Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Review: Good For Android Fans, Great For Samsung Fans
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are a good companion for any Android phone, but they’re even better if you use a Galaxy.
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While most earbuds are relatively universal, more and more, we’re seeing earbuds that are tied into a specific ecosystem. Sure, you can use the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with any Android phone or even an iPhone, but you don’t get the full experience if you’re not using a supported Samsung device.
This isn’t new, as Apple and Google both offer similarly tightly integrated earbuds for their platforms. In the case of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, using them with a (newer) Samsung device gets you 24-bit high-res streaming, 360-degree audio, and tightly integrated voice assistant features.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro offer impressive sound, a great aesthetic that fits with other Samsung earbuds perfectly, and a lightweight design that makes for an excellent fit. If you have a Samsung phone, they might be a no-brainer, but what if you use another type of device for your music needs?
Candy-coated Colors and a Nice Feel
The first thing you may notice about the look of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is how, well, edible they look. Granted, this may be because our review unit came in the Bora Purple color, but the White and even Graphite color varieties still have a look that reminds you of candy-coated chocolate.
While the color is part of this, the rounded edges and new finish help complete the look. Unlike the glossy finish of the original Galaxy Buds Pro, the Buds 2 Pro use a textured matte finish that adds to the candy-like appearance. It’s not all aesthetics, though, as this finish makes both the earbuds and the case easier to hold on to.
Samsung says the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are 15% smaller than the original version, so that extra grip on the case can be helpful. I never felt at risk of dropping it, something I’d done quite frequently with my 2nd-Gen Airpods Pro.
One thing that hasn’t changed from the original is the weather resistance, fortunately. As with the Buds Pro, the Buds 2 Pro feature IPX7 water resistance, which means you can safely submerge them in up to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Not that you should, but it’s nice to know if you want to go for a run in the rain.
Great Fit and Comfortable for Hours
While the case is smaller than the original, the Buds 2 Pro are similar in size to the originals. What has changed is they’re now lighter, so you feel them less in your ears. This is another area where the new matte finish helps, as they felt quite secure in my ears, even while moving around outside.
I often but not always find the best fit for me with medium tips. This proved to be the case for me with the Buds 2 Pro, though small and large tips are included as well to help find the perfect fit. To ensure you’ve got the right fit, the companion app features a fit detector, similar to the fit detector for the Airpods Pro in the Apple realm.
While active noise cancellation (ANC) is a great addition to earbuds, it can cause discomfort for some people, causing their ears to feel uncomfortably plugged up. To combat this, Samsung opted for a redesigned port on the Buds 2 Pro. This is larger, relieving more of the pressure certain people feel in their ears when using ANC.
The combination of lightweight fit and the port mean it’s easy to forget you’re wearing these, which is often ideal.
Connectivity Feels Slightly Lacking
One of the biggest features of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is the 24-bit high-res streaming, but this isn’t available unless you meet a few criteria. First, you need a supported Samsung device, then you need a subscription to a streaming service that offers compatible hi-res streaming like Tidal, Qobuz, Apple Music, or Amazon Music.
If you’re not using a compatible Samsung device or you’re using a different streaming service, you don’t get 24-bit audio. It’s a fairly major step down as well since this means you’re limited to either the standard SBC Bluetooth codec or Apple’s AAC, depending on which platform you’re listening on.
This is an issue that is far from exclusive to Samsung, but it would have been nice to see some additional codecs. Many earbuds support aptX Adaptive for higher-quality audio, while others use Sony’s LDAC codec. These headphones use Bluetooth 5.3, so there’s a slight possibility Samsung could add support for the LC3 codec, but it doesn’t seem likely.
The Buds 2 Pro also don’t feature multipoint Bluetooth, instead going for an Apple-style approach that allows for easy switching between Samsung devices. While this is less than ideal if you use other devices, this does let you switch not just between phones and tablets, but even Smart TVs.
Sensitive Controls, Extra Features for the Samsung Ecosystem
The first time you need to adjust the Buds 2 Pro in your ear, you’ll likely notice how sensitive the touch controls are on the outside of the buds. You can turn these off entirely, or you can customize them. Out of the box, you can tap to pause or resume playback, or press and hold to swap between noise cancellation and ambient sound modes.
To customize the controls, you’ll need Samsung’s Galaxy Wearable app, only available for Android. While this app is available for all compatible Android devices, Samsung devices get access to some other features that you won’t find on other phones or tablets.
