Anker P20i wireless earbuds review: more than you bargained for

Power, performance, value: our thoughts on some of the most impressive budget earbuds on the market

from Anker
RRP  £29.99
Anker soundcore P20i review

by Ryan Houghton |
Published on

Taking online retailers by storm with its sheer popularity, Anker's shockingly good P20i earbuds are part of a new generation of ultra-low-budget wireless earbuds with something to offer everyone in search of impressive sound. Among the best headphones of the year when considering price and performance, I've had the pleasure of testing the Anker P20i earbuds for a short while, and needless to say I'm impressed.

Under the hood, the Anker P20i earbuds have an array of impressive hardware that is bound to entice even the most seasoned of listeners, from 10mm drivers to Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity, Anker's P20i is made with huge sound in mind.

As someone who's certainly been around the block when it comes to earbud testing, from the greatest Bose headphones and more - great sound is worth its weight in gold, but should we audiophiles spend a small fortune on quality?

Anker's P20i earbuds are the loud, definitive answer to this burning question - great audio is certainly possible, even on cheaper headphones, but not without some caveats.

soundcore Anker P20iAnker
Price: $24.99

Pros

  • Great sound performance
  • Impressive build quality
  • Fantastic quick-charging battery

Cons

  • Poor touch controls

Out of the box: first impressions

Anker Soundcore P20i
©Anker

When in hand, the first noticeable impression I gained from the Anker P20i earbuds was its impressive quality and presentation. Beautifully packaged as though they were significantly more expensive, the Anker soundcore P20i earbuds have a smooth and ultimately modern feel that follows in the footsteps of Apple's AirPods.

Of course, comparing the quality between the case and earbuds of the AirPods and the P20i earbuds isn't exactly fair: the case feels much lighter, the loop handle looks a little cheap, and the overall weight and build quality doesn't quite reach the heights of Apple's AirPods, but at almost a tenth of the price, it's quite remarkable.

Anker's P20i earbuds snap wonderfully in the magnetic charging case, where many cheap earbuds fail. There's nothing more frustrating than setting your earbuds to charge for a couple of hours ahead of a walk, a long day of work, or even a gym session, only to discover your earbuds haven't charged a bit. With the Anker P20i earbuds, concerns about battery life are a thing of the past.

Design

Anker Soundcore P20i
©Anker

Where countless earbuds fail in their quest to look futuristic and more costly than their small price tags, the Anker soundcore P20i earbuds embrace a far cleaner and visually appealing aesthetic. A small, pocket-sized clamshell charging case with no flashy LCD battery display or other pointlessly overambitious features, the P20i is exactly what it needs to be, nothing more, nothing less.

The case features a USB C port, which is nice considering the number of cheaper wireless earbuds still using micro USB ports, allowing it to be easily integrated with my building pool of USB C powered devices.

As for the design of the earbuds, Anker's P20i adopts an in-ear bud design, which looks and feels solid, but isn't by any means exceptional. Anker's P20i earbuds are nicely weighted and overall comfortably designed, with a fairly standard in-ear bud design that feels secure and improves noise-cancelling significantly.

As for the Anker P20i's touch controls, they leave much to be desired. After several weeks of use, controlling music from the earbuds themselves is something of a roulette. In using them, I ended up frantically tapping the P20i earbuds, which rarely had the desired effect.

In even the best budget headphones, touch controls rarely can compete with pricier earbuds, and unfortunately, the P20i earbuds are no exception.

Performance

Anker Soundcore P20i outside
©Anker

Shockingly loud, a strong range with some shortcomings when it comes to higher tones, the overall performance of the Anker P20i is impressive for its price. Once I wore both earbuds at once, the sounds of the outside world disappeared.

At high volumes, the sounds of busy urban areas, roads and streets melted away, and I was left alone with pulsingly loud beats and intense vocal clarity.

Listening to a range of music with the Anker P20i earbuds, I've certainly noticed that these earbuds are suited particularly well to booming beat-heavy electronic music, and perhaps less suitable for calmer, subtler and detailed classical music.

When I listened to The Prodigy's Omen, for example, a song that combines a flood of stingingly sharp synthesiser sounds with a ferocious, fast-paced bassline, I found the bass to be for all purposes: massive. Skull-shakingly loud bass, Anker's 10mm dynamic drivers throttle your ears with heavy bass, and it's undoubtedly impressive.

Our caveat with its impressive bass, however, is the Anker P20i's struggle with balance. Balance is difficult to maintain when deep bass comes into play, and the P20i isn't without fault: high tones and midrange tones must fight against the bass to be heard, even occasionally vocals - and thus details become lost regularly.

Anker Soundcore P20i
©Anker

Bass isn't everything when it comes to sound, and the more you notice the P20i's intense bass, the more bothersome it becomes. Artificial bass inflation has been prevalent in cheap earbuds and headphones for practically decades, so it's nothing new. Listening to Spring is Here by Nina Simone, for example, a sombre, soft and gentle song with a light melody, Nina Simone's gorgeous vocals are quickly drowned entirely by a deafening double bass, as well as some mistakenly bass-enhanced audio crackling.

