Given the company’s heavy-focus on its devices being used as health-tracking tools, it was strongly rumored that Apple’s recently announced AirPods Pro 2 would include in-ear heart rate monitoring. They don’t, but if that’s a feature you had your heart set on, Anker just announced an alternative that do, and for $100 less than Apple’s latest and greatest.
The company is probably best known for its affordable portable chargers and battery packs, but for a few years now, Anker has also been churning out a collection of wireless earbuds that offer solid (but not industry-leading) sound and features, for a price that usually undercuts the bigger names in the earbuds space. Yesterday, it revealed the fourth iteration of its Soundcore Liberty buds with a new feature that’s still hard to come by in truly wireless earbuds: heart rate monitoring.
It’s not an entirely new idea, and companies like Jabra also offer in-ear heart rate monitoring with some of their fitness-focused earbuds like the Elite sport. But for athletes who want to skip wearing a smartwatch or other fitness trackers and really only care about how much of a workout their heart is getting, the Soundcore Liberty 4 can keep tabs on that using the same optical sensor tricks, with the data synced to a “Wellness” section in an accompanying app. Unlike the $220 Jabra Elite Sport, the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 come with a $150 price tag that’s a little easier to swallow.
Available in either black or white next month with a design that’s more or less reminiscent of the AirPods, the Soundcore Liberty 4 have both a 9.2-millimeter and 6-millimeter driver in each bud that Anker promises will deliver “deep, punchy bass, accurate mids, and clear treble.” Battery life is rated at a solid nine hours, or up to 28 hours in total when the buds take occasional naps in their charging case, but Anker doesn’t specify if that’s with ANC turned on or off.
And because it’s what all the cool kids are doing, the new Soundcore Liberty 4 wireless earbuds also come with 360-degree spatial audio, which uses a gyroscope in the buds and custom algorithms to track the movement of a user’s head and make the mix sound like it’s coming from all directions around them. It’s a feature that’s most useful when using wireless earbuds to watch movies or TV shows, but it’s not exactly a feature that should be at the top of anyone’s headphones wish list.