Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro hands-on review

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Erin Lawrence

Hand holding open case with Samsung Galaxy Buds 2.

It’s a good thing headphone manufacturers release new options every year. As technology advancement has sped up, this means many of us can take advantage of new features and improvements. Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2, however are a bit older now, having been released in 2022, but with a high price and the promise of premium features, are they still worth it today, particularly when a new version may be knocking at the door soon? In this review, I’ll show you what you’re getting with these earbuds, what special features they have and if the sound quality and noise cancelling are worth the high price. I’ll wrap things up with the pros and cons and let you know if I can recommend Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 to you.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
4

Summary

Not surprisingly, Samsung owners really get the most bang for their buck and the temporarily free AI features are just icing on the cake! While these will work on other devices, including iPhones, your access to features is severely limited.

Pros

  • Beautifully designed
  • Extremely compact
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Outstanding noise cancellation
  • Excellent sound quality

 

Cons

  • Slow charging speed
  • Hard to grip

About the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is Samsung’s second major attempt at making a pair of $199 US earbuds. While I never tried their first-generation Galaxy Buds Pro released in 2021, I did try the Galaxy Buds Live and found them to be pretty average.

Being a smartphone manufacturer like Samsung has its benefits! Launch a bunch of cool gear like Watches and Flip phones under a common ecosystem name and upsell the accessories like earbuds under said ecosystem name and sprinkle them with exclusive benefits for the devices in the ecosystem. Rinse and repeat every one or two years and you have quite the business model!

But thank goodness for competition especially in the wireless earbuds space because without these platform agnostic contenders, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro would earn a solid recommendation for Samsung lovers even though the $229 USD pair has been in the market for almost 2 years. Determining the value of these earbuds is really all about evaluating how much these special Samsung features matter to you and whether the rest of the package adds up.

Watch my full hands-on review of Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

Design & Comfort

Erin wearing Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 in right ear.

Even though the Buds 2 are a couple years old, the good thing that often happens is these will stay in the market for a bit after something new comes along, probably at a steep discount.

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro come neatly packed in a compact squircle charging case. Samsung took a monochromatic design approach with all three color variants for both the buds themselves and the charging case and they convey a refreshing sense of minimalism (and I can’t get over how much they resemble the new Sennheiser Accentum TW!). More importantly, they feel pretty nice too having that soft-touch texture that doesn’t attract fingerprints. The buds feel very light too weighing about 5.5 grams each. The pebble design is smooth and round and without a hint of edges or ridges to irritate your ears. These are also extremely low profile, and barely stick out of your ears (very unlike the Sennheiser Accentum I reviewed which are a bit cork-like) and I think you could easily sleep in these without hurting your ears.

At this price range, you would expect all these types of wireless earbuds to feel comfortable, but these earbuds in particular can feel that way even after hours of listening. The trick to putting them on is to make sure the vents face upward.

If you don’t get that perfect fit or feel your ears getting sore after a lengthier period, try swapping the medium tips with either the small or large ones included in the box.
The other thing I’ll note about these is that because of the smooth, round shape, they can be tough to grip and pull from the case and sometimes from your ears too.

Simple is one way to describe these earbuds, but sporty? Not quite. They do have IPX7 water resistance so you don’t have to worry about stashing them away under some light rain, but I personally wouldn’t perform strenuous exercises with this pair like I would with a pair of Jabra’s.

Samsung also deserves credit for using recycled materials for certain components of the earbuds and casing. The graphite and white models should match just about any Galaxy device while the “Bora Purple” color is for the folks who still use a Bora Purple Galaxy S22.

(Nearly) Universal Features

Thankfully, Samsung didn’t lock every single feature behind Galaxy-closed doors. By installing the Galaxy Wearable app from Google Play you can access some features, but Apple users will be out of luck; the Samsung Galaxy Buds App has limited options and doesn’t allow access to the Buds 2 Pro. You’d only be able to control these with the touch controls.

ANC & Ambient Sound

Let’s kick off with the key feature which is active noise cancellation or ANC. Active Noise Cancellation uses digital signals to block out background noise.

Switching the mode to ambient sound will let the microphone pick up any sounds and redirect them to your ear and the feature works as you would expect. You may also configure your earbuds to switch to ambient sound during a phone call. If you don’t like manually changing modes via the app, you can bind the function to a “tap and hold” gesture on the earbud of your choice.

I have to say the noise cancellation on this is stellar. A vacuum was running outside my office door as I was testing them and I could barely hear it… even without any audio like music or podcasts playing. I was impressed. I’d say these earbuds can block out about 85-95% of outside noise, and for my money, that’s pretty good, and on the upper tier of ANC. Samsung doesn’t offer any way to adjust the ANC level.

Sound quality

The sound quality is right up there with the noise cancelling. It’s pretty balanced and sounds great, no matter the musical genre. I did detect a very slight lean to the higher end with a lot of the music, which can result in a little raspiness, but probably only if your ears are very finely tuned. Podcasts and calls are also crystal clear. For most listeners you’re going to find these are a musical buffet for your ears.

Text-to-Speech Notifications

By enabling the “Read notifications aloud” option, any upcoming notifications you get on your Samsung or Google or Android Phone will play back on your earbuds. To control the number of notifications you’ll receive, you can pick the apps that will use the feature.