Most of the key features are available for everyone (well, except iPhone owners). The fit test and built-in equalizer are here, as is Voice Detect, a feature very similar to the Speak to Chat feature in the Sony WH-1000XM5 that automatically lowers volume and enables ambient sound mode when you start speaking. There’s also a novel neck stretch reminder feature that will let you know if you’ve been looking downward for too long.
The main feature missing from the app on non-Samsung phones is 360 audio. You also don’t get access to Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant, but as this is only available on Samsung phones in the first place, this makes sense.
One final aspect of the controls worth mentioning is how strangely the ear detection works. With many earbuds, removing one pauses the music. In the case of the Buds 2 Pro, you need to remove both earbuds, and the music only pauses after a moment or two. When you put the earbuds back in your ears, playback doesn’t automatically resume, so you need to tap to restart what you were listening to.
Great Sound, Platform-Specific Features
Take a peek inside the case, and you’ll notice a logo that reads Sound by AKG, meaning Samsung took the reins on the Smart features and let the well-known audio company handle the sound. This turned out to be a great idea, as the sound is the biggest strength of the Buds 2 Pro, once you get the right fit at least.
When I began testing the Buds 2 Pro, I was surprised at the boxy, midrange-heavy sound. It turned out that I hadn’t quite got the proper fit. Once I adjusted the earbuds in my ears with a slight twist, the sound came alive.
Brant Bjork’s instrumental Mexico City Blues shows the impressive soundstage of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. This is a roomy sounding recording that often sounds squashed and small on earbuds. Here, the impact of the bass drum is intact, as is the panning of the various pieces of added percussion.
When the filter rolls off at the beginning of Bringo! By Bad Snacks, the earbuds get a chance to show off their bass response, adding a weighty thump to the kick drum and bass line. The bubbling percussive synths that come later in the song sound more up-front than they do on some other earbuds, but here that isn’t a bad thing at all.
Traffic Patterns by Soccer Team is a song with a raw, stripped down production style, and this type of style isn’t always well represented on earbuds. Instead of the thin, lifeless sound that this style can have on other earbuds, the Buds 2 Pro treat this song well. That same ample low end comes through for the bass and drums, while the stereo effect adds heft to the guitars.
Unfortunately, while I had an Android phone handy to test the Samsung Wearable app, it isn’t a Samsung model. This means that not only couldn’t I test the 24-bit sound, but I was also unable to test the 360-audio that serves as an answer to Apple’s Spatial Audio.
Solid Noise Cancellation, So-So Voice and Calls
Samsung says it has improved the noise cancellation on the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro by 40 percent over the originals. I can’t compare directly as I haven’t tried the originals, but the ANC is fairly good on its own. That said, you’ll notice a bit more background sound than some other models, and this is somewhat by design.
Good noise cancellation requires a tight seal in your ear. This is what causes discomfort for some when it comes to ANC. While the larger port Samsung added in the Buds 2 Pro helps in terms of comfort, this does somewhat defeat the noise cancellation at lower volumes or if you’re not listening to anything. Still, the cancellation is effective as long as you’re listening to music or any other audio.
The ambient sound mode is a must-have in wireless earbuds these days, ever since the Airpods Pro’s Transparency Mode popularized it. This works well enough, and it sounds much more natural than many other manufacturers’ attempts, but it appears that Apple is sitting on some sort of secret here, as its Transparency mode is still the benchmark.
Looking at the microphone, it seems to do a decent job of canceling out background noise, at least in the conditions I tested, but it isn’t the best-sounding microphone. The overall voice quality is fine enough for calls and voice chats, but you don’t want to use these to record a podcast.
Review: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro strike nearly the perfect balance
Last year’s Galaxy Buds were some of the best truly wireless earbuds to date, but they still left quite a bit of room for improvement. For 2021, Samsung is launching the Galaxy Buds Pro that provide a new design, additional features, and a higher price tag. Through it all, they might be Samsung’s best earbuds to date.
Nothing special in design, but it works
Truly wireless earbuds basically come in two forms. There are AirPod knockoffs, which these are not, and silicone-tipped designs. An evolution of the design from Buds, Buds Pro have a glossy, almost mirror finish across the main hardware that is broken up by a microphone grill and cuts into a matte plastic finish that sits against your ear.
This design is safe. It doesn’t do anything even remotely groundbreaking but it works really well. The buds sit in my ears without protruding too much and a quick twist helps lock the buds in.
Comfortable eartips address my biggest complaint
By far my biggest problem with Galaxy Buds, aside from the mediocre sound quality, was comfort. While they could last 11 hours on a charge, I couldn’t wear them for more than an hour without feeling deeply uncomfortable. Buds Pro are nearly the exact opposite, in my experience.
