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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review: A cheerful earful
A worthy contender for your next set of high-end earbuds.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are held back by inconsistent battery life (particularly with high ANC enabled) and restrictive features that require a newer smartphone or tablet. Get past these quibbles, though, and you’ll find high-quality wireless earbuds that pack a punch on the audio front and are incredibly user-friendly (just put them in the right way).
Long ago I cut the cord and shifted to the wonders of wireless headphones. First, the all-time awesome Bose QuietComfort 35s, followed by the less-great Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700s before falling in love with the robotically-named-but-terrific Sony WH-1000XM4s. They’re all over-ear headphones, so going back to earbuds would mean they have to do something pretty special.
Cue the in-ear entry of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro price
The $349RRP for the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro puts these on the pricier end of earbud town when compared to our best wireless earbud picks but, at the time of writing, you could knock around $100 off that price from Kogan and Amazon. This makes these Samsung wireless earbuds a lot more appealing in terms of price. For context, they’re cheaper than the asking price for the popular Sony WF-1000XM3 and Apple AirPods Pro earbuds.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro specs
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Phantom Violet, Phantom Black, Phantom Silver
20.8x19.5mm (earbuds)50x50x28mm (case)
6.3g (per earbud)45g (case)
2-way 11mm woofer and 6.5mm tweeter
High SNR main mic, sub mic, inner mic
Battery (play time)
5 hours + 18 hours (case) ANC on8 hours + 28 hours (case) ANC off
Battery (talk time)
4 hours + 14.5 hours (case) ANC on5 hours + 17.5 hours (case) ANC off
3 min charge = 30 min play5 min charge = 60 min play10 min charge = 85 min play
Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, hall, touch, VPU
Android 7.0 or higher (with min. 1.5GB RAM)
Auto switch, Bixby voice wake-up, voice detect
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro design and fit
I never knew earbuds could have a learning curve. If you head over to the official Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro page, you may notice a lot of reviews complaining about how poorly they fit. This was my initial experience, too. And while I can’t speak for everyone’s aural-fitting experience with the Buds Pro, I do wonder how many of these people were wearing them around the wrong way.
That’s because I was one of those people. What I suspected may have been a horrible design flaw turns out to be an against-the-norm way to wear earbuds. Other earbuds seemingly pay their respects to wired headphones of old and get you to point the bulk of the external earbud down in a way that’s similar to where the headphone cable would dangle to connect to your belt-clippable Sony Discman.
But that’s not how the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are supposed to be worn. Instead, invert that logic and place the largest part of the earbud upwards, angling the earbud tips down into your ear canal. Before I realised this (read: quite literally read a ‘How to wear your Samsung earbuds’ support page), I struggled with sound leak, improper fits across the included three earbud tip options, inconsistent active noise cancelling (ANC) and, generally, was not having a great time with the Buds Pro. Inserting them the correct (albeit newfangled) way solved a lot of these woes. In hindsight, the placement of the ‘L’ and ‘R’ on the left and right earbuds, respectively, is a dead giveaway of how they should be angled.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro sound quality
I’ve tested the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro for a bunch of hours – both in smaller music sessions and hours-long comfort tests – and I’m constantly impressed by the sound. Whether it’s comfortably listening to classical music, uncomfortably loud rock and roll or bass-heavy tunes, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro have full-bodied sound. Volume can go up to cringe-inducing levels, while voices are crisp and clear, which means they’re great call companions, too. Bass obviously isn’t as great as over-ear headphones, but it’s got a respectable oomph.
While sound is decent with ANC switched off, it steps up a notch with ANC on. Ambient sound is a great touch that’s controlled within the Samsung Wearables app, too. It’s just a shame that the 360 audio and auto-switch features are restricted to One UI 3.1, which effectively translates to the Samsung Galaxy S21 line and the Galaxy Tab S7 range. What is great, though, is the touch controls are mostly accurate when you get the pressure right, even if hirsute folk (like me) need to factor in moving hair before interacting.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro case
Even without the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro magnetically snapped into place inside, there’s a noticeable heft to the case. It’s not anything close to cumbersome, of course, but the Buds Pro case packs a rechargeable battery that gives you an extra 13 hours of battery life. It also makes synchronising new devices incredibly straightforward: just pop open the case to sync.
This led to what has to be one of the most pleasant initial wireless headphone setups I’ve ever had. I’m so used to having to read a manual or googling which button (or buttons) to hold down for how many seconds to get a new set of cans to sync. Not with the Buds Pro. I opened the case and was pleasantly surprised to be prompted on my ageing Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus to connect. It then automatically downloaded the Samsung Wearables app, updated the software and they were ready to use.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro battery life
Speaking of battery, the longevity wasn’t quite in line with what was advertised. In my tests, I got just shy of 4.5 hours with ANC on high (there’s also a low setting), which is around half an hour shy of where the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro should be at. There wasn’t a massive difference in high and low settings for ANC as far as my ears could tell, so stick with low if you want more juice.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Buds Plus vs Buds Live
In terms of RRP, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are the most expensive ($349RRP), followed by the Buds Live ($319RRP) then the Buds Plus ($199RRP). Bear in mind that it wasn’t so long ago that the Buds Plus were priced at $299RRP, which puts them a lot closer in terms of pricing, more so with the discounted pricing online for the Buds Pro and Buds Live.
The extra cost for the Buds Pro gets you refined sound quality, including bigger sound care of the 11mm woofer and 6.5mm tweeters. For calls, the Buds Pro and Buds Live both have a voice pickup unit, which the Buds Plus is lacking, plus the Buds Pro and Buds Live both have ANC.
Battery life is where the Buds Plus wins, though, rated for 11 hours on a single charge, whereas the Buds Pro and Buds Live tap out at eight without ANC on and without factoring in the case charge. There are also fancy features like the restricted 360 audio with the Buds Pro, plus voice detect for pausing what you’re listening to when you speak, but that latter feature is best left off (particularly if you like to sing along to tunes). Still, the Buds Pro have the best water resistance (IPX7) compared to the IPX2 rating for the Buds Plus and Buds Live.
Are the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro earbuds worth it?
That $349RRP may initially deter you, but considering you can pick up a pair of Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro earbuds for $100 cheaper, the price becomes a whole lot more appealing. Once you get the fit right and adapt to taming the temperamental battery life, the Buds Pro are absolutely worth getting an earful of.