USB-C powered Bluetooth Headphones - the Life Q10 from Anker

by @edent | # # # # # | 3 comments | Read ~174 times.

I've been waiting for these for a long time.

Anker, through its sub-brand SoundCore - have released the "Life Q10" headphones. They're usually about £45 - but Amazon had an instant coupon which took them down to £33. Bargain!

They're exactly what I want in over-ear headphones. They're large enough for my flappy ears, USB-C charging, and an optional aux port. They fold down for storage. And they're cheap!

What you get

A bog standard USB-A to USB-C cable, about 60cm long. A 100cm long phono cable. And a brief manual. There's no carrying case.

What works

Everything! Pared instantly with my Android phone. Clear crisp music. The "Bass Up" function is terrifyingly thumpy. The volume goes loud without too much distortion. Even at a quiet volume, things are legible.

Bluetooth controls are instant to respond - play, pause, track skip, and volume. I don't use a voice assistant - but it apparently supports that. USB-C charging is stupidly fast. Promising 5 hours listening for 5 minutes of charging. The manual indicates that it will fully charge in 2 hours - giving you a ridiculous 60 hours of listening.

The battery came partly charged, and a few minutes of power gave it a substantial boost according to the Bluetooth battery monitor. I've not managed to listen to 60 minutes of music on it, but a good couple of hours of podcasts has only dropped the battery a few percentage points.

Call audio quality was fine. Even on an HD voice call, you're still limited to a fairly low bandwidth connection.

The cans are tight enough not to let out too much sound, but loose enough to be comfortable on a long conference call. There's no noise-cancellation, but outside noises don't intrude once the volume is up.

They play a daft little tune when you turn them on or off. It also speaks the battery level which is useful.

If you plug in the 3.5mm aux cable, you can use them as passive headphones. You don't need to power them on. In fact, the power button is disabled while the cable is plugged in.

But, it's not all sunshine and roses. For under £50 you can't expect miracles.

Bugs

Here's a list of the minor annoyances I've found.

Press the bass-boost button once, and a posh English voice says "Bass up". But press it again and a tinny American voice says "Normal". Indicates a lack of testing and quality assurance.

There's a slight background hiss. You'll only notice it when the music has stopped. It doesn't interfere with your listening - and is no worse than other devices.

Can't play while charging. This was a weird one, they charge quickly enough for it not to be a major concern.

Doesn't do USB Audio. The C port is just for charging. To be fair, it doesn’t claim otherwise.

The box says "High-Res Audio" - that's, politely, an exaggeration. It supports the AAC codec. There's no aptX or lossless codecs. It's better than the bare minimum SBC, but that's about it. Listen to the music, not the headphones right?

Firmware upgrades

Rather prominently, the Amazon listing says "This product is not currently compatible with iPhone 11 series, but is being upgraded."

lsusb doesn't show anything. I would have expected something to show up for firmware updates. Sadly, the SoundCore website lists no firmware updates for anything.

Which leads us on to the last problem: the Q10 doesn't exist.

There's nothing on the SoundCore pages about it. Nothing on Anker. The headphones physically exist - but they seem completely unsupported by the manufacturer. That's not a huge problem, I guess. But a bit odd.

Verdict

I bought these because they were the only reasonably priced headphones to support USB-C charging. Now my phone, eReader, games console, and laptop all take the same charger.

For forty-odd quid, these are stunning. Great sound quality, comfortable, long lasting. Only marred by weird support decisions by Anker / SoundCore.

Buy the Q10 now on Amazon UK.

3 thoughts on “USB-C powered Bluetooth Headphones - the Life Q10 from Anker

  1. Andrew McGlashan says:

    Probably only power lines connected in the USB-C connector; no data lines, hence no possibility of getting anything from lsusb. That's better than having to use a USB condom if that is what you want, just power.

  2. "There's no noise-cancellation"

    Amazon list an equivalent set with noise cancellation, as "Soundcore Life Q20" for £48.99:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Soundcore-Bluetooth-Headphones-Cancellation-Playtime-Black/dp/B07NM3RSRQ/

    They say that activating the feature reduces battery life to a maximum of 30 hours. My much-used Sony noise-cancelling headphones, used on a twice-weekly train commute and occasional flights) are getting tired (physically; they still sound superb), so I'd be happy to review the Q20s if Anker want to send me some 😉

    1. @edent says:

      Sadly, the Q20 are Micro-USB, or I'd gladly have bought them. I've mixed feelings about noise cancellation, even the strongest is never enough for me. I prefer an open source white noise app called Chroma Doze https://github.com/pmarks-net/chromadoze

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