Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM4

Samsung has been chasing the wireless earbuds crown for years, and Sony stands in the way as one of the most acclaimed pairs you can find. With the right improvements, the gap is closing between these two, though picking one over the other comes with points you have to consider first.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM4: What stands out?

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Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds.

(Image credit: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central)

Both companies hold both similar and different design philosophies all at once in how they build their respective earbuds and cases. Matte finishes cover both pairs, and each offer three pairs of ear tips to find the right fit. They're not going to be slippery, though Samsung holds an edge when it comes to ruggedness, getting the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro IPX7 protection. With the WF-1000XM4, it's only IPX4, making them less ideal for rigorous workouts or runs.

Despite that, Sony's choice of foam tips create a tighter seal than the silicone ones Samsung uses. This plays a bigger role in getting a better fit, simply because Sony's buds are bulkier than Samsung's in this case. Indeed, for Samsung, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro were designed to shave off some of the heft from their predecessors. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro close-up with case open on top of Galaxy Z Fold 4

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

That also extends to their respective charging cases, where Samsung has followed a design going back to the Galaxy Buds Live. Small, easy to pocket, and with wireless charging support, those are good reasons to stick with something familiar. It doesn't hurt that protective cases easily fit from one to another.

Sony doesn't often stick to the same design for its cases, and while the WF-1000XM4 have a bigger case, the size difference here isn't too significant. You can transport them fairly easily and charge them wirelessly, too. 

Each pair work with apps that expand on both performance and customization. Sony goes a little deeper in that regard by including ways to customize the onboard controls and voice assistant, whereas Samsung includes unique features like Voice Detect and the gaming mode. Digging into both apps is well worth the effort because there are plenty of features to check out.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM4: What are the differences?

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Sony WF-1000XM4 open case.

(Image credit: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central)

That app support plays a crucial role in how each of these buds sound. Both are tuned with a bass-friendly soundstage by default, but if you're looking for some balance, you will find it in the EQ section in both apps. The key difference is Sony offers both presets and the option to save your own presets, whereas Samsung only gives you presets without the chance to customize anything. 

Things diverge further when breaking down the additional audio features or settings. They both support the SBC and AAC codecs, though the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have Samsung's Seamless Codec HiFi, and the WF-1000XM4 have Sony's LDAC, making each of them capable of hi-res playback. You do need to use devices that can handle those streams, and in Samsung's case, 24-bit audio only applies to the company's own Galaxy smartphones. For Sony, your phone and audio source need to support LDAC and offer hi-res playback.

Spatial audio also comes into play to deliver virtual surround sound through different paths. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro support Dolby Atmos, which you can try out with 360 Audio. Sony's own 360 Reality Audio does the job for the WF-1000XM4. You get best results when the source you're listening from supports either protocol, which is why your results may vary either way.

Sony WF-1000XM4 True Wireless Earbuds in ear.

(Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

As deep as the custom options go, sound quality depends on some other factors. You won't be disappointed with what you hear with either pair, though Sony gets an edge here because the sound is one of the best you'll find in any pair of buds. Samsung closed the gap enough to make things interesting.

It did the same with ANC, where the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro block out the background better than their predecessors did. The WF-1000XM4 are the benchmark for noise cancelation, so the fact Samsung tightened the race in that regard is a testament to how far the company's engineers have come. Sony benefits from using foam tips because the better seal improves passive isolation. The more they plug gaps in your ears, the easier it is for the ANC to down out the background.

Since both pairs have excellent microphones, solid performance also works in reverse through the ambient modes. It's easy to hear things going on around you when necessary, and while unique features like Samsung's Voice Detect can feel like a work in progress sometimes. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Bora Purple colorway

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Voice assistants can play a role here as well, and you've got choices. Samsung will always serve up its own Bixby first, but you can also go with Google Assistant or Alexa, and Sony lets you decide between the latter two as well. 

Battery life won't line up between these two. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro can only reach up to five hours per charge with ANC on, while the WF-1000XM4 significantly best that by going up to eight hours with ANC on. Each case gets you an extra three charges, so they're even on that front. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM4: Who to pick?

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Sony WF-1000XM4 closed cases.

(Image credit: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central)

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro work with any Android phone, yet some of their features only fit within Samsung's ecosystem. If you want to use them with multiple devices at one time, those need to be compatible Galaxy devices. Sony never included multipoint support in the WF-1000XM4 but will bring it in via a firmware update before the end of 2022. Once enabled, it will work with any Android phone, not just Samsung's.

If you have a Samsung phone, it will be hard to turn down the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. But the Sony WF-1000XM4 are still one of the best pairs of earbuds money can buy, and they'll prove that paired with any device. Both of these are among the best wireless earbuds available, so you won't make a wrong choice here. It's just the differences between them may tell you which way to go.

Ted Kritsonis
Contributor, Audio Reviewer

Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar. Often times, that will be with a pair of headphones or earbuds playing tunes. When he's not testing something, he's working on the next episode of his podcast, Tednologic.