Because of the lack of a Galaxy Wearable app for the iOS App Store, I can’t recommend these buds for iPhone and iPad users, if this is one of the features you’d want.

Galaxy-exclusive Features

Close up of hand holding single ear bud.

The features exclusive to Samsung devices outnumber the rest of them painting a clear picture that owning a Samsung phone or tablet will really get your money’s worth. But will Samsung users use them? You decide!

AI Translations

While the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro launched shortly before the ChatGPT craze, Samsung Galaxy S23 and S24 device owners can use the earbuds to carry out some of the new AI features like the Live Translate and Interpreter.

As long as you have an internet connection and the Samsung app open, you can talk and have the translated speech come out of your phone. The earbuds can also listen to conversations and translate the speech in real time to your ear. Samsung plans to keep this feature free until the end of 2025.

24-Bit Audio/Lossless music

24-bit audio is the kind of feature audiophiles will appreciate, at least to some extent. The technology utilizes a special codec found in Galaxy devices called Samsung Seamless Codec which allows supported streaming services offering lossless music like Tidal to play tracks back at a much higher quality. Too bad Spotify still hasn’t launched their long-awaited HiFi service yet!

Spatial Audio & Head Tracking

Spatial audio is all the rage these days and the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro offers just that although you won’t find this option in the Galaxy Wearable app. Instead, you must enable it by tapping Dolby Atmos from the notification pane. Yes, you can enjoy any content with the Dolby Atmos logo from your favorite streaming services with that wider soundstage.

You also have the option to convert standard stereo channel sound into multi-channel by enabling the 360 audio feature in the Galaxy Wearable app. Enabling it will disable Dolby Atmos so try to experiment with the settings for comparison because the 360 audio supports head tracking which when switched on, uses the sensors built into the earbuds to add extra immersion to the sounds when you move your head.

Seamless Earbud Connection

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review hands-on.

Auto Switch is Samsung’s way of saying multipoint or multi-device connection, but with Samsung devices only. While you can accuse Samsung of being greedy with this one, the feature relies on your Samsung Account to tie your devices together which is quite clever because you can connect to devices (laptop, tablet, watch) you haven’t even paired with specifically.

Extra Remote Control Options: Watch

If you aren’t a fan of using the app or the touch gestures, you can operate some core functions on your earbuds from your Galaxy Watch. If you don’t have a Galaxy Watch, you can add homescreen widgets to your phone instead. Once you get used to these features, you can disable any touch gestures you might find yourself accidentally triggering.

Find my Buds

Worried about losing your Galaxy Buds 2 Pro? Don’t. With SmartThings Find you can trace your coveted Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with the location detection feature. You can even do it with or without the case. Similarly, walk away from your Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and the integrated alarm is ready to let you know — your phone will send you a notification so that you don’t accidentally leave them behind.

Notable Omissions and Shortcomings

As impressive as the feature list is, multipoint support is the big feature missing. Samsung owners can resort to Seamless Earbud Connection, but other devices are out of luck. Connecting the earbuds to a non-Samsung device also won’t give you the best audio quality due to a lack of support for other popular codecs like aptX.

Battery life & Charging

Battery life isn’t a strong suit with this pair of earbuds either with only up to 5 hours of playback with ANC enabled (or using other extra Samsung features). Disabling these features could extend your battery life to 8 hours, but that’s still at medium volume. 5 to 8 hours is kind of barely table steaks with earbuds these days and there are plenty of other buds offering a lot more at a lower price too. There’s about 13 more hours in the case, which again is barely average. Connect a USB-C to charge them.

Samsung doesn’t say whether these offer wireless or fast charging, and I can confirm it did seem to take a while to recharge these fully.

Overall Review: Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

Husband Roger wearing ear buds.

Not surprisingly, Samsung owners really get the most bang for their buck and the temporarily free AI features are just icing on the cake! While these will work on other devices, including iPhones, your access to features is severely limited. No points deducted for that since these are made for the Samsung ecosystem, but just something to be aware of if you were hoping for a platform agnostic pair.

Even so, the rest of the Samsung-exclusive features are either niche, borderline gimmicky, or require multiple Samsung devices to fully appreciate.

Let’s cover the pros and cons

On the pro side, the earbuds are beautifully designed, extremely compact and very very comfortable to wear. The noise cancellation is outstanding and the sound quality is top-notch. For Samsung device users, the boatload of extra features is a nice cherry on the sundae.

When it comes to the cons, the biggest issues I found were the slow charging speed, and that the buds can be very fiddly to get in and out of the case especially for chubbier fingers.

As for pricing, the $229 USD/$289 CAD launch price has been marked down to a sub-$170 range. With Samsung expecting to announce a successor to this product, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro might even sell for cheaper.

In short Samsung users would be well poised to snap these up while on sale… or wait for the next generation option to launch and get these at an even bigger price chop. I can definitely recommend Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro to you.

 

**A note about Affiliate Links: TechGadgetsCanada & TechGadgetsInternational is supported by our readers. Occasionally I will include affiliate links in my reviews. I do this partly for convenience of the reader (since I’ll almost always include a link to the company website or similar anyway) in case you want to read more or purchase, but I also may get a small commission from the click, which helps me keep the blog running. If you choose to use this link I thank you greatly for supporting the blog. There’s no obligation or cost to you for using these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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