Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Review: Worth The Price?

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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Credit: GSMArena.com

Verdict

The new Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is an excellent upgrade over the Galaxy Buds Live, with better sound and microphone quality, multipoint pairing, and spatial audio compatibility. They don’t have the same level of noise cancellation or sound quality as over-ear headphones or high-end earbuds, but for the price, they have just enough of both to be competitive.

Pros

  • Design that is both stylish and waterproof
  • Noise cancelling at its most basic
  • Touch controls are simple
  • Outstanding audio performance
  • Reasonably priced
  • A variety of personalized options are available via the companion app

Cons

  • There is no Google Assistant or Siri support
  • Battery life is comparable to the AirPods Pro
  • Bulge out from the ear

Consider the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro to be the Apple AirPods Pro for Samsung’s new Galaxy S21 series of phones. Even still, that’s not all these truly wireless earbuds are capable of.

Active noise cancellation is included on both the AirPods Pro and Galaxy Buds Pro earbuds. They also offer spatial audio capabilities, which allows TV shows and movies to sound even more immersive. They each have a battery life of five hours before they need to be recharged.

For customers who own a Samsung phone or tablet, however, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro offers more and goes beyond these key features. For them, these earbuds are the missing piece of the puzzle that connects everything in Samsung’s ecosystem. Also, you can see the Beats Fit Pro Review

However, the Galaxy Buds Pro isn’t the most latest Samsung device: The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 include a few upgrades over the Buds Pro, including slightly improved active noise cancellation and overall better sound. They’re also less expensive than the Galaxy Buds Pro, making the Galaxy Buds 2 Samsung’s best earbuds to come.

The Galaxy Buds Pro, like the more recently announced Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, is designed specifically for users who already own a Samsung phone. That’s because they enable multipoint pairing, hands-free Bixby, and the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app, which is only available on Android and is required to unlock the Buds’ most advanced features. 

Samsung’s Scalable Audio is also used in the Galaxy Buds Pro. SmartThings Finder, UHQ audio streaming over Bluetooth at up to 24-bit / 96kHz, and multi-mic recording are all supported, allowing you to utilize the Buds as a lapel mic stand-in when making videos on your Samsung phone.

In the end, the Buds Pro is a great option if you want full-featured wireless earbuds that sound nice, fit well, and operate well with your Samsung smartphone – and don’t care to pay more for them than, say, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live. If you’re not one of those people, they’re still worth suggesting to your Phone friends and relatives.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Review

  1. Price of Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
  2. Design
  3. Features
  4. Audio Performance
  5. Battery Life
  6. Touch Control and Digital Assistant
  7. App and Special Features
  8. Call Quality and Connectivity
  9. Conclusion

 

Price of Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Credit: Amazon

Amazon Logo

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro launched on Samsung’s website on January 14, 2021, alongside the Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone, and became widely available on January 15, 2021.

The Galaxy Buds Pro will set you back $199 / £219 / AU$349 in terms of pricing. That’s a lot of money, but it’s understandable given that they’re more expensive than their predecessors, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, which cost $169.99 / £179 / AU$319 at launch. They’re well worth the increase, given how much better they are.

Of course, Samsung is putting us in an awkward situation by releasing two truly wireless earbuds so close together – the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro will be released just five months after the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live and less than a year after the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus. Samsung’s rush to get smartphones out the door is unclear, but it’s causing traffic overcrowding.

If you don’t mind losing out on the Samsung-specific capabilities, you don’t have to seek a cheaper alternative: the Sony WF-SP800N and Jabra Elite 75t both provide active noise cancellation for $50 less, and more new arrivals are arriving every day.

Design

Design of Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Credit: Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is available in three colors to match the new Samsung Galaxy S21: Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Violet, and the color of the Buds will match the color of the charging case that comes with them.

The case itself is in the shape of a little treasure box, with a concave lid that unhinges in the middle and flips open. It’s small, which is convenient for slipping it into your pocket, and it features a status LED on both the inside and outside of the case that changes colors depending on how much energy is left in the case.

