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Samsung Galaxy Buds review

The Samsung Galaxy Buds is still an excellent pair of true wireless earbuds to accompany the popular Samsung Galaxy smartphone line. Whether you’re a casual listener or a true wireless fanboy, the Galaxy Buds are an excellent choice with a few forgivable foibles.

Editor’s note: this Samsung Galaxy Buds review was updated on June 23, 2021, to address an FAQ.

Who are the Samsung Galaxy Buds for?

The earbuds are compact and discreet.

Seeing as the Galaxy Buds were a freebie for those who pre-ordered the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+, they are explicitly for Samsung Galaxy S10 owners. However, that doesn’t preclude the earbuds from being used with other Android devices or iPhones. As a matter of fact, these true wireless earbuds are compatible with the AAC Bluetooth codec, minimizing perceptible lag when used with iPhones.

What are the Samsung Galaxy Buds like?

The Samsung Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10, and Galaxy S10+ are able to wirelessly charge the Galaxy Buds.

Much like the Jaybird Vista, the Galaxy Buds sport an all-plastic design. The edgeless shape of the earbuds creates a whimsical look and rounded triangular touch panels grant enough real estate to make commands without frequent mistakes. A marked difference between the Galaxy Buds and the Gear IconX is the lack of onboard storage.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Buds vs. Apple AirPods (2019)

Samsung integrated a dual-microphone array, which operates by alternating between the microphones to attenuate background noise and clearly relay your voice. In practice, this worked well. Unfortunately, the earbuds still struggle outside if there are high winds but can combat background chatter if you’re in a coffee shop.

The dual-microphone array adapts to your surroundings, effectively lessening background noise.

The charging case is a plain, oblong plastic piece that opens hamburger style. Its interior has just enough room to house the necessary inlets for charging the earbuds. On the outside is a single LED indicator, which glows red, green, or yellow to notify listeners of its battery level while the back houses a USB-C input for charging. However, if you misplace the cable or don’t feel like using, you can place it atop your Samsung Galaxy S10 variant just make sure the Wireless PowerShare option is activated from the notification tray beforehand.

You should use the Galaxy Wearable app

The compact charging case provides an additional seven hours of playback.

Touch panels facilitate call and playback controls, virtual assistant access, and Ambient Sound mode activation. Just like the Sony WF-1000XM3, the Galaxy Buds let you hear your surroundings, keeping you safe. By using the Galaxy Wearable app, you can customize the left and right ear panels’ playback controls. For instance, our review unit is set up so holding the left earbud initiates Ambient Sound mode and holding the right earbud accesses Google Assistant, not Bixby.

From the app, you may set your preferred EQ option: bass boost, soft, dynamic, clear, or treble boost. Below that is a menu where you can choose which notifications are read aloud to you from the earbuds. Then there’s Ambient Sound mode. Rather than temporarily activating it from the earbuds, you can permanently activate it from the app. It lets you adjust how much amplification external noise receives and whether or not voices should be amplified.

While you can choose your favorite EQ setting, you can also choose to disable it completely.
You can designate the left and right earbuds to control different commands.
You’re not limited to Bixby and can select Google Assistant.

Then there are the usual features, like “Find my earbuds” and the option to check for and install software updates. It’s a comprehensive app that I actually found myself using. Granted, it was mainly to toggle Ambient Sound on for running, which is now streamlined with the April 27, 2020, update. Users can benefit from automatic Ambient Sound mode, direct access to Spotify, and Microsoft Swift for quick switching between Windows 10 PCs and mobile devices.

Are the Galaxy Buds good for working out?

Speaking of running, these are a fine pair of earbuds for general athletes. While it’s disappointing that they received just an IPX2 certification, it should be enough to sustain arduous workouts. Just keep them out of the water. I really enjoyed using these in the gym; the provided wing tips worked wonders. I only wish that volume controls were also included like with the RHA TrueConnect 2.

Does Samsung include accessories?

Listeners receive the IPX2 water-resistant earbuds, three pairs of silicone ear and wing tips, a 252mAh charging case, and a USB-C charging cable. The included wing tips allow for a secure fit while the malleable silicone remains comfortable for all-day listening. What’s more, the various ear tips are equally as comfortable but may not fit every listener’s ear. If you’re unable to get a good seal with the included options, try looking at third-party tips.

