battery
- Removable earhooks
- 3-button remote
- Nano coating with IPX5 water-resistance
What are the Anker SoundBuds Slim?
The Anker SoundBuds Slim are affordable wireless earphones that look similar to some models that are three times the price.
They’re a great buy for those wanting a low-bulk second or third pair, should you want to avoid damaging a more expensive set while running or in the gym. You also get some great features for the price including magnetised earpieces, water-resistance and comfy ear hooks.
Basic sound quality that lacks the bass power to make you want to run faster stops them earning a top recommendation, though.
Anker SoundBuds Slim – Design and fit
The “slim” part of the Anker SoundBuds Slim refers to the cabling used here. They don’t have a neckband, just a cable with an in-line remote.
This is the most handy kind of budget wireless set of earphones to buy. The Anker SoundBuds Slim will fit in a pocket and last longer between charges than a true wireless pair.
Related: Best true wireless earbuds
Anker has squeezed in some impressive extras considering the low price. First, an Anker classic: the earpieces are metal rather than plastic. Lots of Anker gadgets are aluminium. In this case it means they’ll handle being trodden into tarmac better than some. Their anodised finish may not look so good afterwards, but they won’t crumple.
In addition, they have magnets on the end of each earbud, which let you link them together while they’re sat around your neck.
Comfort is perhaps the most impressive here, though. The Anker SoundBuds Slim have optional silicone ear hooks, designed to keep them firmly in your ears during exercise. They’re great, with just the right amount of flexibility and softness to feel good without trading away too much hold on your ear.
The Anker SoundBuds Slim come with three sizes of hooks and four sizes of tip. And you can leave the hooks off if you don’t like how they feel.
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Anker SoundBuds Slim – Features
Just about every sporty characteristic has been considered. The Anker SoundBuds Slim are also IPX5 water-resistant. As such, they’re certified to withstand water jets. That’s good enough for sweat and rain, but it’s advisable to given them a wipe down rather than running them under a tap after a workout.
Three colours are on offer: black, blue and red. It’s the cabling and buttons that change, not the earpieces themselves.
Other features are roughly in line with what you’d see with other Bluetooth earphones. The plastic remote housing sports three buttons, for volume and track control with both Androids and iPhones, and you charge the battery with a micro-USB cable.
The SoundBuds Slim will see you through seven hours of listening, which is about the standard for such design, and they take 1.5-2 hours to charge.
Related: Best wireless headphones
Most of the practical and technical elements of the Anker SoundBuds Slim are sound. However, Bluetooth stability does become an issue when the earphones have to deal with big crowds of people.
For example, after walking into London Paddington Station, which was reasonably busy at the time, the signal glitched out for a full minute. To the Anker SoundBuds Slim’s credit, it wasn’t lost entirely; the audio sounded as if it were being continually chopped apart with a knife. Not pleasant.
At other times the Anker SoundBuds Slim’s Bluetooth is fairly stable for a cheap pair.
Related: Best running headphones
Anker SoundBuds Slim – Sound quality
Sound is the Anker SoundBuds Slim’s weak point – but it could be a lot worse, considering the price.
These earphones have inauthentic-sounding treble, which gives music and spoken-word podcasts a hard, rough edge. It doesn’t veer right over into an unpleasant tone, but the Anker SoundBuds Slim aren’t smooth or refined; rather, they’re coarse sounding.
The rest of the sound is typical of this treble-led style. Bass isn’t boomy, there’s no excess of mid-bass to glam up the sound. These aren’t particularly detailed earphones, but the detail present is clear enough.
The Soundbuds Slim don’t sound terrible, but their signature seems at odds with the way they’re likely to be used. I’d buy a pair such as this for running or the gym. A little extra bass, perhaps a thicker, more powerful sound works well for such a purpose. The Anker SoundBuds Slim just don’t have that power or bass punch.
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When looking for that extra hit of motivation when you’re flagging, you may increase the volume for that oomph but find the Anker SoundBuds Slim lacking in this regard. Doing this simply emphasises the roughness of the treble – plus raising the volume too high isn’t good for your ears.
However, Anker is likely aware of these limitations. The step-up sports model Spirit X offers much beefier sound that’s just about perfect for a workout. Nevertheless, what Anker has done here for the money is still commendable – but you might want to consider levelling up if you use such earphones regularly.
Related: Anker SoundCore Spirit X review
Why buy the Anker SoundBuds Slim?
Anker has managed to fit a lot into the SoundBuds Slim considering their price. They’re wireless, comfortable, sports-ready and have aluminium earpieces – not bad for £20.
However, if you want a pair of gym or running (or general use) wireless earphones that you’re likely to use often, we advise spending a little more to get a sound upgrade. The SoundBuds Slim don’t have the almost novelty-grade sound you’ll hear from most ultra-budget earphones sold in, say, supermarkets. However, if you spend £10-20 more then you can get a pair that sounds genuinely good.
Top contenders include the Skullcandy Method Wireless and Anker’s own SoundCore Spirit X, which offer better sports features and battery life.
Affordable wireless sports earphones that impress with their design, but not their sound.
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