The Buds, on the other hand, are a long cry from their bean-shaped forerunners. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro have returned to their original state as eartip-equipped sound funnels.

They’re perhaps best described as funnels, given they’re rather lengthy for earbuds, measuring little about 20.8mm in length. The Buds, on the other hand, require all of that space for their array of sensors, pogo pins, and microphones.

Design of Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Credit: Samsung

The Buds include a touch-capacitive glossy, shiny plastic covering on the outside, as well as two additional microphones with wind protection to suppress ambient noise when going outside. All of this contains the 11mm woofer and 6.5mm tweeter, which we’ll go over in further detail in the performance section below.

So, how do they go together? Despite their somewhat futuristic design, the earbuds look large and unpleasant since they protrude from your ear. It would be inconvenient at best, and unpleasant at worst, to wear them to bed. Because they don’t have a mechanism to ‘lock’ them into your ear, they will shift over time, requiring you to reposition them. Otherwise, the seal will weaken and noise cancellation will gradually deteriorate as you wear them.

Two extra sets of eartips are included in the box to help with some of these issues and to help you get a better seal, which is important. You’ll also find a USB-C charging cable without ahead, which is part of Samsung’s effort to reduce waste but could be a stumbling block for people buying their first pair of earbuds.

The default controls include a single touch to play/pause your music, a double touch to play the next song or answer/end a call, a triple touch to play the previous track, and touch and hold to activate your preset function, which by default changes between ambient and noise cancellation modes.

You may personalize that last command, but you’ll need the Samsung Wearable app to do so.

Overall, they’re surprisingly pleasant to wear for long amounts of time and don’t suffer from pressure build-up thanks to the external vent, but they aren’t the most attractive-looking earbuds or the comfiest to use in bed due to the way they stick out of your ear.

Features

Features of Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Credit: Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro’s two outstanding features are active noise cancellation and IPX7 waterproofing, the highest grade for Samsung earbuds yet.

Samsung’s earbuds have only been IPX2 or IPX4 water-resistant up until now. That meant they were OK for a few drops of rain or a little sweat, but they weren’t the type of gear you’d want to take with you for a hard workout.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is protected against freshwater immersion for 30 minutes at a depth of up to one meter, so you won’t have to worry if they fall into the bathtub for a minute or if you wish to clean them under running water. It’s a significant step forward for Samsung, and it compares with the best earbuds on the market.

How effective is noise cancellation? It’s excellent for Samsung, at least. The Galaxy Buds Pro’s three built-in microphones help them block out more noise than the Galaxy Buds Live, but they’re no better at noise cancelling than the Sony WF-1000XM4 or other top over-ear headphones with ANC. 

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro was able to greatly reduce the sounds of loud air purifiers and humidifiers after just a few days of wearing them around the house, but they didn’t have a chance when someone else in the house was playing music. You won’t be able to hear adjacent conversations in another room, but anything louder than someone speaking will be audible via the ANC. 

Audio amplification, commonly known as audio passthrough, is the complete antithesis of active noise cancellation and may be accessible by pushing and holding the touch-capacitive panel. The Galaxy Buds Pro can capture external music and pipe it into your ears, boosting it by up to 20db, making them ideal for wearing at airport terminals or the deli counter while waiting for your flight to be announced over the PA system. 

There are a few Samsung-specific features worth mentioning on the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, including a hands-free Bixby mode that works as expected and a Find My Earbuds function powered by SmartThings Find. 

SmartThings Find, which is part of the SmartThings app, can show you a map of where your devices are, even if they’re not connected to Bluetooth or are offline. That should provide you peace of mind if they are stolen, or at the absolute least, assist you in locating them if you forget where you left them.

Last but not least, owing to an Auto Switch feature, you may smoothly switch devices with the Buds Pro if you have numerous Galaxy products. Let’s say you’re listening to music on your Galaxy Tab S7 Plus while receiving calls on your Samsung Galaxy S20 – Auto Switch allows the headphones to be utilized automatically for the phone call and afterward reconnect to the tablet. It’s a bit of a specialized feature, but it’s still useful.