How good is the battery life?

One of the biggest improvements made to the Samsung Galaxy Buds from the Gear IconX is the improved battery life. Our objective testing yielded 6.53 hours of playback on a single charge from the 58mAh earbuds. The 252mAh charging case provides an additional seven hours of playback and 15 minutes in the case affords up to 1.7 hours of playback according to Samsung. Once the case and earbuds are both depleted, charging the devices is easy via the included USB-C cable.

Do the earbuds stay connected?

Compatible Samsung devices with Android 7.0 or later can use the Scalable Codec with the Galaxy Buds.

Unlike many true wireless earbuds, these maintain a stable connection thanks to the Bluetooth 5.0 firmware, but they lack aptX support which is a bummer for non-Samsung Android users. On the flip side, AAC is supported to the main benefit of iPhone users.

After using these for a few weeks (software version: R170XXU0ASC4), it’s apparent that connection stability still has a ways to go with the Galaxy Buds. While it remains reliable in closed environments, taking the earbuds outside welcomes a host of stutters and hiccups. There have been a handful of times when I’ve completely unpaired and repaired the Samsung Galaxy Buds with my galaxy S10e because the issue persisted spanning the length of a few songs.

Learn more: Ultimate headphone buying guide

Samsung does, however, implement its proprietary Scalable Codec. This is compatible with limited Samsung devices operating on Android 7.0 or later. Much like aptX Adaptive, this codec is constantly optimizing bitrate to negotiate between stable connectivity and sound quality.

What do the Galaxy Buds sound like?

Bass notes are amplified and will sound louder than any other notes during music playback.
Passive isolation is fine and expected from standard in-ears.

The dynamic drivers are tuned by AKG and reproduce a consumer-friendly frequency response that amplifies bass notes above all else. This is good for listeners who listen to a lot of hip-hop and pop, but may not be preferred by those who have eclectic music libraries. Bass notes sound almost twice as loud as mids, which could lead to noticeable auditory masking during percussion sections of your favorite tunes. Isolation performance is above par as these are able to passively insulate the listener from her surroundings if the right ear tips are used.

Editor’s note: media playback for the following section was through the Samsung Galaxy S10e, which is compatible with Samsung’s Scalable Codec.

Lows, mids, and highs

The Punch Brothers’ twangy ballad Jumbo, sounds excellent through the Samsung Galaxy Buds. I was nonplussed by the excellent instrumental reproduction of the mandolin, banjo, and cello. The song begins with each band member playing his respective part: violin, guitar, bass, mandolin, and banjo. Five seconds in, the first guitar slide occurs simultaneously with a banjo strum. At this moment, both sounds remain audible without any egregious masking.

Though the Samsung Galaxy Buds have a consumer-friendly response, they don't fall victim to too much auditory masking.

During one of the choruses at 2:37, Chris Thile sings, “Here comes Jumbo, American as gumbo,” which is heavily underscored by aggressive bass picking and strumming of the guitar and banjo. It’s this moment that the song is most at risk of turning into an unclear din, but the Samsung Galaxy Buds handle this moment well, too. Granted, there is some frequency distortion that occurs, mainly to the bass: its harmonic resonance is nearly unidentifiable.

Is the microphone any good?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds microphone effectively transmits the human voice thanks to its dual-microphone array.

Since the point of the integrated microphone arrangement is to record the human voice and clearly relay it, rather than record music, we decided to narrow down the microphone frequency response chart to the bounds of the human voice. This one performs well but can’t combat problem sounds. For instance, plosives and fricatives [f, s, th, sh, z, sh] will come through a little louder than other consonants and vowels. In all fairness, this is something that nearly all microphones struggle with even professional ones.

Samsung Galaxy Buds microphone demo:

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How do the Samsung Galaxy Buds compare to other true wireless earbuds?