The oval-shaped tips fit in my ears nicely with a seal that works for ANC and overall sound quality without leaving “pressure.”
Samsung’s biggest improvement to date
Getting right to the point, one of the biggest advantages Galaxy Buds Pro have over other Samsung TWE’s is sound quality. Using a two-way speaker design that separates the tweeter from the woofer, Samsung is able to create clear audio with good bass. Unlike past Samsung earbuds, I don’t feel compelled at all to use the equalizer just to get acceptable sound. Even on the default setting, these buds just sound good. Dynamic ups the quality just a bit, and bass boost offers some powerful lows, too.
I’ve tested quite a few earbuds in recent memory, and Buds Pro definitely rank toward the top. The sound quality is similar to that of the Jabra Elite 75t/85t, but with a bit less emphasis on the bass. The audio is definitely more clear.
Of course, it’s worth noting that Samsung’s buds and phones have always played best together. Scalable codecs on Galaxy smartphones allow these buds to sound their best, but it also means that the buds lose a bit of quality when connected to other devices. The good news? They still sound pretty great. Connected to my Pixel 5, Buds Pro definitely don’t sound quite as dynamic as when connected to a Samsung phone, but they still offer excellent sound quality. Audio is clear and lows are still good, with the most sacrificed in the mids. Sound quality fanatics should still opt elsewhere if they’re using non-Samsung smartphones, but most people won’t be disappointed when connected to Pixels, OnePlus, or other Android smartphones.
Effective, but not impressive ANC
With Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live, the company tried its hand at active noise cancellation, but it was a pretty pitiful attempt if we’re being honest. The lack of any seal whatsoever on the ear meant that the ANC had almost no effect, making it a feature that only added cost and complexity without any real benefit. With Buds Pro, the story is different.
I can only say so much about ANC, though because I’ve not left my house since getting the Buds Pro in hand. Partially because, if you hadn’t noticed, we’ve been pretty busy here at 9to5Google lately, but also because I’ve been in COVID quarantine due to potential exposure. A private home isn’t exactly the best place to do some in-depth ANC testing, but as mentioned, I’ve been impressed based on what I’ve been able to do. Background noise is canceled out for the most part with only some clicks, taps, and bangs making their way through. The best example I had on how the effectiveness of the ANC was raking leaves in my backyard where the sounds were mostly eliminated between ANC, the silicone tip seal, and the music that was playing.
Latency is not bad, not perfect
An often neglected thing to mention about truly wireless earbuds is their latency, and with Buds Pro I’m happy to report that I had no noticeable issues. With a Galaxy Z Fold 2 and a Galaxy S21, there was no noticeable latency while watching videos.
Switching over to an iPad Pro, the results remained the same. Streaming from Disney I couldn’t see any latency whatsoever. I attempted to connect to my desktop Windows PC to see if there was anything noticeable there, but for reasons unclear I could not get the Buds Pro to pair with that machine. That’s likely a localized issue, though.
As usual, best with Samsung
In terms of special features, Galaxy Buds Pro are not unlike other Samsung earbuds. They have customizable touch shortcuts, a long-press shortcut for triggering a Spotify playlist, an equalizer, auto-listening “Hey Bixby” support, and more.
There’s also an added 360 audio feature that’s unique to Buds Pro. It… works, but it’s nothing particularly special. If you have a video open and the feature enabled, turning your head to the left or right will make it seem like the audio is still in front of you. It’s neat, but I don’t find it particularly useful. It feels like more of a gimmick than anything else.
Another key feature of Buds Pro is ambient mode, which brings external audio in through the microphones. The quality of the audio coming through is not what I’d called great, but it’s better than most other earbuds I’ve tried with this feature.
“Voice detect” is truly great
By far my favorite thing about Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is their ability to automatically flip on ambient mode and lower music when they detect you are talking. This allows you to hear someone speaking to you as soon as you say something to them. In the week and change I’ve been using this feature, I’ve found it tremendously useful. While outside working in the yard, I could have a conversation with my wife by simply saying “hi” to her. I do wish there was some way for the earbuds to detect someone trying to get your attention, but that feels like it would be too easy to trigger by mistake.
With this feature as it stands, though, it’s pretty reliable. I’d say nine times out of 10 it would work flawlessly, the last time only taking a few additional words or a louder voice to trigger the change. False triggers occur a bit more often than I’d like as well. For example, a cough or clearing my throat would trigger the volume to lower. Overall, though, the feature is a huge win.
