Samsung may have been a recent entrant into the world of wireless audio — the Galaxy Buds came out just two years ago — but it managed to leverage its AKG acquisition to go up against entrenched brands. The brand showed off its ANC prowess with last year's Buds Live, and it has built on those fundamentals with the Buds Pro, which launched alongside the Galaxy S21 series.
The Buds Pro deliver excellent sound, a design that provides a secure fit, and all the features you'd want from premium wireless earbuds. It's no wonder, then, that the Buds Pro are sitting at the top of our best wireless earbuds list. I've been using the Buds Pro for just over a week now, and here's what I like about the earbuds, and where Samsung needs to improve.
Galaxy Buds Pro deliver outstanding ANC
With the Buds Pro, Samsung is showing that it can hold its own against Sony and Bose when it comes to ANC. The earbuds manage to tune out ambient noise with surprising efficacy, and you get two modes to choose from — Low and High. In day-to-day use, the Buds Pro cut out the sound of the air conditioner and purifier just as well as the Sony WF-1000XM3, as well as tuning out errant low-frequency sounds.
That said, the earbuds don't eliminate all mid or high frequencies. Overall though, the Buds Pro do a standout job in this area, and Samsung's new wind shield mode eliminates any wind noise when you're making a phone call outside.
Galaxy Buds Pro provide a snug fit that's amazing for all-day use
I did not like the design of the Buds Live; I could never get a secure fit, and the earbuds started to get uncomfortable after 15 minutes. Thankfully, that is not an issue with the Buds Pro. These are the most comfortable earbuds Samsung has designed, and the contours of the Buds Pro ensure that they don't cause any discomfort when worn throughout the day.
The earbuds also have an auto-pause feature that automatically pauses the music when you take either earbud out of your ear. The music automatically resumes once you put the 'bud back in. Oh, and the new transparency mode is pretty great: you get four levels to choose from, and the feature amplifies ambient noise so you don't miss announcements if you're waiting to pick up coffee or are waiting to board a flight.
Galaxy Buds Pro hold up great for music and video calls
The Buds Pro may just be the best-sounding wireless earbuds in this category. These earbuds deliver a bright sound signature, producing a layered sound with clear instrument separation and a tight low-end along with clear highs. There are six EQ options to choose from — include a bass boost mode — and while there's no way to manually adjust the EQ, you should be able to find the sound profile you're looking for with at least one of the six modes.
There's no AptX here, but the earbuds feature Samsung's Scalable audio codec that delivers an equivalent experience (24-bit / 96Hz) and audio/video sync. With three on-board mics, the Buds Pro also hold up exceedingly well for regular phone calls as well as video meetings over Zoom or Google Meet.
Galaxy Buds Pro have decent battery life and wireless charging
In terms of battery life, the Buds Pro manage to last just under five hours of continuous music playback. That's not as good as the Buds+, but still decent enough for the level of noise isolation on offer here. The case has enough power to charge the 'buds twice over.
Charging these earbuds is about as effortless as it gets — the case has a USB-C port and works over the Qi wireless standard, and if you have a recent Samsung flagship phone, you can even put the case at the back of the phone and use reverse wireless charging.
On that note, the case itself is diminutive in size, and is the most pocketable I've used. I have a dozen wireless earbuds in the house, and all of them have a carrying case that's larger than the Buds Pro. Samsung has nailed the design of the case, and that makes the Buds Pro that much more enticing.
Galaxy Buds Pro come with an IPX7 rating
Samsung is offering an IPX7 rating with the Buds Pro. The brand's earlier wireless earbuds featured either IPX2 or IPX4 rating, but with the Buds Pro, you're getting the full IPX7 rating that makes the earbuds more immune to water ingress.
With IPX7, the earbuds are essentially protected against water ingress for 30 minutes at up to one meter, making them a fantastic choice for workouts. It's good to see Samsung finally deliver the same level of protection as the best options in this category.
What isn't great: You need a Galaxy phone to unlock the best features
The Galaxy Buds Pro offer a 360-degree virtual surround mode that is pretty interesting. The downside is that you can only use it if you have a Galaxy phone with One UI 3.1 — for now, that means the Galaxy S21 series.
Another interesting feature that's locked to the Samsung ecosystem is the ability to seamless switch between devices. If you're using the Buds Pro to watch a video on your tablet and receive a call on your phone, they will automatically switch source to the phone so you can take the call with the earbuds. It is an incredibly useful feature, but for it to work, you will need a Galaxy tablet and phone.
Finally, Samsung introduced a creator-focused feature that lets the Buds Pro sync audio recorded with the 'buds built-in microphone with the accompanying video. It is a cool feature, but once again, you'll need a recent Galaxy phone to make use of it.
Overall, the Buds Pro are the best wireless earbuds that Samsung has introduced to date, and they hold up incredibly well against the best that this segment has to offer. If you're using a Galaxy phone and need a new pair of earbuds, the Buds Pro are now the obvious choice.
The new standard
Truly standouts wireless earbuds
The Galaxy Buds Pro deliver a great sound with comfortable design, Qi wireless charging, IPX7 rating, and excellent noise isolation. There's nothing really missing here, and if you're in the market for new wireless earbuds, you cannot go wrong with the Buds Pro.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.