The Master & Dynamic MW07 Go earphones make for a great everyday and workout companion.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds have seen significant price cuts since their release, making them just $129, and as of December 3, 2020, they’re on sale on Amazon for just $79. If you want a premium pair of true wireless earbuds for less than the competition, the Galaxy Buds are the earphones to get. However, if you want to save even more money, there are other fantastic choices like the Creative Outlier Gold. We’re quick to recommend these earbuds because they’re feature-packed and perform consistently well by every measure. Battery life is superb for cheap total wireless earbuds (7.78 hours) as is sound quality, contingent on you enjoying bass-heavy sound.

Related: Best AirPods alternatives

If you want something with a more polished aesthetic, consider the Master & Dynamic MW07 Go. These fashionable earbuds are small and pack a mighty accurate sound signature, boding well for every genre of music. Plus, battery life is remarkable and supplies just over nine hours of playtime on a single charge. Alternatively, a similarly priced smart headset are the Amazon Echo Buds. These earbuds retail for $130 and feature Alexa integration; they’re great for listeners already heavily invested in Amazon’s smart home ecosystem. You don’t, however, get to enjoy sound quality that’s as good as the Galaxy Buds.

Which is better, the Samsung Galaxy Buds or Apple AirPods Pro?

Apple includes wireless charging capabilities by default with its AirPods Pro noise canceling true wireless earbuds.

Due to the fact that they can isolate you from the outside world, have better battery life, and better audio quality: the Samsung Galaxy Buds are absolutely better for most than the Apple AirPods (2019). However, the advent of the Apple AirPods Pro makes the Samsung Galaxy Buds a harder sell.

Related: Apple AirPods Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM3

The AirPods Pro noise cancelling true wireless earbuds feature a completely rethought design that includes dedicated nozzles for proper isolation. Apple also uses an advanced DSP to automatically adjust the sound based on live measurements of external noise and noise within the ear canal, allowing for optimal audio reproduction. What’s more, the included Apple wireless charging case is compatible with Qi wireless charging mats. The Apple AirPods Pro are hands-down the better earphones for iPhone users, but they’re also more than twice as expensive than the Samsung Galaxy Buds. Listeners who want a smooth Apple-like experience on their Android smartphones should consider the Google Pixel Buds.

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Buds?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds are the perfect companion to the Samsung Galaxy S10 phones.

Yes, these true wireless earbuds are still an excellent choice for Android users, specifically for Samsung Galaxy S10 owners. The earbuds are remarkably comfortable to wear for hours at a time even with glasses. While the lack of aptX support is a glaring oversight, it makes sense from a Samsung perspective as the company likely aims to push its proprietary Scalable Codec, which works wonders with a Galaxy S10 device.

If you happened to be an early bird, who snagged a pair of free Samsung Galaxy Buds with your purchase, congrats on your excellent true wireless earbuds. Perhaps you’re someone who’s debating the earbuds with a non-Samsung device, though; if that’s the case, the earbuds are still a good deal with solid battery life.

All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

For better battery life and microphone quality, get the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

The Samsung scalable codec functions similarly to aptX adaptive, and constantly balances connection and audio quality.

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus boast better standalone battery life (11.73 hours on a single charge), and improved call quality thanks to the new microphone array. Although the earbuds are nearly indistinguishable from the first-gen Galaxy Buds, the Buds Plus have neat features like Spotify integration for Android users, which is now available on both generations of the Galaxy Buds headsets. Sound quality has also changed a bit in the update: the Buds Plus place more emphasis on the low-end, making for a more consumer-friendly sound. That being said, if you don’t need the huge battery life improvement or microphone quality, the Galaxy Buds are at an all-time low while offering much of what the new model brings to the table.

For noise cancelling, get the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and Google Pixel Buds (2020) are both great sets of true wireless earbuds, specifically for Android handsets.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro feature active noise cancelling, which is much more effective than that found in the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live. Samsung ditched the bean design and reverted back to a more traditional earbud approach. The Galaxy Buds Pro, much like earlier Galaxy Buds earphones, use ear tips that seal to the ear canal. This improves passive isolation and optimizes ANC performance.

