Truly wireless headphones are one of the biggest growth areas in the headphone market at the moment, with all the major brands staking their claim to a piece of the market following the success of Apples Airpods. Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are not the Korean company’s first attempt at claiming a slice of this pie, and two versions of the Gear IconX were produced prior to the Galaxy Buds.
Several improvements have now been made, including getting rid of the fitness tracking and music storage features. The whole design has also been given a facelift. The main difference, however, has been the marriage of these buds into the Galaxy family of phones. If you own any of the Galaxy S10 series, then these buds have a clever trick up their sleeve.
That being said, Samsung have also released a newer generation of these buds, the Galaxy Plus. These offer improved sound quality and a larger battery that increases listening time to 11 hours continuous playback per charge. Samsung haven’t revealed whether they will stop making the originals or sell them both simultaneously.
Therefore, the original version are still worth a look, especially if there is some money to be saved. So let’s do just that and check out what the Samsung Galaxy Buds have to offer…
What’s In The Box?
The small box opens to reveal a charging case with the buds inside, a type-C USB cable, three different sized silicone ear tips and fins, and a user guide.
The all white buds have a sleek and stylish, sweat-proof design. But if that isn’t your style, Yellow and Black finishes are also available. They are significantly smaller and lighter than Samsung’s first wireless earbuds, the Gear IconX. In short, they look great.
A matte white plastic makes up the bulk of the material used. The rubber fins are mounted in the middle of the earpiece, and silicone ear tips finish off the look. Three small, medium and large tips and wings are included, so most people should be able to find the combination that fits them best.
A nice touch is the pearlescent finish on the bud housings, which reflects light in a very beautiful way, almost like a hologram.
The ergonomic and lightweight triangular design, combined with the variety of tips and wings, means you’ll be able to find a snug fit that never feels like it will fall out. On top of that, and partly because of it, they are also very comfortable to wear for extended periods.
Even when put through their paces on a strenuous run, they still stayed in place perfectly and caused no discomfort whatsoever. The same cannot be said of the Apple Airpods, which always feel like they are one jolt away from falling out of your ears.
After a full 6 hours of continuous use, we experienced absolutely nothing in the way of ear fatigue from the Samsung Galaxy Buds, which is impressive.
The pearlescent housings are also home to tap controls in both earpieces. Here you can control the volume, track selection, play/pause, handle phone calls, and launch the Bixby voice assistant on Samsung devices.
It’s a very convenient design, but you have to be very accurate with your taps. It’s probably just us, but on a number of occasions, the buds didn’t register a tap. This isn’t so much of a problem when you’re sat at home, but in the middle of a run, this is the last thing you want.
Hopefully, after a while, you get used to the amount of pressure required, and less of these incidents occur as it would get annoying over time.
Samsung have certainly streamlined the case from the Gear IconX range. It has to be at least 25% smaller and will fit into any pocket comfortably. The case feels well-constructed with magnets that hold the buds in place when inside and a strong snap shut lid.
Probably the most disappointing feature of the case is the 7 hours of recharge capacity that it provides. Although this may sound ok, it looks pretty weak next to the Apple AirPods 24 hours of charge. You won’t be taking these on extended camping trips and have them still working by the end.
LED lights on the outside of the case tell you how much power the case has left. There’s a similar set-up inside the case, which tells you how much charge remains in the buds.
A feature we particularly liked was the ability to wirelessly charge the buds in their case. This means that if you have a compatible wireless charging pad, the case can be placed on it, and the buds will recharge. If you have one of the Samsung Galaxy S10 phones, then you can also remotely charge the buds by placing them on the back of the phone. Pretty smart stuff.
Samsung list the battery life as 6 hours continuous use on a full charge, pretty good for truly wireless earbuds. We can confirm that this is an accurate reflection. We managed 5 hours 52 minutes before our buds run out of juice. This is, on average, about 1 hour 20 minutes longer than the AirPods.
