Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review: Big sound in a tiny package
At this point, Samsung has a lot of experience making true wireless earbuds. While the company flexed its design muscle early with the Galaxy Buds line, it hasn’t always nailed the details. It rebounded quickly with its second installment, the Galaxy Buds, and since then Samsung has continued to refine its aesthetic, improve sound quality and add handy features. It even found time for a polarizing open-wear model with the Galaxy Buds Live.
While the leguminous Live were the first of Samsung’s earbuds to include active noise cancellation (ANC), the open design rendered the feature ineffective. With the Galaxy Buds Pro that debuted early last year, the company finally delivered true ANC, but there was room for improvement in terms of both noise blocking and overall audio quality. Now Samsung is back with version 2.0 of its flagship earbuds, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro (230). This set is not only smaller and more comfortable, but they showcase the massive gains the company has made over the last year and a half. However, the most attractive features are reserved for the Samsung faithful.
Overall, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have a similar design to last year’s Buds Pro, but there are a few notable changes. First, this new model is 15-percent smaller than the 2021 version, which means they fit better in your ear and are more comfortable for longer periods of time. What’s more, Samsung added a vent on the inside of each earbud to help relieve pressure. Of course, the tiny stature means they tuck nicely into your ear, leaving very little sticking out from the side of your head. It’s a design Samsung adopted early on for its earbuds and subsequent models have continued to be satisfyingly svelte.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have a soft-touch matte coating where the Galaxy Buds Pro was a glossy affair. I prefer the former as it’s more pleasant to the touch and isn’t a fingerprint magnet. However, it doesn’t necessarily offer more grip and neither surface impacted the touch controls. The included charging case for the Buds 2 Pro is covered in the same matte finish, so it too is pleasantly tactile. Like the Buds Pro, this model is IPX7 rated, which will allow you to submerge the earbuds in up to three feet of “fresh water” for up to 30 minutes, according to Samsung.
Touch controls are mirrored on both earbuds for the most part. There’s single tap for play/pause, double tap to skip ahead, triple tap to go back and a customizable touch and hold gesture. That long press can be used to change noise controls – ANC/ambient sound, ANC/off or ambient sound/off – or to summon Bixby, activate Spotify or control volume (down on left, up on right). If you don’t want to sacrifice some of those other features for volume, there’s an additional Labs option that will allow you to double tap the front edge of the earbuds to adjust audio levels.
It’s a little tricky to master, but I didn’t have any serious problems with edge tapping once I got the hang of it. The real annoyance with the touch controls comes when you try to adjust the fit of the earbuds. The Buds 2 Pro fit well, but as is the case with all true wireless models, you have to regularly reposition them in your ears. Due to the sensitivity of those touch panels, and the small size of the buds, it’s easy to make an errant tap when you’re just trying to readjust. It happened often enough to become very frustrating over the last two weeks.
Software and features
Like previous Samsung earbuds, all of the features and settings for the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are accessible through the Galaxy Wearable app on Android devices. Unfortunately, the company is staying consistent with recent models by not offering an iOS version. Samsung used to have onr, which made its buds a great option for both operating systems, but that hasn’t been the case for a while now. You can still use the earbuds with Apple gear, but you’ll lose some of the more attractive features by doing so.
Inside the app, you’ll get battery percentages for both the earbuds and the case right up top. The main screen also gives you access to noise controls, so you can see which mode is active (ANC, off or ambient sound) and make a change with the software if needed. Just below, there are options for enabling/disabling Voice Detect, 360 audio, touch controls and finding lost earbuds. Voice Detect is Samsung’s new feature that can tell when you’re speaking and automatically activate ambient sound while lowering the audio volume for quick conversations.
By default, the tool will go back to regular levels 10 seconds after you stop talking, but you can set that time to five or 15 seconds too. During my tests, Voice Detect worked well, and it doesn’t seem to be as easily tricked by coughs as Sony’s version of the feature. It also continues to work when I’m connected to my MacBook Pro, not only with a Samsung or Android device. However, I prefer Sony’s method of fully pausing the audio rather than just lowering the volume with its Speak-to-Chat tool. So while it’s handy, Samsung’s co-opting of Sony’s feature isn’t as pleasant to use despite its more accurate speech detection.
Gallery: Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review | 12 Photos
The Galaxy Wearables app also offers more detailed settings like EQ presets, an earbud fit test, read notifications, hands-free Bixby, ambient sound during calls, in-ear detection for calls, seamless connection with some Samsung devices, neck stretch reminders and Labs features. There is a lot packed into this software. Everything is pretty self-explanatory, but I will note that a second Labs tool is a Gaming Mode designed to minimize latency.