Acceptable for almost anyone
One of the biggest reasons to buy Galaxy Buds over other options was battery life, but Buds Pro don’t clear the same bar. Samsung rates Buds Pro at between five and six hours on the Buds themselves with 13 hours in the case when ANC is turned on. I’ve only been using these for a few days so far, but my testing lines up with that claim. My longest session was roughly four hours continuous where I drained the Buds down to 28%.
Charging was quick, but not noticeably faster than anything else I’ve used recently. Of course, it’s also nice that the case charges over both USB-C and Qi. In the week and change I spent using these buds, I only needed to charge the case once. I’d assume that most users will only need to charge around once a week, twice at most.
For me, the case on truly wireless earbuds is one of the most important parts. I don’t care if the sound quality rocks if I’m lugging around a case the size of a baseball. Thankfully, the Galaxy Buds Pro case is essentially the perfect size. It’s not particularly slim, but the overall size is small. It’s almost the same size as the Galaxy Buds Live case which I also liked, though it does come with one major advantage.
Instead of the glossy design the Buds Live case used, the Buds Pro have a matte texture. It’s not to the point where it’s too grippy in your. but it’s much more comfortable to hold. I do worry how it will hold up over time, though, as these cases often get scratched up super early.
…though these magnets can be a bit much
The one flaw? The magnets that hold the lid down are just a little bit too strong for my taste. To be clear, it’s a good thing that these magnets are here, but the strength means the case can’t easily be opened with one hand. In fact, it requires two. Minor complaint? Niche use case? Definitely, but something I’d like to see improved later on. Perhaps a spring could fix that.
One benefit of those magnets? This case closes with a super satisfying “thunk” every single time.
200 isn’t an easy pill to swallow, but it’s worth it
Samsung’s efforts in truly wireless earbuds to date have been good, but I’d argue that each one had a glaring flaw. Galaxy Buds Live had worthless ANC and Buds had middling sound quality at best. The original Buds also had a really poor microphone. With Galaxy Buds Pro, I think Samsung has finally learned from its mistakes and absolutely nailed it. These headphones rock, and it’s hard to find genuine and meaningful flaws.
At 199, these are far from cheap. You can get countless other earbuds for under 100 that are also pretty solid. However, if these are in your budget, they’re absolutely worth the price. You’ll be incredibly happy with your purchase, I’m sure of it.
Galaxy Buds Pro are available now from Samsung.com, Best Buy, Amazon, and other major retailers and carriers.
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Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Pro earbuds are true winners for Android fans
Samsung has once again stepped up its earbuds game with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro (available at Samsung for 189.99). The new buds take all the features from previous Galaxy Buds and put them in a package that’s smaller, lighter, and more comfortable, all while pumping up their audio and noise-canceling performance. They’re also the first Samsung Galaxy Buds to exceed the 200 price point, but especially for Galaxy users, the bells and whistles are worth the extra coin.
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases made through the links below may earn us and our publishing partners a commission. were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
- About the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
- What we like
- What we don’t like
- Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro?
Editor’s Note (November 3, 2022): To see how they stack up against other earbuds, check out the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro vs Galaxy Buds 2 and the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro vs Google Pixel Buds Pro.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are the new flagship of Samsung’s earbuds line, set above the bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live and Galaxy Buds 2. The company’s previous top buds, the Galaxy Buds Pro are being retired from the lineup.
The Buds 2 Pro have the same look as the Buds 2 (hence the odd naming convention), while their features match better with the Buds Pro. They’re smaller than the Pro, though, providing a lower, more stylish profile than Samsung’s former flagship buds, combining the best of both models.
About the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro come in a small, square wireless charging case with three sets of tips and a USB-C cable.
- Price: 229.99
- Battery life: Up to 5 hours with noise canceling (8 hours without), up to 30 hours with charging case
- Fast charging: 5 minutes for an hour of playtime
- Colors: Graphite, White, Bora Purple
- Ambient sound modes: Active noise canceling, Transparency mode
- Speakers: 10mm woofers, 5.3mm tweeters
- Microphones: Three beamforming microphones
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3
- Audio codecs: Samsung Seamless, SBC, AAC
- Dust/water resistance: IPX7
- Weight: 5.5 grams per earbud, 55 grams with charging case
- Extras: Easy Pair and Auto Switch for Samsung devices, Microsoft Swift Pair, 24-bit High-Res Audio, 360 Audio, Bixby voice control
- Warranty: One-year limited warranty, parts and labor
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro arrive in a micro-sized box like their predecessors. Accessories include three sets of round ear tips and a USB-C to USB-C charging cable—a change from the USB-C to USB-A cable provided in the past. Before pairing, you’ll want to grab Samsung’s Wearable app (not available for iOS) if you’re using an Android phone outside Samsung’s ecosystem.