Samsung have added a few extra features which can be tweaked through their Galaxy Wearable app. There’s an equalizer that lets you jump between a range of different presets, as well as a bass-boost option.
You’ll also find the ambient sound options here, which allows background noise into the earbuds via external microphones. This is a useful safety feature if out running in busy urban areas, and you need to be aware of what’s around you.
Whilst this works well in calm conditions, however, if windy, then the microphones will pick this sound up as well. This can produce a high pitched whistling sound which kind of spoils your listening experience.
You can also activate the ‘find my buds’ mode through the app. When turned on, your buds will emit a repetitive tweeting noise so you can find the misplaced little guys quickly.
Connecting to any Galaxy phone was a completely seamless experience, much like connecting AirPods to an Apple device. The notification appears immediately on your screen, together with the battery levels of each bud.
The Galaxy buds can be used with other Android, and Apple devices, including Bluetooth enabled computers. Certain features will only work on Android 5.0 devices or higher, including the Ambient Aware mode and the Automatic Sync (fast pairing).
We didn’t experience any major connectivity issues during our time with the Samsung Galaxy buds, using a Galaxy S10 or an iPhone X. At home, listening was completely uninterrupted, even when moving between rooms.
Out and about in rush hour, there were a couple of minor interference moments. But in general, they performed very well, especially in comparison to other rival products on the market.
Call quality was generally good, although the microphones seem to allow a fair amount of ambient noise through along with your voice. Other wireless buds we’ve tried definitely do a better job of blocking out excess background noise.
What Do They Sound Like?
When compared to the competition, the Samsung Galaxy really do sound rather good. There’s a lovely warm bass with plenty of separation allowing the mids and treble frequencies just enough room to shine.
We played a wide range of musical styles and found they adapted well to multiple genres. Samsung brought in audio professionals AKG to tune the Galaxy Buds, and this move seems to have paid off well.
Audiophiles will feel that they’re on the slightly bassy side, possibly interfering with the mid ranges a little. But to be honest, this is a minor gripe, and in fact, a lot of listeners will prefer it.
In truth, truly wireless earbuds have a reputation for lower sound quality as they have to pack so much extra tech into such a small space. It’s good to see this slowly changing as standards and expectations rise. And the Samsung Galaxy Buds are at the forefront of this change.
They significantly outperform the Apple AirPods in the sound department, and surely audio quality is near the top of most people’s priorities when headphone shopping. A big plus for choosing Samsung right there.
Whilst not delivering the same kind of energetic clarity that the Sennheiser Momentum truly wireless buds offer. At less than half the price, they have a pleasurable sound that punches way above its weight. Indeed, a more superior audio quality than both the more expensive Jabra and Apple models.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pros & Cons
- Well rounded sound signature.
- Beautifully designed.
- Secure and comfortable.
- Good battery life.
- Very easy to pair.
- Touch controls take getting used to.
- Only 7 hours extra in charge case.
More Excellent Earbud Options
Looking for more choices? No problem, simply check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Earbuds under 100 Dollars, the Best Earbuds under 50 Dollars, the Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds, the Best Headphones and Earbuds for Sleeping, and the Most Durable Earbuds on the market.
After a couple of very average attempts, it feels like Samsung has finally hit on the right formula with the Galaxy Buds. These are essentially a superior set of truly wireless buds to the original Apple AirPods in many different ways – design, sound, and usability, to name a few. We loved the stylish design of both the buds and the case, and they felt both secure and very comfortable.
The true potential of these buds is fully realized when used together with a Samsung Galaxy phone, but for the improved sound quality alone, they would still make a decent purchase for iOS users.
Apple have upped their game recently with the Apple AirPods Pro, and Samsung have also brought out the next generation Galaxy Buds Plus. This does make it harder to recommend the Galaxy Buds, but if the price falls low enough, then they are still a fantastic purchase. Hats off to Samsung for raising the bar.