Sound quality is very good, and you can choose from the same set of EQ profiles in the Galaxy Wearable app. Most all of the software features are the same, but with the Galaxy Buds Pro you have the option to toggle noise cancelling too. If you want a single pair of earbuds to go with you Samsung Galaxy smartphone, and interact seamlessly with all of your Samsung devices, get these.


Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review

A skeptical eye may roll at what appears to be an iterative upgrade from Samsung with the new Galaxy Buds Plus, but I’m here to tell you that this is worth its asking price. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus may be nearly indistinguishable from the original Galaxy Buds, but don’t let that discourage you. Samsung makes a host of improvements to the Galaxy Buds Plus like extra-long battery life and better microphone quality. With Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 rumors floating about, you can snag this headset on a steep discount nowadays.

Editor’s note: this Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review was updated Aug. 5, 2021, to respond to a FAQ of Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus vs Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2.

Who should get the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus?

You can charge the case via Wireless PowerShare or with a Qi-certified power mat.

  • Samsung Galaxy smartphone owners and anyone with an Android device should consider the new Galaxy Buds Plus. Although Wireless PowerShare is a Samsung exclusive, other important features including Spotify integration, are available across Android.
  • Plus, even iPhone users will benefit from AAC support for lag-free media playback. Then, there are things everyone can enjoy like IPX2 water resistance and nearly 12 hours of playtime on a single charge.
  • Long-haul commuters will appreciate the excellent battery life.

Start here: What makes a good set of in-ears?

What is it like to use the Galaxy Buds Plus?

Playback automatically pauses upon removal simultaneous removal.

Samsung noted the Galaxy Buds’ wild success and took a calculated approach to the Buds Plus: these are virtually identical to last year’s model with most of the changes taking place under the housings.

The all-plastic build feels cheap, but has its benefits by keeping the earphones lightweight, comfortable, and lest we forget: affordable. One welcome change to the Galaxy Buds Plus has nothing to do with the earbuds’ design, but with the included accessories. Listeners are afforded the pre-installed medium ear and wing tips along with three extra pairs varying in size. This is great news for all, as a solid fit rewards listeners with better audio quality.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus looks nearly identical to the original but house a new dual-driver system for clear audio reproduction.

Another under-the-hood change has to do with the new dual-driver system; each earbud contains a dedicated woofer and tweeter. AKG tuned the frequency response which reproduces impressively clear audio for the price. If you’re familiar with 1MORE’s earphones, you’ve come across this kind of technology before.

The Galaxy Buds Plus are the perfect AirPods alternative for Android users.

A glossy finish adorns the whimsical charging case and collects more fingerprints than the FBI. Despite the sleek exterior, it’s easy to grip and never slipped from my hands when opening. Lifting the lid reveals a rubberized strip with “L R” to indicate which earbud is which. At first, I thought this was a button that would share the remaining battery life for each earbud, but alas, it’s just a fancy label.

Get Spotify integration through the Galaxy Wearable app

The App Store’s Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus app doesn’t support the first-gen Galaxy Buds.

One of the most unique features of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus is Spotify integration, which is now available with the original Galaxy Buds, too. In order to directly access the popular streaming service from the earphones, you have to download the Galaxy Wearable app, which happens to be one of the better apps accompanying true wireless earphones. Just remap the tapping gesture on the earbuds to receive recommended songs. Unfortunately for iOS users, Spotify functionality is only available to Android devices.

Learn more: Ultimate headphone buying guide

There are other great functions from the Galaxy Wearable app, too, including ambient sound adjustments, find my earbuds, software updates, EQ presets, and more. Gamers who enjoy beta testing things should consider giving Game Mode a shot for reduced latency. The Apple App Store now has Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus app available; however, the application does not support the original Galaxy Buds, which is ridiculous. You’re afforded all of the same features as the Android app provides, save for Spotify integration as of app version

How do you connect the earphones?

The Samsung scalable codec functions similarly to aptX adaptive, and constantly balances connection and audio quality.

If you have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone running Android 7.1.1 or later with the SmartThings app installed, then you’ll be met with a pop-up window when initially pairing the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus. Otherwise, you can pair the earbuds by removing them from the case, going into your phone’s Bluetooth menu, and selecting “Galaxy Buds+.”