Nonetheless, the overall sound of the P20i earbuds with huge bass and impressive noise-cancellation, which isn't as effective at keeping noise in as it is keeping it out, is impressive in terms of volume and power alone.

But it's not just sound that's important when using the best wireless earbuds, there's also battery life, and the Anker P20i is pleasantly surprising. With over 30 hours of charge on the case and 10 hours on the earbuds themselves, the Anker P20i has plenty of audio output power and even more battery power. Listening to music freely for over 10 hours is certainly a blessing, especially for a cheaper pair of earbuds, and having 40 hours of total listening time on the go is a miracle of budget earbuds.

Price and competition

Unbelievably cheap, the Anker P20i earbuds are an absolute steal of a deal for those looking to grab a great bargain.

The hand-feel, the design and the robust sound of the P20i earbuds are truly exceptional for the price, there's no denying it. Yes, the case feels lighter than more expensive headphones, and the sound isn't perfectly balanced, but the P20i undoubtedly transcends its price tag.

Looking at similarly-priced earbuds on the market, very few achieve the solid audio that Anker is able to achieve at a fraction of the price.

Verdict

Great earbuds, but certainly not perfect - the Anker P20i earbuds are exceptional at their price. Incredible battery life, brilliantly designed and powerful, there's no denying the value you get from the Anker P20i earbuds.

Struggling with balance, but certainly commendable for its raw power, the P20i earbuds deliver impressive noise-cancelling at an ultra-low cost, and look great whilst doing so. Great for electronic music, whilst meeting some difficulties when playing more detailed, softer music thanks to some artificial bass inflation, the Anker P20i is perfect for pushing your limits during exercise or powering you through a tough hike - but less so for those who enjoy the intricacies of timeless classical music, for example.

For those looking to push their budget a little higher, but would rather stick to a price below £100 - we'd certainly recommend the Anker Liberty 4 NC earbuds, especially if you're fond of noise cancelling at a low price.

Score: 4/5

soundcore Anker P20iAnker
Price: $24.99

Pros

  • Great sound performance
  • Impressive build quality
  • Fantastic quick-charging battery

Cons

  • Poor touch controls

Other options to consider:

Samsung Galaxybuds2 ProSamsung

Stunningly brilliant, beautifully designed and expertly balanced: the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro wireless earphones are rich and full of sound. Bursting with high-fidelity audio, small and discrete, all the while having plenty of battery and audio output power. As we've covered in our comprehensive Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro review, these excellent earbuds are perfect for conquering the walk home, working up a sweat at the gym, or just rocking out in your free time.

Pros

  • Great, powerful sound
  • Well-balanced and detailed audio
  • Excellent battery life

Cons

  • Some users find the noise-cancelling to not be very effective

Soundcore Liberty 4 NCAnker
Price: $99.99
Alternative retailers
Walmart$99.99View offer

If you're looking for something a little pricier than the Anker soundcore P20i earbuds, but aren't willing to spend a fortune, Soundcore's Liberty 4 NC earbuds are the perfect balance between budget and performance.

Fantastic quality with some of the best noise cancelling on the market, these excellent budget earbuds are great for quality balance and total audio immersion. We've had the pleasure of doing an Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC review, and we were blown away by their quality.

Pros

  • Excellent balance and quality audio
  • Strong noise-cancelling for total immersion
  • Impressive 60-hour total battery life

Cons

  • can become uncomfortable after hours of use

Anker soundcore X10Anker

Rrp: $79.99

Price: $49.99
Alternative retailers
Walmart$69.99View offer

Perfect for stable use during intense cardio, Anker's soundcore Sport X10 wireless headphones are perfect for tackling exercise without the risk of loose headphones. Waterproof with 32 hours of charging, the Sport X10 wireless headphones bring a huge amount of value to those who are in dire need of tough, secure headphones that just keep going, even if you haven't charged them for a while.

In our Anker soundcore Sport X10 review, we gave these impressive headphones a true test, putting it through its paces: we weren't disappointed.

Pros

  • Sturdy, secure design
  • Powerful sound
  • Impressive battery life

Cons

  • Not the toughest case

How I tested the Anker P20i earbuds:

I tested the Anker P20i earbuds by using them for several weeks, testing them in various environments to get a clearer picture of how effective they were at noise cancelling. I also tested them using a variety of genres to see how accurate the P20i earbuds were at sound reproduction.

Ryan Houghton is a commercial content writer for What’s The Best, known best for his expertise in gaming, with a particular soft spot for PC gaming, audio tech, televisions and smartphones.

Diligently writing for What’s The Best for almost two years, there are very few tech products Ryan hasn’t had his hands on to review; televisions, headphones, folding phones and even LEGO, if it’s nerdy, he’ll be there.

His well-versed history as one of the resident techies at What’s The Best has kept him keen to uncover the very best deals, savings and offers for those in need of a cracking deal to upgrade their setup.

In his downtime, Ryan most likely has his nose buried in a fantasy book, or his eyes glued to a screen whilst playing a tough-as-nails Soulslike or leisurely RPG, indulging in most forms of escapism where possible.

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