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Anker SoundCore 2 review: A likeable, cheap mini Bluetooth speaker with strong battery

Anker's popular $35 mini Bluetooth speaker is a decent deal, although it doesn't sound quite as good as a lot of people think.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy

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Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable e-reader and e-publishing expert. He's also the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks and Nook e-books, as well as audiobooks.

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Anker's SoundCore 2 is a popular mini Bluetooth speaker on Amazon. It costs $35 (£42 in the UK, AU$99 in Australia), plays pretty loud for its small size, is water-resistant and has excellent battery life. That's all good -- and the SoundCore 2 is a perfectly fine little wireless speaker -- but it doesn't sound as good as the similarly priced Oontz Angle 3 Plus and can't handle certain bass frequencies at higher volumes.

Anker SoundCore 2
7.0

Anker SoundCore 2

The Good

The Anker SoundCore 2 delivers better than average sound for the money, is water-resistant and has strong battery life. There's also a built-in microphone for speakerphone calls.

The Bad

Distorts at higher volumes and can't handle deep bass.

The Bottom Line

While Anker's SoundCore 2 doesn't sound as good as some people think, it's a likable, relatively inexpensive mini Bluetooth speaker with strong battery life.

Cosmetically speaking, the 11.2-ounce (318g) SoundCore 2 has a straightforward, low-frills design that's highlighted by a soft-to-the-touch rubberized finish and nice, big buttons on top for power, volume control, pause/playback and Bluetooth connectivity. Slightly bigger than Anker's original SoundCore, it sounds slightly better, with a little better bass response, and adds the aforementioned splashproofing. (With their prices so close, there really isn't any reason to buy the original SoundCore at this point even though it remains on sale).

I had no problem pairing it and the wireless range was good (Anker lists it a 66 feet or about 20 meters). A rubber gasket covers the USB charging port and auxiliary input, which allows you to connect non-Bluetooth devices. Additionally, there's a built-in microphone for making speakerphone calls, but don't expect business-class performance.

Anker SoundCore 2
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Anker SoundCore 2

The SoundCore 2's design is attractive but semi-generic.  

Sarah Tew/CNET

From a sound standpoint we compared several mini Bluetooth speakers to this speaker and I came away thinking it was a little better than average for a sub $50 Bluetooth speaker, but it didn't really exceed my expectations. It plays bigger than its size would indicate but you're still aware it's a small speaker when listening to it -- the sound just doesn't comes across as all that rich or expansive. It works well for playing background music at low to mid volume levels but runs into some trouble at higher volumes.

We fed it some pretty hard material -- material that often makes other small speakers distort -- and SoundCore 2 did indeed distort at higher volumes. One example: The 3WW track "alt-J" has some deep bass frequencies and the SoundCore 2 couldn't resolve them without warbling.

Anker SoundCore 2
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Anker SoundCore 2

A gasket on the side covers the USB charging port and auxiliary input.

Sarah Tew/CNET

To be clear, this is par for the course for these little speakers, which tend to be strongest in midrange and have a harder time resolving complicated tracks that involve more instruments. It does sound significantly better than the $18 AmazonBasics Portable Wireless Bluetooth speaker and less critical listeners will most likely be happy with its sound and battery life, which is rated at 24 hours at moderate volume levels (I used it at lower volume levels for several days without having to recharge). 

As noted, I prefer the sound of the Oontz Angle 3 Plus -- you get better sound for the same basic price. But if you're willing to step up to the $80/£55 Anker SoundCore Boost speaker, you're going to get a big bump in sound quality, with stronger bass and more refined sound. (It's apparently not available in Australia.) The SoundCore Boost can also play louder without distorting.

Anker SoundCore 2
7.0

Anker SoundCore 2

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Sound 7Value 7