Instead of the glossy exterior which has been Samsung’s signature the past few years, the Buds 2 Pro greet you with a matte finish, which I prefer. Other standout features include two-way drivers (10mm woofers and 5.3mm tweeters), 24-bit high-res audio with a Samsung Galaxy phone, ANC and transparency mode, 360 audio, a dunkable design, and a wireless charging case. There are also extras like Voice Detect, which activates transparency mode and lowers music volume when it hears your voice.
What we like
Smaller, lighter, and more comfortable
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro (left) are 15 percent smaller than the Galaxy Buds Pro and have a matte finish instead of glossy one.
The Galaxy Buds Pro and Galaxy Buds 2 were far from the bulkiest earbuds I’ve used, but they still stick out farther than I’d like and can consequently create fit issues. That isn’t the case with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. The new earbuds are 15 percent smaller than the Galaxy Buds Pro and fit snugly with a lower and less obtrusive profile.
I was able to get a secure fit with the included silicone tips, which is a necessity for the best audio and ANC performance. One extra fit option would be nice, but the vast majority of people should be served well by the three included options.
Any concern they might jostle loose with activity was alleviated on my run around the neighborhood (with some interspersed burpees). That fit and their IPX7 water resistance rating makes them a viable workout option, too.
Excellent sound profiles
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro sound excellent, have solid ANC, and are comfortable for long listening sessions.
Within the Android Galaxy Wearable app for Android or Galaxy Buds app on Windows 10, there’s an equalizer with six different presets (there’s unfortunately no iOS app option). Normal is shown as a flat line on the equalizer image (although it’s a little colored toward the top end), Bass Boost and Soft accentuate the lows, Dynamic aims for a smile EQ curve, and so on.
While all of them have viability, Normal was the best to my ears. And it sounds fabulous, especially from the midrange down. Vocals are clear and present without sounding too forward or overbearing. Snare drums have a pleasant snappiness and punch, and bass is robust and supportive, but never overpowers the clarity of the mids.
Stereo signals are spread nicely across the soundscape, giving instruments their space. It allows different instrumental colors to pop out of the texture, like the quick harpsichord riff at the very end of Soundgarden’s “Fresh Tendrils” that can get buried with other earbuds. 360 audio opens up the spacing even more, but it also adds an EQ bump to the upper mids, so guitars can get overly present and cover some of those textural details.
The treble is overly energetic and can be a bit sizzly on instruments like cymbals. Like Samsung’s other earbuds, they aren’t oppressive, just a bit much for my personal tastes. Unfortunately, there’s no multiband-EQ to tame those frequencies, just the six presets.
If you use a high-res streaming service such as Qobuz, Tidal, or Amazon Music the Buds 2 Pro support 24-bit audio over Bluetooth. You’ll need a Galaxy phone running Android 8.0 and One UI 4.0 or later with 1.5GB of RAM or more (360 Audio requires the same specs). Qobuz allows you to switch between streaming quality, ranging from MP3 at 320 kbps for lowest quality and 24-bit up to 192 kHz at the highest.
There is a perceptible difference in sound (a bit more space on the top end, some depth to the soundfield), but it is very slight. And with Qobuz, at least, there’s no way of knowing the exact quality you’re getting, just the “up to” values.
Noise canceling is very good
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are smaller and lighter than previous Galaxy earbuds.
Samsung has stepped up its noise canceling performance with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, particularly in the low-end and midrange. The earbuds virtually eliminate any low drones, such as airplane noise or air conditioners. They also tamp down a good amount of the midrange putting them on par with the Apple Airpods Pro.
If your keyboard is exceptionally clicky or there’s a conversation happening in the room, those sounds will bleed through, but in a subdued way, with the edge taken off. And as soon as you add music at a low to moderate volume, the noises of the world fade into the background.
Transparency Mode on earbuds is hit or miss, with most earbuds adding an excited high range for improved clarity that, to my ear, sounds artificial. That isn’t the case with the Buds 2 Pro. In fact, the natural sound of transparency mode is the closest to Apple’s performance as I’ve heard.
Clear call quality
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro deliver your voice well to the other side of your call. While indoors, my voice sounded clear as if I was using my phone’s microphone. Outside when on a call with my wife, the earbuds did a good job attenuating the Los Angeles traffic, turning passing cars into brief shushing sounds.
