Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2
"The Spirit Dot 2 offers the winning combination of good sound and affordability."
Excellent passive noise reduction
Solid bottom end
Average characteristics overall
Limited touch controls
One of my biggest and perhaps only complaints about the Anker Soundcore Spirit X2 was the design of the ear hook. It's not that putting these hooks over your ears is uncomfortable as they fit nicely. When compared to traditional true wireless earbuds, the ear hook style is a far less appealing option.
The $ 80 Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2 is the company's answer to people wanting the value of the Spirit X2 in a more compact package. Features may not be quite the same, but the Dot 2 has the preferred earbud design at the same price as the Spirit X2.
Is that enough? Time to find out.
Out of the box
There is nothing special about the packaging of the Spirit Dot 2 or the accessories inside, other than the fact that the packaging they come in is very similar to that of the Spirit X2 so I had to double-check and make sure I grabbed the right buds. This should of course be coordinated with Anker's uniform color scheme.
Nick Woodard / Digital Trends
Aside from the buds and their charging case, the Spirit Dot 2's package includes four additional pairs of earplugs, two pairs of “Airwings” (or ear fins), a USB-C cable, and the standard documentation. For what it's worth, I stuck to the earplugs and ear fins that the Spirit Dot 2 came with. However, your mileage and ears may vary. So it's nice of Anker to offer different options at this price.
The Spirit Dot 2 connects to your mobile device just like most real wireless earbuds do. When you pull them out of the charging case, the automatic pairing function is activated. All you have to do is find them in your phone settings and connect. In addition to the Bluetooth 5 technology supported by these buds, the Spirit Dot 2 has two transmitters that allow each earbud to be individually connected to your phone, according to Anker. The company says this can result in up to 30 percent lower latency. While I can't specifically prove this statistic, I can say that I didn't experience any significant latency issues when watching YouTube or TikTok clips on my phone.
I wouldn't call the Spirit Dot 2 the smallest buds I've ever put in my ears – at first glance, that honor might go to the 1More Colorbuds – but they're certainly small and significantly less vigorous than a pair like that Edifier TWS NB. It is a vague way of assessing the size of these buds, but without access to weight specifications, it is the best I can offer.
Nick Woodard / Digital Trends
Probably the most comparable buds to the Spirit Dot 2 are the Google Pixel Buds 2. Both use similar ergonomic shapes with ear fins to position them securely in your ear. The Spirit Dot 2 are a bit more voluminous and therefore put more pressure on my ears. However, the secure and comfortable seal of the Spirit Dot 2 exactly reflects my experience with the Google Pixel Buds 2. The more expensive Google product offers comfort if it belongs for a long time.
Although Anker recommends these buds for various purposes such as training, sports, or travel, at the time of this review I was unable to test the Spirit Dot 2 due to the poor air quality in my area. I did take them for a few walks and a handful of home workouts, however, and they held up well during these activities.
The Spirit Dot 2 have no buttons, but opt for touch controls only. This works, but in limited capacity. You can play, pause and skip tracks, answer and end calls, and activate your voice assistant with a series of taps and presses – and all of these controls work as advertised. However, the Spirit Dot 2 does not contain a volume control. Anker redirects you to the "connected device" to adjust the volume in the buds manual. That might be fine if I'm taking the train during a commute (before 2020, of course), but the last thing I want to do when I'm jogging is unzip my belt pouch, pull out my phone, and turn up the volume. For my taste, the controls on the Spirit Dot 2 are a command that isn't fully functional, and that's an issue at this price point too.
The charging case, by the way, is a medium-sized jar with Anker's logo embedded over a lid that slides out to reveal the buds. I didn't originally plan to mention it as it seemed mostly unspectacular. But after getting through a round of chewing from a curious pup, I felt compelled to vouch for the sheer robustness of the case.
I've pointed out the discrepancy between the Spirit X2 and the Spirit Dot 2 before, and I'm here to tell you that those differences are actually very real. Again, the Spirit Dot 2 offers the preferred design, but they find it difficult to compete with their counterparts with earhooks overall.