There’s also an Accessibility section that lets you adjust the left/right balance. Here, you can also choose to keep ANC active when you remove one earbud (the Buds 2 Pro turns it off by default) and you can adjust ambient sound volume and tone for your hearing. Some assistance with amplifying environmental audio isn’t new for earbuds, but it’s nice that Samsung offers a degree of customization here.
One item that’s still in the works is LE Audio. Samsung mentioned this during its recent event, explaining that the feature will allow you to capture 360 environmental sounds while you’re streaming or recording. For example, if you’re livestreaming. There weren’t a ton of details shared, other than the feature will arrive later this year. The Buds 2 Pro will also support Bluetooth LE, the next-gen wireless audio standard that’s on the way after being first introduced in 2020.
Samsung’s earbuds have never really impressed me with sound quality. They’ve ranged from just fine to good, but never truly great. Well, for the first time, the company has wowed this jaded headphone reviewer. The Buds 2 Pro pack plenty of bassy punch with a pleasantly open sound that is both full and filled with details and clarity. The low-end is also deep and nuanced, not just a heavy dose of thundering boom.
Plenty of earbuds offer balanced sound with good bass. What separates the great from the good is usually in the subtle details that can be difficult for something so small to replicate. Samsung does this with a combination of a 10mm woofer for the low-end and a 5.3mm tweeter so the treble cuts through. Across a range of genres, that setup enables stellar clarity and depth, keeping songs layered and immersive rather than compressed and messy. Amanda Shires’ vocals, for example, seem to float on top over every song throughout her latest album Take It Like A Man.
A big piece of the upgraded audio quality is 24-bit/48kHz Hi-Fi sound processing. Samsung’s new Seamless Codec (SSC) allows 256 times more sound data to be transmitted from your device to the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. On the previous model, 24-bit audio was converted to 16 bit by the time it reached the earbuds. Swiping over to the Android developer settings confirmed that 24-bit/48kHz was indeed coming from the Galaxy S21 FE 5G I used to test the Buds 2 Pro, but there’s no mention of bitrate. That number would be an indication of overall quality.
The Verge reports that the Samsung Seamless Codec is capable of up to 2,304kbps, or true high-resolution lossless audio. For comparison, Sony’s LDAC standard maxes out at 990kbps, so what Samsung is claiming would be an insane improvement. But again, I’m not seeing any proof of that on an Android device. No matter the actual bitrate, the 24-bit audio is reserved for Samsung devices running One UI 4.0 or higher. And you’ll need a compatible lossless/high-res streaming service too. If you have all of that, just know that the Buds 2 Pro sound incredible, and they’re nearly as good as the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 – currently the best option in terms of pure audio quality, at least in my book.
Samsung also made improvements to its 360 audio. On the Buds Pro, this feature was a stereo-based multi-channel setup, so the sound never truly felt like it was coming from every direction. On the Buds 2 Pro, the company has created “complete surround sound” with virtual 5.1- and 7.1-channel arrangements, or Direct Multi-Channel as Samsung has labeled it. To me, this combo of head tracking and immersive audio is only really useful for movies and TV as I think it actually makes music sound worse on these new buds. You’ll need One UI 4.1.1 or later to use the feature, and it’s only available on Samsung phones and tablets.
And then there’s the active noise cancellation. Samsung says the ANC on the Buds 2 Pro is 40 percent better than the Buds Pro. I don’t have all of the fancy gear needed to confirm that number, but what I can tell you is that this new model does a better job of blocking most environmental noise. I was shocked at how well it was able to combat a raucous coffee grinder. Due to those vents that increase comfort, you’ll hear a bit of what’s going on around you when there’s no audio playing. However, when the tunes start, the Buds 2 Pro handle distractions with ease.
One area where Samsung didn’t really improve is call quality. Like a lot of other true wireless earbuds, the people on calls consistently said I sounded like I was on speakerphone. They also recognized background noise clearly, and the distractions didn’t get much better while I was talking. You’ll be able to use these for calls, but don’t expect high-quality audio beaming to the folks on the other end.
Samsung gives you the ability to activate ambient sound during calls, which will help you feel less like you’re shouting to hear yourself. No company does transparency mode as well as Apple, so while this does improve the overall experience, it’s still not totally natural sounding. You’ll still be well aware that you have earbuds in during any chats.
Samsung promises up to five hours of listening time with ANC enabled on the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. Unfortunately, that’s unchanged from the previous model and on the lower end of new earbuds these days. You’ll get an additional 18 hours with the charging case, or if you disable noise cancellation, you can expect up to eight hours with 21 more via the case. During my tests, these figures were spot on.
The case is compatible with wireless charging accessories, so you don’t have to reach for a cable if you have one of those. Samsung doesn’t mention any quick charge features, and I haven’t noticed the Buds 2 Pro being particularly fast at refueling over short periods of time.