It was actually more apparent when I wasn’t talking, as the microphones were latching onto the sound, but when I spoke up my voice came through clearly and the cars were less prominent. Thankfully there weren’t any compression artifacts that distracted my wife from our conversation.
What we don’t like
No multipoint Bluetooth pairing
My hope was that Samsung would add in multipoint Bluetooth pairing with these new buds, but alas, we’ll have to wait even longer. That’s a noticeable omission compared to many of the latest flagships, including Google’s Pixel Buds Pro, as well as older models like Jabra’s Elite 85t. In its place, Samsung does offer seamless pairing that will switch the earbuds to any Samsung device on your account once you’ve paired it with one.
For someone that’s all in on the Samsung ecosystem it’s a neat feature. But even for Galaxy phone users, the likelihood all of your tech products are Samsung isn’t that high. Then you’re back to disconnecting from your computer video meeting in order to take a call on your phone.
Many features are Samsung specific
Like the audio switching, 24-bit and 360 audio require the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro to be paired with a Samsung Galaxy device. While this isn’t new and Samsung isn’t the only company doing this—hello, Apple Airpods and Google Pixel Buds Pro—it’s a notable limiting factor.
All other features are available within the app on Android phones and Windows 10 computers. They’ll also work fine with iPhones, but without the ability to access the Samsung app, you can’t adjust touch controls, change equalizer settings, use the Bixby assistant, or turn on voice detect.
Battery life is mediocre
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro (center) has the same slim case design as the Galaxy Buds 2 (left) and Galaxy Buds Pro (right).
When the Galaxy Buds Pro came out in 2021, their 5-hour ANC battery life wasn’t that great, so the fact that there’s been no improvement on that front with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is a shame. In our testing, with active noise canceling on and the volume set to 50 percent, the Buds 2 Pro managed 4 hours and 40 minutes of playtime—20 minutes short of Samsung’s maximum claim.
The fact that the earbuds are smaller makes it difficult to add bigger batteries, so it’s likely that these are smaller than older earbuds. Fast charge extends the battery life by an hour when popping the earbuds into the case for five minutes, comparable to other earbuds.
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro?
Yes, especially for Samsung phone users
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are another excellent step forward for Samsung. They take the best features from the Buds 2 and the Buds Pro and put them together into a better-fitting, more comfortable package with excellent ANC and sound quality. It should be no surprise that they’re an Editor’s Choice and top recommendation for Samsung users.
If you don’t already use Samsung products, however, a 230 MSRP is a bit much when features are limited outside of the Samsung ecosystem. It’s the major drawback for the Buds 2 Pro—as it is for the Apple Airpods Pro and Google Pixel Buds. For a system-agnostic choice, we still recommend the Jabra Elite 85t, although they feel a bit bigger in the ear than the Samsung. Sony’s WF-1000XM4 still rank as some of the best noise-canceling earbuds you can get for a bit more than the Buds 2 Pro, too.
Still, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are the best-sounding earbuds Samsung has put out with a rich feature set that will satisfy any Galaxy phone user.
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were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
John is Reviewed’s Managing Editor of Tech. He is an ISF Level III-certified calibrator with bylines at ProjectorCentral, Wirecutter, IGN, Home Theater Review, T3, Sound Vision, and Home Theater Magazine. When away from the Reviewed office, he is a sound editor for film and musician, and loves to play games with his son.
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The all-new Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus boasts better sound thanks to two discrete drivers
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus offer better sound quality and an extended battery life compared to last year’s Samsung Galaxy Buds, but they’re still missing advanced audio codec support and full-on noise cancellation.
- – Limited audio codec support
- – Only IPX2 splash resistant
- – No noise cancellation
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The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus are the update the company’s true wireless earbuds (the original Samsung Galaxy Buds) desperately needed: they offer better battery life, improved call audio thanks to a third internal microphone, and a new dual-driver design that uses two powerful drivers for better, clearer sound. On top of that, there’s finally support for iOS through the new Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus app.
The downside? The new Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus lack high-end audio codecs and higher IPX4 rating that the Apple Airpods Pro have. That’s not even mentioning the fact that they don’t offer any form of noise reduction / noise cancellation, nor have a built-in voice assistant like other true wireless earbuds out there.
Not long after the Galaxy Buds Plus’ launch, Samsung released its first update, after some users reported hearing the strange sound of white noise while using the true wireless earbuds. According to TizenHelp, the firmware version R175XXUOATB5 is designed to fix this issue, as well as other problems including a delay in pairing and Bluetooth dropouts.
