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Anker SoundBuds Slim review: A wireless headphone bargain that's hard to beat

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Anker has made a name for itself by selling a host of budget mobile phone accessories that are relatively inexpensive but manage to avoid looking cheap. The same can be said for the SoundBuds Slim, an in-ear Bluetooth sports headphone that can be had for less than $30 (£20; AU$70) online.

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7.9

Anker SoundBuds Slim

Pricing Not Available

The Good

The SoundBuds Slim are inexpensive but don't look or feel cheap; they fit and work reliably well with sound decent enough for their price; a carrying pouch is included and the buds adhere to each other magnetically.

The Bad

Bass is a little bloated (loose) and the treble has a touch of harshness, particularly at higher volumes; other online-only companies are selling virtually identical products.

The Bottom Line

The SoundBuds Slim Bluetooth earphones are hard to beat for the price, especially if you're not a stickler for sound quality.

Let me preface the design discussion by saying that this headphone may very well have come out of the same Chinese factory that makes very similar-looking wireless earphones for other online-only brands like TaoTronics, so it's hard to call these truly original or special.   

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What you get in the box.

Sarah Tew/CNET

That caveat aside, the SoundBuds Slim earphones do have a simple elegance to them and seem sturdily built with metal housings and a fairly thick cord. They're also sweat resistant and come with a basic carrying pouch for storage. Battery life is rated at 7 hours at moderate volume levels, which is fairly decent for this type of headphone.

The most important thing for me was that they fit well and worked reliably with minimal Bluetooth hiccups. They come with four different-sized silicone eartips and three different-sized sports hooks to help lock the bud in place. The larger tips and hooks allowed me to get a secure, tight seal, which is crucial to maximizing sound quality.

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The buds adhere magnetically.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The cord may be a little short for some people but it was fine for me, and the buds are magnetic, so you can wear the earphones around your neck like a pendant when you're not listening to them. The USB charging port is in the inline remote, which is where the microphone for making calls also lives.

For their low price, SoundBuds Slim deliver good sound and I think most people will be satisfied, but I wouldn't say they sound great and they're only OK for making calls. The bass is a little loose -- by that I mean it's a little boomy -- and the treble has a touch of a harsh edge to it.
The way I dealt with those issues was to lower the volume, but if you like to play your music loud, this may not be the headphone for you. However, those of you looking for a decent set of cheap wireless headphones for both gym and everyday use, the SoundBuds Slim are a good choice and my current favorite Anker Bluetooth headphones.

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The headphones come in no-frills packaging.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Specs:

  • 6mm drivers
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Includes four sizes of eartips and three sizes of in-ear hooks
  • Up to 7 hours on a single charge
  • IPX4 water-resistant shell and internal nano-coating provide a double layer of water protection
  • What's in the box: SoundBuds Slim, XS/S/M/L eartips, S/M/L in-ear hooks, FitClip, Shirt Clip, Micro-USB Cable, Travel Pouch, welcome guide
  • 18-month warranty
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7.9

Anker SoundBuds Slim

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Sound 7Value 9