Anker is no stranger to creating audio products, with mass market appeal, to a specific price-point. The Anker Soundcore Flare continues in this tradition but instills a few frills, a bit of protection and durability, as well as a teaspoon of gimmick. Let’s take a look closer in our full review.
- Good audio for the size
- Nice change of pace with the design
- IPX7 protection
- Light Show is a gimmick
- Average battery life
- Trouble at high volumes
We’ve spent just over two weeks looking at the latest Anker device to sport the Soundcore branding, with the Infini Mini, Life 2 and other units previously being reviewed by us. The Flare, however, is a little different. It’s aesthetically different for a start, sporting a nice blue nylon (ballistic nylon is what I want to call it, as that’s what my favourite ever smartphone, Droid Turbo, used) overcoat.
In Use – Anker Soundcore Flare
In the box, comes the speaker itself, manual and warranty paperwork, along with a microUSB charging cable. You don’t need much to get started with these sorts of devices so mercifully the unboxing experience is minimal. Who has the time!
The previously mentioned blue nylon covered speaker has its controls at the top of the unit with volume, play/pause, lighting and bass power controls all accessible via a silicone mat. On the back of the device, opening a port reveals the charging port and 3.5mm AUX port, whilst just above are the Bluetooth and power buttons.
Whilst most buttons and controls are self-explanatory, the multi-function play/pause button can also be used to control incoming calls, switch audio sources, as well as activate the voice control on your smart device.
Once paired with your device, its immediate apparently that this speaker utilises its dual 6W speakers to the max. 6W drivers aren’t anything to write home about, but they do an adequate job here, and when taking into account the size of the speaker, I’m inclined to upgrade that descriptive to ‘good’.
The lows and mids are absolutely fine (for the size) and whilst the base can be kicked up the backside a little using the “Bass Up” button, it’s never really rumbling. The audio both from acoustic tracks, pop and dance anthems and audiobooks and podcasts are clear and crisp for the most part, that is unless you try to max out the volume. Thankfully you shouldn’t have to do this other than in extreme scenarios, but when it hits the limits of its volume, it distorts, cracks and deteriorates quickly, as do most similar devices.
When that music does start playing you’ll notice the main ‘feature’ of the Flare; the LED base. The illuminated base can be controlled by the Soundcore App (available for both iOS and Android) and it can follow the music in its effects, breath or be set as a standard colour. It’s a pretty simplistic application to use but what it does it does well. The LED light show is, for the most part entirely gimmick. Yes it’s a nice feature for the first few moments, but quickly becomes irritating in anything but low light, and even then, you’ll no doubt find yourself settling on a standard colour and making do, rather than dancing along to the flitting rainbow of colours.
The other feature that should be marketed a little more heavily than it is, in my opinion, is the IPX7 waterproof rating. This rating essentially means it should be able to withstand immersion in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of nothing more than 1 metre. This means if you’re planning a holiday and need some tunes by the pool, the Anker Soundcore Flare might be a perfect companion for you. It’s not going to moan at you or curl up and die if you drop it in the pool and immediately fish it out in any case.
That poll/music session might only be thwarted if you forget to charge it ready for the next day. With the integrated 4400 mAh battery rated 12 hours and delivering just shy of that in our testing, you’ll find yourself listening to the wistful splashing as opposed to banging beats if you don’t charge in a timely manner. 12 hours isn’t bad, but we’d like to have seen a little more and we’re unsure how much extra juice the LED takes out of it.
Conclusion – Anker Soundcore Flare
The Anker Soundcore Flare has some great attributes; the 6W speakers manage some good audio, and the IPX7 waterproofing could be a winner for certain use cases too. It’s easy to pair up, play from, and portable enough to take around on your travels, but that LED ring is just plain unnecessary.
Consumers are often asked to pay more for a feature that doesn’t really deliver, and I think that is the case here. Not that the LED doesn’t light up, make the surrounding (darkened) area look pretty, and pulse along to the music as marketed, but it’s just not really needed. It doesn’t take away from the unit though so it’s difficult to knock it too hard.
The Anker Soundcore Flare looks like an aesthetically pleasing Bluetooth speaker that’ll get you through a day-long music session, and that’s exactly what it is.