In spite of initial teething problems, Samsung should be commended for creating a decent pair of true wireless earbuds in an increasingly competitive landscape. They hold up against rival buds in their own price range and while they don’t achieve the same heights as, say, the Sony WF-1000XM3 or Airpods Pro, they’re significantly cheaper and offer some nice features for Samsung smartphone owners.
If you’re after a pair of buds at roughly the same price point, though, we’d recommend the upcoming Galaxy Buds 2 over the older Plus model. Not only are they priced similarly, but they also feature improved sound and the active noise cancellation that the Galaxy Buds Plus lack.
Price and availability
Samsung launched the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus at its Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco.
At 149.99 / £159 / AU299, they’re about the same price as the original Samsung Galaxy Buds (depending on your region) and a little cheaper than their biggest competitors, the Apple Airpods. They’re also significantly cheaper than the best true wireless earbuds of 2021, the Sony WF-1000XM3, though these buds come with premium features like active noise cancellation.
Now that these buds have been usurped by two new models, that price is often discounted, too.
You can find cheaper true wireless headphones out there – like the JLab Go Air that are just 29 / £29 (about AU40), for example – but there are also much more expensive earbuds out there like the yet-to-be-released Klipsch T10 that are slated to cost 649 (about £490 / AU930).
In comparison to the competition and in their value for the money, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus are smack-dab in the middle.
The Galaxy Buds Plus sport a very similar design to their predecessors, with slick pearlescent housings and adjustable silicone eartips. They come in red, white, blue, and black, and you should be able to find a color that suits your sense of style – something that can’t be said for the strictly-white Airpods.
Eschewing the long ear stems of the Airpods and the Airpods Pro, these sleek little buds pop neatly into their charging case and into your ear, being held in place by a small nub that catches a fold in your outer ear.
At 17.5 x 22.5 x 19.2mm, they fill up most of the ear canal (which helps them stay in while working out) and protrude slightly out of the ears. Because of that design choice we had issues wearing these earbuds while laying in bed as the constant pressure on the buds from the pillow made them uncomfortable in the ear.
In terms of customization, inside the box you’ll find additional eartips in three different sizes, a larger nub to hold the earbuds in place if they’re falling out and a rubber ring if you don’t want any nub on the outer edges of the buds.
On the outside you’ll find the touch capacitive button that understands single, double, triple and long presses. Single, double and triple do what you’d expect them to do and the long press can either activate your virtual assistant, lower the volume or turn on ambient sound amplification.
Using the touch capacitive button as the means to control the earbuds can be slightly uncomfortable at first, as pushing the button pushes the earbuds further into the ear canal, but you’ll soon learn to exert less pressure when using it. It would’ve been nice if Samsung decided to implement an always-listening virtual assistant here, but unfortunately decided not to.
The only other glaring issue we’ve found so far with the Buds Plus is that they’re only IPX2 splash-resistant. That means they’re mostly fine for workouts, but won’t be the kind of thing you’d want to take with you to the pool or beach, where they could easily get damaged. For comparison the Apple Airpods Pro are IPX4 water-resistant, and while that’s not as good as being fully waterproof, it should assuage any fear you have of damaging them at the gym or outside in the rain.
As for the case itself, it’s fairly light and smooth with rounded edges. It should fit fairly easily in your and provides an additional charge for the earbuds in between uses. As you’d expect, the charging case uses USB-C, like Samsung’s flagship phones, which means you don’t need to carry a separate cable.
Battery life and connectivity
The Galaxy Buds Plus boast a far longer battery life than the original Galaxy Buds. The earbuds themselves contain 11 hours of charge, while the charging case provides an additional 11 hours, bringing the total battery life to 22 hours.
That 11-hour battery life is pretty long for earbuds – but for the charging case, it’s not a huge amount of battery. For comparison, the Apple Airpods contain 5 hours in the buds themselves, with an additional 20 provided by the charging case, for 25 hours in total. It’s nice to see the Buds Plus with a larger internal battery, but a shame the charging case didn’t get something more substantial.
Throughout our week of testing we’ve only had to charge the earbuds and their case once, and that’s with pretty heavy listening (four-plus hours each day) at medium volume. If you need to listen to your music at a higher volume to drown out outside noise, then expect to charge these every few nights.
In terms of wireless connectivity, Bluetooth 5.0 provides a stable wireless connection that never once dropped on us, even in a crowded area. For comparison, the Airpods still only support 4.2, which is pretty old now, but do have the benefit of the H1 Chip that optimizes battery life and sound quality on the earbuds.
