The Soundcore Life P3i is available from Amazon for €46.39 if you activate the 20% voucher. In addition to the app connection, you can expect 10 mm drivers, ANC and high-end battery life.
With the Soundcore Life P3i, ANKER’s audio brand is once again expanding its product portfolio. Especially in the price segment under 90€ it’s getting really confusing. Do the new Life P3i still have a right to exist?
Soundcore Life P3i Review, Specs & Price
- Soundcore Life P3i
- Diversification in the budget area
After Soundcore initially focused on the Liberty Air and Liberty Pro series in 2017-2019, from 2019 they will also focus more on the development of the cheaper Life series. While the Liberty headphones each get by with a top model, there is a lot of diversification in the budget area, in Xiaomi style.
In addition to the Life P series with rod design, there is now the Life A series with bud design in-ears. There is also the Life Q series, which covers the over-ear range with the Soundcore Life Q20, Q30 and Q35. A little note on the side, when I think about it, a high-end over-ear headphone, which is located above the Life Q series, is still missing, isn’t it?
Anyway, last year, instead of completely replacing the Life P2 in-ears with the new Life P3, Soundcore launched two more Life P2 models (Life P2 Mini and Life P2i). The older Life P2 Standard model is also still available. A decision I didn’t necessarily see coming.
But Soundcore will also know that more products on the market automatically lead to higher visibility on the virtual online retail shelf. Therefore, with various inexpensive models, of which there are now also some at Soundcore, the pure marketing idea always resonates and not necessarily always the logic. Because with common sense, Soundcore must also ask itself: how useful is another niche model?
Packaging & scope of delivery
Like all Soundcore Life models, the P3i come in a small but printed box. Inside you will find a charging case with handset, USB-C cable, three pairs of ear pads and a multilingual user manual.
New design for Soundcore Life P3i
After all, Soundcore takes the trouble to develop a new design for each different model. So the different budget models are at least optically quite easy to distinguish. There are design differences to both the Life P2i and the Life P3, with the Life P3i looking more like a Soundcore Life P3 on product photos from the manufacturer.
The Life P3i is a stab design in-ear headphone available in black/grey and off-white/gold. In a direct comparison to the Life P3, it is noticeable that the Life P3i ‘s earpieces are a bit shorter, which makes them look a bit more modern in the ear.
On closer inspection, however, it becomes apparent in a direct comparison that the Soundcore Life P3i are made of slightly less high-quality. While effort was made with the Soundcore Life P3 to make the listeners look like they were “made from one piece”, the Life P3i show rather hard transitions between matt and glossy elements. Nevertheless, there is basically nothing to complain about in terms of workmanship, individual elements fit together perfectly and there are no adhesive residues.
The charging case is also well made, but as with the Life P3, the material is not particularly scratch-resistant. After a year in your pocket, signs of wear will definitely be visible here. In contrast to the Life P3 charging cradle, the headphones are not placed horizontally in the charging box, but are inserted vertically, as with Apple’s AirPods.
Personally, I like the design quite a bit, even if it ‘s absolutely nothing special. It’s just a stick in-ear, there’s not that much else you can do.
Sound of the Soundcore Life P3i
This is where the spectacle begins, the more diverse the products, the more minimalist the actual differences compared to other models. Soundcore has to work out fine differences here, which on the one hand make the headphones worse than the normal Soundcore Life P3, but also an improvement over the Life P2 series, so that the headphones somehow have a right to exist.
The Soundcore Life P3i uses a dynamic driver with a membrane diameter of 10 mm. Not quite as big as various half in-ears, but tend to be large for a normal in-ear.
As usual for Soundcore, the Life P3i are also equipped with a dominant and powerful bass in the test. Here I can’t see any tangible difference to the Soundcore Life P3.
In the midrange, too, I find it really, really difficult to tell a real difference between the Soundcore Life P3 and the Life P3i. The Life P3 only shows marginally more details in the treble. Otherwise, the overall sound can be described as equivalent.
ANC with only a slight effect
What is new compared to the Life P2 series is that active noise suppression is also implemented here. I expect we’ll see this former “luxury feature” in many more affordable in-ears over the course of the year and into the year to come.
