Samsung has taken to launching a pair of new wireless earbuds every six months. It launched the Galaxy Buds Pro with the Galaxy S21 series earlier this year. The new Galaxy Buds2 have been launched alongside the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3.
They’re a huge step-up from their predecessors, improving on pretty much everything apart from the battery life, ultimately bringing them more in line with the more expensive Galaxy buds pro, thanks to the inclusion of active noise cancellation. We have been trying the Galaxy Buds2 for a week now and here are some of our take on the Galaxy Buds2.
Design and Build
With the charging case closed, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between Samsung’s various earbuds. The Galaxy Buds Live, Buds Pro, and Buds2 all have the same rounded squircle case, a departure from the pill-shaped cases of old. There’s a USB-C port on the back for charging, and you can set the case on a Qi wireless charger as well.
All the Galaxy Buds2 color options have the same glossy white exterior. We personally prefer the matte texture of the Buds Pro case, which doesn’t get as greasy and smudged as the Buds2 case. However, it’s better than a darker color—the white plastic hides the smudges better. When you flip the lid, you get a nice punch of color, provided you didn’t get the white buds. While the Buds2 are water-resistant, they are only rated IPX2, so you can’t expect to submerge them, but they should be fine for working out.
The familiar in-ear design has been further improved with the Galaxy Buds2. They’re actually 15% smaller (5g per bud) and 20% lighter than the Buds Plus (6.3g) and Buds Pro (6.4g). The difference can be felt instantly. These earbuds don’t protrude from the ear; in fact, someone looking straight at you would probably not be able to make them out at first glance.
The exterior surface of the buds serves as the touchpad for controlling playback. The setup is pretty simple: tap for play/pause, double-tap for the skip, and triple-tap for the back (note: this is after toggling on all the defaults). We haven’t had any issue getting taps to register when we want them to.
These aren’t the only Samsung earbuds that we have experienced this behavior with. That being said, the touch panels remain an integral part of the Galaxy Buds user experience. You can customize the actions using the Galaxy Wearable app for enhanced control.
Sound and Performance
This is where the Galaxy Buds2 took us by surprise, particularly the bass. Samsung’s previous earbuds were able to output decent levels of bass but the Galaxy Buds2 kick things up a notch. The bass is punchier than you’d expect at default settings. We normally need to turn up the bass boost but this time, we didn’t feel the need to turn it up using the bass boost option in the app. It’s impressive that the audio quality you get from the Galaxy Buds2 is quite close to the Galaxy Buds Pro.
In the well-designed and intuitive Galaxy Wearable app, an auto-switch feature offers easy swapping between Galaxy devices – so you could go from streaming music on your Galaxy Tab to picking up a phone call on your Z Flip 3, say, or any nearby device that is signed in to your Samsung account, even if it never paired with the Buds2 before. More than this though, the Galaxy Wearable app allows you to customize the Buds2 in more ways than we’ve ever seen at this level.
If you own a Galaxy smartphone, pairing is a breeze and you can set up a widget to quickly access the Buds2 and see battery life at a glance. There are plenty of nifty little extras, such as customizing what you want a long-press to do – accessing Spotify, altering volume, or scrolling between noise-canceling and ambient-aware profiles are all on the menu – while added features abound here. You can choose to toggle on ambient sound during calls to hear your own voice more clearly, and under the special Labs tab, you can turn on a double-tap of the earbud edge to alter volume (if, say, you’d prefer a long-press of the main unit to scroll through external noise profiles) and even deploy a Gaming Mode to minimize the audio delay. All in all, Samsung presents features, tweaks, and perks in abundance with the Buds 2 – and that all makes for added value.
Once again, we were pleasantly surprised by the Galaxy Buds2. Wireless earbuds that don’t provide great sound are not worth buying. Samsung has made sure that its latest earbuds deliver an enjoyable and immersive experience. Sound quality is certainly not where Samsung has made adjustments to reduce the price.
The Active Noise Cancellation mutes 98% of the surrounding world on paper, and in practice, we established the buds block the majority of distractions easily, with the rubber tips helping a lot. It makes a noticeable difference in canceling out background noise when you enable it. The earbuds do a better job of canceling out high-frequency sounds like that of an overhead fan or an airplane engine compared to constant rumbling frequencies of traffic sounds, for example, and it has also improved its Ambient Sound – it has three levels, as usual, but now it comes with some AI that learns to adapt to the environment.
In our tests, we found that the person on the other end of the call doesn’t really hear any background noise. There also won’t be any disturbance from traffic if you’re on a call while walking outside or even the gentle drone of the AC in your room. One of our team members felt that the call quality from the Galaxy Buds2 was very close to a call made directly from the phone. That’s high praise for the earbuds.
We also didn’t experience any notable connectivity hiccups and our connection with the buds was generally rock solid; they’re equipped with Bluetooth 5.2 which is perfect for quick connection and performance.
The Galaxy Buds2 is equipped with 472mAh in the case and 61mAh in each bud. If you were to use them non-stop, the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 should last you about five hours with active noise canceling turned on, and a little longer if you turn that off. Inside the case are at least another three charges for a total of 20 hours with ANC on, or 29 hours if you leave it off.
Of course, battery life is dependent on how you use the earbuds. The above battery life is for listening time, if you use them for conversations you’re looking at only 3.5 hours with ANC on, and 13 hours with the case or 3.5 hours and 14 hours with ANC turned off.
Helping to optimize the battery life is the addition of a proximity sensor on the inside of the buds that will automatically pause the music when it senses that the earbuds are outside your ear canal. By pausing music automatically like that, you’ll save some juice and therefore won’t need to charge them as frequently.
Also new for this generation is support for wireless charging with a compatible Qi charger. That’s a nice perk if you’re using a phone with wireless charging and you already have a charging pad, but it’s not a deal-breaker if you need to use the regular USB-C port on the back of the case.
The only thing that’s missing here is fast charging – though you’ll still get decent charging speeds. In our tests, we were able to reach a 12% charge in the case after 10 minutes on the charger, which would be over an hour of listening. That might not be the speed of other fast-charging earbuds that can reach a 25% or 50% charge in 15 minutes, but it’s not bad.
The Galaxy Buds2 really work nicely with Samsung Galaxy smartphones, tablets, and other Android devices. They offer fast-pairing and the Galaxy Wearable app that you’ll need to make changes to the EQ and control scheme of the earbuds, plus Samsung devices can use the Buds’ proprietary Scalable Audio Codec for better sound quality.
As a pair of office earbuds, the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 are great. They offer enough noise cancellation that you largely won’t hear the people around you and their battery life should get you through two or three days at the office without needing to be recharged.
The Galaxy Buds2 comes in four colors: Lavender, Olive, White, and Graphite. However, it’s worth noting that the Buds themselves and the inside of the case will have a distinctive color but the outside of the case won’t – it will always be white.
For more information on the Galaxy Buds2, check out Samsung’s Official Website