Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Review


The Galaxy Buds Pro is the most advanced Samsung earbuds and features active noise cancellation (ANC), speech detection, and virtual surround sound, to cite a few. We will go over the most critical aspects of this new product to determine if it is right for you.

Industrial Design

The size and aesthetic of the new Galaxy Buds Pro are improvements over the Buds and Buds Plus. Buds Pro may not be as small as the Galaxy Buds Live, but it has noticeably better sound quality and cater to a different use case.

The IPx7 IP-Rating means that the Galaxy Buds Pro is waterproof, just like many smartphones with an IP 67 rating: it can survive a soft water submersion 1-meter deep for a maximum of 30mn. That is still a lot better than the competition, which typically has an IPx4 rating (splash only, no submersion).

White Galaxy Buds with the Wingtip

The original Galaxy Buds wingtips are gone as some users seem to have been apparently bothered by them. A positive development with the microphones is they now have a mesh that reduces wind noises. That is an excellent idea since people can use them for calls.

Inside, there are two speakers: one woofer (11mm) and one Tweeter (6.5mm), a good setup for such small earbuds. To achieve this earbud size, the battery capacity was unfortunately reduced to 61 mAh – that’s a bit smaller than previous Galaxy Buds.

Sound Quality

From left to right: Buds, Buds Pro and Buds Live

With Active Noise Cancellation ON (ANC), the sound quality is outstanding, and should please most users. I can imagine that the pickiest among us will find slightly better-sounding earbuds, and they do exist, whether it is because of the ANC, speaker of tuning quality.

That said, I was impressed by the Galaxy Buds Pro’s performance in relation to their size. I listen to many things casually, but you will regret not having HD audio files if you come from regular earbuds (the free ones).

By default, surround sound backed by stereo speakers works quite well, and various demo files yield an excellent result. The sound spatialization is great, and movies with compatible audio streams will be a blast to watch with these earbuds. That is probably the best use case for that large Samsung tablet…

However, Samsung has another update in the works: [Samsung’s] 360 Audio, which is more akin to Dolby Atmos and can track your head’s orientation and position during the sound rendering process. It works only on Galaxy S21 with One UI 3.1, so we will try it later, maybe.

There are 3 microphones for calls to perform things like noise-cancelling or beamforming to avoid picking up too much noise to start with.

The recording quality seems remarkably high, but I did not benchmark it against something like a Yeti Nano, not because I think that Buds Pro would win, but to see where it stands. My casual voice recording tests yielded a voice that sounds more natural than with the regular phone’s microphone array.

Most Interesting Features

The Galaxy Buds Pro’s battery life is about 5 hours with ANC and 8 hours without ANC. The 5 hours is on par with competitors, but the 8 hours is above some of them, like the AirPods Pro. If you can use it in a relatively quiet environment, you might appreciate the extra 3hrs of playback.

There is a speech detection running in the background that will lower the volume if you start speaking. This feature is very convenient because you do not want to take the earbuds out every time. Ten seconds after you stop talking, the volume will come back to its previous level.

The Automatic switching between phone and tablet is great if you have an all-Android setup, but tablet usage is relatively low, and it would be great if the switch worked with computers too. And since this only works with Samsung devices, it further increases the likelihood that you might not be able to use the switching.

To charge the earbuds, you can dock them in the little cradle charger that came with it. The cradle has an internal battery too (~7hrs worth of playback) and a USB-C connector to charge it. You can charge both the cradle and the earbuds at the same time. Samsung says that after charging for 10mn in the cradle, the Buds Pro could play music for another 85 minutes.

The earbuds have touch controls, and it is possible to use gestures to switch song and pick-up calls. I admittedly do not use gestures much as I prefer interacting with the phone rather than the earbuds, but you can imagine some situations where it would be faster to just swipe or tap to get something done.

There is also the potential for triggering unwanted touch action, just because you want to adjust the earbuds a little. Fortunately, it is also possible to use Bixby, Samsung’s voice-assistant to perform many tasks.

The Galaxy Wearable App

The installation and initial setup user experience are straightforward. Pairing the Galaxy Buds Pro with a Galaxy S20 Ultra smartphone just worked, and in less than a minute, I was up and running. The earbuds put themselves in pairing mode when you open the case.

When you first use the app, an optional tutorial teaches users how to put on the buds and what the primary functions are. It is worth taking a few minutes to get your bearings, but you do not have to. The rest of the settings is very straightforward, and the settings make sense.

With the app, you can control what the touch functions do (or not) or what level of ANC you want. If needed, this is a good place to check the battery status, and once I have done the initial setup, that’s pretty much the only reason for me to go back to the Earbuds Pro settings page.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro ($199) is wonderfully comfortable, performs very well and has a high audio quality. The wind protection associated with the microphone wind-protecting mesh might make a significant impact during outdoor calls.

There are viable alternatives on the market, such as the Jabra Elite 85t ($229), Sony WF-1000XM3 ($230), to the Bose Sport Earbuds ($179) with excellent ANC but might not be as good when it comes to surround sound if supported at all.

Keep in mind that Buds Pro is the only one we have seen that can survive a complete immersion in water, so if your use case involves such a risk, that alone might be a tie-braker. Fortunately, the Galaxy Buds Pro’s pricing is judicious, and it should be on your shortlist to consider.

iPhone users are likely to stick to Apple’s offering not only because the audio performance is comparable, if not a little better in ANC, but more importantly because the app support for the Buds Pro is minimal on iOS.

Samsung users might be particularly interested, especially if they own a Samsung tablet since they can connect/switch to the Buds Pro seamlessly. For Samsung phone owners, the Galaxy Buds Pro may be a no-brainer.

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