The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro have been among the most difficult pieces of audio equipment I’ve had a chance to review. That might be a strange assertion to start a review off with, but it’s important for anyone considering these.
After all, they might be cut from the same proverbial cloth as all the other earbuds out there that come with all the necessary features, from active noise cancellation and transparency or ambient mode to the ability to take a call without touching a phone. On paper then, they’re not much different from a set of Airpod Pros or the BeyerDynamic Free Byrd I just tested.
What makes them different is the same thing that sets the Airpods Pro (or any Airpods for that matter) apart. These were made for Samsung phone owners first and Android phone owners second. While I have to assign a specific score for each product I review, I would give this a different score depending on what phone you’re using.
If you have an iPhone like myself, I would actually give this a 3 out of 5. You still have a good deal of the functionality but you’re better off getting something with better integration into that phone ecosystem. Android users will have a much better experience, which we’ll discuss further, and the score (4 out of 5) above represents that.
If you happen to have a Samsung phone though, the only reason to get a different set of earbuds is either because you prefer the way some other earbuds sound or look. Or, someone gave you a different set of earbuds as a present. In short, these are excellent earbuds but only for some people.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review: price and release date
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are not quite brand new but having been released in January 2021, they’re still among the newer entrants in the TWS (true wireless stereo) earbud market. At $199.99, they seem to sit at that cusp between mid- and high-end that many of the better options most people go for, like the aforementioned Airpods Pro, the Beats Fit Pro, and the somewhat more expensive Sony WF-1000XM4, which are ranked as some of the best true wireless earbuds available.
Being a Samsung product though, that $199.99 price tag is very flexible. If you wait for the right time to buy – aka any time there is a sale – you can get these for dramatically cheaper.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review: design
The very first thing you’ll notice with the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is that they don’t look like any other earbuds. They’re still earbud-shaped of course, but they’re small enough to fit comfortably in the ear and have the same functional dimensions that any other earbud has. However, there are no stems, no buttons, and no flat outer top. Instead, they’re rounded with a polished finish, almost like pebbles you would find at the edge of a lake.
The rounded outer shell, which does contain very sensitive touch controls, has a glossy finish that you might mistake for aluminum instead of the sturdy plastic it actually is. You’ll also notice small vents to help with air circulation. The inner shell is the same color but only in a matte finish and the silicone tips, of which you get three different sizes, also match. This general aesthetic applies regardless of which of the three colors – black, silver, or violet – that you choose from. The color matched charging case also shares that same rounded and shiny style.
Whether or not you care about the fact that the Galaxy Buds Pro are made of 20% recycled plastic, you should care about the fit. Thankfully, the fit is nice and snug once you find the right tip. While that’s always a factor, I did find that I had to keep adjusting the earbuds before changing tips more than other earbuds I’ve tested. Once I found my size though, they stayed in very snugly.
To test that, I used them extensively at the gym. I had no issues regardless of what activity I was doing. Know that if you’re particularly sweaty, these have an IPX7 rating which is quite extensive compared to other earbuds (many come with an IPX4 rating or similar). Technically, with an IPX7 rating, you could take them into a meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
As far as comfort goes, these do fill up the ear. I found them as comfortable as earbuds can be but that some might like something with a little less bulk. Of course, that does help provide a better seal for passive noise cancellation. Even if you don’t use the active noise cancellation – maybe you’re trying to save battery – it will do a reasonable job at blocking out ambient noise.
Lastly, its touch controls work much the same as on other earbuds except you only need to tap or tap and hold instead of press. The Galaxy Buds Pro are very responsive, but since these react to a touch instead of a press (there are no actual buttons after all), it’s easy to accidentally register an action just from trying to adjust an earbud in your ear.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review: performance
Sound quality is always the first and top priority when it comes to any set of earbuds. Luckily, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro sound good. You’re not going to experience a revelation here (that is unless you've kept all previous earbud purchases to under ten dollars), but they do what they’re supposed to and they do it well.
More specifically, they’re what I would refer to as “fun” sounding. These don’t have a neutral or clinical sound signature. Instead, it has a boost somewhere between the bass and mids for a punchy, warm profile that can be a little indistinct at upper and lower reaches of its frequency range. That means music isn’t going to be crystal clear in the high end and that bass can get a little muddy. Unless you’re an audiophile though, the Galaxy Buds Pro’s sound signature will get your head bopping in no time.
