All-around champ

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

Galaxy Buds Live Mystic Bronze

Only for iPhones

AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro render

The Galaxy Buds Live created a lot of hype thanks to the iconic bean-like shape, and thankfully, the buzz was well-deserved. Samsung crafted an excellent pair of earbuds with the Galaxy Buds Live, delivering a phenomenal design, enjoyable sound, and long battery life. Even better, they cost less than AirPods.

$170 at Amazon

Pros

  • Design is unlike anything else
  • Extremely comfortable for all kinds of ears
  • Companion app for Android and iOS
  • Longer battery life
  • More affordable price

Cons

  • ANC is disappointing

AirPods Pro are some of the most popular earbuds on the planet, and in a lot of ways, they live up to the hype. They sound really good, the noise cancelation is among the best you can get for earbuds, and the transparency mode is super convenient. Unfortunately, you miss out on a lot of features if you have an Android phone, which doesn't make any sense considering their price.

$234 at Amazon

Pros

  • Incredible noise cancelation
  • Transparency mode works very well
  • Super comfortable design
  • Playback gestures are great
  • Compact, high-quality charging case

Cons

  • Android users miss out on a lot of features
  • Lightning charging is annoying
  • Expensive!

The Galaxy Buds Live and AirPods Pro are the best true wireless earbuds from Samsung and Apple, respectively. Both pairs of earbuds bring a lot of good to the table, but overall, we have to give the upper-hand to the Buds Live. Between the unique design, more affordable price, and better compatibility across Android and iOS devices, they're definitely easier to recommend to most folks. The AirPods Pro are just as fantastic in their own right, but if you have an Android phone, the high price and missing features make them a tough sell.

Why the Galaxy Buds Live are just too good

Galaxy Buds LiveSource: Joe Maring / Android Central

With it feeling like a new pair of true wireless earbuds is released every single week, it can be difficult to keep up with what's hot and what's not. That's not a problem Samsung has with the Galaxy Buds Live, however, as these are some of the most unique and original earbuds we've ever seen.

There's a lot going for the Buds Live, and it all starts with the design. The Galaxy Buds Live ditch the traditional earbud shape in favor of something completely new, which is a bean. There's a reason people refer to these as the "Galaxy Beans" so much — they really do look like beans! That may be offputting at first, but this design comes with a lot of upsides.

Not only do you benefit from having earbuds that stand out from the crowd, but the Galaxy Buds Live are also incredibly comfortable. They rest in the outer part of your ear rather than making a seal in your ear canal, allowing you to listen to your music while still hearing the world around you. They have a secure fit that's conducive for working out, are simple to use thanks to the one-size-fits-all nature, and are a fantastic choice for people that struggle with normal earbud shapes.

Galaxy Buds LiveSource: Joe Maring / Android Central

Unfortunately, this design does adversely affect the active noise cancelation (ANC) feature. The open design naturally lets in more sound than earbuds like the AirPods Pro, and because of this, ANC can only do so much to minimize distractions. Low-frequency sounds (like a dishwasher) are blocked out fairly well, but mid-to-high frequency noises (such as people talking) are still audible.

Outside of the issue with noise cancelation, the rest of the Buds Live experience is as good as it gets. Audio is well-balanced with a nice punch, battery life is considerably better than the AirPods, and Samsung's companion app is available for both Android and iOS. The iOS variant does skimp out on a couple of features (namely the Buds Live's ability to read aloud notifications), but you can still control noise cancelation, tweak your EQ settings, and use the Find My Earbuds feature.

You get all of this for less money than the AirPods Pro, making the Galaxy Buds Live a solid value.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Apple AirPods Pro
Speakers 1-way
12mm drivers
Bass duct
Custom high-excursion Apple driver
Custom high dynamic range amplifier
Microphones 3 mins 3 mics
Active Noise Cancellation ✔️ ✔️
Battery Life Up to 8 hours Up to 4.5 hours
Battery Life w/ Case Up to 29 hours Up to 24 hours
Water Resistance IPX2 IPX4
Dimensions (Earbuds) 16.5 x 27.3 x 14.9mm 21.8 x 30.9 x 24mm
Dimensions (Case) 50.0 x 50.2 x 27.8mm 60.6 x 45.2 x 21.7mm
Weight (Earbuds) 5.6g 5.4g
Weight (Case) 42.4g 45.6g

AirPods Pro are amazing — unless you use Android

AirPods ProSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

That brings us to the AirPods Pro, and to Apple's credit, they are outstanding. ANC is substantially better on the AirPods, which manage to block out a lot more sound than the Buds Live. Apple's noise-canceling tech certainly deserves credit, but another factor is the sealed in-ear design. AirPods Pro are very comfortable to wear, but if you regularly struggle with these types of earbuds, the AirPods Pro won't change your world the way Galaxy Buds Live will.

Another standout feature is the transparency mode on AirPods Pro, which reverses the effect of the noise cancelation so you can clearly hear your surrounding environment as if you weren't wearing earbuds at all. There are other earbuds and headphones that also have this, but AirPods Pro do it better than just about anyone.

And, of course, using AirPods Pro are basically magic when paired with an iPhone. Whether it's the instant pairing/connecting or being able to seamlessly swap between various Apple devices, AirPods Pro tie into the Apple ecosystem just as you'd expect from the company. Unfortunately, this tight-nit integration rears its head the minute you start using AirPods with an Android phone. They don't automatically pair, the auto-pause feature doesn't work, and the Bluetooth connection that is eventually established isn't the most secure.

This doesn't completely ruin the experience of using AirPods Pro with Android, but for the amount of money Apple asks for them, it does put a pretty big damper on things.

The battle of competing platforms

AirPods Pro and Galaxy Note 10Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central

What we have here is a decision that can ultimately be made by which smartphone you use — Android or iOS. The experience of using AirPods Pro with a device running Android isn't all that great, but if you do live in that Apple ecosystem, AirPods Pro just make sense as the earbuds to get. The hardware and ANC are both excellent, and when you factor that together with the various Apple tie-ins, the end result is something that you just can't replicate anywhere else.

Comparatively, Samsung's Galaxy Buds are a great fit for any Android user. While a couple of smaller features are reserved for use with a Samsung phone, the Buds Live work very well regardless of who made your device. Heck, even if you have an iPhone and want to save a bit of cash, you can pick up the Galaxy Buds Live and still have a good time. ANC isn't as great, but the unique design and improved battery life give them a competitive edge over the AirPods.

All-around champ

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Mystic Bronze

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

Believe in the beans

Whether you're an Android or iOS user, the Galaxy Buds Live bring a lot to the table. It all starts with that bean shape, which allows for excellent comfort and a design that's unlike anything else. As you start factoring in the great performance of the audio, battery, and companion app, you end up with a lot to like.

Only for iPhones

AirPods Pro render

AirPods Pro

An amazing purchase (unless you use Android)

So many people with iPhones also have AirPods, and there's a reason for that. Not only do AirPods Pro have some of the very best ANC around, but they also have a killer transparency mode and exceptional comfort. The tight integration with iOS is terrific, but when used with an Android handset, you lose a bunch of features.

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