It’s tempting to compare Samsung’s latest to the Airpods Pro, but for several reasons that’s not really an appropriate contest. First, like the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, the best features on the Airpods Pod are reserved for the iOS faithful – people who are dedicated to the Apple ecosystem. Things like spatial audio and hands-free Siri aren’t available to everyone on any device. Second, the Airpods Pro will be three years old in November, and earbuds have progressed substantially since their debut. For example, Samsung has massively improved the noise-blocking abilities of the Buds 2 Pro from its predecessor that was just introduced in early 2021.
Better comparisons to Samsung’s latest earbuds are Google’s Pixel Buds Pro and Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 3. Sure, Pixel owners will get the best of what the Pixel Buds Pro have to offer, but there’s plenty of handy features for other Android devices. They’re Google’s best earbuds yet, thanks to the inclusion of ANC, deep punchy bass and reliable touch controls. And while they offer two more hours of music on a charge and are 30 cheaper than the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, Google is still working on spatial audio, which should arrive this fall with the new version of Android.
Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 3 also gives you two more hours of listening time on top of what I consider the best audio you can get in a set of earbuds. Samsung has made huge gains in sound quality, but Sennheiser is consistently the best in my book. The MTW 3 only has an IPX4 rating and they won’t win any design awards, but there is a solid degree of customization available. Plus, the MTW 3 is 50 cheaper than its predecessor, but more expensive than both Google and Samsung’s latest models.
I’ve said a set of Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are its best yet before – more than once. That’s because the company continues to improve its formula with each subsequent release, whether that’s the regular Buds or the Buds Pro. And now I have to declare it again. The Buds 2 Pro are a huge leap from the 2021 Pro model, with massive improvements to the audio, notable gains in noise cancellation and the introduction of several new features. Samsung lets its loyal customers unlock the best of the Buds 2 Pro, the same way Apple and Google have done. That’s not likely to change, but Samsung is making a strong case for owners of its phones to invest in its audio products too.
Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review: Simply stellar, as long you use a Samsung phone
Earbuds have become a dime a dozen in today’s market, and there are some really good options for not much money. So why should anyone even consider spending 230 on Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Pro? Let’s take a look.
In the hardware department, Samsung’s latest earbuds are pretty darn similar to its past few generations. It’s using a matte version of the same rounded square case that the Galaxy Buds Live, Buds Pro, and Buds 2 have all used. And just like on those models, it’s a great case! It’s compact and easy to fit in your. has a lid that’s solid and easy to open, and magnets that make charging alignment a breeze.
The bigger changes, rather, are in the earbuds themselves.
The Galaxy Buds Pro these replace were notorious for issues with comfort. In our review, we said the comfort was an improvement over the Galaxy Buds, but that didn’t really last. In the 18 months since, the Galaxy Buds Pro have rarely been my earbuds of choice because, frankly, I couldn’t wear them very long without ear strain.
Galaxy Buds 2 Pro definitely address this complaint, with a new earbud shape and contour to the earbud that fits much better in the ear. I can’t say these are the most comfortable earbuds on the market, but I can wear these for a couple of hours before feeling any real discomfort. Pixel Buds Pro and the standard Galaxy Buds 2 are a far better fit in my ears, with the former being my gold standard for earbud comfort right now.
When it comes to actually staying in my ears, these also passed with flying colors. During a round of disc golf, which requires some quick head movements, the Buds 2 Pro didn’t budge at all.
24-bit is overhyped, but they do sound great
Samsung is advertising the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro as the first earbuds to support 24-bit audio, providing a “studio worthy,” “ultimate Hi-Fi sound” experience for users. In practice, that feels very exaggerated to my ears.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro sound great, don’t get me wrong, but they’re not that much better than most other earbuds at this price point. You might pick up on some background sounds that other earbuds couldn’t accurately replicate. Listening to “If It All Goes South” by Sammy Rae The Friends through Spotify on its highest quality settings (320 kbps), I definitely picked up on some background sounds better than through my Pixel Buds Pro. “Come to Your Senses” from Tick Tick Boom has been my go-to test this year for earbuds, and Galaxy Buds 2 Pro definitely pass with relative ease. I felt the highest notes were approaching “shrieky” territory, but it was still a pleasure to listen to overall – one of the better models I’ve tested so far this year.
24-bit audio isn’t a complete gimmick, but it’s something that’s lost on most people. Unless you’ve curated a collection of local music files, you probably won’t be able to appreciate the boost these earbuds are capable of delivering. Even using Tidal, the difference in quality between it and Spotify on the Buds 2 Pro is minor, with Tidal just offering a little more depth to the sound.
