Anker Zolo Liberty EarBuds Review vs Apple AirPods

Anker Zolo Liberty EarBuds Review vs Apple AirPods
8.7 Total Score

$98.95

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  • Great sound quality
  • Truly wireless
  • Transparency Mode (on "plus" model)

Bluetooth earbuds are finally going completely wireless with latest models finally eliminating that wire in the middle!  Anker’s Zolo line of earbuds feature two different models: regular Liberty and the Liberty+ (notice the “plus”).  So what’s the difference between the Liberty and Liberty+?  And how do the Zolo Liberty earbuds compare to the Apple AirPods?

Zolo Liberty (non-plus version)

Anker ZOLO Liberty Total-Wireless Earphones, Bluetooth Earbuds with Graphene Driver Technology and 24 Hours Battery Life, Sweatproof Total-Wireless Earbuds with...

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Last update was on: October 16, 2019 5:44 am
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Design

Unlike the Apple AirPods that stick out of your ear, the Zolo Liberty earbuds are shaped to sit more inside of your ear. They have an almost teardrop design that fit surprisingly well within the grooves of your ear. For a more secure fit, you can also slip on one of the included silicon jackets that include different size “wing tips” that rest inside the folds of your ear. Even without this wing tip, the Zolo Liberty earbuds felt very secure.

Unfortunately, the tight fit to my ear does cause my ears to feel fatigued fairly quickly. After about 45 minutes of wearing these, they start to feel uncomfortable. Apple AirPods, on the other hand, rest more comfortably in my ears and I can wear them for hours without an issue. However, everyone’s ears are different so your experience may be different than mine.  I actually found the fit of the Liberty+ (plus) version of these earbuds to not be as wide and a little more comfortable in my ears (more details below).

Sound Quality

The Liberty earbuds seal to your ear canal which provides a great bass response when listening to music. While the bass is strong, it does not drown out the mids and highs, so sound quality overall is superb! I listened to several different style of music including rock, pop and some hip-hop, and they all sounded great.

Since they seal to your ear canal, they do block out outside sounds (although, not the same as active noise cancelling technology would), so you’ll want to use caution if you plan to wear these while running near traffic.  The Liberty+ (plus version) adds “Transparency Mode” to help with this which I will detail more below.

Occasionally, I’ll notice the left earbud will cut out while listening to music for a brief second. This is a problem that seems to be inherit on all truly wireless earbuds, although the occurrence — which is maybe 2-3 times an hour — is more often than on my Apple AirPods.

Features

These earbuds are supposed to automatically turn on when you remove them from the charging case, then turn off when your place them back into the charging case.   I find the right earbud will automatically turn on, but the left one sometimes requires holding down its button to get it to wake up.

Each earbud has one button. The button is a little — “mushy,” I guess is the best way to describe it? It can sometimes be hard to tell if you actually pressed it in or not.  Pressing the button also results in mashing the earbuds further into your ear.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to adjust the volume directly with the earbuds. The manual suggests using Siri or your phone’s volume controls instead.

While the Liberty+ (plus) version benefits from EQ customization options with the Zolo Audio app, the app unfortunately does not work with these regular Liberty earbuds.

Battery Life

The Zolo Liberty earbuds last about 3.5 hours per charge. I like that the charging case also has a built-in battery and provides about 5-6 additional charges, giving you up to 24 hours of total listening time. Although the Liberty earbuds seem to snap into place thanks to magnets inside the charging case, it is sometimes a little finicky and you need to be sure that the Liberty’s are seated correctly and that the LED comes on to confirm they are charging.

The charging case uses a standard Micro USB port to recharge. You can use a computer USB port or your phone’s USB charger to recharge the case. Make sure you do not misplace the charging case as it is not possible to charge the earbuds without it.

Zolo Liberty+

Anker ZOLO Liberty+ Total-Wireless Earphones, Bluetooth Earbuds with Graphene Drivers and 48-hour Battery Life, Sweatproof with Smart AI and Toggle...

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Last update was on: October 16, 2019 5:44 am
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The “plus” version of the Zolo Liberty+ earbuds is a little different from the regular version.

  • The “plus” version’s size is a little more narrow compared to the regular version and sit a little looser in my ear (your ears may vary).
  • The “plus” version has “Transparency Mode“.  By holding down the button for 3 seconds (or activating via the Zolo app), the microphones on the outside of the Liberty+ earbuds will relay any outside sounds through the earbuds.  However, it is somewhat louder than what it would normally sound, so I guess you could say that they work as hearing aids by amplifying the sounds around you.
  • The “plus” version works with the Zolo app, that allows you to check the charge level and activate different EQ modes.
  • The “plus” version utilizes Bluetooth 5.0 (compared to Bluetooth 4.2 in the regular version).
  • Finally, the charging case for the “plus” version holds double the amount of charges compared to the regular version.  So you can get up to 48 hours of additional playback time with the “plus” version compared to 24 hours of additional playback time on the regular version.

How do the Zolo Liberty compare to the Apple AirPods?

When it comes time to listen to music at work, I usually find myself reaching for the Apple AirPods.  There are a few reasons:

  • AirPods seamlessly switch between my Apple devices.  Once I paired my Apple AirPods with my iPhone, the AirPods are now available to all my other Apple devices like my iPad, Macbook and Apple TV.  I don’t need to “forget this device” and then go through the pairing process on my next device like I do with the Zolo Liberty.
  • AirPods do not block outside sounds.  This is important for me as I need to be able to hear when someone approaches my desk at work or if I car is approaching while I’m out running. Yes, the Liberty+ feature “transparency mode,” but with this feature on I lose the sense of direction as to where the sound is coming from and how far away it is.  Then again, when I’m vacuuming around the house or working in a noisy environment, I actually do want sounds to be blocked and that’s where the Zolo Liberty earbuds shine.
  • AirPods auto pause when I remove one.  If someone approaches my desk at work, I can quickly pop out one earbud and my music or podcast is paused.  It then automatically resumes when I place the AirPod back in my ear.
8.7 Total Score
Very Good

The Zolo Liberty earbuds have great sound quality. However, finding a great fit for your ear with the included ear tips and jackets can be difficult and will vary greatly from person to person. If you can, spring for the "plus" version which adds app support, EQ settings, transparency mode and additional charging time.

Design
8.3
Sound Quality
9
Features
9.1
Bluetooth Connection
8.0
Battery Life
8.9
PROS
  • Great sound quality
  • Truly wireless
  • Transparency Mode (on "plus" model)
CONS
  • May not fit everyone's ears
  • Occasional disconnects on the left earbud
  • Button is difficult to press

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