Audio Performance

Audio Performance of Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Credit: BestBuy

The Samsung Galaxy Buds were not created solely by Samsung; audio manufacturer AKG, a Harman subsidiary, assisted in fine-tuning the headphones’ EQ.

How did they fare?

The Buds Pro has a balanced sound quality that isn’t overly sibilant in the trebles or excessively bloated in the bass, which we like, but they lack clarity in the mids and highs and have a smaller, isolated soundstage, which we don’t like. The sound is flat, focused, and not quite as rich as we’d like.

Simply said, you’ll be able to hear both the smooth bass lines and the hi-hats in a song like Hotel California by The Eagles, but the sounds will only have left-right directionality. As a result, you get a workmanlike representation of the music that pleases but doesn’t wow you like some higher-end earbuds would.

Thankfully, if you like to play with the EQ of your Buds, the Samsung Wearable app allows you to do so, although none of them provide a broader, more immersive soundstage. That might change when Samsung delivers 360 Audio compatibilities later this year, which the company claims would bring “theater-like, multichannel sound” to the buds – but we weren’t able to test that feature. 

You’re stuck with simple stereo sound for the time being.

Worse, if you don’t have a Samsung Galaxy device, the sound will be sent via SBC or AAC, which are both lossy codecs. That means there’s a significant difference between using them with Samsung’s Scalable Codec devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G and using them with a device that utilizes SBC, such as the Google Pixel 3.

While this is another benefit of the headphones for Samsung smartphone customers, it does put the earbuds in a bind on other platforms. More HD support would be available if Samsung had also acquired Qualcomm’s aptX HD or used the newer Bluetooth LE codec, but we guess some UHQ audio support is better than none.

Friends and relatives stated we sounded OK when wearing the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, yet they believed we sounded clearer utilizing our smartphone’s built-in microphone. That’s not a criticism of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro; most earbuds don’t sound as nice as a smartphone’s microphone, but it does suggest you should be wary of buying them only for making phone conversations.

Battery Life

Battery Life of Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Credit: Forbes

The battery life of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is acceptable for active noise-cancelling earphones, but it falls short of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, which provided 11 hours of listening time on a single charge. ANC and Bixby are still around, and they’re both power hogs.

Samsung claims that one charging cycle would give five hours of listening enjoyment, with the charging case providing an extra 13 hours if ANC is enabled. If you turn it off, the buds will last seven to eight hours, and the case’s battery may last up to 20 hours.

We found that the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro lasted around three days of continuous use or a little less than a week when we merely listened to them in our spare time in real-world testing.

If you run out of energy, the Galaxy Buds Pro enables quick charging, and after only five minutes on the charger, you should have enough battery for an hour of listening. The USB-C connector allows for fast charging, but wireless charging is also possible, but it is slower.

So, how does it compare to other earbuds? It’s a competitive market. The Sony WF-SP800N we described before has a nine-hour battery life in the earbuds and another nine in the case, whilst the Jabra Elite 75t has an eight-hour battery life in the earbuds and another 20 hours of charge in the case. There are no obvious winners in this race.

Touch Control and Digital Assistant

Touch Control and Digital Assistant of Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Credit: What Hi-Fi?

The Galaxy Buds Pro comes with several smart controls, including touch and holds gestures as well as on-ear detection.

The controls are responsive on average, and Samsung has improved them further with post-release firmware patches. For example, you can now increase the level by double-tapping the earbuds’ edges; previously, volume controls had to be bound to the tap-and-hold gesture, which meant that if you needed quick volume adjustment, you had to sacrifice other inputs such as switching between sound modes. You now have a little more leeway, which is a good thing.

If you’re concerned about the buds’ sensitivity to touch, the accompanying app allows you to lock the touch panels so you don’t stop a call or activate the wrong function by mistake.

When one bud is removed, the music on the adjacent bud is immediately paused and Ambient Sound mode is enabled. What is the true benefit of this? I’m not sure, especially because removing both buds makes it easier to hear what’s going on around you. Re-inserting them into your ears will not resume playing.

