Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review: noise-cancelling earbuds that easily keep up with the competition

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 are feature-packed true wireless earbuds

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

For anyone who has already bought into the Samsung Galaxy ecosystem, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 are a fantastic choice and a big improvement on the first generation. You get good sound and the noise-cancelling does a fantastic job at cutting out distracting noise. The battery is less impressive but it’ll still be enough for most people day-to-day.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Good sound quality

  • +

    Active noise cancellation

  • +

    Works seamlessly with other Galaxy devices

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Not waterproof or even water-resistant

  • -

    Battery life is just okay

  • -

    No manual EQ settings

Here you'll find T3’s Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review where I'll go through everything you need to know about the smartphone giant's latest headphones. They were launched in August 2021 alongside the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.

To cut right to the chase, these are the best true wireless earbuds for Samsung Galaxy users in particular. While the sound quality isn't going to absolutely blow you away, these are a massive improvement on their predecessors and for most people, they'll be good enough. What's really good about them though is the noise-cancelling technology which does a fantastic job at keeping your focus on the music. 

If you own a non-Samsung Android phone then these are still worth considering because you’ll be able to download the Samsung Wearable app from the Google Play Store. Not all of the features the buds have to offer will be available to you, but you will get to use the vast majority of them. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review: price and what’s new  

You can buy the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 now for $150 in the US, £139 in the UK and AU$200 in Australia. Take a look at the widgets on this page for more up to date pricing from across the web. 

So how are they different to the original Samsung Galaxy Buds? Well, firstly, the circular shape has been replaced with a round bean-like design and you can buy them in more colours now as well. They’re also ever-so-slightly lighter, at 5g each rather than 6g which should make them more comfortable. 

With more of a focus on the music, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 have 11.2mm drivers, up from 6mm, so you should get a lot more power from them when it comes to the sound. 

In terms of features, Samsung has added Active noise cancelling which includes an Ambient sound mode. That does mean you sacrifice more in the way of battery life though, it now sits at 5 hours from a single charge as opposed to 6. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review: design and fit  

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 have a new rounded design - you'll either love it or hate it. Whatever side of the fence you sit on, they certainly look unique which is refreshing in a world of Apple AirPods copycats. The buds come in a choice of four cool colourways: Olive, Graphite, Lavender and White. 

They come in a tiny square case to protect and charge them. It's small enough to fit in your pocket and light enough for you not to notice it's there. From the outside, the case doesn’t match the earbuds, it’s just plain white with the Samsung logo written subtly across the top and a small LED light on the bottom indicating the battery level of the case. To charge it, there’s a USB-C port on the back. 

When you open up the box, the inside matches the headphones in colour and keeps the buds neatly tucked away. Here you’ll find another small LED light that indicates the battery level of the earbuds themselves. 

One big problem with the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 is that they only have a water-resistance rating of IPX2. That means they will only survive water dropping on them if they are tilted by 15 degrees. Most buds nowadays have a rating of at least IPX4 if not more, so it’s very disappointing to see that Samsung hasn’t matched that here. I’d be worried about using them on a rainy day or even during an intense workout. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review

(Image credit: Future)

While they might not be as tough as other earbuds, they’re as comfortable as the best of them, thanks to the lightweight design and the choice of three sizes of silicone ear tips. 

To pick the right size for you, the Galaxy Wearable app has an Earbuds Fit Test. To use it, you put the earbuds in, press Start and the app will tell you if you’ve got a good or bad fit. If it detects a bad fit, you can try out the different sizes until you find the right one. It obviously worked because I found I could wear these for long periods of time without feeling too much discomfort. They stayed very secure and didn’t budge even when I was running with them in.

To control your music, the outside of each bud has touch controls. They were some of the most responsive and easy to remember controls I’ve ever tried. A light touch of the finger pauses the music, two skips to the next song, three to go back a track and hold to switch between noise-cancelling modes - you can also change these default settings from the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app.

