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Galaxy Buds compared: Which Samsung headphone is the best?

Galaxy Buds
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Since Samsung introduced the Galaxy Buds Live two years ago, the company has added several in-ears with ANC capability to their stable. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is brand new, and we will also take a look at the Galaxy Buds 2 and Galaxy Buds Pro in this comparison.

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Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, Buds 2, Buds Pro, and Buds Live compared

  Samsung's current Galaxy Buds portfolio
Product
Image
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
Dimensions Per earphone: 9.9 x 21.6 x 18.7 mm
Charging case: 50.1 x 50.2 x 27.7 mm
Per earphone: 20.9 x 17.0 x 21.1 mm
Charging case: 27.8 x 50.0 x 50.2 mm
Per earphone: 20.5 x 19.5 x 20.8 mm
Charging case: 27.8 x 50.0 x 50.2 mm
Per earphone: 16.5 x 27.3 x 14.9 mm
Charging case: 50 x 50.2 x 27.8 mm
Weight Per earphone: 5.5 g Charging case: 42.2 g Per earphone: 5 g Charging case: 41.2 g Per earphone: 6.3 g Charging case: 44.9 g Per earphone: 5.6 g Charging case: 42.2 g
Microphones 2 outward-facing microphones + 1 inward-facing microphone per earphone 2 outward-facing microphones + 1 inward-facing microphone per earphone 2 outward-facing microphones + 1 inward-facing microphone per earphone 2 outward-facing microphones + 1 inward-facing microphone per earphone
Speakers Two-way dynamic speakers 2 (tweeter and woofer) 11 mm two-way dynamic speaker and 6.5 mm tweeter. Two-way dynamic speaker
Battery Earphone: 601 mAh
Charging case: 515 mAh
Qi standard ✔

Earphone: 61 mAh
Charging case: 472 mAh
Qi standard ✔

Earphone: 61 mAh
Charging case: 472 mAh
Qi standard ✔

Earphone: 60 mAh
Charging case: 472 mAh
Qi standard ✔

Operating time Earphones: up to 5 h
Charging case: up to 18 h
Earphones: up to 5 h
Charging case: up to 15 h
Earphones: up to 5 h
Charging case: up to 15 h
Earphones: up to 6 h
Charging case: up to 15 h
Colors Graphite, White, Bora Purple Olive, White, Lavender, Graphite Phantom Black, Phantom White, Phantom Silver, Phantom Violet Mystic Black, White, Bronze
Pros
  • 360-degree and 24-bit audio
  • Compact design
  • Effective ANC
  • Very good design
  • Compact, discrete form factor
  • Good bass
  • Good ANC
  • Wireless charging on board
  • Comprehensive companion app
  • Nice, balanced sound
  • Effective ANC with good transparency mode
  • Comprehensive feature set
  • Good call quality
  • IPX7 RATING
  • Ergonomic shape
  • Solid battery life
  • Microphone quality in calls
  • Companion app
Cons
  • Many features available only with Samsung smartphones
  • Does not work with iPhones
  • Profiles are very bass-heavy
  • Equalizer is too limited
  • Only IPX2 certification
  • Poor battery life
  • Many features Samsung-exclusive
  • Fit is not optimal, especially when talking
  • Operation is too fiddly
  • ANC could be better
  • Disappointing and inaccurate audio playback
  • Clearly too expensive
Rating
Not yet rated
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As you can see in the table, we have personally looked at all available Galaxy Buds. We only have one hands-on with the Buds 2 Pro so far, while we have reviewed the other three in great detail. We are now comparing all four in-ears here, but do bear in mind that the final verdict for the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is still pending.

Design and workmanship

The Galaxy Buds Live, launched in 2020, are immediately noticeable thanks to their bean or kidney shape. This is because they pleasantly stand out from the stalk design that Apple made famous. The Galaxy Buds Pro from 2021 became a bit more compact as its successor, but lost the bean-shaped look a bit. Compared to its predecessors, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro then shrank by another 15 percent, even though you can hardly see it.

They have become more "streamlined", which in this case does not mean that they have become more aerodynamic. Instead, it's about being less susceptible to wind noise. As far as the grip among the four contenders are concerned, our impressions are mixed: Antoine found that the Live is not only ergonomically shaped but also remain in place comfortably. Unfortunately, Ben could not quite share a similar experience with the Buds Pro.

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro im Case
The charging case design has changed almost nothing since last year. / © NextPit

At least the first impression of the Buds 2 Pro seems to indicate a good grip. To that end, the parts are IPX7 certified, just like the first Galaxy Buds. For both the Galaxy Buds Live and the Galaxy Buds 2, you'll have to settle for IPX2 certification. By the way, the charging cases have hardly changed at all over the device generations.

