Android Central Verdict
Samsung's Galaxy Buds 2 Pro hit the mark in just about every way imaginable. They might not have the greatest battery life, but these offer improved ANC and work best with your other Galaxy devices. Arguably the biggest update comes in the form of the changed design, as these earbuds are so comfortable, you might forget they are even there.
Extremely comfortable, even for long periods of time
Improved Active Noise Cancelation
Perfect for Samsung’s ecosystem
IPX7 water resistance rating
Sounds great even when using with non-Android devices
Lacking true Multipoint capabilities
Battery life is just okay
Touch controls are frustrating
Samsung-only features are annoying
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If you’ve been following Android Central for a while, you might have noticed that I don’t usually review headphones or earbuds anymore. But if there’s one thing that I enjoy more than mechanical keyboards, it’s a good set of earbuds or over-ear headphones.
Like many others, I have been waiting for a true competitor to come along and take on the reliability and comfortability offered by my beloved AirPods Pro. And now Samsung is back with another competitor in the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, but how good are these new earbuds, really?
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro: Price and availability
Samsung announced the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro alongside the Galaxy Z Fold 4, Flip 4, and new Galaxy Watch 5 smartwatches. These new earbuds retail for $30 more than their predecessor, coming in at $229, and are available in three different colors — Graphite, White, and Bora Purple.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro: What's good
Putting it plainly, I’m a sucker for a nice matte finish, and the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro definitely deliver. But something that I didn’t expect was to see this matte finish transplanted from the charging case and onto the earbuds themselves. During our review, I used the plain White color variant, thinking that it would look good for pictures while giving a good representation of what they could look like after a few weeks of use.
Thankfully, Samsung didn’t disappoint, as my review unit still looks just as good as it did when I took them out of the box. But this is only a small portion of the overall story, as Samsung also tweaked the overall design of the Buds 2 Pro compared to its predecessor.
One issue that I had with the original Galaxy Buds Pro was that they always managed to cause some ear fatigue after wearing them for an hour or two. I’m happy to report that I still have yet to experience anything similar with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. I’ll even go so far as to say that these really are the most comfortable earbuds that I’ve used, even compared to the Google Pixel Buds Pro, and my aforementioned AirPods Pro.
This makes it so I can actually enjoy an entire playlist of music or a couple of podcasts before I either need to do something else, or I need to recharge the battery. This brings us to the listening experience, which I found to be pretty solid overall, especially compared to the original Galaxy Buds Pro.
I don’t have the best hearing in the world, but I did notice a bit better ANC when switching between the Buds 2 Pro and Buds Pro. The Buds 2 Pro even does a better job at canceling out sounds compared to my AirPods Pro, so if this is important to you, you’ll be more than satisfied.
In true Samsung fashion, the accompanying Galaxy Wear app gives you the “kitchen sink” approach when it comes to features. There’s everything from adding a basic controls widget to your home screen, to tinkering around with different features in the “Labs” section. Unlike the Pixel Buds Pro, you don’t have to use a third-party app to change the EQ levels, as this can be done right from the Buds 2 Pro settings panel.
There’s even a new “neck stretch reminders” functionality that will “detect your head position and notify you when you’ve bent your head downward for 10 minutes.” As someone who is hunched over a keyboard all day, every day, this has actually been one of the more enjoyable additions.
As I noted in the Galaxy Watch 5 review, I’m not the one to look to for answers when it comes to strenuous workouts. But I did use the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro a few times when I have needed to go out and mow the lawn, sweating more profusely than I would like to admit. Not once did I experience a hiccup or stutter with the Buds 2 Pro, even when leaving my phone on the porch in the shade, as opposed to in my pocket.
This can likely be attributed to the upgrade to Bluetooth 5.3, and it’s just a comfort knowing that my earbuds will work even if I don’t have my phone on my person at any given time. I haven’t taken the Buds 2 Pro swimming or anything to really test that IPX7 water resistance, but wiping them down after mowing the lawn and sweating, and they’re ready for my next endeavors when I’m ready to go.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro: What's frustrating
If you’ve made it this far and realized that there are some things that I tip-toed around, it’s for good reason. Easily my biggest frustration with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro had nothing to do with battery life or the gate-keeping of features. It’s the touch gestures.
