Earbuds/In-Ear

Samsung Galaxy Buds (and Buds+) Review

Last updated: 5 days ago, Nov. 18. 2020
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    In this Samsung Galaxy Buds and Buds review, you’ll find out what they’re good for and what more do you get in the upgraded Buds+ version.

    Our Conclusion

    The overall score for Galaxy Buds: 3.9 out of 5 points.

    The Buds+ get 4.1 out of 5 points for better battery life and some extra features.

    Samsung Galaxy Buds are Samsung’s first attempt to ditch a headphone jack in favor of true wireless design. This year we saw the upgraded Galaxy Buds+ came to life. They’re basically the same earbuds with minor upgrades. If you already have the 1st generation Galaxy Buds, think hard if you need to buy the new ones.

    While they don’t come with active noise cancellation, Buds and Buds+ offer most features a modern consumer would want. You get responsive touch controls, a couple of EQ presets, some customization, and decent sound quality.

    Plus, they’re quite comfortable, so you forget you’re wearing them. These are versatile earbuds that you can use for daily and workout listening (thanks to IPX2).

    If you’re looking for comfy, true wireless earbuds that sound decent and aren’t too expensive, then Samsung Galaxy Buds are a great choice.

    Read below to find out what more you get in the Buds Plus.

    PROS & CONS

    • Comfortable with a stable fit
    • Quality charging case
    • Responsive touch controls with tone prompt
    • Auto turn-off feature when taken out of ears
    • Microphone quality (Galaxy Buds+)
    • Limited control options
    • Only preset EQ signatures without full equalization
    • Jack of all trades, master of none

    Check related articles:

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    Absolute 50 best headphones right now

    Best wireless earbuds under $100


    Specifications

     Samsung Galaxy BudsSamsung Galaxy Buds+
    Type:In-earIn-ear
    Connection:WirelessWireless
    Back-design:Closed-backClosed-back

    Headphones

      
    Driver size:Dynamic full rangeWoofer + tweeter
    Frequency range:20Hz – 20,000Hz20Hz – 20,000Hz
    Impedance:n/an/a
    Weight:12g both buds12g both buds
    Cable length:n/an/a
    Microphone & controls:Built-inBuilt-in
    Water-protection:IPX2 (sweatproof)IPX2 (sweatproof)

    Wireless

      
    Bluetooth:version 5.0version 5.0
    Battery life:7.5h per charge12h per charge
    Charging time:2h full charge – 3min for 1h2h full charge – 3min for 1h
    Active noise-cancelling:NoNo
    Charging cable:USB-CUSB-C
    Bluetooth codecs:SBC, AAC, SSCSBC, AAC, SSC
    Wireless range:33ft (10m)33ft (10m)

    Microphone

      
    Type:Built-in micBuilt-in mic
    Mic design:2 external1 internal, 2 external
    Mutable:NoNo

    What’s in the Box?

    Samsung Galaxy Buds+ unboxed

    • Samsung Galaxy Buds/Buds+ earbuds
    • 3 pairs of silicone ear tips and ear cushions (S, M, L)
    • Charging /carrying case
    • USB-A to USB-C charging cable
    • User manual

    Comfort & Fit – 4.5/5 Almost Perfect

    You can experience high comfort with a stable fit on both models since the housing and accessories remain the same. But it’s not perfect. Read below to find out more.

    The Samsung Galaxy Buds and Buds+ look very similar compared to other true wireless earbuds. You get to choose from 3 sizes of silicone eartips and cushions that attach to your outer ear.

    Right off the bat, the fit is fantastic. They don’t budge or move much. You can easily use them for working out or shake your head to the rhythm. Though, you do have to rarely readjust them to keep them feel right.

    But the cushions with a fin can irritate the outer ear if you wear them for too long. Thankfully, you can replace them for cushions without the fin that touches your ears. Those are much more comfortable while the fit doesn’t suffer much. You get 2 different types, see the picture.

    Samsung Galaxy Buds+ earbud slevees

    You get 2 types of earbud sleeves. 2 pairs have a find, 1 doesn’t.

    The Samsung earbuds feel very light, and it’s easy to forget about them. You can feel them only when you move your ears. If you speak expressively or smile widely, the buds move, and this is when you get the feeling the buds might fall out. After a short readjustment, they feel right again.

    Nonetheless, if you listen to music without moving your ears much, you can wear them for hours. In our test, we’ve worn them for 4 hours straight without irritation. Comfort is high, but not perfect.

    Having a phone call doesn’t affect the fit either. Galaxy Buds+ are especially superb for phone calls on the go. You can wear them on your commute, or even do light exercise with ease. That’s why they are one of the most comfortable earbuds.

    Noise Isolation – 3.5/5 Almost Great

    Good passive noise isolation with the right eartips that will block a lot of the ambient noise, but not as much as the best in-ear monitors.

    Generally, in-ear headphones come with effective noise isolation. Both the Galaxy Buds and Buds+ block more background noise than on-ear or over-ear headphones.

    But, compared to other true wireless earbuds, the isolation is about average.

    The silicone ear tips are somewhat smaller and don’t create the same airtight fit like some other in-ears. Medium eartips usually fit me fine, but in this case, I choose large ones.