The built-in ANC technology is modern hybrid ANC. The ambient noise is “heard” by two external and one internal microphone and a corresponding anti-noise is generated.
In the test , the effect of the active noise suppression was moderate . Monotonous and constant noises are definitely quieter, less monotonous noises, especially at higher frequencies, remain almost unfiltered. The effect of the ANC in the test is rather moderate, as is to be expected with headphones in this price range. It’s better than nothing and it’s “nice to have”, but the purchase intention here should not be that you necessarily want to have ANC headphones.
Unfortunately, when the music is not switched on, a slight hissing noise can be heard that is generated by the ANC . In addition, the sound image is also slightly distorted by ANC and transparent mode . The bass is a bit stronger and the highs are a bit duller. So the built-in technology is not really mature.
Making calls with the Life P3i
The handset’s two external microphones are used for telephoning. According to the manufacturer, the Soundcore Life P3i are equipped with an AI algorithm . Background noises, such as passing cars or construction work, are suppressed quite reliably in the test. The person you are talking to cannot hear anything, especially when you are not speaking.
When you talk yourself, background noise is sometimes easily audible, but it doesn’t drown out your own voice in the test. However, the voice is not particularly clear in these moments either. You can use the Soundcore Life P3i to make phone calls while on the go, but if you want to make important (business) phone calls with in-ears, you should probably use a better in-ear headset.
While a (working) app, similar to ANC, has been described as a “luxury feature” in recent years, there are more and more mid-range headphones with app integration. Not least because smaller manufacturers such as Earfun or Tronsmart now also offer an app interface.
However, the range of app functions of the Soundcore Life P3i has been shrunk considerably. Here you can only:
- Adjusted ANC modes
- Equalizer changed
- User gestures individualized
- updates installed
What is surprising for me is that there are no touch sensors, but smooth-running push buttons. These work reliably in the test and there are three operating gestures:
- just tap
- double tap
Three functions can be defined for each handset, the following functions are available:
- Increase/decrease volume
- Next/Previous track
- Start voice assistant
- ANC modes
- noise cancellation
- transparency mode
This makes the Soundcore Life P3i the first and only headphones on the market that I know of that have push buttons installed and at the same time gesture customization via an app is possible.
The Soundcore Life P3i are equipped with a Bluetooth 5.2 module . In the test, this delivered a range of around 15 meters , a solid value.
Unfortunately, as is so often the case, the Soundcore Life P3i only supported the standard SBC and AAC codec. If you would like to have aptX on Soundcore budget headphones, you have to use the older Soundcore Life P2.
Battery life at the highest level
As always, Soundcore benefits from ANKER’s expertise in the field of battery and charging technology. According to the manufacturer, the in-ear should have a peak running time of 9 hours. In the test I was able to achieve a runtime of 6.5-7 hours with the ANC switched on and a volume of 50%-70% . It seems to me that the manufacturer’s specification of 9 hours is a value without ANC switched on.
In addition, the earphones can be recharged three times in the charging box. This results in a total runtime of up to 36 hours without a socket and without ANC. A quick charge mode has also been implemented, so 10 minutes in the charging box is enough to listen to music for up to two hours.
Conclusion: prefer to buy the Life P3 on offer
As expected, the Soundcore Life P3i is a slight downgrade compared to the Soundcore Life P3. In terms of sound, the listeners are almost the same, but the built-in ANC technology is noticeably worse, while the P3 offers normal mediocrity.
The price of the Soundcore Life P3i is RRP €69.99 at Amazon. The Soundcore Life P2 is listed on Amazon with an RRP of €59.99, but is now practically always available for €49.99, if not even cheaper. The Soundcore Life P3, on the other hand, has an RRP of €79.99 but is often available for €67.99.
However, there have been better prices for the Soudcore Life P3, the current best price is €59.99. So you get more functions, slightly better sound and better ANC for a relatively small surcharge.
Could Soundcore have saved the Life P3i? Yes. But is there a very high-end target group that might prefer the headphones because of the push buttons? Also yes. Which model would you choose?