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Are the Galaxy S7's in-box headphones worth your time?

Aside from HTC's phones that launched during the now-defunct partnership with Beats, even high-end phones have historically come with a pretty crappy pair of headphones in the box. Many mid-range phones — and even more pricey devices like the Nexus 6P — eschew headphones altogether, understanding that folks aren't likely to use them and it can be an area of cost savings.

But what about your $700 Galaxy S7? Sure it comes with a pair of headphones nestled in the box, and nobody would blame you for being skeptical that they're worth a damn. Recently I set down my many pairs of nicer headphones to take the Galaxy S7's included earbuds for a spin — here's what I found.

Design and comfort

Rather than go with a super-basic earbud design, Samsung has opted for a far more ergonomic styling with a kidney-shaped earbud that's made to nestle deeper and point sound directly into your ear. This immediately improves comfort compared to the basic designs that rest further out on your ear, and also helps a little with noise cancelation — though these headphones don't particularly excel in that respect.

There are two different sizes of silicone covers for the earbuds, and the smaller pair worked surprisingly well for my larger ears. The relatively hard silicone added to the comfort of these earbuds, putting them a large step above other cheap (and not so cheap (opens in new tab) headphones that are just hard plastic.

The plastic that makes up the housing itself is light, flimsy and kind of slick feeling, but what can you expect for "free" headphones, I suppose. I don't expect these to be able to handle abuse for an extended period. The entire cable doesn't feel particularly robust either, and has a somewhat-rubbery coating that's bound to get tangled easily as its sheen wears off.

There's a really good in-line remote on the cable leading to the right earbud, with play/pause button and a volume rocker. Samsung has made a proper design decision here to separate that play/pause button from the volume rocker, rather than putting it in the middle where it's far too easy to hit when all you want to do is adjust the volume. The mic found on the remote opposite the buttons is there for calls ... but it's not anywhere near the quality you'd get just from using the mic on the Galaxy S7.

Audio quality

Galaxy S7 in-box headphones

Here's where we get to the real meat and potatoes — the audio quality. Sure the headphones aren't made to last forever, but you can hope that whatever money was saved in the cheap plastic was instead spent on the components that make these earbuds worth putting in your ears.

Coming from the base line of basically zero expectations when it came to audio quality on these headphones, I was pleasantly surprised after listening to them for over a week.

They're more than good enough for podcasts and other spoken word audio, but also usable for streaming audio and even serviceable for local audio playback — across the board, far higher quality than I expected. Music in particular can push past what these little earbuds are capable of, especially in bass response, but even at high volumes I never thought they were particularly tinny or hollow — they just couldn't produce bass like better earbuds can.

Bottom line

If you already have a pair of in-ear headphones that you like, and they set you back more than about $30, you aren't going to be too impressed by what comes in the box of the Galaxy S7. By spending additional money on headphones prior to this, you've already established that you're willing to pay for a bit more quality — both in the design and audio.

But if you just lost your previous pair of headphones, or have done so before and bought the best-looking $5 pair you could find on Amazon you to get you through some time while you shop for something nicer, you should give the headphones in the Galaxy S7's box a chance. They're extremely comfortable, have good in-line controls and sound pretty good.

I can guarantee you they feel and sound better than that pair of cheapo earbuds you bought to replace your old pair, and while they probably aren't built to last you as long as you'll have your Galaxy S7 they're a good pair of headphones to have around, even after you've decided its time for something nicer for everyday use.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

152 Comments
  • The new design is rough, for me anyway. I can't get them to stay in. Be Together Not The Same
  • I use the stock headphones. Mostly because I only listen to podcasts and it doesn't matter, but even the music I listen to sounds good. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Pull that sign out that says "Space for rent" and they'll fit. J/k man!
  • Explain Be Together Not The Same
  • The sign. Space for rent. Out of your head. It was a joke man. That's all.
  • It's all good Be Together Not The Same
  • Does anyone know Samsung Galaxy S7 got touch improvements update today ? here i found the news
    samsungdeck . com/2016/04/11/galaxy-s7-galaxy-s7-edge-updated-touch-improvements/
  • Ditto. Not even close to staying in.
  • I agree they're loose.
  • Same here. And the audio quality is garbage. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Must be a slow news week. The headphones are just ok in my opinion. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't get this point, or why people try to make it sound like posting these sorts of articles is a bad thing. Do you really think that the majority of what we do here at AC is just covering the "news" every week? It really isn't. We cover a lot more than that, and posting an article about headphones that come with the most popular device of the year — on a Saturday, no less — has absolutely nothing to do with the "news" cycle.
  • @Andrew Mattonik: Valid point. While the quality of headphones (earbuds, whatever) may not be a major revelation, to some who cherish sound quality, it is a point of interest. Those might wonder if they need to buy another headphone while they're making the phone purchase. What may have driven home the value of this article would be to compare it to known after-market products that are well-known to the public. Cover dynamic range. bass, treble, distortion, ambient noise reduction, etc.
  • Glad someone finally talked about how good the stock earbuds are for a free pair. Besides not producing loud bass 7 the cable being a little weak, It's a free pair that I am happy with.
  • Yup, I wouldn't have written anything if they weren't any good. But it turns out they've got some quality.
  • And thanks to this post, I will use the included headphones, I didn't even try them. Now I will open the box again and actually give them a try. Thanks Andrew.
  • Andrew, can you check and let us know if these are identical to the ones that came with the S6? They certainly appear to be the same. If they're different can you let us know what the differences are? Thanks.
  • I agree with you a 100% Andrew. To make a comment like that is just flat out rude. I actually appreciated this article and I will give these headphones a try. S7 edge/AC app
  • I was happy to see the article too. I'm waiting for an S7 Edge and what earbuds would come with it was a question I had - now I know!
  • You're making a mistake bro.
  • No you put out your opinions that sometimes bash really good devices or say a terrible device is good. Some of the articles are utter garbage. And I feel like if people have a S7 they will know if the earbuds are any good after first use. Don't need you to tell them. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Once a Dick always a dick........Go away troll.
  • Must be a slow day for you to make a comment like that. Nothing else to do? Posted via Nexus 6 running on any data plan I want
  • Headphones might not be a big deal for you but they are a big deal for me and other of us. I personally wish Samsung would put a slightly higher quality of headphone in the box considering the hefty price tags of their phones. I think the quality of headphones Samsung packs in boxes is worth about $15.00 Be Together Not The Same
  • I have to agree. But for free, they really aren't that bad. Better than the republic headphones sold at radio shack....
  • They are not free though. $800-$700 is for the whole package not just the phone. I exactly quality for that price. Be Together Not The Same
  • For a while there, some manufacturers didn't even include them and the phones were the same price. I get what your saying, but they don't have to include them.
  • If you want the full package I guess you expect Samsung to include a free 200 GB SD card and free wireless charger too SMH. They already offer promos for a free Gear VR and free wireless charger when you register a credit or debit card with Samsung Pay. Some people are never happy. For $800 your already getting the best Android phone currently available. They don't have to include the free headphones. Posted Via The AT&T Note 5