The earphones use Bluetooth 5.0 firmware and grant listeners a 10-meter wireless range. I was hoping to see aptX support with the second-generation Galaxy Buds, but the same codecs are supported by these earphones as the first-generation model: SBC, AAC, and the scalable Samsung codec. Although Qualcomm True Wireless Stereo Plus isn’t supported, connection strength is reliable within the listed span. If you have an iPhone or Samsung device, latency is a non-issue.

Multipoint functionality isn’t available

There are plenty of EQ options available from the Wearable app.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus was supposed to support Bluetooth multipoint between  Bluetooth 5.0 devices. However, the company discreetly removed any mention of this functionality on the official Galaxy Buds Plus page. Perhaps we’ll see this reinstated in a future software update.

No matter, the Buds Plus remember multiple devices which makes switching easy. In fact, I don’t need to manually disconnect the earphones from my smartphone when connecting to my desktop. Instead, I can just select the pre-paired Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus from my laptop’s Bluetooth menu and it automatically disconnects from my S10e. Sure, it’s still a bit cumbersome but it’s not too much of a chore.

How long is the Galaxy Buds Plus battery life?

True wireless earbuds aren’t known for having impressive battery life, but the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus lasts 11 hours, 44 minutes. Interestingly, depletion is uneven: the right earbud cycled out 24 minutes before the left. It’s curious, but likely something that will be remedied with a software update.

Once the batteries deplete, it takes just three minutes of throwing the buds into the case to enjoy one hour of listening. The case provides just one extra charge cycle, which isn’t great but is the sacrifice we make when getting such a compact case. The charging case is Qi-certified, meaning there are more ways to wirelessly charge than Wireless PowerShare atop a Samsung Galaxy phone.

How does the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus sound?

AKG tuned the Galaxy Buds Plus drivers, resulting in clear audio with just a touch of amplification in the low-end.
Passive isolation performance is unchanged from the Samsung Galaxy Buds.

Just as before, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus is tuned by AKG, this time to have a slight elevation in bass response. This is great for listeners who enjoy popular genres of music like pop, hip-hop, and so on as it adds a greater sense of impact with every kick drum. Highs and mids hardly receive any amplification, which means instrumentally busy songs may seem like they’re lacking detail. That’s not the fault of the audio file, rather of how louder bass notes are bound to mask quieter, high-pitched notes.

Isolation is good, thanks to the spare ear and wing tips provided by Samsung. If you can hear what’s going on around you with the default ear tips, take a few seconds to swap them out for the small or large size: finding the right fit will greatly improve clarity and audio quality.

Lows, mids, and highs

Noname’s song Blaxploitationrelies on a simple pattern comprised of a bass guitar, drums, high hats, and synth. The Galaxy Buds Plus’ frequency response is perfect for this type of music whereby the bassline isn’t rendered to overpower the vocals, but could use some emphasis to please general consumer taste.

The isolation performance and sound profile tuned by AKG make for good sound quality overall.

Skip ahead to 0:23, when Noname says, “… eating Chick-fil-A in the shadows that tastes like hypocrite.” Her voice is easy to hear above the constant accompaniment, even as it increases in pitch during the word “hypocrite.” The dual-driver system does a great job of ensuring clear vocal reproduction while simultaneously pumping out amplified bass lines.

Can you use the Galaxy Buds Plus for phone calls?

Samsung equipped the Galaxy Buds Plus with a three-microphone array: two outer and one inner microphone which works in tandem for clearer voice transmission than before. The two external microphones focus on your voice while simultaneously combating ambient noise, similar to what’s used by the Apple AirPods and AirPods Pro.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus microphone demo:

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When using the Galaxy Buds Plus during a conference call, my fellow SoundGuys shared that I sounded quite clear, especially for earbuds. Don’t take their words for it, though; I read an excerpt from Catcher in the Rye with the Bud Plus above.

How is the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus better than the Galaxy Buds?

The original Galaxy Buds fit into and charge via the Buds Plus case.

Looking at specs alone, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus is better than the original Galaxy Buds. The Buds Plus has significantly better battery life, lasting listeners almost 12 hours on a single charge. Quick charging efficiency is improved too, which is great for on-the-go users.

