Samsung has a lot of expertise in creating genuine wireless earphones at this time. While the Galaxy Buds series displayed the company’s design power early on, it hasn’t always mastered the details. It immediately recovered with its second version, the Galaxy Buds+, and Samsung has continued to refine its design, increase sound quality, and add useful features since then.
The Galaxy Buds Live even made room for a divisive open-wear model. While the leguminous Live was Samsung’s first earphone to integrate active noise cancellation (ANC), the open design rendered the technology ineffective.
The business ultimately provided genuine ANC with the Galaxy Buds Pro, which debuted early last year, but there was still space for improvement in terms of noise blocking and overall audio quality. Samsung has now released version 2.0 of their flagship earphones, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro ($230).
This set is not only smaller and more comfortable, but it also highlights the company’s enormous gains over the last year and a half. The most appealing features, however, are reserved for Samsung devotees.
- Great sound
- Better fit
- Improved ANC
- Samsung-exclusive features
- Battery life
- Call quality
- Touch controls make fit adjustments tricky
Overall, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro looks similar to last year’s Buds Pro, although there are a few differences. For starters, this new model is 15% smaller than the 2021 model, which means it fits better in your ear and is more comfortable for longer periods of time. Furthermore, each earbud has a vent on the inside to help release pressure.
Of course, their small size allows them to tuck neatly into your ear, leaving virtually little protruding from the side of your head. It’s a design that Samsung used early on for its earbuds, and successive iterations have remained pleasingly slim.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro features a soft-touch matte finish, whereas the Galaxy Buds Pro was glossy. I prefer the former since it is more pleasant to the touch and does not attract fingerprints. However, it does not inherently provide additional grip, and neither surface has an effect on the touch controls.
The supplied charging case for the Buds 2 Pro has the same matte surface and is also pleasantly haptic. This device, like the Buds Pro, is IPX7 rated, which means it can be submerged in up to three feet of “freshwater” for up to 30 minutes, according to Samsung.
Touch controls are mostly mirrored on both earbuds. There’s a single tap to play/pause, a double tap to skip ahead, a triple tap to go back, and touch and hold gesture that may be customized.
That long press may be used to adjust noise controls (ANC/ambient sound, ANC/off, or ambient sound/off), as well as to summon Bixby, enable Spotify, or regulate volume. If you don’t want to give up some of those other capabilities for loudness, there’s an additional Labs option that allows you to alter audio levels by double tapping the front edge of the earphones.
It’s a little difficult to master, but once I got the hang of it, I didn’t have any major issues. The major problem with the touch controls is when you try to alter the earbuds’ fit. The Buds 2 Pro fit well, however like with any genuine wireless models, you must reposition them in your ears on a frequent basis.
Because of the sensitivity of the touch panels and the small size of the buds, it’s easy to make an erroneous tap when only trying to readjust. It happened frequently enough over the last two weeks to be really aggravating.
Features And Software
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, like previous Samsung earbuds, has all of its capabilities and settings accessible via the Galaxy Wearable app on Android handsets. Unfortunately, the corporation is sticking to previous models by not producing an iOS version.
Samsung used to offer one, making their buds a wonderful option for both operating systems, but that hasn’t been the case in a long time. You may still use the earphones with Apple products, but you’ll miss out on some of the more appealing features.
Up top in the app, you’ll get battery percentages for both the earbuds and the case. The primary screen also provides access to noise controls, allowing you to see which mode is active (ANC, off, or ambient sound) and adjust it using the software if necessary. Just below, you can enable/disable Voice Detect, 360 audio, touch controls, and find misplaced earphones.
Voice Detect is a new function from Samsung that detects when you’re speaking and activates ambient sound while lowering the audio level for fast talks. By default, the tool returns to normal levels 10 seconds after you stop talking, but you can change it to five or 15 seconds.
Voice Detect performed well in my tests, and it doesn’t appear to be as readily fooled by coughs as Sony’s version of the feature. It also works when I connect to my MacBook Pro, not just with a Samsung or Android handset.
However, I like Sony’s Speak-to-Chat tool’s way of entirely halting the music rather than simply lowering the level. While useful, Samsung’s adaptation of Sony’s function isn’t as enjoyable to use, despite its more precise voice detection.
Review Of The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
More specific options, such as EQ presets, an earbud fit test, read notifications, hands-free Bixby, ambient sound during calls, in-ear recognition for calls, seamless connectivity with some Samsung devices, neck stretch reminders, and Labs features, are also available via the Galaxy Wearables app.
This software contains a lot of features. Everything is self-explanatory, but I’ll mention a second Labs tool: a Gaming Mode aimed to reduce latency. There is also an Accessibility section where you can change the left/right balance.
You may also select to keep ANC active when one earbud is removed (the Buds 2 Pro turns it off by default), as well as modify ambient sound level and tone for your hearing. Some help with enhancing environmental sounds isn’t new for earbuds, but it’s nice that Samsung provides some flexibility here.
LE Audio is one project that is still in the works. During a recent event, Samsung announced this capability, explaining that it will allow you to capture 360-degree environmental sounds while streaming or recording.
For instance, if you are live streaming. Other than the fact that the functionality will be available later this year, not much else was revealed. The Buds 2 Pro will also support Bluetooth LE, the next-generation wireless audio protocol that will be deployed in 2020.
The sound quality of Samsung’s earphones has never really impressed me. They’ve been fine to good, but never genuinely amazing. This cynical headphone reviewer has been stunned for the first time by the company. The Buds 2 Pro delivers a powerful bass punch with a pleasantly open sound that is full of nuances and clarity.
