We judge all headphones on a scale of 10, analyzing the categories we think are most important: sound, comfort, design, battery performance, and, if applicable, special features.
Here's how the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro wireless earbuds stack up.
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro wireless earbuds debuted earlier this month alongside the Galaxy S21 trio of high-end smartphones. The wire-free buds are the tech giant’s most feature-packed to date — and as their name suggests, a legit rival of the Apple AirPods Pro.
Battery Performance: 8/10
Overall Score: 8/10
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SAMSUNG GALAXY BUDS PRO:
The Buds Pro are Samsung’s best-sounding earbuds yet
Their noise cancellation is convenient and reliable
They are IPX7 waterproof and suitable for exercising
Their carrying case is compatible with wireless charging
The Galaxy Buds Pro are Samsung’s best-sounding wireless earbuds available today. Each bud packs a duo of audio drivers, tuned by the audio experts from AKG. The setup consists of an 11-millimeter woofer for a powerful bass, as well as a 6.5-millimeter tweeter that’s in charge of the treble and the midrange.
Combined, the above hardware bits produce a crisp, powerful, and entertaining sonic experience that’s among the best in the buds’ $200 price point. “Single” — a favorite Everything but the Girl song of mine — sounded incredible on the Galaxy Buds Pro. The harmony between the electronic beats, the percussions, the various musical instruments, and Tracey Thorn’s voice was easily discernible and superbly presented.
Support for multidimensional audio with Dolby Head Tracking tech is a Galaxy Buds Pro attribute, which directly rivals the spatial audio capabilities of the Apple AirPods Pro and the AirPods Max. The next-level functionality is exclusively available for top-shelf Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets with the latest One UI 3.1 custom Android interface on board.
The noise cancellation of the Galaxy Buds Pro, like their sound, is the best I’ve experienced from Samsung-made wireless earbuds yet. Thanks to their in-ear design with silicone ear tips, the Galaxy Buds Pro blocked out distracting din better than the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live.
When it comes to tuning out ambient noise, the earbuds performed on par with the AirPods Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM3, and allowed me to completely focus on whatever content I was listening to. Their noise cancellation is only behind that of the pricier Bose QuietComfort wireless earbuds — the industry's gold standard, capable of delivering almost complete silence.
Voice detect is a handy Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro feature that sets them apart from some of their rivals. Like Sony’s excellent WH-1000XM4 headphones, the buds can switch on ambient-sound mode by detecting the user’s voice, meaning there’s no need to remove them or fiddle with their controls to have a short conversation. The voice-detect functionality is customizable via the Galaxy Wearable app, which allows users to adjust the Buds Pro’s sound and the noise-cancelling experience.
Telephone and video-conferencing calls sounded crisp and clear on the Galaxy Buds Pro. Each bud has a trio of microphones and a windshield chamber. The last bit is essential for preventing wind noise from interfering with your calls.
When connected to a Galaxy phone, the buds’ microphones can also simultaneously record audio with its built-in microphones. Dubbed multi mic recording, the functionality is bound to appeal to creative personalities that use the Pro Video feature of the latest Galaxy smartphones.
The Galaxy Buds Pro, just like the Samsung Galaxy Buds+, are lightweight and comfy. During my testing, I found their fit to be secure without causing any fatigue. The buds weigh just a tad over 6 grams each — a little more than the class-leading 5.4 grams of the AirPods Pro, and well below the 8.5 grams that each Bose QuietComfort earbud weighs.
Each earbud has built-in touch controls for controlling the audio playback, as well as for taking calls. Similarly to the Galaxy Buds+ and the Galaxy Buds Live, there’s also an option to customize the long-press functionality in the Galaxy Wearable app.
Pairing the Galaxy Buds Pro with a Samsung phone is as easy as opening their charging case in close proximity. Much like the AirPods Pro and their peerless compatibility with Apple hardware, the Buds Pro can seamlessly switch between Samsung Galaxy devices. For example, you can take a phone call from your phone while gaming on a Galaxy tablet.
Design-wise, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro have sleek housings that are available in Phantom Silver, Phantom Black, and Phantom Violet. The color options are a perfect match for the Galaxy S21 smartphones that launched alongside the earbuds.
At a quick glance, the Buds are more elegant than the Galaxy Buds+, but not as characterful as the bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live.
I tip my hat to Samsung for making its latest wireless earbuds fully waterproof with IPX7 rating. The latter is a vast improvement over the paltry IPX2 of the Galaxy Buds+ and the Buds Live, making the Pro a great option for exercising.
Battery Performance: 8/10
According to Samsung, the Galaxy Buds Pro can deliver up to 5 hours of wireless playback between charges with noise cancellation switched on. Disabling it increases their battery life to 8 hours between trips to their charging case. While I tested them, the earbuds performance matched their maker’s claims.
Overall, the Buds Pro’s battery endurance is in line with that of the product category’s finest. Respectively, the AirPods Pro, the Jabra Elite 85t, and the Bose QuietComfort have 4.5, 5, and 6 hours of battery life with their noise-canceling tech on.
The compact carrying case of the Buds Pro holds more than two additional full charges for a total of 18 hours’ worth of playback with noise cancellation on (28 hours without it). The bundled accessory has a USB-C connector and wireless charging capabilities.
Overall Score: 8/10
The Galaxy Buds Pro impressed me with elegant and (finally!) durable design, top-tier sound and noise cancellation, as well as convenient high-tech features like voice detect, customizable controls, and wireless charging, to name a few. The wireless earbuds are a solid AirPods Pro alternative, especially for owners of Samsung’s high-end Galaxy phones (multidimensional audio and multi mic recording will only work with them).
Samsung has priced the earbuds at $199.99 — a fair amount considering the design improvements, the audio capabilities, and the tech bits they offer. All Galaxy Buds Pro color variants have a charging case with a matching finish.
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