As usual with Samsung’s earbuds, it did take switching the EQ settings to the “Dynamic” preset to get the best balance out of the sound. Dynamic provides more depth to the audio, where “Standard” is a bit too flat, and “Bass boost” is too heavy on the lows.
The biggest problem I have with the sound quality is that it only works in one place – with a Samsung device. If you carry a Galaxy Z Fold 4, an S22, or even a Galaxy A-series device, you’ll get the best out of these earbuds, but you won’t get that same level of quality anywhere else. Samsung’s proprietary codec only works when Samsung’s earbuds are paired to Samsung’s phones and tablets.
And to some extent, that’s fine, but it also means that absolutely no one should be buying these if they own a Google Pixel smartphone, a OnePlus device, or literally any other smartphone. Get Pixel Buds Pro. Get Sony LinkBuds S. By all means, get literally anything else, because your 230 will be wasted on the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro if you plan on using them without a Galaxy device.
Latency has proved excellent on the whole, both when paired to a Samsung device and not. I tested the Buds 2 Pro paired to a Steam Deck, and latency was really not an issue while playing Spider-Man Remastered. Even during dialogue scenes, the sound was in sync. Obviously, the situation is even better on Samsung’s own devices.
ANC gets the job done
Active Noise Cancellation on earbuds is never going to be as good as it is in a pair of over-ear headphones, but it’s something that can really come in handy in many cases.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are fine in this regard, but they aren’t exactly winning any awards. ANC couldn’t keep up with drowning out my electric lawnmower, something that many other earbuds have had less trouble with. On the other hand, though, ANC did save my sanity on a trip to the car dealership, where a one-hour wait in a room with an incredibly obnoxious HVAC unit would have been infuriating without the earbuds.
Transparency mode also works quite well, with a long-press on your earbud switching modes, and piping audio from the world around you through the microphone when transparency is activated. It’s not as natural as some other earbuds I’ve tested, like Google’s latest, but it’s also not off-putting. I still love too that Samsung automatically activates this mode and pauses your music when it detects you having a conversation.
Both modes also held up well in some minor tests with the wind. Transparency took a moment to adjust to block out the breeze, but ultimately it worked out just fine.
Not to beat around the bush, battery life on Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is perfectly acceptable. Samsung quotes five hours out of the earbuds themselves while using ANC or Ambient modes, and I found that to be completely accurate in my testing.
Software and gestures
Great if you have a Samsung phone
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Pro work best with a Samsung phone, not just for the scalable codec but also for the software integration.
“Easy Pair” will detect the earbuds nearby and automatically pop up a pairing dialog on your phone or tablet. A Samsung account also allows the earbuds to pair to your phone and tablet at the same time and switch intelligently between the two, but only if they’re both Galaxy devices. That also works with Samsung TVs now. SmartThings Find can also locate lost earbuds with ease.
It’s all pretty great, but it breaks if you happen to use a Pixel, Motorola smartphone, or literally anything else. These features are built on the back of Samsung’s ecosystem, and it’s unfortunate that they can’t be used anywhere else. Especially when, really, Samsung isn’t doing anything Google isn’t. Fast Pair is available on many earbuds and works with every Android phone – and it now offers support for switching intelligently too. Earbuds with Fast Pair also support “Find My” integration too. Samsung is Android’s current leader by volume, but that’s not an excuse to ignore choice, which is what makes Android great in the first place.
It also feels like these could support Google’s method alongside Samsung’s, too. After all, these support Windows’ version of fast paring alongside Samsung’s “Easy Pair.” Why not add a third one?
But at the same time, it’s hard to ignore the little bits and pieces of Samsung’s software that can only happen with this in mind. If you have a Galaxy Watch, you can control ANC settings from your wrist. The same goes for the outer display on the Galaxy Z Flip 4.
The Galaxy Wearable app is what facilitates all of this, with options for an equalizer, to read notifications aloud, and to access Bixby too.
Useful gestures that still trigger anytime you adjust the fit
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Pro feature a touchpad on either earbud. A tap pauses or plays music and a long-press switches ANC/ambient modes. That’s how it’s set out of the box, but there are more options. You can double tap or triple tap to switch tracks back and forth. The long-press gesture can also be customized to activate Bixby, change the volume level, or trigger Spotify playback too.
These gestures are pretty standard, and they work well. But my problem is the same as with most earbuds. You can’t adjust the earbud’s fit without accidentally triggering the gestures. Only Sony’s LinkBuds have really addressed this problem, but the sensitivity of Samsung’s touchpads makes this especially useful.
Don’t buy into the hype, but do pick up these excellent earbuds
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are just like any other pair of expensive earbuds sold over the past few years. They sound good, they nail the core feature set, and they integrate well with their company’s smartphones.
