Samsung Galaxy Buds review: possibly the best all-round pair of truly wireless earbuds out there

The more I use the Galaxy Buds, the more I am convinced that some serious thought has gone behind engineering these truly wireless earbuds. I don’t have to say this but Apple has a major monopoly in this category of products with the AirPods. Undoubtedly, some healthy competition was a long time coming. 

Also read: Bose SoundSport Free review: truly wireless earbuds meant for laid-back listening, not sports

And, I truly believe that Samsung has managed to deliver the goods here. Perhaps even take the throne as the best all-around pair of truly wireless earbuds in the market today.  

Samsung Galaxy Buds: connectivity and fit

The two individual pieces, or Buds, come inside a pill-shaped box called the “Cradle”. It is pretty compact and made entirely like plastic, just like the Buds themselves. Our review unit is the White one but the Buds are also available in Yellow and Black. The White variant definitely gets dirty, the box and the earbuds both. As far as design is concerned, these small pod-shaped earbuds do not look very flashy and that is a good thing. Another advantage is that you get the fairly basic IPX2 certification, which should be enough to protect the Buds from sweat.

One of the biggest concerns when buying truly wireless buds is the fit. These things look like they might fall out anytime out of your ears. Not the Galaxy Buds. Once, you find the right pair of wings and tips, they sit snugly and tightly. I went running with the Galaxy Buds and not once did they fall out; unlike the AirPods that just need a tiny reason to slide out of your ears. To add to the excellent fit, the Galaxy Buds are comfortable to wear for very long durations. I wore them for three hours at a stretch during testing.

Moreover, these sit fairly flat on the ears and protrude only very slightly out. I could wear them inside a helmet without any issue. 

The Galaxy Buds work on the new Bluetooth 5.0 standard. When you connect it for the first time to a Samsung Galaxy device — like the S10e I am currently using — you get a pop-up. This is very similar to the card that the iPhone throws up when connecting to the AirPods. Note that there is no fancy W1 or H1 chip inside any Android phone and therefore opening the box does no magic like switching on Bluetooth automatically. You will have to do that manually to pair the Galaxy Buds. That said every single time you take the Buds out of the cradle it will connect automatically to your phone, provided Bluetooth is switched on. 

As far as the connection quality is concerned, it is rock solid for the most part. The two earbuds sync seamlessly and I faced very few connection drops as such. That is until I actually put the phone in my jeans pocket. Most Bluetooth earphones, let alone truly wireless buds, drop connection when I put them in my pocket. So, I am not really surprised. But I have to give it to Samsung for sending out regular software updates to improve the stability of the connection. It actually worked. Having said that, connection drops were more common on Android devices other than the Samsung Galaxy flagships. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds: sound quality, microphone quality, and battery life

One of the only missing features in the Galaxy Buds is the support for the aptX codec, which was incidentally present of the earlier Gear Icon X. When connected to the Galaxy S10e, the Buds use Samsung’s proprietary Scalable BT codec for audio. And there is support for Apple’s AAC codec, so that’s a win for Apple users too. What I noticed in my testing is that the Icon X sounds slightly better with the AAC codec compared to the Scalable codec. It is louder too. 

By the way, the Galaxy Buds pairs with the Wearables app and offers touch controls. You can touch the Buds to play/pause the track, double tap for next song, and triple tap for the previous song. You can also long press to open Bixby…or Google Assistant…phew! You can change the long press button to raise the volume or decrease the volume from either of the buds. Oh, there’s also this special ambient mode that takes audio from the environment and amplifies the human sounds. This is similar to the Sony WH 1000X M3’s ambient mode. I really like this feature and I urge you to experience it when you get a chance. As far as noise isolation goes, the Galaxy Buds can drown out outside noise at 90 percent volume. Anything below that, and you can hear your co-workers squabbling.

Also read: Samsung Galaxy S10e review: a bona fide compact flagship that 2019 badly needed

Coming to the most important part, the sound quality. The Galaxy Buds are tuned by AKG and it is a fairly neutral sound that has a very strong emphasis on the mids and the treble. I was genuinely surprised at the imaging and clarity on offer. The Galaxy Buds have great control over individual sources of sounds. One song I generally like to test for instrument separation is Do I Wanna Know by The Arctic Monkeys. In the penultimate section of the song (at around the 3:11), apart from the vocals, a separate backing vocal, and the chorus, a multitude of instruments starts crowding the sound including percussions and different guitars. It is a very crowded section that even some more expensive wired earphones struggle to do the separation properly without sounding muddy. Surprisingly, the Galaxy Buds handled the instruments like a charm.

Now, as is the case with most in-ears, don’t go around expecting excellent soundstage. My gold standard for great soundstage on a pair of truly wireless earbuds is still the Bose SoundSport Free. Anyway, coming to the bass. You get a fairly effective sub-bass punch, which was evident when I heard BTSTU by Jai Paul. That said, in a song like Mirza by Nucleya, the mid-bass attack is not as good. This is where most consumer-grade earphones excel. 

Moving on to the mids, it was pretty efficient. If you are going to listen to a lot of podcasts — which I did during my time with the Galaxy Buds — you are going to love it. What impressed me, even more, was the great Treble response with the right amount of peak to ensure you get a near audiophile-grade sound. That’s high praise, I know but it is true. 

One of the big problems with BT earphones is audio sync issues when watching a video. I streamed both YouTube and Netflix videos on three phones – the Galaxy S10e, the iPhone XR, and the Pixel 3 XL. I didn’t face a single audio lag. That’s after two updates, though. And, that I think is really commendable. 

The microphone on truly wireless earbuds is generally a travesty. That’s not the case on the Galaxy Buds, though. I found them to be adequate crisp and clear for calls. And, my voice was fairly audible on the other side too. 

Should you buy the Galaxy Buds?

If you have plans of picking up a Samsung Galaxy flagship in the near future, buy it eyes closed. It is a no-brainer. Even otherwise, for its asking price of Rs 9,999, the Galaxy Buds are impressive. I think the sound signature will impress you with the details and clarity on offer. Moreover, these are also super comfortable for long listening sessions. And, you know what? You can wireless charge the Galaxy Buds on your new S10 phone when it is connected to a charger. Which means all you need is a single USB Type-C cable. What more do you want?

Come to think of it, Samsung has really upped the ante this year with some excellent products and great pricing as well. From the Galaxy S10e to mid-rangers like the A50, Samsung has truly taken its products seriously this year. And of course, the Galaxy Buds are surely one of them. 

Where to buy Samsung Galaxy Earbuds in India?

Flipkart

Amazon

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Ershad Kaleebullah
ershad.kaleebullah@u2opiamobile.com

When Ershad isn't writing, he spends time killing virtual zombies on his PS4. Having worked with a slew of renowned publications like PCWorld, Channelworld, CIO, NDTV Gadgets (now Gadgets360), MySmartPrice, The Inquistr, and 91Mobiles, Ershad brings a whole world of experience to Mr. Phone. He is trying hard to convert all the team members into Apple fans but is facing a lot of resistance. Is anyone willing to help?