Features and sound

What all four Buds have in common is that they are equipped with active noise cancellation. To be fair, we have to point out that the ANC in the Buds Live was still rather underwhelming. Samsung relies on drivers from AKG that have a 12-millimeter diameter to deliver its level of audio quality. However, the result is mediocre at best, with the sound lacking precision in each case.

The situation is a bit different for the similarly priced Buds 2: There, the ANC (including transparency mode) is definitely convincing! The Buds 2 also scored well with a distinctive bass performance, which also has an at least rudimentary equalizer in the free companion app.

The Galaxy Buds Pro are even better in terms of sound. Both ANC and transparency mode come in three stages and completely convinced Ben in the review. This also applies to the sound itself! The two-way system - an 11-millimeter woofer for bass and a 6.5-millimeter driver for treble - deliver a very natural sound that is not too bass-heavy.

Galaxy Buds Pro liegen mit Geräten der Galaxy-S21-Serie auf dem Tisch
The Galaxy Buds Pro also only reveal their full range of functions when you pair them with Galaxy smartphones. / © Samsung

Oddly enough, Samsung once again does without support for codecs like aptX! This is also the case for the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, which only supports the proprietary Samsung Seamless Codec and SBC and AAC. The new in-ears racks up the score with improved ANC and 24-bit audio for the very first time.

However, do bear in mind that the Hi-Fi enjoyment is reserved for owners of newer Samsung smartphones. Samsung generally likes to exclude non-Samsung hardware from its more unique features. If you use an iPhone, even app support is denied! Please pay attention to this before buying and read our reviews thoroughly. Either way, those among you with an audiophile slant should definitely opt for the Pro models.

Battery life

As expected, one thing all four models have in common is how you can significantly extend the battery life using the charging case. Antoine achieved a very solid seven hours of battery life when testing the Galaxy Buds Live. Together with charging three times via the case, this adds up to a whopping 28 hours!

A total of 28 hours is also a realistic figure for the Galaxy Buds Pro. Bear in mind that this maximum battery life is significantly reduced for all models when you use ANC a lot. Therefore, 7-8 hours become about 5 hours with ANC activated, which also applies to the Galaxy Buds 2.

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro's 515 mAh battery is supposed to last up to 29 hours without ANC. Samsung promised a battery life of 18 hours when you use noise cancellation. We will report whether the earphones really last that long in our detailed review.

As for charging time, the Galaxy Buds Live needs about 20 minutes for 50 percent battery charge and 90 minutes to achieve a full charge. The Galaxy Buds Pro and Galaxy Buds 2 charges even a bit faster: The latter are fully charged in 60 minutes. For all models, 10 minutes of charging should be enough for two hours of listening pleasure. This is probably also true for the new Buds 2 Pro, although the review results remain pending as mentioned earlier. All four can also be charged wirelessly thanks to support for the Qi standard.

Prices and availability

The Galaxy Buds Live was already introduced in August 2020. This means that it would have seen a price reduction to $149.99. Currently, you can pick it up at prices that are way below the MSRP!

Not much newer are the Galaxy Buds Pro, which Samsung presented during its Unpacked event at the beginning of 2021 together with the Galaxy S21. The recommended retail price of $199 has seen a reduction in this case as well.

The Galaxy Buds 2 have been around for almost exactly one year since their launch in August 2021, and fortunately for those who are interested in buying them, they are not all that expensive either! You can currently buy it for $129.99 from Samsung, having seen a price drop from its $149.99 MSRP!

The brand new top model goes on sale on August 26. However, you can already place a pre-order for the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro for $229.99. Of course, they are unquestionably more expensive than the rest of the in-ears mentioned here. However, you get the dual-wireless charger and a subscription to the streaming service known as Tidal for four months for free on top of everything.

Conclusion

If we are to recommend the best model with the ultimate sound to you, we cannot avoid the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro even without putting its paces through a review. Great ANC, 24-bit audio, and the features that the Galaxy Buds Pro already has speak for themselves. Of course, the aforementioned Buds Pro are cheaper, but you do not have to make any compromises in terms of quality or IP certification.

The Buds 2 and the Buds Live are a bit lower in terms of quality. While the Pro models show off Samsung's top range, these two in-ears fall within the mid-range market. Give the Buds Live a wide berth, especially if ANC is important to you. However, if ANC and the most precise sound possible are not that important to you, then you will find a very cheap alternative to the more expensive Pro devices in both devices.

In general, I find it rather disappointing that Samsung excludes iPhone users and that you need a current Galaxy smartphone to gain access to the full range of functions. More openness and having additionally supported codecs would suit Samsung better in the future. Maybe these are reasons enough for you to take a look at our list of the best true wireless earbuds in 2022.

What do you think? Do you have any experience with any of the Galaxy Buds models? Which model is your favorite?

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