Anker Soundcore Spirit X2
“The Spirit X2 deliver on the promise of solid battery life, great weatherproofing, and booming bass.”
- Solid battery life
- Excellent weather protection
- Big bass
- Great value
- Unappealing aesthetic
- Awkwardly positioned controls
On paper, the Anker Soundcore Spirit X2 sound too good to be true. They’re presented as earphones that incorporate impeccable features at a remarkably low price. In most similar cases, there’s usually a serious unmentioned drawback somewhere along the line.
There are a few quirks with the $80 Spirit X2 earphones, though they’re far from serious. Aside from those minor flaws, the Spirit X2 live up to the hype.
Out of the box
The packaging of the Spirit X2 opens binder-style to reveal earphones encased in a clear plastic cover alongside their charging case. (I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but after removing the earphones and case from their plastic tray, the remaining cutouts for the product are a dead ringer for the face of an angry clown.)
Beneath the disturbing clown tray is a USB-C charging cable, a healthy amount of extra eartips and earfins, and what can only be characterized as an excessive amount of documentation. I’m all for a company making sure I have everything I need to operate a device, but this seems like too much even by those standards.
You just need the quick start guide to get going and can effectively set the rest of the documents aside. Step 6 in the pamphlet instructs you to place the earphones in their charging case, then open the case without removing the phones. They’ll enter pairing mode, allowing you to find them in the Bluetooth settings on your mobile device and make the connection. That connection, by the way, is bolstered by Bluetooth 5 technology that performed exactly the way I’ve come to expect it to, with seamless connection and an exceptional range.
The most polarizing part of the Spirit X2’s design will undoubtedly be the large earhooks that swing up and cradle the backs of your ears. In a world where pint-sized true wireless earbuds have taken the market by storm, the larger footprint of these earphones will likely grant them the moniker of the ugly duckling of the bunch.
And I have to agree with that sentiment: They kind of are. From a pure aesthetic standpoint, I thought these earphones were unappealing, at least compared to a smaller sport-focused pair of earbuds like the Urbanista Athens. Issues with looks aside, I did think the Spirit X2 were very comfortable to wear, which is arguably more important. The hooks were snug around my ears, but not constricting. The earfins and eartips fit firmly in the ear but didn’t add unneeded pressure. The Spirit X2 threaded the needle between comfort and function nicely, making it possible to get through a series of intense workouts and cardio sessions without having to adjust them.
The Spirit X2 threaded the needle between comfort and function nicely.
The buttons on the earphones were functional, but ultimately not fun to deal with. You can change tracks, increase or decrease volume, answer and decline phone calls, and activate your preferred voice assistant by pressing one of the two buttons on either earphone in a corresponding manner, and it will do what you ask of it as long as you get it right. It’s a lot to get accustomed to, though, and it doesn’t help that the controls are awkwardly placed near the top of the earhooks. I often found myself reaching for my phone to control the earphones, which isn’t typically what you would want to do during a gym workout or long run.
If I’m being completely honest, you could easily stop reading after this section of the review and have everything you need to decide on buying these earphones. Because if you can get on board with the earhook design, the features offered by the Spirit X2 for a mere $80 make them a worthy purchase.
Battery life, which Anker says sits at nine hours per charge and 36 hours total with the included case, helps make the Spirit X2 quite the bargain. Even if those stats might not be completely accurate – I came in around 8.5 hours on my first few charges, though I was listening at higher volumes most of the time – they’re still better than many, far more expensive earbuds. The Apple AirPods and Google Pixel Buds 2 don’t approach those numbers, and the Jabra Elite Active 75t comes in at 7.5 hours on a single charge and just 28 hours of total battery. Throw in a quick-charge feature that gives you two hours of playback for 10 minutes in the case, and the Spirit X2 are easily budget battery champs.
An IP68 weather-resistance rating gives the Spirit X2 protection against rain and complete submersion in up to two meters of water for no more than 30 minutes. Even though Soundcore says these earphones aren’t designed for swimming, showering, or exposure to pool or ocean water, this is still a rock-solid rating for a product this affordable. The Urbanista Athens do have an IP67 rating, but they are $50 more expensive.
At under $100, I don’t know if a pair of true wireless sport earphones with better features exists.
Soundcore also touts its “SweatGuard Technology,” which is a “submarine structure and hydrophobic nanocoating” that helps defend against sweat. I think it would take a longer period of testing to truly judge how well the Spirit X2 fare versus the effects of sweat compared to a traditional true wireless competitor, but additional protection against sweat is certainly not a bad thing, especially at this price point.
Anker has put a lot of effort into marketing the low-end capabilities of the Spirit X2. The company has included a technology called “BassTurbo” which it says is inspired by tech found in high-end speakers. Essentially, the tech “positions an acoustic chamber behind the (12mm) driver” to add low-end resonance. Simply put, it seems like a lot for $80 earphones to be capable, so naturally, I went right to bass-heavy tracks when I began listening with the Spirit X2.
I feel remorse for doubting the Spirit X2 marketing team, though my reservations were valid given how often features are overstated. It’s refreshing to find cases where that isn’t the case, and the Spirit X2 deliver.
From pounding bass in tracks like Childish Gambino’s 3005, to the deep notes found in Lil Nas X’s Panini, the Spirit X2 delivered far better than I previously thought sub-$100 earbuds were capable of. By using the dual EQ on the Spirit X2 and enabling “BassUp” mode, these earphones really rocked when listening to bass-heavy music. I’m not lifting the kind of weight I used to (thanks pandemic), but if I was back in a gym, I would want this kind of low end in my ears as I was pumping myself up for a bench press.
These earphones really rocked when listening to bass-heavy music.
The Spirit X2 don’t handle the rest of the frequency range nearly as well, but I would say they’re definitely passable for most folks shopping in this price range. The Jabra Elite Active 75t or the Sony WF-SP800N will certainly sound better overall, but for a far greater cost. When also factoring in the Spirit X2’s aptX support and a dual-microphone approach that makes for sufficient call quality, these earphones really are a steal.
The Anker Soundcore Spirit X2 don’t come with the most palatable design or the easiest controls. But they promised exceptional battery life, full waterproofing, and big bass in an $80 package — and astonishingly, they delivered.
Are there better alternatives?
At under $100, I don’t know if a pair of true wireless sport earphones with better features exists. For $130, the Urbanista Athens come extremely close in the features department, offer solid sound, and have a more pleasant design as standard true wireless buds. If price doesn’t scare you, the $200 Sony WF-SP800N have better battery life and include active noise cancellation.
How long will they last?
The Spirit X2 have an 18-month warranty and more waterproof protection than most people know what to do with. If you’re not deep-sea diving with them, they should last well into the future.
Should you buy them?
Yes. Don’t let the earhooks and the oddly placed controls scare you: The Spirit X2 are one of the best values in true wireless listening right now and should be at the top of the list for anyone who can look past a few quirks.
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