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Samsung Galaxy Buds review: Truly wireless earbuds that truly sound good



Samsung wants you to buy more than just its Galaxy phones. Over the past few years, the company has expanded its portfolio to keep up with the competition. It announced the Galaxy Home last year as a response to the Echo and Google Home smart speakers. It also launched the Gear IconX, its popular truly wireless earphones to take on the Apple AirPods. And now we have the Galaxy Buds, which are perhaps more worthy to take on the AirPods than ever before.

The Galaxy Buds truly wireless earbuds were launched alongside the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Fold in February. Samsung has now brought them to India at a price of Rs 9,990, which make the Galaxy Buds more affordable than the Gear IconX, as well as competition like the Apple AirPods and Bose SoundSport Free. The Galaxy Buds are a lightweight and easy to wear pair of earbuds with a surprisingly clean and smooth sound quality. We can say this with some surety after using the Buds for over a week.

Galaxy Buds design and comfort

The Galaxy Buds sit comfortably inside the case thanks to magnetic pins on the underside of each earbuds. I do wish there was a firm magnetic pull that tells me the buds are placed properly inside the case, but I’m nitpicking here. The earbuds are smaller compared to most other truly wireless earphones. This is good because you won’t feel the earbuds sticking out of the ear uncomfortably. Since the Buds are made up of plastic, they are extremely lightweight and are easy to wear for long sessions.

I used the earbuds while commuting to work, in office and I often forgot that they were in my ears. It’s as lightweight as the AirPods, but the fitting make the Buds feel more comfortable. There is no stem that protrudes outside uncomfortably and the soft silicone eartips sit snugly inside the ear without causing strain. You get both winged and non-wingtips with the box – the latter would come in handy if you’re going for a run, but I had no trouble using either of them for running. The Buds are also IPX2 rated so you won’t have to worry about sweat damaging them.

The triangle-shaped translucent plastic cover on top acts as a touchpad that allows you to perform certain actions with a simple tap. By default, a single tap will pause and play a song while a double tap will play the next song or answer/end a call, and a triple tap will go the the previous song. You can touch and hold to activate Google Assistant/Bixby/Siri by default. In the Galaxy Wearables app for Android, you can assign the “touch and hold” function on both the earbuds to voice command, quick ambient sound or to lower volume.

The touchpad is quite intuitive and responsive. I do wish Samsung allowed for a swipe function to increase or decrease the volume, but it’s not something I missed a lot. Enabling Ambient Sound will allow you to listen to sounds in your environment, and you also get a Voice Focus option in the Wearables app that can be enabled in case you want to hear people talking. I personally found enabling Ambient Sound to be quite distracting and annoying, and would much rather remove the Buds if I need to hear something or someone talking.

Even with the ambient sound disabled, you’ll still be able to hear external sounds if there’s no music playing. But while listening to songs or any other content, the Buds manage to offer good isolation and noise cancellation. The Wearables app also offers an equaliser with presets like bass boost, soft, dynamic, clear, or treble boost. The app also offers a “find my earbuds” feature that works as advertised.

Unfortunately, iOS does not support the Galaxy Wearables app, which means you won’t be able to make full use of the Galaxy Buds’ features if you’re using an iPhone or iPad. With iOS devices, the Buds work like a normal pair of earphones. Some default touchpad functions will work, but you won’t be able to use ambient sound feature. Without the app, you also won’t be able to use the EQ to tune the earbuds according to your taste.

That being said, the Galaxy Buds support AAC Bluetooth codec, so you’ll get a pretty lag-free, seamless connectivity with iPhones. I tried the Galaxy Buds with the iPhone XR and found the experience to be pretty good. There were occasional drops in connectivity initially, but I didn’t face the issue repeatedly. I also used the Buds with the Galaxy S10+ where the pairing is simpler and more intuitive as you get a prompt on the phone to connect to the Buds the moment you open the case. It’s similar to the kind of seamless pairing offered between the AirPods and iPhone.

The Galaxy Buds come in a compact and oblong charging case that is small enough to fit in your pocket without creating a major bulge. The case is pretty plain and is offered in White, Yellow and Black colours. We received the White colour variant of the Galaxy Buds which looks quite minimalistic and sober. The case offers a tiny LED light on the front to notify you when the battery of the case is low needs charging. It is nice to see a Type-C port on the back of the case to charge the device with a cable. There is an LED on the inside as well that tells you the battery life of the earbuds.