The low-end is also deep and subtle, rather than just a wall of the thundering boom. Many earbuds provide balanced sound with powerful bass. What distinguishes the fantastic from the good is frequently in the minute aspects that can be impossible to recreate for something so small.
Samsung does this by combining a 10mm woofer for low-end and a 5.3mm tweeter for treble. That configuration allows for exceptional clarity and depth across a wide range of genres, keeping music rich and immersive rather than compressed and chaotic. For example, Amanda Shires’ voice seems to float on top of every song on her latest album Take It Like A Man.
The 24-bit/48kHz Hi-Fi sound processing is a significant component of the improved audio quality. With Samsung’s new Seamless Codec (SSC), you can send 256 times more sound data from your mobile to the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.
The previous generation reduced 24-bit audio to 16-bit by the time it reached the earbuds. Swiping over to the Android developer settings revealed that the Galaxy S21 FE 5G was indeed producing 24-bit/48kHz audio. I used to test the Buds 2 Pro, but no mention of bitrate is made. That figure would represent overall quality.
According to The Verge, the Samsung Seamless Codec can handle up to 2,304kbps of real high-resolution lossless music. In comparison, Sony’s LDAC standard is limited to 990kbps, so what Samsung claims would be a massive gain. But, once again, I’m not seeing any evidence of this on an Android smartphone.
Regardless of bitrate, 24-bit audio is only available on Samsung devices running One UI 4.0 or higher. You’ll also need a compatible lossless/high-resolution streaming provider. If you have all of that, just know that the Buds 2 Pro sound fantastic, almost as good as the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 – presently the greatest option in terms of pure audio quality, in my opinion.
Samsung also improved its 360 audio system. This feature was a stereo-based multi-channel configuration on the Buds Pro, thus the sound never fully seemed like it was coming from every direction. The Buds 2 Pro include “full surround sound” with virtual 5.1- and 7.1-channel arrangements, or Direct Multi-Channel as Samsung refers to it.
This combination of head tracking and immersive audio, in my opinion, is only truly beneficial for movies and TV, as I believe it makes music sound worse on these new buds. To utilize the function, you’ll need One UI 4.1.1 or later, and it’s only available on Samsung phones and tablets.
There’s also active noise cancellation. According to Samsung, the ANC on the Buds 2 Pro is 40% better than the Buds Pro. I don’t have all of the specialized equipment required to corroborate that figure, but I can tell you that this updated model performs a better job of blocking most environmental sounds.
I was astounded at how nicely it handled a noisy coffee grinder. When there is no audio playing, you will hear some of what is going on around you due to the vents that promote comfort. When the music starts, though, the Buds 2 Pro manages distractions with ease.
Call quality is one area that Samsung did not significantly improve. People on calls stated I sounded like I was on speakerphone, like with many other true wireless earbuds. They also clearly detected background noise, and the distractions didn’t get any better while I was speaking.
You can use these for calls, but don’t anticipate high-quality audio to be sent to the people on the other end. Samsung allows users to engage ambient sound during calls, which will make you feel less like you’re shouting to be heard.
Because no company does transparency mode better than Apple, while this improves the overall experience, it’s still not completely natural sounding. You’ll still be aware that you’re wearing earbuds during any conversation.
With ANC activated, Samsung offers up to five hours of listening time on the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. Unfortunately, this is the same as the prior generation and is at the lower end of new earbuds these days. With the charging case, you’ll get an extra 18 hours, or if you disable noise canceling, you’ll get up to eight hours with 21 more via the case. These values were accurate during my experiments.
The case is wireless charging accessory compatible, so you won’t need to go for a cable if you have one. Samsung makes no mention of quick charge features, and I haven’t noticed the Buds 2 Pro being particularly speedy at recharging in short bursts.
It’s tempting to compare Samsung’s latest to the AirPods Pro, but for a variety of reasons, that’s not a fair comparison. First, like with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, the best features on the AirPods Pod are saved for iOS devotees – people who are committed to the Apple ecosystem.
Spatial audio and hands-free Siri are not available to all users on any device. Second, the AirPods Pro will be three years old in November, and earbuds have advanced significantly since their introduction. For example, Samsung has vastly enhanced the noise-canceling capabilities of the Buds 2 Pro over its predecessor, which was released in early 2021.
Google’s Pixel Buds Pro and Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 3 are better alternatives to Samsung’s latest earphones. Sure, Pixel owners will get the most out of the Pixel Buds Pro, but there are lots of useful features for other Android devices as well.
Because of the presence of ANC, deep punchy bass, and dependable touch controls, these are Google’s greatest earbuds yet. While they provide two more hours of music on a single charge and are $30 less expensive than the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, Google is still working on spatial audio, which should be available this autumn with the latest version of Android.
Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 3 adds two hours of listening time to what I consider to be the best audio in an earphone set. Samsung has made significant improvements in sound quality, but Sennheiser remains the finest in my opinion. The MTW 3 only has an IPX4 rating and will not win any design awards, but it does offer a high level of customization.
Furthermore, the MTW 3 is $50 less expensive than its predecessor but more expensive than both Google and Samsung’s most recent models.
I’ve already stated that Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are the best ever. This is because the brand improves its formula with each new release, whether it’s the normal Buds or the Buds Pro.
And now I have to declare it once more. The Buds 2 Pro is a significant advance over the 2021 Pro model, with significant audio enhancements, significant gains in noise reduction, and the addition of several new capabilities.
Samsung, like Apple and Google, allows devoted consumers to unlock the greatest features of the Buds 2 Pro. That is unlikely to change, but Samsung is making a compelling case for phone consumers to invest in its audio goods as well.