    With the right eartips for you, you won’t hear most of the surrounding noise. You can focus on your work or watching your favorite YouTube videos.

    Noise leakage is minimal too. Which is a good thing if you don’t want others to know what you’re watching.

    Bluetooth – 4/5 Great

    Samsung Galaxy Buds and Buds+ have Bluetooth v5.0 with typical wireless performance that’s expected of modern true wireless earbuds.

    With Bluetooth 5.0, you get the latest and most power-efficient version that is bound to work for a long time.

    Connecting the Samsung Galaxy Buds for the first time is super easy. You take them out of the box and find a new device on your smartphone. Tap pair, and you’re pretty much done. It works the same way on Android and iOS.

    You get the range of around 33f (10m) and uninterrupted signal over 1 wall. Though, a wall in between makes it more sensitive. If you try to readjust them and cover the earbuds with your fingers, you often get distortion. That doesn’t if there’s no wall in between.

    Once you put 2 walls as an obstacle, the music stops playing regularly. They don’t disconnect, but it’s impossible to listen to music.

    On the other hand, you can keep your phone in your pocket, and you’ll never experience any interruptions. Bluetooth works as you’d expect, and that’s a good thing.

    Samsung Galaxy Buds+ side indicator

    The buds generally work over 1 wall but lose connection over 2.

    Is There a Delay when Watching Video?

    Technically, there’s a short delay of audio. However, since the Galaxy Buds are using SBC, SSC, and AAC codec, it’s not noticeable to the human eye. You can’t notice 3 – 6 ms, so you can easily watch movies or Twitch streaming.

    What Bluetooth Codecs These Headphones Use?

    With new firmware updates, Galaxy Buds as well as Galaxy Buds+ offer an array of audio codecs. Not only they now both support SBC and AAC, but also Samsung Scalable Codec, which can transmit audio in higher quality, depending on the environmental interruptions. To take full advantage of this codec you need to have at least Galaxy S20 or newer Samsung phone since they’re the only ones that support it.

    Battery – 4.5/5 for Buds, 5/5 for Buds+

    With original Buds, you get around 7.5 hours per charge, while the Buds+ can reach the playtime of up to 12 hours. They both offer a super quick 3-minute charge that gives roughly 1 hour of music. That’s excellent performance.

    In our test, we play music from 100% to the point they shut down at a healthy medium volume. Galaxy Buds lasted 7.5 hours before the right earbud died with the left side at 10% according to the app.

    While that is already pretty good, Samsung upgraded the battery life on Buds+ to run for around 12 hours. That is plenty of power that will satisfy even the most demanding user. It also makes them slightly better than the PowerBeats Pro with their 11-hour playtime.

    Similarly, both models have support for quick charging. Even if you take one short break in between and put the earbuds in the charging case, they fill up again. You’re rarely going to run out of battery life.

    Samsung Galaxy Buds+ charging earbuds

    They charge fast and you can even use Qi wireless charging for the case.

    The wireless charging case of the Galaxy Buds holds an additional 10 hours+ of power, while Buds+ holds 2 hours more. When the case is empty, plug in the USB-C for a couple of hours, or put on a Qi wireless charging mat and they’re full again.

    The only problem is…

    …when you don’t have access to electricity for days and can’t fill up the charging case. Which, I assume, almost never happens.

    You can see the battery level of each earbud in the Galaxy Wearable app, so you know exactly when one side is going to die on you.

    Overall, both Samsung Galaxy Buds last long, charge super quick, and come with substantial reserves in the case. What more do you want?

    Durability – 4/5 Great

    High quality, polished plastics with high-end materials, and IPX2 water resistance are more than enough for daily use. Compared to Galaxy Buds+, they’re basically the same.

    While the Samsung Galaxy Buds aren’t considered workout earbuds they still have basic IPX2 protection. Granted, that’s not much, but it means they’re sweatproof, and leaving them outside on a light rain won’t damage them either.

    When taking the Galaxy Buds into your hands, they feel like premium buds. The polished finish on the touch controls looks sleek and minimalistic. You can wear them with any outfit and look good.

    Although you only get basic silicone eartips, you can upgrade them with memory-foam tips that offer better isolation and sound quality.

    As for the charging case, it’s oval shape can fit into a pocket and feels solid. The lid mechanism feels premium and flips open for easier use. It’s suitable for high-end true wireless earbuds (not like PowerBeats Pro’s case).

    Plus, you get a 1-year limited warranty from Samsung.

    Samsung Galaxy Buds+ closed charging case

    The case feels solid and it’s just big enough to fit into a pocket.

    Features – 3.5/5 for Buds, 4/5 for Buds+

    Both Galaxy Buds models come with quick charging, auto turn-off feature, EQ presets, touch controls, ambient mode, and some customization. Buds+ also upgraded on microphone count for better call quality. But some things are still missing.

    While you don’t get active noise cancellation, passive isolation is quite good when you use the right eartips. You can block most of the background noise, so you can listen to music in louder places too. Though, it won’t be the as with real noise cancelling earbuds.