Unfortunately, however, neither the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus nor Apple Airpods Pro support higher-end audio codecs like aptX, aptX Low Latency or, even better, LDAC. For now your only options are SBC and AAC. unless you also use a Samsung smartphone that runs Android 7.0 or later, then you’ll also have the option of Samsung’s proprietary Scalable Audio codec which offers higher bitrate support and better stability, a handy perk if you’ve had earbuds drop out on you in the past.
Setting up the earbuds can either be done by pairing via Bluetooth for basic playback or by downloading the Galaxy Wearable or Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus app from the Google Play and Apple App Store. With those you’ll be able to customize the headphones and set up ambient noise reduction so it’s well worth downloading. We found both of the apps to be fairly intuitive to use, and they offer a few sound tweaking options and ambient noise amplification that we’ll get into in a minute.
Finally, the last feature worth pointing out is that if you have multiple devices, the Galaxy Buds Plus support multi-pairing, allowing them to connect to several devices without needing to re-pair them every time you go to use them.
The headline news in the audio department is the new dual-driver system that the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus use. There’s now a woofer and a tweeter to expand the range of the earbuds and lead to an increase in overall clarity.
After spending a lot of time with them we feel like that’s definitely the case, and can appreciate the sound Samsung has crafted here that’s rich, warm and easy to listen to for an extended period of time.
To achieve that, Samsung’s DSP definitely dials back bass and ups the mids and highs. making these great headphones to use when watching YouTube or Netflix around the house and even makes some genres of music sound pretty good. Listening to Green Day’s atrocious new album Father of All. was slightly more bearable thanks to the Bud Plus’ mid-range musicality, and a tour through Red Hot Chili Peppers’ old catalog with these earbuds allowed us to appreciate the interplay between Flea’s bass and Frusciante’s guitar like never before.
That said, songs that should have phenomenal bass response, like Brass Monkey by Beastie Boys, sound a bit subdued to other earbuds, especially a pair like the Powerbeats Pro that emphasize the low-end.
Using the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus and/or Samsung Wear app you can customize the sound of the earbuds (there’s options for Soft, Dynamic, Clear, Treble and Bass Boost) but there’s not a significant difference between them.
While the increased clarity is the highlight of the new design, Samsung says it’s also increased the amount of internal microphones by one and that lead to better call quality. That claim held true in our testing as anyone we called with the earbuds reported that they sounded as good as talking directly into the phone’s mic.
Having the extra mic also means that ambient noise amplification is better this time around, too. Obviously ambient noise amplification – which pipes in outside noise rather than cancel it out isn’t as good as noise reduction or noise cancellation, but it can be helpful at airplane terminals or bus stations when you’re waiting for a crucial piece of information over the loud speaker or while riding a bike.
The biggest criticism that we can levy against the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus is that they don’t offer active noise cancellation nor do they provide much in the way of passive noise reduction. That means, if you plan on wearing these out and about, expect to hear a lot of the outside world while listening to your music. That’s fine if you’re at the gym and don’t mind hearing a bit of the background noise or if you’re at the office and still want to be able to hear what coworkers are saying nearby, but those looking for total aural isolation will have to look elsewhere.
The good news? If you lose them, you can find them again pretty easily by going into the app and selecting ‘Find My Earbuds’. As long as they’re still charged, this will get the earbuds to play a chirping sound at increasing volume. which is pretty handy if you’re the kind of person who takes out your earbuds and leaves them laying around the house.
So where do the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus stand in the wide and deep echelon of true wireless earbuds? Well, somewhere in the middle. Thanks to its better battery life of around 11 hours (give or take) per charge, it’s a decent pick for people who hate charging their headphones at night. That said, it doesn’t feature a built-in virtual assistant nor does it have real water-resistance, it’s just IPX2.
Most egregious, however, is its lack of noise cancellation or even noise reduction, a feature that’s available on the similarly priced Amazon Echo Buds. Now sure, those may not sound as good as the Galaxy Buds Plus nor do they last as long, but both those features lose their luster when you’re struggling to hear your music on a crowded subway train.
At the end of the day, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus present a good value for folks who just want true wireless earbuds they don’t need to charge everyday. They aren’t the best-sounding, but the dual-driver design is a big step up for Samsung, and is good enough for watching videos and listening to bass-lite music.
Ultimately, you’d be better served by saving up for a pair of Apple Airpods Pro if you’re an iOS user or a pair of Sony WF-1000XM3 if you use Android, both of which sound better and offer noise cancellation. They don’t last as long as the Galaxy Buds Plus do and cost twice as much, but they’re a better all-around pick in our opinion.
- Ready to cut the auxiliary cord? Check out our list of the best true wireless earbuds for our up-to-the-minute recommendations