Voice Detect is another innovative control option. This function reduces the level of what you’re listening to while increasing audio passthrough loudness, allowing you to interact with people without taking off the buds. It works OK for the most part, although there is some lag while properly registering the user’s vocals and enabling the mode, which takes about 2 to 3 seconds.

Bixby provides hands-free digital help, but the buds also function with Google Assistant and Siri. Samsung’s three-mic array has excellent speech recognition, making it simple to activate Bixby with its activation phrase (“Hi Bixby”) and voice commands, with all three AI bots responding rapidly to queries.

App and Special Features

The Galaxy Wearable app gives several options for personalizing the buds. Depending on your device, this is where you may configure the settings, alter the sound, cycle through the different levels of each listening mode, and access a variety of other features.

You’ll probably want to start with the EQ, which has six settings that are designed to complement different music genres. Normal is the default and is great as is, but if you want extra low-end punch, Bass Boost is the way to go. Soft, Dynamic, Treble Boost and Clear are the other options; the latter is best for podcasts and other dialogue-heavy content, though I didn’t detect much of a difference between them.

Apart from the aforementioned 360 Audio, there are some noteworthy features, some of which are available throughout the Android platform and others which are specific to Galaxy smartphones. Find My Earbuds and SmartThings Find, a service available through the SmartThings app that provides the GPS position of any lost or stolen earbuds, are two options for tracking down lost earbuds. When gaming on Galaxy smartphones, there is a unique Gaming Mode under the Labs setting that reduces audio lag. Then there’s Auto Switch, which allows you to switch between Galaxy devices instantly, and PowerShare, which allows you to charge your buds wirelessly by placing the charging case on the back of a compatible Galaxy smartphone.

 

The Galaxy Buds Pro, like other Samsung earbuds, does not work with the Galaxy Buds app for iPhone. To put it another way, iOS users can still use the earphones, but they won’t be able to adjust or update their settings.

Call Quality and Connectivity

Samsung’s wireless earbuds have been a mixed bag when it comes to calling headsets. With the Galaxy Buds Pro, not much has changed. While Skype connections were excellent – voices were clear and loud on both ends – phone calls left a lot to be desired. During conversations, my wife noticed that I sounded choppy and slightly distorted, with my voice fading in and out. She also remarked that the background noise was perfectly silent until I started talking, which increased the volume of surrounding conversation and strong breezes.

The superior connection provided by these buds offsets the poor call quality. Pairing to devices was a breeze, with my MacBook Pro and Android smartphones detecting the earbuds promptly and keeping a consistent wireless range of 35 feet; stuttering was infrequent.  Auto Switch is as simple to use as Apple’s auto-switch function, and business customers with at least two Galaxy devices will appreciate it when switching between models. I only wish it was compatible with every Android and iOS smartphone out there. Another issue I have with the Galaxy Buds Pro is the absence of multipoint technology since you can only couple to one audio source at a time.

Conclusion

Is the Galaxy Buds Pro a significant improvement over the Galaxy Buds Live? Yes. Is it on par with the AirPods Pro in terms of quality? Yes, but only for Android users, and particularly for Samsung Galaxy smartphone owners. Is it a clear leader in its category? No. And that’s just acceptable.

The model’s greatest strengths are its audio and wireless capabilities, which reward listeners with an energetic sound that complements most music genres and over a stable connection. The Galaxy Wearable app adds to the capabilities, but iOS users are left out in the cold with no way to alter settings.

The Galaxy Buds Pro is the perfect companion for Samsung’s latest flagship smartphones, and owners of the Galaxy S21 will get the whole package. Innovative features like 360 Audio, on the other hand, are only available on the Galaxy platform. The battery life isn’t something to write home about, though, since it’s on par with the AirPods Pro.

Even so, when you consider performance and price, Samsung’s flagship buds are a great buy for any Android user.

Reviews
  • Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
4.4

Summary

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is robust wireless earbuds with dynamic sound, better ANC, and cool unique features, despite their faults.

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