The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are a significant upgrade over the Galaxy Buds Live, with improved sound and microphone quality, as well as multipoint pairing and spatial audio capabilities. They don’t have the same level of noise cancellation as over-ear headphones or the same sound quality as high-end earbuds, but they have just enough of both for their pricing to be competitive.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Headphone Performance
The Samsung Galaxy Buds were not created solely by Samsung; audio maker AKG, a subsidiary of Harman (which is, in turn, a subsidiary of Samsung), also assisted in fine-tuning the headphones’ EQ.
How did they fare?
The Buds Pro have a balanced sound quality that isn’t overly sibilant in the trebles or excessively bloated in the bass, which we like, but they lack clarity in the mids and highs and have a narrower, isolated soundstage, which we don’t like. The flat sound is very concentrated, and it’s not nearly as rich as we’d want
Simply put, you’ll be able to 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 left-right directionality. As a result, you get a workmanlike portrayal of the audio that pleases but doesn’t wow you like other higher-end earbuds do.
Thankfully, if you prefer to fiddle with the EQ of your Buds, the Samsung Wearable app allows you to do so (we loved the Dynamic setting), but none of them give a wider, deeper soundstage. Samsung’s 360 Audio compatibility, like the AirPods Pro’s Spatial Audio, allows you to listen to any track in virtual surround sound.
Worse, if you don’t have a Samsung Galaxy handset, the sound will be sent via SBC or AAC, which are both lossy codecs. That means there’s a significant difference between using them with Samsung’s Scalable Codec devices – see our Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G review – and using them with a device that utilises SBC, such as the Google Pixel 3.
While this is another benefit of the headphones for Samsung smartphone customers, it puts the earbuds in a difficult position on other platforms. More HD support would be available if Samsung had also licenced Qualcomm’s aptX HD or used the newer Bluetooth LE codec, but we suppose some UHQ audio support is better than none.
Friends and relatives stated we sounded OK when using the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, yet they thought we sounded clearer utilising our smartphone’s built-in microphone. That’s not a criticism of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro; most earbuds don’t sound as nice as a smartphone’s microphone, but it does suggest you should be wary of buying them solely for making phone conversations.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Headphone Design
Three hues are available.
They’re a little too lengthy for earbuds and protrude from the ear. They’re jam-packed with sensors and microphones.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro come in three different colours: The Buds will be available in Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Violet to match the new Samsung Galaxy S21, and the colour of the charging case will match the colour of the Buds.
The case itself is in the shape of a little treasure box, with a concave lid that unhinges in the middle and flips open. It’s small, which is convenient for slipping it into your pocket, and it features a status LED on both the inside and outside of the case that changes colours depending on how much battery is left in the case.
The Buds, on the other hand, are a long cry from their bean-shaped forerunners. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro have returned to their original state as eartip-equipped sound funnels.
They’re perhaps best described as funnels because they’re quite lengthy for earbuds, reaching just under an inch (20.8mm) in length. The Buds, on the other hand, require all of that space for their array of sensors, pogo pins, and microphones.
The Buds contain a touch-capacitive glossy, shiny plastic coating on the outside, as well as two additional microphones with a wind protection to suppress ambient noise when going outside. All of this houses the 11mm woofer and 6.5mm tweeter, which we’ll go over in greater detail in the performance section below.
So, how do they go together? Despite their somewhat futuristic appearance, the earbuds look large and unpleasant because they protrude from your ear. It would be inconvenient at best, and terrible at worst, to wear them to bed. Because they don’t have a way to ‘lock’ them into your ear, they will shift over time, requiring you to reposition them. Otherwise, the seal will weaken and noise cancellation will gradually reduce as you wear them.
Two extra pairs of eartips are included in the box to aid with some of these concerns and to help you obtain a better seal, which is critically necessary. You’ll also discover a USB-C charging cable without a head, which is part of Samsung’s effort to decrease waste (good!) but could be a stumbling block for someone buying their first pair of earbuds (boo).
The default controls include a single touch to play/pause your music, a double touch to play the next song or answer/end a call, a triple touch to play the previous track, and a touch and hold to activate your preset feature, which by default switches between ambient and noise cancellation modes.
Overall, they’re surprisingly pleasant to wear for long amounts of time and don’t suffer from pressure buildup thanks to the external vent, but they aren’t the most attractive-looking earbuds or especially comfy to use in bed due to the way they stick out of your ear.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Headphone Value
It was scheduled to be released on January 14, 2021.
The price is $199 / £219 / AU$349.
The Galaxy Buds Live are not much more expensive.
On January 14, 2021 (the day it was introduced at Samsung Unpacked), the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro went on sale alongside the Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone on Samsung’s website, and became generally accessible on January 15, 2021.
The Galaxy Buds Pro will set you back $199 / £219 / AU$349 in terms of price. That’s a lot of money, but it’s understandable that they’d be more expensive than their predecessors, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, which cost $169.99 / £179 / AU$319 when they were first released. They’re well worth the increase, given how much better they are. To see how they compare, check out our Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review.
Samsung debuted these truly wireless earbuds close together, which is both interesting and perplexing. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro was released about five months after the Galaxy Buds Live and less than a year after the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus. It’s unclear why Samsung is in such a hurry to get these out the door, but it’s causing some delays.
However, if you’re looking for a less expensive option, you won’t have to look far. For more affordable options, check out our Sony WF-SP800N and Jabra Elite 75t reviews, which both feature active noise cancelling for $50 less. That is, if you are willing to forego the Samsung-specific features.
However, the Galaxy Buds Pro are no longer Samsung’s newest (or greatest) product. To learn more, check out our Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review, which includes a number of upgrades over the Buds Pro, including overall better sound and slightly improved active noise cancellation. They’re also less expensive than the Galaxy Buds Pro, making the Galaxy Buds 2 Samsung’s greatest earbuds to date.