Samsung recently unveiled its latest wireless earbuds – the Galaxy Buds 2. They feature the tech giant's latest noise-cancelling technology and are said to be Samsung's 'lightest' wireless in-ears yet. But how do they compare to Samsung's noise-cancelling Galaxy Buds Pro?
Samsung has launched a clutch of wireless in-ears over the last couple of years but, going forward, its headphone lineup will consist of the new Galaxy Buds 2, the 2020-launched Galaxy Buds Live and the 2021-launched Galaxy Buds Pro. The Galaxy Buds+ are effectively being discontinued.
Right, back to the task in hand. Let's compare the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 with the Galaxy Buds Pro and see which – if either – is worth your hard-earned.
The Galaxy Buds Pro cost £219 ($199, AU$299), but shop around and you should be able to get a discount.
The newer Galaxy Buds 2 are noticeably cheaper than the Buds Pro. They're priced from £139 ($150, AU$219), which is the same launch price as the original 2019 Samsung Galaxy Buds.
However, at time of writing, the Buds Pro are actually available for less money than the Buds 2. We've listed today's cheapest Galaxy Buds Pro and Buds 2 deals below.
At just 5g per bud, the Galaxy Buds 2 are Samsung's smallest and lightest wireless earbuds to date. Although the outside of the square charging case is white, the buds themselves and the inside of the case come in a choice of four colours: graphite, white, olive or lavender.
They're less bulbous on the underside than the Buds Pro, making them a better fit for smaller ears. And you can use the Galaxy Wearable app on your phone to conduct an earbud fit test – this recognises that we have placed the buds in our ears, sends a few tones into our shell-likes, and then decides whether the eartips we have selected from a choice of three has provided a good fit. For us, the pre-fitted medium pair offers a good seal and, although they aren’t the most secure set of earbuds we’ve ever worn (we wouldn’t wear them for our tougher workouts), they are comfortable and light over the course of our listening.
The (slightly) older Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro weigh in at 6.3g each and are a tad chunkier. They also come in some natty colours: Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver and Phantom Black.
Samsung supplies three pairs of silicone eartips with the Galaxy Buds Pro. As we noted in our review, "It's quite easy to get the earbuds positioned comfortably – although, perhaps because of their physical size, there’s a little more movement in the buds than is ideal."
Both models feature Samsung's Auto Switch feature, which lets the earbuds simultaneously connect to multiple Galaxy devices and automatically switch to the one you’re using. Handy if you want to go from streaming music on your Galaxy Tab to picking up a call on your Samsung Galaxy S21.
The Buds Pro are rated IPX7, which means they can be submerged in up to 1m of water for at least half an hour. The Buds 2 can't match that performance – they're rated IPX2, meaning they're only splashproof.
The Buds Pro feature two Active Noise Cancelling levels, low and high, and four Ambient Sound settings. 'High' is designed for noise-polluted areas such as busy city streets, while 'Low' is better for nixing rumbling sounds, such as the hum of an aeroplane engine.
Samsung claims that the Buds Pro remove "99 percent of noise" at 118Hz. That might sound impressive on paper, but under review, we felt that the noise-cancelling was underwhelming.
That's partly because competition among the best noise-cancelling headphones is fierce, with the Apple AirPods Pro and the five-star Sony WF-1000XM4 leading the way on cancellation.
The Buds 2's active noise cancellation promises to nix external noise by up to 98 per cent. This is joined by an ‘enhanced’ Ambient Sound mode, plus three microphones per earbud – one inner with voice pickup unit for clear calls, two external beamforming mics – to boast a 'significantly reduced latency'.
You can access these noise profiles using the on-device controls, but it's a little hit and miss, so you may well find yourself reaching for your phone instead. The noise cancellation and Ambient Sound are as good as we would expect for the price, though there are no degrees of ANC, just on or off.
If you're wondering why the Buds Pro are so much more expensive, it's because they have Intelligent ANC and Dolby Head Tracking.
The Galaxy Buds 2 might be cheaper than the Galaxy Buds Pro, but they come out top when you compare battery life.
The Buds 2 claim five hours per charge with noise cancelling switched on, plus an additional 15 hours provided by the USB-C charging case (pictured above). Not bad, although the Apple AirPods Pro top that with 23.5 hours total battery life.
The Galaxy Buds Pro also last five hours per charge, but their charging case supplies an extra 13 hours' worth of juice. Total battery life? 18 hours – a solid two hours less than the new Galaxy Buds 2.
Both of these in-ears support Qi wireless charging. Five minutes on a standard 5A pad should return around one hour of playback.
The Galaxy Buds Pro are tonally-balanced and provide plenty of detail through the midrange. You can expect nice harmonic separation and a civilised level of bass, too. Overall the Buds sound inoffensive but lack sparkle. It's a performance that falls short of class-leaders.
The Buds 2 aren't any better, we're afraid. While they pack a good dollop of detail and healthy bass kick, the timing needs work. Theirs is an energetic performance, but in all the excitement there's a harshness through the treble that makes the midrange sound decidedly flat. Disappointing.
This is a tricky one. The Buds Pro are (for the most part) better-specced than the Buds 2: they have better water-resistance and more advanced audio features, but the Buds 2 are lighter, smaller and offer better battery life. Both pairs pair just as seamlessly with a Galaxy smartphone, so there's nothing between them there.
It could all come down to price. The Buds Pro are supposedly pricier than the Buds 2, but with deals aplenty, you can actually find them cheaper than their newer stablemates. Which could swing it in their favour.
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