Another Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event has come and gone, with a new set of wireless earbuds from the company. As many would expect, the new earbuds introduce improvements on features from previous generations, alongside the debut of others. But Samsung didn't completely ditch everything from last year's models and start anew for 2022, and not in a good way. That means reports of Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro ear infections are cropping up already.
Here we go again
For Android users, Samsung has offered some of the best wireless earbuds at an affordable price for years. This leads to many thousands of people using them, and there is bound to be an issue or two cropping up because everyone is different. However, last year, there were more than just a couple of cases where users were getting irritation in their ears from the buds — myself being one of them.
In short, I have used the original Samsung Galaxy Buds for years and really enjoyed them. But they were getting up there in age, and the battery life wasn't as good as before, and they lacked some features I wanted. So, I picked up the Galaxy Buds Pro last year. They fit great and sounded fantastic. I was happy, until I started getting some irritation in my ear.
I shook it off, at first, and figured I had just gotten something in my ear that reacted strangely. After taking time to heal, I returned to the earbuds only to have the irritation resurface. I ended up with a nasty ear infection, and after some reflection, I could pinpoint that the Galaxy Buds Pro was the culprit. I decided to get the Galaxy Buds 2, only to have the same issue. For the full rundown of what happened and insight into the situation, you can read about it here.
Yet, as I said at the beginning; this is a new year, and many like myself were hoping for a refresh and resolution to the issues caused by last year's Galaxy earbuds. However, it seems that Samsung didn't learn from its mistakes, or attempt to curtail potential future issues, as there are already reports of ear infections creeping up from the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro released on August 26, 2022. However, my colleague Andrew Myrick, who reviewed the new earbuds, did not experience these issues.
That being said, Reddit user TheBlack_Swordsman reached out to us on August 23, 2022 — as he had received his Galaxy Buds 2 Pro a few days early — to let us know he was experiencing the same irritation issues as he did from last year's models. Along with the information he provided us, he also started a thread documenting his experience with the new earbuds.
I asked TheBlack_Swordsman if he had seen a doctor about the new infection, and if there was any insight as to what may be the cause of the irritation, he told me, "I saw a doctor twice. The first time he thought it was an infection. Because it came right back after treatment, we decided to remove things I put in my ear. I use earplugs sometimes to sleep at night, so we didn't know if it was the earplugs or the earbuds. It was 100% the earbuds."
Since these types of issues are usually caused by some form of an allergic reaction, I asked him if he has any known allergies to materials like nickel or zinc, "I never thought I was allergic to any material. I handle zinc-plated steel and nickel-plated copper at work often. It is possible the skin in my ear canal is what is allergic, and not the skin on my hands, or I never expose myself to these materials long enough. There's also a possibility that it's the plastic housing itself."
For the original Galaxy Buds and Buds+, Samsung used polycarbonate plastic, but switched to an acrylate version for the Buds Pro and Buds 2. Curiously, the materials list that shows what was used in the two new earbuds no longer shows acrylate. Whether that is because Samsung changed it or something else is unclear. We did reach out to Samsung for an in-depth materials list and a comment, but have yet to hear back at the time of publication. Should they respond, we will update it here.
While researching to see if others outside of TheBlack_Swordsman had experienced issues with the new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, I found some user posts on Samsung's official support page. I read through what had been posted and saved the URLs so I could go back to reference them later. However, clicking on them on September 1, 2022, redirects to a post about last year's earbud issues.
I found cached versions of the posts and will share screenshots along with the original URLs below. Perhaps they will end up on the correct page later, but the gist of the posts is that users are experiencing the same issues as what others did from last year's Galaxy Buds Pro and Buds 2. Why the links to reports of Buds 2 Pro aren't going to the originally intended post is unclear; you are welcome to draw your own conclusions on that.
I asked TheBlack_Swordsman if he had previously experienced issues with any other earbuds and he told me, "I have never had this issue before. I was previously using LG wireless headsets, Buds, Buds+ and Jabra 75e (still use this one), and it was only when I got the Buds pro this issue started"
In asking if he had reached out to Samsung, and if so, had they responded to him, "Yes, I contacted Samsung. They told me they had a specific department handling these cases. This is when I realized this problem must be happening to many other people if they had a department ready to facilitate these specific cases. They asked for many photos of my ear, the buds themselves, the case, etc. They even asked for any medical records with personal information removed. In the end, they reimbursed me for the buds and offered to reimburse me for the doctor's visits and medications. I haven't followed through with the last part, but I am thinking that I should at this point. "
Here are a few of the images he provided of his ears. These are a pictures of an infected ear, so if you are sensitive to these types of things you may want to skip viewing them.
Since Samsung hasn't provided us with any documentation of the materials used for the new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, nor has it been published online, we cannot say that the same plastics or metals are being used as last year's models. But there is clearly a similar issue starting to arise among Buds 2 Pro buyers.
Along with the changes in plastics used between the Samsung Galaxy Buds and Buds+ to the more recent Buds Pro, Buds 2, and Buds 2 Pro, the metal used for the charging contacts changed. Though Samsung says in the material list from earlier that the contacts on all Galaxy Buds models — aside from the new Buds 2 Pro, as they haven't been added yet — are brass (Palladium/gold plated). It's clearly not.
Looking at the pictures below, you can see that the only earbuds showing brass contacts are the Buds+. The others are the Buds Pro and Buds 2 Pro, which lack the brass color, and could potentially cause irritation for some users. But as TheBlack_Swordsman noted, "I got my college degree in metalsmithing and jewelry making, which meant spending a lot of time with various metals, including brass and nickel, in raw forms, with no reaction at all. This leads me to believe the core issue is the acrylate plastics used, and those, like nickel, have noted allergy potential."
Samsung is clearly aware of the problems from last year's Galaxy earbud models, and seems they are still present for the 2022 version. What's unclear is if Samsung will openly address the issues and work to resolve them for the future.
While I have not personally used the new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, the curious part of me wants to give them a try to see if I personally have the same issues as last year. But the logical part of me says "Don't be stupid. You know how painful that experience was and you don't need that again." So, I'll take the safe route and keep all new Samsung earbuds away from my ears until there is a complete overhaul in materials used.
If you are lucky enough to not have a reaction to the 2021 or 2022 Samsung Galaxy earbuds, I'm happy for you. The time I spent with them before the infections was fantastic. But if you are like me and many others that aren't so lucky: I'm sorry, and hopefully this article can save others from going down that same road.