Samsung Galaxy Buds Live vs. Galaxy Buds Plus: Which should you buy?

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live vs. Galaxy Buds+
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live vs. Galaxy Buds+ (Image credit: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Mystic Bronze

The Galaxy Buds Live are the latest entry in Samsung's true wireless earbuds family, and it's safe to say they're the best yet. Samsung knocked it out of the park with the Buds Live, offering great audio, strong battery life, and the long-awaited addition of noise cancellation. Above all else, the unique design looks unlike any competing earbuds and manages to be shockingly comfortable for all ear types.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

Best in class

Extremely comfortable
Great audio with punchy bass
Reliable battery life
Compact charging case
ANC performance is just OK
Less continuous playback time

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

While the Galaxy Buds Plus may not be as immediately eye-catching, they still have a lot going for them. Released a few months before the Buds Live, the Buds Plus manage to deliver good sound, work with the same excellent companion app, and even have longer battery life when it comes to continuous playback. The design isn't as revolutionary and they don't have noise cancelation of any kind, but if you like traditional earbuds, they're great.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

Reliable and affordable

Tried and true design
Well-balanced sound
Outstanding battery life
Available in more colors
Easier on the wallet
No noise cancelation
Design isn't as universal

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

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

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.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live vs. Galaxy Buds+

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

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.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Samsung Galaxy Buds LiveSamsung Galaxy Buds Plus
Speaker1-way12mm driver2-way
Microphones3 mics3 mics
Active Noise Cancellation✔️
Bixby Voice Wake-Up✔️
Battery LifeUp to 8 hours11 hours
Battery Life w/ Charging CaseUp to 29 hours22 hours
ColorsMystic BronzeMystic BlackMystic WhiteBlueRedBlackWhite

But the Galaxy Buds Plus are still great (and cost less)

Samsung Galaxy Buds+

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

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.

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.