I discovered some fun bops, thanks to the Buds Plus Spotify integration.

I thoroughly enjoyed Spotify integration when using the Buds Plus, something that is now available on the original Buds with the April 27, 2020, update. For anyone who frequently takes hands-free calls, the upgraded microphone system is a huge improvement over the 2019 Galaxy Buds, and makes it easier to justify the price. You’re also given more color options: black, light blue, white, and red whereas last year’s Galaxy Buds is available in black, white, silver, and yellow.

On a budget? The original Galaxy Buds are still a fantastic deal


The earbuds have the same IPX2 rating as seen in the newer version and a virtually identical appearance, save for the additional colorways. Sure, fast charging is more efficient but it’s not slow by any means with the Galaxy Buds: 15 minutes of charging supplies 102 minutes of playtime. With the April 27, 2020, software update to the Galaxy Buds, users can also benefit from Spotify integration, one of the Buds Plus’ main selling points.

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus?

If you must have the latest and greatest, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus is a fine purchase to make. Sure they don’t disrupt the field of true wireless earbuds, but they retain many of the features from the Galaxy Buds while making major battery life and microphone improvements. Anyone who’s constantly on the hunt for new music will rejoice upon realizing how easy it is to directly access Spotify. Again, if these things don’t tickle your fancy, last year’s Galaxy Buds will serve you just as well.

All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

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The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro has good active noise cancelling

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro charging case supports wireless charging and Wireless PowerShare.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is the company’s second active noise cancelling (ANC) true wireless earphones, and Samsung learned plenty from its experimental bean-shaped buds. The Galaxy Buds Pro drops the open-fit style of before in favor of silicone ear tips that actually block out background noise. This physical barrier between your ear canals and the outside world is key to effective, consistent noise cancelling performance.

Aside from ANC, Samsung improved the microphone quality of its Pro variant, and features a handful of new colorways. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is a great option for listeners who need an all-in-one headset that doesn’t break the bank. If you want to try an open-type fit, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds may be more your speed.

If you’re patient, you may want to wait around for the rumored Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. Not much is known about these earphones, so stick around and we’ll keep you updated on the latest specs.

Don’t want Galaxy Buds at all?

That’s fine, you may want to think about getting the 1MORE True Wireless ANC, which retails for $50 more than the Galaxy Buds Plus. That extra cash goes a long way, though, as you benefit from noise cancellation, a comfortable fit, aptX and AAC support, and Qualcomm True Wireless Stereo Plus.

If you have an iPhone, the Apple AirPods or AirPods Pro have likely been on your mind. Well, the AirPods (2019), are a hard sell, especially when compared to the Pro. If you’re between the standard AirPods and Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, go with the latter: sound quality, fit, comfort, and durability are all better. However, if your budget is more flexible than mine, the AirPods Pro is an excellent choice.

A $150 budget gets you far in the true wireless earbuds market.

They feature Apple’s H1 chip for hands-free access to Siri as well as ANC, and a DSP that calibrates noise cancelling intensity on the fly, among other things. Sometimes the price dips around $230, which is still expensive but a fine option for iOS users who want a seamless cross-device experience.

Another great option is the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen), which includes very good ANC, an IPX4 build, and plenty of great software features like an ear tip fit test. With the Alexa app, you’ll always have the best ear tips selected, ensuring a stable, comfortable fit and optimal sound quality. The case is compact and easy enough to throw into a jeans pocket.

Next: Best noise cancelling true wireless earphones

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The Samsung Galaxy Buds are just one of the many models that sought to topple the Apple AirPods' monopoly on the true wireless earbuds market. Alongside their successors, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, and the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, they make up a wider portfolio of Samsung true wireless earbuds, including two generations of the Gear IconX.

What separates the Samsung Galaxy Buds from the IconX, however, is that the latter does away with that Gear branding and makes these earbuds part of the Galaxy phone family, which offer up a neat trick with the Buds, but more on that later.