That said, these do suffer from a bit of latency so they’re less suited for media outside of music. So, if you plan on using earbuds to watch Netflix while on a treadmill, be prepared to see lips move before any sound comes out.
When testing a set of earbud’s performance, we have to look at more than just that sound quality. As active noise cancellation and Ambient Modes (also known as transparency mode for some headphones) become de rigueur for every TWS earbud on the market, just the inclusion of these features isn’t enough. They have to do what they’re supposed to and well. Thankfully, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro do a pretty good job.
While you’re limited to touch controls to switch between ANC and Ambient Mode on an iPhone, there is an app for Windows called “Galaxy Buds” that gives you all the functionality you would find with an Android phone. Through this app, I was able to dig a little deeper on these two modes, as well as test some of the other features.
The active noise cancellation has a high and low mode. Both do a good job of blocking out unwanted noise, with the high mode removing more high frequency sound though not completely blocking it out. The Ambient Mode has even more adjustability, specifically four levels. Switching between them is subtle but even at its lowest setting, I could hear outside noise such as someone talking.
Probably less important but more impressive, in my humble opinion at least, are some of its additional features such as “Voice Detect”. A feature which will automatically switch from ANC mode to Ambient Mode when the wearer talks and then revert back after ten seconds of silence. Instead of reaching for an app or even use the buds’ touch controls then, all you have to do is talk to switch to ambient mode.
A few other features worth mentioning is the ability to turn on in-ear detection, seamless earbud connection (to switch between two Samsung devices), and to remap what a press and hold does on each earbud. It’s also compatible with Bixby assistant, and lost earbuds can be tracked down with the Smart Things app (again, you’ll need a compatible device for that).
Where the Galaxy Buds Pro surprises most though is in its call quality. I have never used a set of earbuds where I sounded clearer and louder than when I was using my phone. Call quality testing has always been a matter of how much or little earbuds negatively affect a call, but that’s not the case here. Its three built-in mics and voice pickup unit provide the best sound quality I’ve experienced in a set of earbuds. Though its background noise rejection is not anything to write home about, whoever you talk to will have no issue understanding what you’re saying.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review: battery
Battery life for most earbuds has generally been in the four to five hour range with up to 24 to 30 when including the charging case (without noise cancellation or any other battery draining features enabled). If you look at the overall battery life for the Galaxy Buds Pro, you might see the same as it gives you 28 hours.
But, it’s the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro’s individual charge that’s special. The earbuds will give you eight hours of use before running out – and that’s not just wishful thinking. I ran them at full volume without active noise cancellation or voice assistant enabled and got them down to 50% on four straight hours of play. With active noise cancellation and Bixby wake both on, the battery life does take quite a hit, but will still give you four and a half hours.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review: verdict
As I’ve mentioned throughout this review, recommending the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro depends largely on what you’ll be using them with. Apple devotees are better off looking elsewhere if there’s any desire for deeper integration or accessibility to all the features that are on offer. Android (particularly Samsung) users will find these a delight.
Not only do they sound good, at least on par with other $200-range earbuds such as the Beats earbuds I’ve tested, and offer excellent call quality (possibly the best I’ve experienced), they are as feature-rich as anything else out there. Of course, there are some minor issues regardless of device ecosystem such as noticeable latency when watching something and overly sensitive touch controls, but if those don’t bother you these are a great buy whether they’re for use at or for work or at the gym.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review: also consider
If you’re looking for something with broader integration and a lot of the same general features, then consider the Beats Fit Pro. They also sound pretty good, offer quality active noise cancellation and transparency or ambient modes, and are made to withstand the toughest of workouts. Oh, and just like Red Bull, they have wings.
In that same $200 price range, the Sony LinkBuds S also tick many of the same boxes. It also has an adjustable transparency mode but with 20 stages instead of four. What sets these apart most though are their small and light form factor, a welcome antithesis to many of the chunkier earbuds out there.
If instead of fun sounding TWS earbuds, you want more accurate sounding ones, then consider the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3. They might be light on the extra features like multipoint connectivity but they pair that clear, crisp sound quality with a level of comfort that will have you listening for hours.