If you need headphones for soundtracking very long journeys or full workdays then perhaps look elsewhere, as these are better suited to shorter periods of use. The earbuds last about 5 hours from a single charge, while the case provides a total of 20 hours. That’s okay but there are plenty of other options out there that offer loads more, like the Master & Dynamic MW08 which have a whopping 46 hours of battery life in total.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review: performance and features 

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review

(Image credit: Future)

If it’s good sound you’re after, that’s exactly what you get here, just good. With 11.2mm drivers in each bud, it’s safe to say there’s plenty of power behind the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 but they aren’t as dynamic as more expensive headphones. 

I listened to loads of different types of audio across music, podcasts and TV shows. What I liked about these wireless earbuds is that there’s a nice panning effect, the way the sound is directed almost feels like you’re in the room listening to it live. 

One other thing that really strikes me about the audio quality is that no one area of the sound overwhelmed the overall experience. The treble is clear while the bass packs a serious punch, although in saying that, the mid-range is left a little in the dark. 

If you’re not happy with the sound straight out of the box then you can change the equaliser settings in the Galaxy Wearable app. You get the choice of six preset equaliser modes, which include Bass Boost, Treble Boost and Soft. Unfortunately, you can’t adjust it manually. 

To keep you fully immersed in your music, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 have active noise cancellation. I tried out the ANC in a few different scenarios and found that it almost completely blocked out train noise and managed to sufficiently dull office chatter. I was impressed.

There's also an adjustable Ambient Sound mode which lets in some noise. An example of when you might want that is to hear road traffic when you’re walking around town. You can choose to have it on Low, Medium or High depending on how much noise you want to let in. I did find it made some outside noises a little too prominent though, even emphasising them at times. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 work best when paired with other Galaxy devices. To make life easier, you can add a widget to your Galaxy smartphone home screen or use your Galaxy Watch to quickly switch through noise-cancelling modes. 

Another Galaxy-specific feature you need to know about is Auto-Switch. When you have the headphones in, you can seamlessly switch the audio between Galaxy devices without having to do a thing like if you’re using the earbuds with your Galaxy tablet and you receive a call on your Galaxy phone, the system will automatically switch the buds over so you can take the call through the earbuds without needing to disconnect and reconnect.

If you lose one of the earbuds at home (don’t worry we’ve all been there) you can get help locating it using the Find My Earbuds section of the app. The lost bud will play a loud beep which will help you pinpoint exactly where it is.

On each bud, there's a three microphone system. They use machine learning to identify background noises and filter them out making calls crisp and clear. In use, that rang true and I would happily use these for all my calls.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review: verdict 

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review

(Image credit: Samsung)

For this price, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 are pretty impressive and they easily match up to the competition. 

Everything about them works well, very well in fact, if you ignore the average battery life. They sound pretty good and the noise-cancelling is really effective at cutting out distractions from the outside world. What’s even better is that they work seamlessly with your other Galaxy devices which makes these a no-brainer for people who have already bought into Samsung's ecosystem.

For those who don’t own a Galaxy device, these could still be a good choice, simply because they perform well. You won’t get to use all of the features but you’ll still get most of them. Don’t buy these if you’re an iPhone user though as you won’t have access to the Galaxy Wearable app to manage and control them. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review: also consider 

If you’re an iPhone user then you should be considering the Apple AirPods Pro first and foremost. Not only do they sound great with decent noise cancellation but they will also work seamlessly with your iOS devices. 

You might not care so much about the extra features, in which case, the Sony WF-1000XM4 are the best true wireless earbuds you can buy. Granted they are a lot more expensive than the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, but if you are willing to splash the cash then they are so worth it. They have premium sound, a comprehensive app and fantastic call quality. 

Yasmine Crossland
Yasmine Crossland

Reviews Writer for T3, Yasmine, started writing reviews in 2019 and is always knee-deep in the latest tech products. She keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to the most exciting and innovative tech and is happy to tell you exactly what she thinks about it too. In her free time, you'll catch her tending to her plants and planning her next big trip.