If you're willing to hold out for a couple of weeks, though, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 are launching on August 27. Samsung's new buds are a marked improvement over the original model, and the best part is they will retail at the exact same price point. They're even a bit cheaper if you're in Australia, so we'd certainly recommend them over the original Galaxy Buds.

Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy Buds were released on March 8, 2019 for $149 / £139 / AU$249, making them slightly cheaper than Apple’s AirPods. 

If you had pre-ordered a Samsung Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10 Plus, or Galaxy S10e, you might have also gotten a free pair of Galaxy Buds thrown in, but unfortunately this offer ended at launch.


Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Buds look very attractive, with a slick all-white design comprising two earbuds and a charging case.  

The earbuds themselves look sleek and compact, with subtle rubber wingtips for a secure fit. You get small, medium, and large wingtips and eartips in the box, so you should be able to find a combination that fits your ear snugly.

While the buds feel rather dainty when you first put them in, and at risk of falling out, they're surprisingly stable and comfortable to use.

The lack of wires pulling them down means they stay in the ear through a surprising amount of head turning or bobbing, and we found they survived gym sessions and runs as well as a healthy amount of rocking out.

One cool design feature is the use of a pearlescent material on the outer housing of the buds, which reflects the light beautifully and has an almost holographic effect. 

Aside from looking good, the housings act as touch controls, which can be used to play/pause your music, skip tracks, answer and end calls, and launch Samsung’s voice assistant Bixby on compatible devices. 

You can customize the long-press action for the Galaxy Buds via the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app (Android only), choose from volume (up on the right, down on the left) or launching Bixby (long press on either bud).

Since our initial review, a Samsung Galaxy Buds update includes hands-free Bixby voice control, plus improved touch controls, and the ability to keep the ambient sound feature on at all times. 

The touch controls are convenient, but you have to be supremely precise with your taps, applying enough pressure on the flat part of the buds for them to register your action. On multiple occasions we missed the mark, or didn’t apply enough pressure, which lead us to having to try again (sometimes multiple times).

While this is a mere inconvenience when you're sitting at a desk it becomes more of an issue when you’re on the move and your hand is less steady - like, say, when you're at the gym or out on a run. The good news is that you'll become better attuned to the system over time through use and will eventually get better – although we still don’t have a 100% success rate.

Samsung Galaxy Buds charging case

Now onto the charging case; it’s extremely compact, and can easily slide into your pocket when you’re listening on the go. 

If you’ve used the Samsung Gear IconX, you’ll notice that the whole package here is much smaller than the last-gen earphones. In fact, it’s 30% smaller and that’s sure to make a difference when you’re keeping these in your pocket.

The case generally feels quite sturdy, with a snap shut lid, and magnets that hold the earbuds in place when they’re not in use. 

On the outside of the case you’ll find a small LED that indicates how much battery the case has, whereas an LED inside the case tells you how much charge your earbuds have left.

On the back of the case, there’s a USB-C charger port – the Galaxy Buds come with a USB cable so you can charge the case. The buds themselves have six hours battery life, while the charging case provides an additional seven – pretty good for true wireless buds. 

The Samsung Galaxy Wearable app tells you how much battery the buds have left when you pull them out of the case, but it doesn’t tell you how much charge the case has, unlike the Apple AirPods – instead you have  to rely on the LED on the outside of the case to tell you how much battery you have left.

One of the most interesting features here is the fact that you can wirelessly charge these headphones in their case. That means if you have a Qi compatible wireless charging pad – if you’ve got one for your phone, it’s probably exactly that – you can just place these on and they’ll charge up.

It’s especially useful considering the new Galaxy S10 range comes with two-way wireless charging.

That means you can set up the feature on your Galaxy S10 phone and place your headphones on the rear of the device to get them charged up as well. It’s smart, and we found it to work seamlessly in our brief testing time.

Features and performance

If you have a Samsung Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10 Plus or Galaxy S10e, pairing the buds is a seamless experience, similar to how the Apple AirPods connect instantly to iPhones. 

Connectivity seems to vary between different users; multiple writers on the TechRadar team tested the buds, and while some experienced no connection dropouts, others experienced them regularly. 

Most of the issues with connectivity seems to have been addressed by software updates sent out by Samsung, but as with most true wireless buds, you may experience connection dropouts if you are using them nearby other Bluetooth devices. 

