The Samsung Galaxy Ear Buds Pro are best described as the Apple AirPods Pro for the latest Samsung Galaxy S21 range of phones.
However, it does not include all these truly wireless earbuds capable. The Apple AirPods Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro earphones include active noise cancelling. Yes, they both include some kind of spatial audio support, which enhances the immersive experience of television programs and films. And, yes, they both have five-hour battery life.
How Good is the Samsung Galaxy Ear Buds Pro?
However, for those who possess a Samsung phone or tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro goes well beyond these outstanding capabilities; these earbuds represent the missing jigsaw piece that really ties everything in Samsung’s universe together. To appeal to those who already own a Samsung phone, the Galaxy Buds Pro has multipoint pairing, hands-free Bixby compatibility (but not Google Assistant), and the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app – which is only available on Android and is required to use the Buds’ most advanced capabilities.
Additionally, the Galaxy Buds Pro incorporates Samsung’s proprietary Scalable Audio technology, which enables UHQ audio streaming over Bluetooth at up to 24-bit / 96kHz, SmartThings Finder, and multi-mic recording, which enables you to use the Buds as a lapel mic stand-in when shooting videos on your Samsung phone.
The downside of the Galaxy Buds Pro being so tightly integrated with Samsung smartphones is that they don’t function as well with other devices, including Android and iOS, that lack an updated Galaxy Buds app. (And sure, we chastised Apple for the same issue in our review of the Apple AirPods Pro.)
On the plus side, if you’re looking for full-featured wireless earbuds that sound great, fit comfortably, and work well with your Samsung smartphone – and don’t mind spending a little more money than you would for, say, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live – the Buds Pro are a significantly better option and are worth recommending to friends and family who are die-hard Samsung fans.
However, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro are no longer the newest (or best). The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 improved upon the Buds Pro in a number of ways, including overall sound quality and marginally enhanced active noise cancellation. They’re also much less expensive than the Galaxy Buds Pro, so if you’re willing to wait a little bit longer, the Galaxy Buds 2 are unquestionably Samsung’s finest earbuds to date.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is available in three colours: Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Violet to match the new Samsung Galaxy S21, and the Buds’ colour will match the charging case. In terms of the case itself, it’s fashioned something like a little treasure box, with a concave lid that unhinges in the centre and flips up. It’s quite small, which is convenient for slipping it into your pocket and has a status LED on both the inside and outside of the case that changes colour from green to yellow to red depending on the amount of energy remaining in the case.
On the other hand, the Buds are a far cry from their bean-shaped forerunners. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro have reverted to their original configuration as ear tip-equipped sound funnels. They’re perhaps more appropriately described as funnels since they’re quite lengthy for earbuds, measuring just under an inch (20.8mm) in length. However, the Buds need that space for their slew of sensors, pogo pins, and microphones.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is available in three colours: Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Violet to match the new Samsung Galaxy S21, and the Buds’ colour will match the charging case. In terms of the case itself, it’s fashioned something like a little treasure box, with a concave lid that unhinges in the centre and flips up. It’s quite small, convenient for slipping it into your pocket and has a status LED on both the inside and outside of the case that changes colour from green to yellow to red depending on the amount of energy remaining in the case.
On the other hand, the Buds are a long cry from their bean-shaped forerunners. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro have reverted to their original configuration as ear tip-equipped sound funnels.
They’re perhaps more appropriately described as funnels since they’re quite lengthy for earbuds, measuring just under an inch (20.8mm) in length. However, the Buds need all of that space for their slew of sensors, pogo pins, and microphones.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds were not developed solely by Samsung; audio producer AKG, a subsidiary of Harman (which is itself a part of Samsung), assisted in fine-tuning the EQ on these headphones. To be sure, the Buds Pro offers a balanced sound that is neither too sibilant in the trebles nor overly bloated in the bass, which we really enjoy, but they lack clarity in the mids and highs and have a narrower, isolated soundstage. The flat sound is very focused and not nearly as rich as we would like.
In layman’s terms, this implies that you’ll hear both the smooth bass lines and the hi-hats in a song like Hotel California by The Eagles, but the sounds will only have a left-right directionality. Consequently, you get a workmanlike depiction of the music that pleases but falls short of wowing you in the way that some higher-end earbuds do.
Fortunately, if you’re the kind who loves to adjust the EQ of their Buds, the Samsung Wearable app allows you to do so (we preferred the Dynamic option), although none of them provides a broader, fuller soundstage. Things said, that may change later this year when Samsung adds 360 Audio compatibilities, which the company claims would bring “theater-quality, multichannel sound” to the buds—though that function was unavailable to us during our testing.
For the time being, you’re stuck with stereo sound.
Worse still, if you are not using a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, the sound will be sent through SBC or AAC, both lossy codecs. This implies that utilizing them with Samsung’s Scalable Codec devices – such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G – is much different from using a device that utilizes SBC, such as the Google Pixel 3.
While this is another benefit for users of Samsung smartphones, it puts the earphones in a bind on other platforms. If Samsung had also licensed Qualcomm’s aptX HD codec or used the newer Bluetooth LE codec, HD support would have been more ubiquitous, but we guess some UHQ audio support is better than none.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro’s battery life is acceptable for active noise-cancelling earphones but much less than the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus’s 11 hours of playing on a single charge. Nonetheless, you’re getting ANC and Bixby here; both are power hogs.
Samsung guarantees five hours of listening enjoyment on a single charge, with the charging case providing an extra 13 hours when ANC is enabled. If you turn it off, the buds will last seven to eight hours, and the case will provide up to twenty hours of battery life.
In real-world testing, we discovered that the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro lasted about three days with continuous usage (more than five hours of listening each day) or slightly less than a week with just casual listening (three-ish hours a day).
If you run out of power, the Galaxy Buds Pro supports rapid charging and should have enough capacity for an hour of play after five minutes on the charger. While fast charging occurs through the USB-C connector, wireless charging is also possible, albeit at a lesser rate.
How does this compare to other earbuds? It’s a pretty competitive market. The Sony WF-SP800N, as we previously noted, offers about nine hours of playing through the earbuds and another nine in the case, while the Jabra Elite 75t offers eight hours of playback with an additional twenty hours of charge within the case. This is a closely contested race with no obvious winner.