I really want to give Google a lot of kudos here, because after using the Pixel Buds Pro since launch, they have broken me. In the “before time” I didn’t care about controlling the volume from my earbuds, because I would just reach in my pocket and press the volume button. But being able to turn my volume up or down with just a swipe is an absolute game-changer.
To be fair, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro do include a gesture to adjust the volume, but it’s done with a tap and is hidden in the “Labs” section. This “double tap earbud edge” hasn’t been very precise, but it’s also another “tap” on my ear, as opposed to just letting me swipe up or down. Oh, and if you want to use this gesture while only wearing one earbud, it’s a one-way street.
Wearing the left earbud and using this gesture will turn the volume down while wearing only the right earbud will turn the volume up. It’s just frustrating, and now I wish that Samsung would “borrow” the swipe gestures from the Pixel Buds Pro.
Okay, rant over. Well almost. If you own multiple recently-released Samsung Galaxy devices, Samsung’s pseudo-multipoint feature is incredibly reliable. It’s the same story as the original Galaxy Buds Pro, and this excellent experience comes to a screeching halt as soon as you throw a non-Samsung device into the mix.
With a $30 price hike, I really wish Samsung wouldn’t have focused so much on 24-bit audio and its attempt at 360-degree audio. Instead, I wish Samsung would have implemented true Bluetooth Multipoint with its flagship earbuds. Multipoint is rapidly becoming one of those “must-have” features, and it’s just a shame that Samsung missed out on this opportunity. Maybe with the Buds 3 Pro, but bleh.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro: Competition
The most obvious competition to the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is Apple’s AirPods Pro, which isn’t even much of a comparison at this point. Apple is rumored to be gearing up to launch the AirPods Pro 2 in the near future. Considering the AirPods Pro are almost three years old, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro grabs an easy win, unless you’re in Apple’s ecosystem already.
In my opinion, the stiffer competition in the space comes from Google’s Pixel Buds Pro. They might not be as comfortable to wear, and might still be lacking features that the Buds 2 Pro includes. Not only are Google’s newest earbuds less expensive, but they also include features that work for everyone as opposed to being limited to Galaxy devices, such as true Bluetooth Multipoint.
I wasn’t really sure what to say about battery life, because I know people are going to wonder. But the truth is that it’s just fine. The Buds 2 Pro are rated for lasting up to five hours on a single charge, and my usage found that they meet those claims. It’s nothing crazy, these earbuds will last for half the day before needing to be re-juiced, and that’s fine.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if…
- You own and use multiple Samsung Galaxy devices.
- You want the most comfortable Bluetooth earbuds.
- You care about enhanced audio codecs.
You shouldn’t buy this if…
- You want the longest-lasting battery life.
- You don’t want to spend a lot of money.
While it’s true that I have a few gripes with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, it’s also true that these are going to likely end up as the best wireless earbuds overall. Samsung’s slight tweaks to the design have paid huge dividends (for me at least), and I’ve gone a few hours forgetting that I was wearing earbuds at all. It’s something that can’t be said for any of the earbuds that I’ve purchased or tested over the past year or so.
Sure, there are Samsung-specific features, but that’s just something that I’ll keep screaming into the void about until I run out of breath. Seriously Samsung, just make all of the features available on all of the best Android phones, not just ones with your own branding. And quit mimicking Apple with the “fake” multipoint functionality. Yeah, like that’s ever going to happen.
Truth be told, if it weren’t for the frustrating volume gesture controls, I would throw my Pixel Buds Pro in a drawer, only to take them out whenever Google pushes a new update. But the Buds 2 Pro are just too damn comfortable, so I’ll just keep switching back and forth for the foreseeable future.
Comfortable and fantastic
The best Samsung earbuds get even better, bringing a more comfortable fit, and almost all of the features you could want. Just be prepared to pay a little bit more than you might be expecting.
Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.