Reviews

Galaxy Buds 2 review: Who needs Buds Pro?

Samsung just cannibalized its own pricier Galaxy Buds Pro. The ANC, sound, and battery life on Galaxy Buds are as good or better than Buds Pro.

Samsung’s got new wireless earbuds: the Galaxy Buds 2.

At first glance, they look pretty dang similar to the Galaxy Buds Pro I reviewed in January.

$150

They're also $50 less than Galaxy Buds Pro.

This price difference might make you think they’re inferior to the Galaxy Buds Pro in some kind of major way.

They are not.

To my surprise, the Galaxy Buds 2 sound remarkably great. The active noise-cancellation is shockingly comparable to that on the Buds Pro.

Many times I doubted what I was hearing since you’d expect $200 Buds Pro to sound noticeably better than $150 Buds 2. So I let my sisters and some friends try them and they agreed that the Buds 2 sometimes sounded better.

If you listen for it, the Buds Pro can push out just slightly clearer bass and more pronounced highs, but let’s be real, sound quality is pretty darn close across the board in the $150-$250 range now. You will not be picking out the subtle differences walking down the street or working out at the gym.

With the same 11mm woofer, 6.5mm tweeter, and three microphones, and voice pickup unit (VPU) in each bud, it’s no surprise the sound quality is so similar.

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Machine learning

To improve call quality, Samsung says it’s using machine learning that was trained on sounds from cars, music, and construction sites. On a call, the ML kicks in to reduce these sounds.

Simply put: The Buds 2 sound rock solid. Certainly better than regular AirPods and Pixel Buds Series-A, which cost $160 and $100, respectively.

Super light and comfy

I liked the compact size and snug in-ear fit of the Galaxy Buds Pro and the Buds 2 deliver even more comfort. Each Bud is 1.3 grams lighter than Buds Pro and 0.4 grams lighter than AirPods Pro.

15%

Comfort is paramount when you want to wear the Buds 2 for hours on end. Battery life is an average 5 hours with ANC and 7.5 hours with ANC off. With the case, you get 20 hours of total ANC music playback and 29 hours without ANC. With ANC, Buds 2 last 30 minutes longer than AirPods Pro and on par with Buds Pro and Echo Buds 2. But Sony’s WF-1000XM4’s 8 hours of ANC is untouchable (for now).

Standard controls

Each bud has a touch pad for controls. Single tap to play/pause. Double-tap to go to the next track. Triple-tap to return to previous song. Long press on each bud to switch between ANC and ambient mode. You can also use the Wear app to customize the long-press if, say, you want it to control the volume, activate Bixby (oof), or launch and play Spotify.

Meh ambient mode

Easily the weakest feature on the Buds 2. The transparency doesn’t sound good; it’s not as natural as Transparency mode on the AirPods Pro.

Other notables:

✔️ Wireless charging + fast charging (USB-C)

✔️ IPX2 water resistance

✔️ 3 sizes of ear tips + Ear tip test

❌ 360 audio

❌No auto-pause when removing buds from ear

❌ Case only comes in glossy, scratchable white

SAMSUNG’S BEST WIRELESS EARBUDS

I honestly don’t know why anyone would buy the Galaxy Buds Pro now that the Buds 2 exist. The ANC is nearly as good and sound quality is as good or better than the Buds Pro. I suppose the Buds Pro support 360 audio. But I think most people can live without it.

If you’ve got an Android phone and want ANC wireless earbuds, the Buds 2 hit all the right notes. Echo Buds 2 regularly sell for $90, but Buds 2 look better IMO. If you’re on iPhone: Nothing beats AirPods unless you hate the stems. In which case, get the Buds 2 unless you desire longer battery life.

8/27

If these buds fit the bill, here's when you can buy 'em.