But as mentioned at the outset, you can get solid sound quality and great features from earbuds a lot more affordable than this. So why fork over 230 for Samsung’s own option? In my opinion, it comes down to a couple of things. If you have a Samsung smartphone, you simply won’t find better integration or sound quality to use with your device, at least at this price point.
The other is that Samsung offers some excellent deals. For instance, Samsung.com is offering up to 75 if you trade in an older pair of earbuds to go toward these. If you have 2021’s Buds Pro, or even the aging Galaxy Buds from 2020, you’re looking at a hefty discount. And you can trade in any “wireless audio headset,” including Apple’s Airpods, for 50 off as well. At 150–175, these are a much better value and make for an excellent upgrade. Plus, if Samsung’s usual pattern holds true, that will be the going retail price in a matter of months.
Where to buy Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
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Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review: Raising the bar for wireless earbuds
Samsung has taken to launching a pair of new wireless earbuds every six months. It launched the Galaxy Buds Pro with the Galaxy S21 series earlier this year. The new Galaxy Buds 2 have been launched alongside the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3. Don’t think of the Galaxy Buds 2 as a successor to the Galaxy Buds Pro. They’re actually meant to replace the Galaxy Buds that Samsung launched back in 2020. There are a lot of similarities between Samsung’s wireless earbuds, so do the Galaxy Buds 2 offer enough to justify their existence? Are they really one of the best Samsung earbuds yet? That’s the main question we’ll be answering in this Galaxy Buds 2 review. We’ll also dive deeper into all of the improvements that Samsung has made and the features that the Galaxy Buds 2 offer.
Design and fit
The familiar in-ear design has been further improved with the Galaxy Buds 2. They’re actually 15% smaller than the first Galaxy Buds. The difference can be felt instantly. These earbuds don’t protrude from the ear; in fact, someone looking straight at you would probably not be able to make them out at first glance. This is the third pair of earbuds to have the same square case design. You can hardly tell them apart. As you’d expect, the earbuds are made out of plastic with touch panels on either side. The glossy finish doesn’t look that appealing. Personally, I would have preferred a matte finish on the earbuds to keep up that understated look.
The touch panels work very well, perhaps too well. There were no issues trying to get them to pick up the taps for play/pause, double taps for skip or triple taps for back. Given how sensitive they are, expect the earbuds to pick up accidental taps when adjusting or taking them off unless you’re really conscious to not hit the panels with your palm. These aren’t the only Samsung earbuds that we have experienced this behavior with. That being said, the touch panels remain an integral part of the Galaxy Buds user experience. You can customize the actions using the Galaxy Wearable app for enhanced control.
I still remember how uncomfortable it would get wearing the original Galaxy Buds for long periods of time. Samsung has improved comfort with every iteration since then. Despite its curvy housing, the Galaxy Buds 2 are comfortable for extended wear. Three sets of silicone ear tips ship with the earbuds to allow you to get a secure fit.
There were no problems with the fit when wearing the Galaxy Buds 2 during a run or intense exercise. What I do miss are the wingtips of the Galaxy Buds as they provided a more confident and snug fit. Samsung probably had to remove those silicone bits to prevent interference with the mic array or the Voice Pickup Unit. It’s also important to note in this Galaxy Buds 2 review that the earbuds are IPX2 rated for water-resistant. You shouldn’t submerge them but they’ll hold up nicely during exercise or even taking a leisurely stroll when it’s drizzling outside. Since the Galaxy Buds 2 are 50 cheaper than the Galaxy Buds Pro, the first thought most customers would have is what has Samsung cut back on to reduce the price. It’s great to see that the build quality, fit and finish were not degraded in order to achieve the lower price.
Sound quality and performance
This is where the Galaxy Buds 2 took us by surprise, particularly the bass. Samsung’s previous earbuds were able to output decent levels of bass but the Galaxy Buds 2 kick things up a notch. The bass is punchier than you’d expect at default settings. I didn’t feel the need to turn it up using the bass boost option in the app. It’s impressive that the audio quality you get from the Galaxy Buds 2 is quite close to the Galaxy Buds Pro. The sound stage does feel a tad restricted but that’s something most normal users wouldn’t really pick up. Use the Galaxy Buds 2 with a Samsung smartphone for the best audio experience. That’s because Samsung’s proprietary Scalable Codec is then used to deliver superior sound. Even though these earbuds work with all Android devices, you’ll lose some of the quality on a non-Samsung device.
