Between the Galaxy Buds Live and Galaxy Buds Plus, Samsung has two excellent pairs of wireless earbuds that are both worth considering as your next audio pickup. The Buds Live deliver the best overall experience, kicking out more impressive audio, active noise cancelation, and a striking design that allows for better comfort. The Buds Plus aren't as exciting as their more expensive sibling, but they're still thoroughly enjoyable to use. Audio, battery life, and the design are all great, as is the lower price tag.
The Galaxy Buds Live are Samsung's best earbuds yet
Where the Galaxy Buds Plus were a subtle refinement over the original Galaxy Buds, the Galaxy Buds Live are a complete reimagining of what Samsung wants its true wireless earbuds to look and feel like in 2020. Specs were improved, new features were added, and Samsung introduced an all-new design that we've never seen before.
That design is the standout feature for the Galaxy Buds Live, and it's part of the reason why the earbuds are so darn great. Unlike the Buds Plus, which have a traditional in-ear fit, the Buds Live have an odd bean-like shape and rest in the outer part of your ear. As unconventional as it sounds, the Buds Live are honestly some of the comfiest earbuds I've ever worn.
They don't agitate my ears in any way. The lack of an in-ear seal means I can still hear the surrounding world around me, and the Buds Live somehow manage to retain a snug fit that can withstand a brisk walk or run. If you have small ears and/or scar tissue that makes it difficult to wear normal earbuds, the design of the Buds Live are exactly what you've been looking for.
Moving on from the design, the rest of the Galaxy Buds Live experience is just as good. The 12mm drivers and dedicated bass duct allow for big audio that's balanced and punchy, and thanks to Samsung's companion app, you can mess with EQ settings to customize your sound profile accordingly. Microphone performance is also very good, as is the Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connection. Continuous playback for battery life isn't as great as what you'll find with the Buds Plus, but total battery life when you factor in the charging case is top-notch thanks to its 29-hour rating.
Finally, there's the fact that the Galaxy Buds Live come with active noise cancelation. To be blunt, this is probably the most disappointing part about the earbuds. The ANC works well for quieting lower sounds like a dishwasher or air conditioner, but for mid-to-higher pitched things (people talking, a TV playing in the background, etc.), the Buds Live struggle. This is a direct result of that open design that makes the Buds Live so comfortable in the first place, so it's a give-and-take of the feature and design working against each other. There are other earbuds that offer more effective ANC, but then you're settling for a more traditional design. The Buds Plus don't have ANC at all though, so some might still be better than none.
|Samsung Galaxy Buds Live||Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus|
|Microphones||3 mics||3 mics|
|Active Noise Cancellation||✔️||❌|
|Bixby Voice Wake-Up||✔️||❌|
|Battery Life||Up to 8 hours||11 hours|
|Battery Life w/ Charging Case||Up to 29 hours||22 hours|
But the Galaxy Buds Plus are still great (and cost less)
There's no denying just how good the Galaxy Buds Live are, but that's only because Samsung had a strong foundation to build upon them in the first place. The Galaxy Buds Plus are the earbuds that preceded the Live, and while they aren't as technically or physically impressive, they remain a fantastic pair of all-around earbuds.
One of the biggest differences with the Galaxy Buds Plus is the design, which favors a much more traditional in-ear style. Samsung includes a few different ear tips to help you find the perfect fit, and while it's not as seamless or elegant as the Buds Live, it's still a solid design that's comfy and secure.
There is no active noise cancelation and audio quality isn't quite as powerful, but for casual listening, the Buds Plus do a great job. You get access to Samsung's companion app for custom EQ settings, the Bluetooth connection is just as reliable, and you have the same capacitive touch controls for managing your playback. While total battery life is less overall, the Buds Plus shine with their continuous playback rating of 11 hours.
Making all of this better is the price. Since the Galaxy Buds Plus have been available for a few months, it isn't uncommon to find them discounted from their already lower retail price. If you're looking for a pair of high-end earbuds but are trying to spend as little money as possible, the Buds Plus are appealing.
Two fantastic choices
At the end of the day, the Galaxy Buds Live and Galaxy Buds Plus are both easy to recommend. If you want earbuds with impressive sound and a design that's both visually-striking and highly comfortable, the Buds Live are the ones to get. I've used and reviewed a lot of earbuds, and the design of the Buds Live is easily one of the best I've ever encountered.
The Buds Plus have slightly lesser audio, no ANC, and opt for that conventional design, but this is all made up for with a lower price. There's also the fact that we hailed the Buds Plus as some of the best earbuds when we first reviewed them back in February. The Buds Live do outshine them in a few different ways, but if you don't care about the improvements offered by the Live, the Buds Plus are an insanely good deal.
I'd personally opt for the Buds Live as I place a lot of value in the design and the audio quality is overall better, but no matter which route you go, you can rest assured you're getting some of the best wireless earbuds the market has to offer.
Best in class
The magic of the beans
Samsung's latest earbuds are the Galaxy Buds Live, and they're outstanding. It all starts with the design, which looks and feels unlike any earbuds you've tried before. This is made even better with the awesome audio, long battery life, and active noise cancelation.
Reliable and affordable
Still worth your consideration
Although they aren't the newest earbuds on the block, the Galaxy Buds Plus continue to be a strong contender in the wireless earbud space. You don't get the radical design of the Buds Live or improved audio quality, but the day-to-day experience is still great. Not to mention, the lower price is hard to argue with.
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