Alternatively, you can charge the case wirelessly as well on a Samsung charging pad or any Qi-based wireless charger. Samsung announced the Galaxy Buds with the Galaxy S10 at Unpacked 2019 to also highlight the fact that the earbuds can charge on the S10’s reverse wireless charging feature. This means you can charge the Galaxy Buds by placing the case on the back of the Galaxy S10 and enabling the Wireless PowerShare function.

Galaxy Buds performance

The Galaxy Buds sound surprisingly good for a pair of truly wireless earphones. The sound quality is clean and easy. The earbuds also offer decent soundstage, which is something I wasn’t expecting, but then again the Buds are tuned by AKG. By default, the EQ is set at Dynamic and this is the setting a prefered the most. You get very balanced sound signatures with a subtle bass, good emphasis on the mids and vocals and a controlled treble.

You can’t ask a lot of bass from truly wireless earbuds right now, so the Galaxy Buds aren’t going to boom in your ears. But there is a certain emphasis on the lows in songs like Stolen Away On 55th and 3rd and You Might Die Trying that sound really sweet with a warm bass. These songs by Dave Matthews Band include a number of instruments ranging from acoustic guitar to saxophone to violins and drums, all of which sound distinct, clear and well spaced.

I also checked out I Guess I Just Feel Like by John Mayer, which is a little more minimalistic compared to the previous two songs mentioned. You get some melodic acoustic guitaring with Mayer’s soft and contemplative vocals at the start, both of which nicely compliment each other, ending on a sweet high with Mayer’s electric guitar solo. The Buds offer a lot of clarity so vocals sound loud and clean rather than suppressed. I found this to be true especially while listening to Riverside by Agnes Obel where the singer’s voice is highlighted without sounding pitchy or sharp.

After listening to a variety of songs from different genres, I came out pretty satisfied with the smooth and clean audio quality of the Galaxy Buds. They work well with mostly every genre as long as you aren’t picky about the bass not being to boomy enough or the soundstage not being wide enough. The fitting offers a good seal so sound doesn’t bleed out or external noises don’t enter inside. You feel more immersed than you would with the AirPods.

The Galaxy Buds support Bluetooth 5.0 so you get a strong connectivity with a good range. I could leave my phone in my room and walk around in another and I did not experience any interruption. While initially there were reports of frequent drops in connectivity, Samsung seems to have fixed those via software updates.

Galaxy Buds battery

The Buds will charge up everytime you place them inside the case, and Samsung says the case will let you charge the earbuds fully up to three times. It’s hard to accurately measure how long the battery lasts because one is likely to keep placing the earbuds in the case, thereby charging it to full multiple times during the day. Suffice it to say that I was able to go for a good 4 to 5 days with an average listening time of around 2-3 hours everyday.

Each earbud houses a 58mAh battery, while the case offers a 252mAh capacity. That’s a good amount of battery for these compact earbuds and you shouldn’t worry about them dying on you too soon. The case takes a little over an hour to charge to full using a wall charger. You can also charge the case on the back of a phone that supports reverse wireless charging, like the Galaxy S10 series or Huawei Mate 20 Pro. The charging is much slower here and you’ll have to avoid using the phone for a few hours if you want to juice up the Buds.

Should you buy the Galaxy Buds?

The Galaxy Buds are not just the perfect companion to Samsung’s new flagship phones, but they also work great with mostly any other smartphone you use. They are some of the most comfortable pair of truly wireless earphones that you can find right now. The Buds also exceed expectations in terms of design and performance, making them serious contenders to take on the AirPods and other higher-priced truly wireless earphones.

The Galaxy Buds offer a clean sound with a good amount of bass and soundstage. They work well in pretty much any genre of music that you may listen to, and they also come with a solid battery life. They also offer intuitive touch controls that are easy to use, but they could be better for adjusting sound levels. The Weables app offers some neat features for Android users, but you may not end up using a lot of them. At just under Rs 10,000, the Galaxy Buds are definitely worth your money if you’re looking for truly wireless earbuds, and those who have received the Buds for free while pre-ordering the Galaxy S10 should be pretty happy right now.

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