The Galaxy Wearable app provides a host of EQ options that can be used to tune the listening experience. Most users won’t need to tinker with those options as the sound profile is nicely balanced by default. Once again, we were pleasantly surprised by the Galaxy Buds 2. Wireless earbuds that don’t provide great sound are not worth buying. Samsung has made sure that its latest earbuds deliver an enjoyable and immersive experience. Sound quality is certainly not where Samsung has made adjustments to reduce the price.
Active Noise Cancellation
It’s great to see that these 150 wireless earbuds provide Active Noise Cancellation. This feature is even making its way to entry-level earbuds so it would have been a shame if the Galaxy Buds 2 didn’t have it. Active Noise Cancellation makes a noticeable difference in cancelling out background noise when you enable it. The earbuds do a better job of cancelling out high frequency sounds like that of an overhead fan or an airplane engine compared to constant rumbling frequencies of traffic sounds, for example. That’s not a complaint about the ANC performance on these earbuds. Let’s not forget that this is a pair of 150 wireless earbuds. For the price, the Galaxy Buds 2 deliver excellent noise cancellation, perhaps even better than some of the competing products in this price range.
You can always choose to amplify the sound of your surroundings through the Ambient Sound mode. It pipes in surrounding noise through the earbuds. There are three levels of amplification to choose from, with the highest setting turning things up way more than you’d like. This is a great feature for when you want to be aware of what’s going on around you.
Call quality left a lot to be desired on Samsung’s earlier earbuds. Users would complain that their voices sounded muffled on phone calls or downright robotic. That’s not ideal if one of the reasons why you’re buying wireless earbuds is to make calls hands-free. Samsung has progressively improved the call quality on its earbuds. The Galaxy Buds 2 actually deliver the best experience of any Samsung earbuds. That’s partly because of the sophisticated mic array and Voice Pickup Unit that enhance voice clarity.
The company has added a new machine learning solution to the Galaxy Buds 2 for improving the call quality by blocking out background noises. In our tests, we found that the person on the other end of the call doesn’t really hear any background noise. There won’t be any disturbance from traffic if you’re on a call while walking outside or even the gentle drone of the AC in your room. One of our team members felt that the call quality from the Galaxy Buds 2 was very close to a call made directly from the phone. That’s high praise for the earbuds.
Connectivity and features
This Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review won’t be complete without talking about the many features that the new earbuds offer. We’re already familiar with most of them as they’re present on Samsung’s earlier models as well. This includes the likes of hands-free Bixby Voice wakeup, Swift Pair for easy pairing with a Windows 10 PC, and Game Mode that reduces latency between the audio and video when playing games. Still wondering what Samsung has taken away to cut the Galaxy Buds 2 price? The 360-degree audio feature it introduced with the Galaxy Buds Pro is missing from the new earbuds. This feature provided “theater-like” sound by using Dolby Head Tracking technology to provide you with a sense of which direction the sound is coming from. Voice Detect is another Galaxy Buds Pro feature that’s missing from the Galaxy Buds 2. It makes ANC and Ambient Sound work together intelligently to let you have conversations with people around you without having to take off the earbuds or even turn the volume down. Samsung has kept the very useful Auto Switch feature that was introduced with the Pro model. It enables the Galaxy Buds 2 to automatically switch between different Galaxy devices. For example, if you’re watching a video on your Galaxy tablet and you get a call on your Galaxy Z Fold 3, the Galaxy Buds 2 will automatically connect to the phone so you can answer the call and then reconnect to the tablet so you can resume watching the video.
Samsung claims that the Galaxy Buds 2 can last for up to 5 hours with ANC on and 7.5 hours with ANC off on a single charge. These claims are accurate since we got about the same listening time with both ANC on and off in our tests. The charging case can be used to extend the battery life by up to 28 hours. A quick 5-minute charge provides an hour of listening time. Since these are meant to be the replacement for Samsung’s 2019 model, a Galaxy Buds 2 vs Galaxy Buds comparison is only fair. While the former is better in almost every way it can’t quite match the impressive battery life of the Galaxy Buds.
Improvement of the battery life was one of the reasons why the Buds came out in the first place. The Galaxy Buds provide an impressive 11 hours of play and talk time on a single charge. That’s just the buds alone without the charging case. Granted, the Buds don’t have speakers as powerful as the latest model or Active Noise Cancellation. Samsung has just prioritized size and weight reduction as well as more powerful internals over mammoth battery life. It’s not like 5 hours with ANC is anything to scoff about.