    An ambient sound mode called Ambient Aware2 enables you to hear more of your surroundings, especially human voices. But in reality, the effect is modest. It slightly pronounces voices but doesn’t make that much of a difference.

    On the other hand:

    The touch controls are great on both models. They’re very responsive, and every time you press them, there’s a tone prompt that lets you know you’ve pressed them.

    You can customize what the pressed do, but you’re limited in the number of functions you can have at the same time. Originally, the long press activates a voice assistant. In our case, we made it into volume controls.

    But you can’t have both.

    You have to either pick voice assistant, ambient sound switch or volume control. More options would be better.

    Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Galaxy Wearable app

    The Wearable app allows you some customization, although limited.

    Also, when you take the Galaxy Buds out, they turn off automatically. Once you insert them again, they turn on but don’t start playing music automatically.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t work every time. Mostly it works. But sometimes, the buds need to be reset in the carrying case, and another time the controls don’t work. It’s a bit of a hit and miss.

    On the other hand, you get to choose from 5 sound EQ presets when you install the Samsung Galaxy Wearable and Buds+ app. More on EQ under sound.

    And, you also get the “find my earbuds” function when you lose them. The Galaxy Buds start beeping loudly for easier search.

    Microphone Quality / Call Quality

    With 2 microphones in each earbud, the microphone quality on the original Galaxy Buds is quite good. Most people won’t know you’re using true wireless earbuds, but they do pick up some background noise.

    With upgraded Buds+ you get a totally new microphone system that works better compared to the first generation. Therefore, if you take a lot of phone calls, maybe getting the latest Galaxy Buds is a better idea.

    Check the microphone test of the first-generation Galaxy Buds to see what call quality to expect below:

     

    Sound – 3.5/5 for Buds (4/5 for Buds+)

    Good sound quality geared towards a general audience with some EQ options. You can listen to all genres, but won’t experience Hi-Fi epiphanies.

    It shows Galaxy Buds are general-consumer oriented. They come with a balanced sound signature that tries to do everything for all music genres.

    Moreover, the soundstage is limited to the center of your head.

    The highs are quite detailed but don’t have the sparkle of better headphones. It sounds good, just not life-like.

    The vocals are the centerpiece but sound somewhat veiled. It’s like there’s a thin veil over them that’s masking their true expression.

    The bass and sub-bass are present. There’s even some extension but won’t surprise you with its power and definitely can’t compare to bass earbuds.

    With Galaxy Buds+, Samsung took a slightly different approach. They equipped them with dual drivers, tuning them to have a slightly more engaging sound to please the masses.

    However, the bass still doesn’t rattle the eardrum. Instead, you’re getting a more midrange focused presentation with a slightly boosted treble. You can listen to their polite sound for hours with no problems whatsoever.

    Still, the 5 EQ presets can help find you the sound you like better. But they’re limited. You get to choose from:

    • Bass boost
    • Soft
    • Dynamic
    • Clear
    • Treble boost

    They make a small difference, but having full EQ control would be better. It’s just not robust enough.

    And, you have to install 2 apps. Galaxy Wearable app and one specific to Galaxy Buds.

    Samsung Galaxy Buds+ in charging case

    All in all, Samsung Galaxy Buds have a good audio quality that lacks the fidelity of higher-end earbuds. If you keep your expectations limited since these are general-audience earbuds. Then you won’t be disappointed. But not blown away either.

    Buds+ are ever so slightly better in the sound department but don’t expect high fidelity. Nevertheless, if your playlist consists of different music genres, both the Samsung Galaxy Buds and Buds+ will fit the job.

    Why Buy Samsung Galaxy Buds (or Buds+)?

    Samsung Galaxy Buds+ in the case

    Jack of all trades, but a master of none.

    After the Samsung Galaxy Buds review, we can confidently say these are dependable and easy-to-use true wireless earbuds with long battery life. The Galaxy Buds do everything you want from modern earbuds.

    But just like they’re good at everything, they aren’t great in any category except comfort.

    If you want do-it-all wireless earbuds for a moderate price and don’t expect sonic fidelity or the best water resistance, then the Samsung Galaxy Buds are one of the best options right now (at around $110 price point).

    With Galaxy Buds+, the Korean company made only a few upgrades, slightly improving the sound (dual drivers instead of one), microphone quality, and battery life. The latter made the biggest jump, lasting almost 12 hours. Currently, the price difference is only $20.

    Either way you decide to go you’re getting a good product, well-worth of its price tag.

    Samsung Galaxy Buds Alternatives

    Samsung Galaxy Buds+:

    Jabra Elite 75t (review): These cost slightly more but offer full EQ options with better sound quality. Plus, you can control more things hands-free. And, if you’re into working out a lot, get the Elite Active version that’s fully waterproof.

    Echo Buds: They cost a similar price but come with considerably shorter battery life and a bunch of bugs. It’s shorter due to Bose active noise reduction. Unfortunately, ANC isn’t that good. You’re better of getting Sony WF-1000XM3.

    Apple AirPods Pro (review): are more expensive active noise-cancelling earbuds that work great with an iPhone. The premium Apple buds are quite a bit different. For a higher price, you get ANC and Apple design.

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