Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Review29.08.2022
One of Samsung’s main marketing messages when it launched the original Galaxy Buds Pro noise cancelling earbuds was to pay attention to their sound quality. They delivered on this front. However, a subset of users (including me) found them to not be the right fit for their ears. My case was not able to seal with the included tips, so I had my own set of tips. I was interested to see the design of Samsung’s second-generation Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. I was sure they would address this fit issue.
They did. You’ll immediately notice the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, which will be launching alongside the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 or Galaxy Z Fold 4 models, that they have a superior design all around. They are 15% smaller than their predecessors, and weigh slightly less (5.5g per bud versus 6.9g). The case and buds have a matte finish that gives them a more tactile feel and is grippy.
This makes it less likely that the compact case will slip out of your hands and, more importantly, helps to keep your buds in place a bit better. Because they are smaller and more compact, I was able get a tight seal using the included largest set of ear tips. I didn’t need to purchase my own. The earbuds are also less noticeable than the original Galaxy Buds Pro and don’t stick out as much. They are available in Bora purple, graphite, and white. While I cannot guarantee that they will fit every ear equally, I think they will fit more ears than the original Galaxy Buds Pro.
Galaxy-exclusive features include a proprietary high-resolution audio system and other exclusive features
Apart from the new design, Samsung also touts the buds’ improved noise cancellation and 24-bit high resolution audio support. To get the 24-bit audio, you will need a Galaxy device with Samsung’s One UI 4.0. You also need a music streaming service such as Tidal, Qobuz, or Amazon Music. All other devices, such as Android phones or iPhones, default to the AAC audio format. They use Bluetooth 5.3.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro doesn’t support AptX Adaptive codec for Android devices. Instead, they support the Samsung Seamless Hi-Fi codec. Samsung claims that this codec delivers 256x more sound data (CD quality) than 16-bit (16-bit) audio. These numbers are misleading as you will only notice a slight difference in streaming high bit-rate tracks. More on this will be revealed after I finish the feature set.
These have touch controls, which can be used to turn on and off certain features or all of them, as well as the option to activate handsfree Bixby (Samsung’s voice assistant). The “Enhanced” version of Samsung’s 360 Audio virtual surround (with head tracking), is now compatible with many Galaxy devices. However, it is not compatible with other Android phones. It functions in the same way as Apple’s spatial sound feature for AirPods. It can enhance your TV viewing experience and movie quality, but it isn’t as clear as Apple’s spatial sound, which I believe is slightly better. It can also be used with music and any other audio.
Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have IPX7 water resistance, meaning they can be submerged in water up to 1 meter deep for up 30 minutes. They didn’t fall out of my ears and I was able to run with them easily.
The battery life of these models is the same as their predecessors. It can be used at low volume settings for five hours and at high volumes for eight hours. You also get three additional charges from it (it can charge via USB-C or wirelessly). Although five hours of battery life is mediocre, and no improvements have been made, it’s difficult to shrink buds while increasing the battery life. You can also drop your buds into the case to get a quick charging feature. This allows you to use the battery for up to an hour with a 5-minute charge, and twice as long with a 10-minute.
The buds can be detected by sensors and will stop playing music if they are in your ears. However, if you remove both buds from your ears, the music will resume. You can also activate the “voice detect” mode of the Galaxy Wearable companion application. This turns off noise cancellation and switches to “ambient sounds” mode when speaking. This allows you to hear outside and have a conversation with someone. Sony has a similar feature for its LinkBuds S and WF-1000XM4 earbuds.
The audio feature is not the only new feature to mention. The “neck stretch reminders” feature can be toggled on. This detects your head position, and will alert you if your head is bent downward for 10 minutes. I was alerted multiple times to stretch my neck while I wrote this review.
These earbuds, like the AirPods, have a Find-my-buds function that Samsung calls SmartThings Find. Although it can provide information about your current location, it does not offer the precise tracking capabilities that Apple’s new AirPods’ enhanced Find My feature.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, unlike their predecessor, the cheaper Galaxy Buds 2, doesn’t allow for multipoint Bluetooth pairing, which allows you to pair them both with two devices at once, such as a smartphone and a computer. Samsung claims they can seamlessly pair with any Samsung device logged into their Samsung account, including Samsung TVs made in 2022 or later or Samsung Galaxy Books laptops made after 2020.
