Even though Galaxy Buds don’t seem to be as popular a brand as AirPods, for example, Samsung has been working hard over the past few years to develop true wireless headphones that perform as well as possible. After multiple iterations, various forms, that have been more or less successful, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro seem to be what Samsung wanted to launch from the beginning: a pair of headphones with a nice, comfortable design, equipped with the latest audio technology. Unfortunately, Samsung is taking too much inspiration from Apple in an attempt to outdo its US rival.
We first saw the Galaxy Buds2 Pro at the launch of the Galaxy Z Fold4 and Flip4 phones in London, where they didn’t get the attention they probably deserved in the presentations. That’s because the priority for the company seemed to be the new phones and Galaxy Watch5 watches. However, while the phones are nowhere near “perfect” and the watches are facing a lot of competition in the market, the headphones might be the best in their price range. However, they might not be right for all smartphone users, especially not iOS users.
Galaxy Buds2 Pro provides extended functionality only on Android and full functionality only on Samsung models
Samsung recently launched a new mobile app, called Galaxy Wearables, which is currently only available on Android. It works like a hub and requires downloading various “modules” to connect accessories. Of course, Galaxy phones are the priority here, having already installed the app and making it easy to find everything they need for operation. On other Android devices, installation is possible from the Play Store.
However, even though the Galaxy Buds+ and Galaxy Buds Live generations also offered full connectivity with iOS via the Galaxy Buds app, it hasn’t been updated to offer connectivity with newer models. So if you want to connect the new Galaxy Buds2 Pro to an iPhone, they will work, but they don’t offer any customisation options. Samsung seems to be adopting a similar strategy to Apple, which doesn’t offer a setup app on Android for AirPods.
And the app is very important for these headphones, as it provides access to firmware updates to fix issues that may be detected over time, or to improve the performance of the headphones, but more importantly, it provides access to the ability to customize the user experience. Without the app you can’t configure the sound equalizer, and you can’t turn off or on the various functions of the headphones.
So unless you have an Android phone, I can’t recommend these headphones, and if you want to use them to their full capacity, you’ll have to use them exclusively with Samsung’s high-end phones. That’s because 24-bit quality playback is only available on those devices, along with advanced codecs. For “standard” Android phones, the headset only offers playback via the basic SBC codec at up to 16-bit.
These are among the most compact true wireless headphones
If you still have a Samsung phone, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro should be your first and perhaps only option when considering buying a pair of true wireless headphones. Not only do they automatically connect to your phone without extra setup, but they’re also some of the most compact headphones on the market. The charging case has a matte texture and is very small in size, so you can easily carry it in any pocket without the risk of scratching it like headphones that come in glossy cases.
Then the headphones are very light and comfortable to use, with an ergonomic shape. In the box, they come with a USB-C charging cable and small and large silicone earplugs, with the medium ones pre-installed from the factory. The earbuds have sensors for ear detection, magnetic charging pins and offer touch surfaces on the outside for control.
Galaxy Buds 2 Pro offers powerful sound and ANC performance, but only average battery life
Unfortunately, the earbuds can’t be thoroughly configured from a control standpoint. Samsung has programmed the earbuds to respond to taps, but they’re not customizable. You’ll have to remember that a tap is play/hold, a long tap switches between ANC mode, ambient mode and standard mode, things that are common, but not all users prefer. I’ve seen much cheaper pairs of headphones that provide more freedom in setup.
I’ve also just recently seen headphones with significantly longer battery life than the Galaxy Buds2 Pro. Samsung promises 5 hours of use with active ambient noise cancellation, which is a good value, but not great. In normal, high-volume use, that 5 hours might be more like 4 and a half. The charging box, because of its small size, only charges the two headphones twice more, for a total of about 15-18 hours of listening on a single charge.
Fortunately, aside from such details and only good, not great, battery life, these headphones do their job excellently. Ambient noise cancellation is very good, and the sound quality rendered is among the best on the market.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have access to a Samsung phone, which would have provided the highest quality playback on these headphones, but even on a Motorola Edge 30 Neo, a mid-range phone with the SBC codec, the sound quality proved to be excellent. The sound is very well balanced on the default neutral profile, and those who want more bass, or louder highs, can turn to the equalizer in the Galaxy Wearables app. I found the “dynamic” profile to be the best for listening to music of any genre.
I was more impressed, however, by the volume that the Galaxy Buds2 Pro delivers. In general, headphones of this kind rely on the fact that the outside sound is both passive and actively isolated, so not too much playback volume is required. However, Samsung has also chosen to offer a loud volume that is comparable even to over-ear headphones. Music on these headphones thus takes on a new “dimension”, offering a sound characteristic of much larger speakers with much more power.
As I said earlier, if you don’t already have a Samsung phone, there are cheaper and more “compatible” options on the market. iPhone users will probably go for the AirPods Pro 2, and those with other phones will choose cheaper models with similar capabilities. On Samsung though, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro is a logical choice and well worth the price difference over past Buds2, Buds Live or Buds Pro models due to its superior sound, smaller size and high-performance ANC.