Samsung has upped its game, and the Galaxy Buds Pro are the best sounding true wireless earbuds from the company so far.
The case is pretty reminiscent of the Buds Live’s design, but the earbuds themselves are a mash-up between the Buds+, which we have here, and Buds Live. I’m actually quite a big fan of this design, since it’s actually really comfortable and sits just right in my ear. My ears aren’t that big in the first place, but these are small enough that I could actually wear them to sleep. So comfort is definitely A+, which is a relief because the Buds+ were my top choice for comfortable earbuds last year.
You get wireless charging in the case, which is mighty convenient, but there’s a USB-C port at the back if you prefer that instead. We now come to the first point of contention, battery life. It’s pretty average, at about five hours in the earbuds with ANC on, eight hours with it off and an additional 13 hours or 20 hours in the case. That means that in total if you leave ANC on like I would, you’ll only get 18 hours with the earbuds and case.
It’s pretty average, I guess, other earbuds like the Sony WF-1000XM3 had around the same lifespan, but keep in mind, those came out in 2019. These are 2021 earbuds, and it’s a bit disappointing. The saving grace is that there’s quick charge, which means five minutes of charging gives you an hour of playback time, and considering how small and light the earbuds are, I guess I should cut Samsung some slack here.
On to sound quality, these actually sound nice, like I mentioned at the start. Overall it’s quite balanced; the bass has a good thump to it and the treble is pretty crisp, thanks to the 11mm woofer and 6.5mm tweeter inside. The soundstage is about as good as you can get with true wireless earbuds, which is to say, not that great, but it’s wider than most other earbuds out there with a decent amount of depth.
Samsung has announced their 360 audio feature, in direct competition with Apple, but… well, the feature isn’t available yet. It’s only available on Galaxy phones with the One UI 3.1 or above, so I couldn’t test it, but if you have a Samsung phone and you’re into surround sound, it’s available.
Samsung claims that the active noise cancellation on these will reduce up to 99% of noise, and well, the ANC on these do work pretty darn well, thanks to actually having ear tips this time to help with getting a good fit and seal in the ear. It doesn’t completely block out high-pitched noises, but low whirrings and rumblings are dealt with pretty effectively.
These aren’t really meant for exercise since they won’t really stay as snugly in the ear if you’re running about and all, but there’s IPX7 water resistance, so if you somehow drop these in a glass of water or knock over your drink and it splashes over these, you don’t have to worry that much. Keep in mind it’s just for the earbuds though, so don’t get the case wet.
These earbuds also come with touch controls, although it’s a major pain point for me. I do like earbuds with touch controls, but some are just really too finicky. These have a large area that registers touches, which might be great in other situations, but for these, I end up having false touches registered whenever I so much as adjust the earbuds, which means my music ends up getting paused whenever I touch the sides of the earbuds to move it around. It’s really quite annoying, and I’ve considered locking the touch controls on more than one occasion because of it.
If you download the Samsung Wearable app, you’ll unlock a whole host of features, like Voice detect, which is similar to what Sony introduced with the WH-1000XM4 headphones. Basically, when your voice is detected, the earbuds will lower your music and turn on Ambient sound so that you can have a conversation properly. This works pretty well, but if you like to sing along to your music, I’d recommend you turn it off.
In the app, you can also customise what touching and holding each earbud does, whether it’s toggling between ANC and ambient sound, adjusting the volume or pulling up your phone’s voice assistant. There are also some EQ presets and the ability to adjust the left-right sound balance, although I think the sound out of the box would generally be fine for most people. Battery levels for the earbuds and case are also available, which is nice, along with stuff like Find My Earbuds, software updates and such.
There are two microphones on the outside of the earbuds, and the one angled towards your face actually has a mesh shield that’s supposed to combat wind noise problems. Call quality isn’t terrible on these, but don’t expect your voice to be crystal clear.
Overall, these are a pretty good option for Android users, even if they are the most expensive pair of wireless earbuds Samsung has put out, at S$308 or US$199. They’re lightweight, come with features like ANC and voice detect, and they sound pretty good. If you have other Galaxy devices, it’s a pretty good choice to go for these since there are Samsung-exclusive features. Even if you don’t, you might be able to get these at a discount in the future, and if so, then it’s even better value.
Content by Cheryl Tan