Galaxy Buds Live: Samsung reveals active noise-cancelling earbuds

Best buds in the whole wide Galaxy?

With enough leaks to sink the Titanic in the leadup to the August Unpacked event, the fog of rumours surrounding Samsung’s latest cargo has finally cleared.

It was a chockers presentation, revealing not only the Galaxy Note 20 range, but also a new Galaxy Tab S7, a new Galaxy Watch 3, and some shiny new wireless earbuds, the Galaxy Buds Live. And it turns out the leaked designs were pretty spot on, for its next set of in-ear headphones, Samsung’s gone with what it calls an “ergonomic” bean-shaped design.

Here’s what the Galaxy Buds Live look like:

Galaxy Buds Live Colours

The Galaxy Buds Live come in three colours from the Note 20 range: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, and Mystic White. It’s worth noting that Mystic Bronze is the only colour there that the Galaxy Note 20 is available in, if you’re particular about matching, you’ll need a Note 20 Ultra to go with the black or white variant.

Galaxy Buds Live Pricing in Australia

$319 outright but included with Note 20 Ultra pre-orders.

If you’re looking to upgrade your wireless earbuds, the Galaxy Buds Live will cost you $319 outright in Australia. However, suppose you’re also someone upgrading to the Note 20 early. In that case, the Galaxy Buds Live earbuds come bundled with any outright Note 20 Ultra pre-order (before 20 August) through Samsung, and any Note 20 Ultra plan pre-order from the following mobile providers.

Galaxy Live Earbuds Release Date in Australia

Buds Live pre-orders ship 19 August 2020.

While the official street release date for the Galaxy Buds Live is 21 August 2020, pre-orders via Samsung and participating telcos will begin shipping from Wednesday, 19 August 2020. So your buds should arrive right on time for official release (if not a little earlier).

Galaxy Buds Live Wireless Earbuds

Galaxy Buds Live Specs

Active noise-cancelling with low water-resistance.

Specs: Galaxy Buds Live vs Galaxy Buds+
SpecsGalaxy Buds LiveGalaxy Buds+
Noise CancellationActivePassive
Battery life (Buds)*5.5 hours11 hours
Battery life (Case)*20 hours22 hours
Water resistanceIPX2IPX2
ColoursBronze, Black, WhiteWhite, Blue, Black, Red
Weight (Bud)5.6g6.3g
Weight (Charging Case)42.2g39.6g
Quick charging (charge/play)60min/5min60min/3min
CableUSB-CUSB-C
ChipsetBCM 43015BCM 43015
OSRTOSRTOS
Bluetooth5.05.0
CodecsSBC, AAC, ScalableSBC, AAC, Scalable
Price$319$299

The most significant feature Galaxy Buds Live have over the Galaxy Buds+ earbuds is active noise cancellation. That allows you to block or allow external noises (like a noisy office) with the touch of a button. Besides that, the only other real upgrades are the fancy colours and unique design.

But active noise cancelling takes a hit on your battery life, as you can see in the table above. With active noise cancelling and Bixby voice wake-up active, you’ll run the Buds Live empty with about 5.5 hours of playback, with a total of 20 hours of charge in the case. Those numbers don’t paint a pretty picture of the Galaxy Buds Live’s battery life; almost exactly half of what the Samsung Buds+ promise. Even with the active noise cancelling and Bixby voice wake-up switched off, the Buds Live will only last up to 8 hours per bud (but you’ll get a total of 29 hours in the case).

We’ll hold off judgement until we get to stick these things in our ears.

Disappointingly, Samsung hasn’t improved on the Galaxy Buds+ IPX2 water resistance rating with the Galaxy Buds Live. IPX2 is at the low end of the water resistance spectrum, and only resists water that “hits the product at a 15° angle or less”. That’s not very reassuring fitness folk. We’d recommend splashing out on something like the Jaybird Vista ($349.95) buds if you’re after something that weather the elements.

Worth the upgrade?

If you’re already planning on pre-ordering a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, a bonus pair of Galaxy Buds Live is a sweet value add. But the Galaxy Buds Live’s noise-cancelling performance and overall audio quality are hard to judge on paper. We’d recommend holding off on an outright purchase until more people have had some hands-on time with Samsung’s new wireless buds.

Here are those Note 20 Ultra plans again, in case your thinking of pre-order before 20 August 2020.

Note 20 Ultra 4G 256GB plans
Note 20 Ultra 5G 256GB plans