Nick Woodard / Digital Trends
The Spirit X2 has a battery life of nine hours per charge and a total playback time of 36 hours if the charging case is taken into account. In comparison, the Spirit Dot 2 offers only 5.5 hours of play time per charge and a total of 16 hours. That's better than the Google Pixel Buds 2, and since I've given the similarly priced 1More Colorbuds and their six-hour battery a pass, I'm reluctant to do the same with the Spirit Dot 2. But with buds like the $ 40 SoundPeats Truengine SE, or with the $ 30 JLab Go Air offering six or five hours of playtime, the bar will soon change for that price.
The IP68 weather resistance of the Spirit X2 protects the ear hook buds from being completely submerged in up to 2 meters of water for no more than 30 minutes. With the Spirit Dot 2, they can be immersed up to a meter deep with an IPX7 rating. This is better than most of the other budget buds we checked at Digital Trends. This means that the Spirit X2 have full dust protection, which the Spirit Dot 2 lacks.
Both the Spirit X2 and the Spirit Dot 2 have Anker's "SweatGuard technology", which is essentially a coating of the buds that is supposed to offer more protection against sweat. Again, I don't think I've tested these buds long enough to tell how well this feature works, but I think it's important to mention as it's clear that Anker is at least making the extra effort to make his Make products work up a sweat. friendly.
In terms of the sound quality of the Spirit Dot 2, I thought there was a lot to like here, but also plenty of room for improvement.
Nick Woodard / Digital Trends
The Spirit Dot 2 has smaller drivers than the Spirit X2, 8 mm versus 12 mm. However, both pairs feature Anker's BassUp technology which, according to Anker, uses an algorithm to analyze and amplify the bass. While they didn't quite produce the "wow" factor that I experienced with the Spirit X2, the Spirit Dot 2 are certainly powerful earbuds when it comes to the low end. My personal workout playlist contains everything from Big Sean and Eminem's No Favors to Granger Smith's Backroad song. While I thought the Spirit Dot 2 was crowding the lower end of the latter, these buds generally have solid bass that will please most bass-loving fitness junkies.
With a solid bass foundation, the Spirit Dot 2 have decent clarity for their cost, even if the rest of a track is sometimes overshadowed by low notes. I think I prefer the sound signature of the 1More Colorbuds – which rely far less on the lower end for a more balanced, pleasant sound – but I don't think most people will find much fault with the Spirit when it comes to audio quality Dot 2. However, the Spirit X2 has aptX support, while the Dot 2 of the same price has no support. They support AAC and SBC codecs, but skipping aptX leaves a puzzling void on the Dot 2.
Perhaps the most underrated aspect of the Spirit Dot 2's sound is the passive noise reduction that the seal provides in your ear. It does a remarkable job of blocking your surroundings – my air purifier, blasting on a "turbo" about two meters away, went essentially inaudible – and serves as the basis for clear calls with the earbud's built-in microphones. Anker seems to have the large insulation firmly under control, as the Liberty 2 Pro also has a very good seal. Sure, active noise cancellation is great when done well. However, for $ 80, it's hard to complain about how much sound these buds passively keep away from your ears.
These should have cost $ 60, or at least less than $ 80. Anker's pricing for these buds is puzzling as they lag significantly behind when compared to the Spirit X2 at the same price. While they sound great and come at an affordable price, which can prove to be a winning combination for many, it can be difficult to fully recommend them against the competition (including Anker's own line).
Are there any better alternatives?
The $ 100 1More Colorbuds sound better but aren't that well equipped for training. The Anker Soundcore Spirit X2 for $ 80 at the same price offers better features overall and comparable sound quality. but their ear hook design may be less desirable to some people. For half the price, the $ 40 SoundPeats Truengine SE offers a fascinating mix of convenience and sound quality, but it lacks bonus features like wireless (or fast) charging.
How long will they last?
The Spirit Dot 2 comes with an 18-month limited warranty, feels durable, and is solidly water resistant. In other words, they are well suited to persist for the foreseeable future.
Should you buy it?
If features you can forego to take advantage of the in-ear style of the Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2, they're a great option. But if ear hooks aren't a deal breaker, the Spirit X2 are better across the board.