Just when I thought wireless earbuds couldn’t get more boring — the OnePlus Buds are a literal clone of AirPods — Samsung pulls up with the Galaxy Buds Live.
The bean-shaped wireless earbuds were announced alongside the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Z Fold 2 at Samsung’s virtual Unpacked event.
As somebody who’s spent the majority of 2020 shoving wireless earbuds of all shapes and sizes into their ears (welcome and please take a look at my Galaxy Buds, Pixel Buds, and OnePlus Buds reviews) I am qualified to say the Galaxy Buds Live look extremely cool. I don’t know how comfortable they are, but I like the aesthetic.
Active noise-cancellation (finally) — The most important thing is that the Buds Live have proper active-noise cancellation to block out ambient sound. This makes them a more direct competitor to the AirPods Pro.
They’re cheaper than AirPods — This is the second most important thing. At $169, Samsung’s really undercutting the $249 AirPods Pro’s and Sony’s $229 WF-1000XM3, both of which have terrific active noise-cancellation as well. Hell, they're only $10 more than AirPods and $10 less than Pixel Buds, which don't have ANC.
Status quo battery life — The downside to the Buds Live having active noise-cancellation is that battery life takes a major hit: 4.5 hours with noise-cancellation on and 5.5 hours without it. That’s on par with the AirPods Pro. Sony’s much larger wireless earbuds beat them both with up to 6 hours of battery life with ANC and up to 8 hours without.
It seems ANC can’t provide the same kind of stamina as passive noise-cancellation, which relies on pure ear tip sealing to block outside noise. If long battery life is your a high priority, the Galaxy Buds’ 11 hours of listening time is still the king.
How do they sound? — I have no idea. Until I get a pair in my ears I can only go by what Samsung has announced: AKG sound, 12mm drivers with a “bass duct” for “deep and rich sound, and three microphones with “Voice Pickup Unit” to “feel like you’re in the same room as you’re loved ones.”
Available on August 6 — Unlike the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra, you can get these tomorrow.