Since it launches new earbuds every six months, Samsung has to position them in a way that customers consider the new earbuds on their merits. It has done that perfectly with the new model. The Galaxy Buds 2 doesn’t threaten the Buds Pro, yet it offers enough to make owners of older models consider an upgrade. This Galaxy Buds 2 review aims to make your purchase decision easier. Should you buy it? If you already have a pair of the Galaxy Buds Pro, move along. This isn’t for you. However, they deliver a far better ANC experience than the Galaxy Buds Live and are a huge upgrade over the Buds/Buds. Consider buying the Galaxy Buds 2 and you won’t be disappointed by everything that it has to offer. What’s incredible is that the Galaxy Buds 2 are also raising the bar for earbuds in this price segment. The exceptional sound quality, vastly improved call quality, robust Active Noise Cancellation and decent battery life easily justify the 150 price. Make them your first wireless earbuds if you haven’t bought one yet. Just use them with a Samsung device for the best experience.
- Comfortable and snug fit
- Exceptional bass and sound quality
- ANC works like a charm
- IPX2 water resistance rating an added benefit
Samsung Galaxy Buds Review
The Gear IconX earbuds weren’t bad, but they were so unsuccessful that Samsung decided to rebrand the next model into the Galaxy Buds. Here’s our review.
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The Galaxy Buds are Samsung’s first critically successful venture into the true wireless earbud market and, while they may not be the latest and best model released by the company, they still hold up great and offer good value to anyone looking for premium buds on a budget.
They have a good battery life, plenty of features, and hard-hitting bass. Most importantly, they’re one of the top contenders for the most comfortable true wireless earbuds reviewed on this channel.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds aren’t exactly the newest true wireless earbuds on the market, but they still carry a good rep. After all, while these may not have been the first true wireless earbuds made by Samsung, this is where they truly stepped up their game to try and compete with the Apple Airpods.
The Galaxy Buds fixed many of the issues that plagued the Samsung Gear IconX series of earbuds – the first true wireless earbuds made by Samsung.
In all regards, the Galaxy Buds were able to compete with the Air Pods. But we’ve since witnessed the release of the Galaxy Buds Plus and the Galaxy Buds Live.
This leaves many wondering: are the original Galaxy Buds still worth it today?
|Name||Samsung Galaxy Buds|
|Battery life||6 hours (13 hours w/ charging case)|
|Weight||5.6g per earbud|
Aesthetics are a matter of personal taste, but we have to say we’re big fans of the way the Galaxy Buds look. The sleek exterior and compact frame make this one of the best-looking wireless earbuds on the market. Plus, you can get them in a variety of colors to match your style.
We weren’t fans of the protruding stems on the Airpods. One of the things we liked the most about the Airpods Pro – which are all-around phenomenal earbuds – was how they shortened this stem. But not having it altogether is the best way to go.
The Galaxy Buds feature rubberized ear wing tips that help hold these earbuds in place. As with the ear tips, you get three pairs of ear wing tips to help ensure you can find a proper fit. Between the customizable ear tips and ear wing tips, most folks shouldn’t have a problem forming a snug and secure seal.
Once everything is locked into place, the Galaxy Buds stay firmly in your ears, no matter what you do.
This makes them excellent for workouts or jogging, although we’d have to say they’re more suitable for a gym environment than for outdoors as they only feature an IPX2 rating. IPX2-rated earbuds can handle sweat just fine, but they should be kept away from water at all costs.
So if you’re about to head out for a jog and it looks like it might rain, you’d better take the charging case with you and be ready to put the buds away as soon as you feel the first raindrop.
The earbuds also feature touch controls that let you pause and play music, skip tracks, control calls, and use Samsung’s voice assistant on devices that support it. The long-press command can be customized to control some other features as well (only on Android), but you’ll have to pick one of these features – like Ambient Mode, for example – in favor of all the others.
This is disappointing, especially as it’s a step down from the Gear IconX. If fact, the Galaxy Buds lack several features that the objectively inferior Gear IconX had, but more on that later.
Normally we dedicate a whole segment to discussing comfort, but there’s very little to say here – it’s superb! We don’t know whether it’s due to the compact shape and lightweight nature of the buds or something else, but there is no ear fatigue when using the Samsung Galaxy Buds, which can’t be said for many other true wireless models.
Few other models can see you through the full battery life of the buds in a single session without any discomfort.
Charging Case Battery
And speaking of battery life, the Galaxy Buds can hold a charge for 6 hours. If you’re blasting away at max volume, the battery will, of course, deplete more quickly, but seeing how loud these earbuds are even at just 50% volume, we don’t see this being an issue.
And 6 hours of battery life on the buds is nothing to scoff at. When these buds came out, most of the competition could only handle around 3 or 4 hours of playback on a single charge. Even as newer models drive the ceiling further – such as the Galaxy Buds Plus packing a total of 13 hours of battery life in them – the original Galaxy Buds can still hold their own.
The charging case, however, isn’t nearly as impressive as the buds. The case can only hold 7 hours of battery life in them, which just barely exceeds another full charge. To say that this is laughable would be a bit too much, but compared to what the competition has to offer, we find the charging case of the Galaxy Buds lacking.