The Buds 2 Pro allows for automatic switching between these devices. If, for example, you receive a call while you are watching a movie on the Tab S8 tablet, the audio will switch to your phone automatically when you answer it. This is similar to the way Apple’s AirPods automatically pair with any Apple device logged into their iCloud account. Because I don’t own many Samsung devices, I haven’t tested the auto-switching feature thoroughly so I cannot confirm its reliability. I spent more time switching between my Galaxy Flip 3 and non Samsung devices.
Samsung claims it has improved the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s noise cancelling by 40%. It calls it “Intelligent ANC”. It was a significant improvement over the original Galaxy Buds Pro. However, noise-canceling performance can be affected by the seal between the ear tips and sound quality. So your perception of how much it has improved could vary depending on how tight you get the seal.
The noise cancelling was not as good as the Sony WF1000XM4, but it was still effective in muffled noises from the streets and subway stations. Ambient mode is the equivalent to Apple’s transparency mode. You can either turn off the noise cancelling or activate it. I found this sounding natural. There is no way to adjust the noise cancelling levels. It adapts automatically to your environment.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have two-way drivers (10mm and 5.3mm tweeter), three microphones, one beam-forming for voice calling, and two microphones. I paired them up with a Galaxy Z Flip 3 and an iPhone 13 Pro. Then, I streamed music via Qobuz. I streamed movies from Google Play as well as Netflix.
Samsung claims that there is no way to determine whether 24-bit audio is being received. However, if your audio configuration meets the listed requirements — a Galaxy phone running Android 8.0 or higher, One UI 4.0, or higher, and at least 1.5GB RAM, you will be using the Samsung Seamless Codec. This codec transmits in 24-bit if your audio files support it. (Qobuz files do.) It’s annoying that you can’t tell the bit rate of streaming audio, but Samsung will have to confirm that I was receiving 24-bit audio.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 streamed a little differently to me. The iPhone 13 Pro had excellent sound quality with a wide soundstage. I played Spoon’s Knock Knock song and some other songs back and forth. The Flip 3’s sound was slightly better (a little more clarity), with more depth and detail. The bass is clear and punchy, and there was no distortion when I turned up the volume. They sound great, but I don’t think they are superior to top-of-the-line earbuds, such as the Pixel Buds Pro or Beats Fit Pro.
I opted for the default sound setting. However, you can adjust the signature profile using the Galaxy Wearable App with preset equalizer settings. Many premium earbuds sound very similar, but it’s the fit and how they fit your ears that will make them stand out.
Samsung once again has created a set that works well as a headset to make calls. The buds are very good at picking up voice from the beam-forming microphones and also reduce background noise. They were able to hear me clearly even in New York’s noisy streets. The buds also did a good job of reducing wind noise. They are at the top of their class in voice-calling performance.
Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Final Thoughts
Galaxy Buds were always an accessory for Galaxy smartphones, and are now more targeted at Galaxy smartphone owners. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is no exception. These earbuds are great, but they lose key features if not owned by a Galaxy device. They can be seen as the Samsung equivalent to the AirPods Pro. The AirPods Pro 2 will likely offer a high-resolution streaming option that uses Apple technology, and it is only compatible with Galaxy devices.
The Pixel Buds Pro, on the other hand, have fewer features that are geared only toward Pixel owners (virtual surrounding), while features such as hands-free Google Assistant or true multipoint Bluetooth pairing can be used across all Android devices. The Pixel Buds do not have enhanced audio codec support. This may be important if it is something you believe makes a difference. It makes a very small difference to this class of earbuds. They may be more expensive, but they are still affordable.
If you have a pair of Galaxy Buds Pro, the bigger question is whether upgrading to the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is worth it. The price at which you can purchase the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro will play a major role in this decision. Their list price is $230. However, Samsung currently offers trade-in deals for any Galaxy Buds in any condition that brings their price down to about $155. You can also often get deals when you bundle them with a new Galaxy smartphone.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro may offer small performance gains over the predecessors, but their design is my favorite. This makes them the most powerful Galaxy Buds.