Since the most recent update, we haven't experienced any significant Bluetooth dropouts.

Where Samsung’s previous true wireless buds, the Gear IconX, underwhelmed, the Galaxy Buds seem to shine; with warm, deep bass, and good separation, music sounds great when played through these little buds. 

That doesn’t come as a surprise, considering they have been tuned by audio experts AKG.

We started off by listening to Radiohead’s ‘Daydreaming’ and we were impressed by the detail and clarity of the vocal parts, which were complemented by soft cascading piano arpeggios and smooth detuned synths.

Grainy chopped and screwed vocals layered with digital interference pan from left to right coherently, while violin and cellos sweep above and below the mix.

However, the Galaxy Buds really shine when it comes to bass frequencies, which becomes even more apparent when you listen to bassy tracks like Billie Eilish’s ‘Bury A Friend’. On tracks like this, the use of air-displacing dynamic drivers means that you can almost feel the sub bass thumping in your chest – unusual for true wireless earbuds.

We also tested the true wireless buds on the soundtrack of indie puzzle-platformer game Fez, by composer Disasterpeace. When listening to ‘Puzzle’, we were impressed by the Galaxy Buds’ lively treatment of the sound, with distorted sine waves ebbing and flowing while shrieking synths pierced through the mix with clarity. Decaying organ-like arpeggios and bubbling chimes also felt vibrant within the generally warm soundstage. 

As a result of that warm and bassy soundstage, mid frequencies can sound slightly recessed; it’s not the most natural sound treatment, so if you’re an audiophile, you may find yourself craving a little more attack in the treble frequencies for a more accurate replication of your music. 

Saying that, if you like your music bassy you will probably like the way the Galaxy Buds sound. Of course, they won’t offer the same power or noise isolation as a pair of decent over-ear headphones, but for true wireless buds, the sound quality is very impressive.

Samsung Galaxy Buds app

A few extra features can be found within the Galaxy Wearable app, including an equalizer, which allows you to switch between different presets, including ‘Bass Boost; we didn’t feel the different presets had a huge effect on the soundstage of these buds, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless. 

Through the app you can also turn on 'ambient sound' feature, which mixes in background noise to the music using built-in microphones on the buds – a handy feature if you use want to the use the Galaxy Buds when running and need to hear some external noise for safety reasons. 

It can also balance out noises like rumbling traffic, while boosting nearby voices, which allows you to stay alert to environmental noises without compromising the quality of your music.

While this is a useful feature, we did encounter problems with ambient sound in windy weather. In these weather conditions, the sound of the wind was amplified, creating an uncomfortably shrill whistling sound.

If you misplace your Galaxy Buds, you can also use the ‘Find My Earbuds’ feature to track them down. When you enable this feature, the Galaxy Buds play a constant tweeting noise so you can find them quickly. 

Final verdict

It feels as though Samsung has finally got it right with the Galaxy Buds, and they represent serious competition for the Apple AirPods in terms of design, sound, and ease of use. We loved the pearlescent effect on the buds outer housing and the sleek design of the case, and we found they felt comfortable and secure. 

The sound quality offered by these true wireless buds is also very good indeed, with deep bass, and a wide open soundstage; although, audiophiles may want to look elsewhere for a more natural sound treatment, as the Galaxy Buds do sound very warm.

The stated battery life of six hours for the buds and seven hours for the case seemed about right to us, and while there were connectivity issues before Samsung’s latest software update, these issues seem to have been largely rectified.

The downside here is that other features that are available on the app like ambient noise and the equalizer presets are useful to have, but didn’t always work as effectively as we hoped. These features are also pretty much out of bounds for iOS users, as you can only download the app on devices running Android 5.0 or later. 

That said, if you have a Samsung phone and don't want to shell out for the newer Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, the Galaxy Buds are a fantastic pair of true wireless earbuds, with a few quality-of-life features that make them stand up confidently the competition. If not, you may miss out on these additional features but the high sound quality, comfortable fit, and attractive design means that these buds could be a smart purchase, even for the iOS crowd. 


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