The case uses a USB-C cable to charge up, however, it also supports wireless Qi charging. The Qi charging takes almost twice as long to get the buds from zero to full, but it’s a convenient feature to have, especially if you’re a Galaxy S10 user, in which case you can place the charging case on the back of the phone and have the phone act as a charger.
There is an LED indicator light on the front of the case that shows you how full or depleted the battery is. Inside the case, two other LED indicator lights show how charged up each buds is.
You can check the battery life of the buds through the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app, but you’ll have to check how the charging case is doing by looking at the LED light every time.
The Galaxy Buds come with some neat features, most of which are accessible through the app. We’ve already mentioned the Ambient Mode, which you will want to get the hang of using as the noise isolation on these buds is nothing short of excellent.
There’s no active noise canceling, but even just the passive noise canceling goes above and beyond what you’d expect.
You can also whitelist certain applications to have their notifications read out. And we’d feel remiss if we didn’t mention the “Find my earbuds” feature that, once activated, makes your buds produce loud chirping noises. These chirping noises are rather loud, so if the missing earbuds are in your vicinity, you will find them.
If one of the buds is in your ear when you activate this feature, only the missing bud will chirp.
The earbuds also come with an auto-pause feature that pauses your music once both earbuds are removed from your ears. Once you insert the buds back into your ears, you have to tap them to get the music running again.
Of all the auto-pause variations, this is the one we like the most, as it allows you to use a single earbud if you so desire, and it eliminates the inconvenience of having to reinsert the earbuds because the sensor didn’t get the memo about putting the music back on.
Both earbuds also come equipped with two Adaptive Dual microphones that can be used to take calls. The microphone quality here is on par with that of Samsung Galaxy S10, insofar as the people on the other end of the call won’t be able to tell whether you’re using the phone or the buds to communicate.
However, this is only if you’re in a quiet environment. In loud environments, only the microphone that faces inside your ear gets activated, rendering it unusable unless you shout.
The call quality used to be altogether horrendous when the Galaxy Buds first got released but most of the problems have been fixed through firmware updates, so if you come across user reviews trash-talking the microphone, this is likely the reason why. It does not reflect the current state of the product.
Lastly, we must lament what is not there. We know we shouldn’t judge a product by what it doesn’t have, but given that the Galaxy Buds are the spiritual successors to the Gear IconX, we have to bemoan the lack of onboard storage. This feature was beloved by folks who didn’t want to lug their smartphone around while jogging.
For all its merits, the thing the Gear IconX lacked the most was audio quality. In our review of these earbuds, we said that they were perfectly fine for folks who just need true wireless earbuds while exercising but that beyond this, they didn’t have much to offer.
The Galaxy Buds changed this.
The sound quality here isn’t audiophile grade by any means – the overall sound signature is a tad warm and unnatural – but it’s good for the price,e and it holds up in many genres of music. The Galaxy Buds were supposed to provide some competition to the Airpods, which were dominating the market, and, from a technical standpoint, they were well equipped to do so.
They boast a deep and precise bass, smooth vocals, and admirable instrument separating, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given that the drivers were tuned by the folks at AKG.
The bass, in particular, is quite powerful for such compact earbuds. This is thanks to the use of dynamic drivers that displace air instead of balanced armature drivers, which are more often found in these types of earbuds as they require less power.
The app we’ve mentioned also gives you five EQ presets to choose from – bass boost, soft, dynamic, clear, and treble boost. We suggest using the dynamic mode at all times, as the others are quite underwhelming.
We should also point out that the Galaxy Buds support AAC! So pairing them with iPhones will result in a great sound. You’ll be missing some features that Android users get, but the audio quality will not suffer in the least. In fact, we found that the Galaxy Buds sounded better on iPhones than non-Samsung Androids, as there’s no aptX support here.
The Galaxy Buds do occasionally suffer from some synching and latency issues, but this is mostly in crowded areas with lots of Bluetooth interference, and let’s be honest, all true wireless earbuds suffer from this problem. This used to be a bigger issue at the time of release, but the latency and stability issues have since been addressed through firmware updates.
They may crop up from time to time, but this won’t be often, especially if you use a Bluetooth 5.0 connection.
Overall, the Galaxy Buds still offer phenomenal value. You shouldn’t buy them at MSRP, but at the reduced price of 100 or so, they are well worth the money.
Better models have since been released with improved sound quality and expanded features, but if you want a premium pair of true wireless earbuds on a budget, you needn’t have any reservations about the Galaxy Buds.
They hold up great, and they’re better than reviews that haven’t been updated make them out to be.