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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review: TWS earbuds with unique features and a couple of compromises

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The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro TWS earbuds were introduced alongside the Galaxy S21/S21+/S21 Ultra line of flagship smartphones. It has incorporated the best features of the Galaxy Buds Live and Buds+, and also received some unique features.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

These are Samsung’s first in-ear TWS earbuds with active noise control and, in general, is a very important model for the company. I received this model a few days after the official presentation, but I was in no hurry to release the review for several reasons.

First, I realized long ago that first impressions can be deceiving. Looking ahead, I will say that this was also true in the case of the Galaxy Buds Pro. I was once again was convinced that drawing any conclusions about the headphones after several days of use is a wrong decision. Secondly, I know Samsung’s approach to new products quite well. The company is often in a hurry to be in time for a specific date and the software may be underdeveloped, especially if you test pre-commercial devices before the start of official sales. In such a situation, various malfunctions and software bugs might appear.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

So I decided to wait for the firmware update so as not to mislead you. And it was the right call, because the first reviews, which some experts tried to release before everyone else, now simply do not correspond to reality. During testing, I received 3 firmware updates and each brought some fixes and improvements.

Read also: Big comparison of 10 (+1) TWS earbuds: Samsung, Huawei, Sony, Panasonic, Tronsmart, Realme

Features of Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

First of all, let’s take a look at what’s inside, what functions and features are there. The device is packed to the brim with various technological innovations, and the specifications look impressive, at least on paper. I think it’s worth going over all the innovations in the Galaxy Buds Pro, so as not to forget to check them out in practice.

Active noise control

So, the main thing is that Samsung has finally implemented active noise control. And not simple ANC, but INTELLIGENT (whatever that means). Fans were waiting for this feature ever since the release of Buds+, but it never happened. And then they waited some more. The manufacturer proudly declares that the noise control cuts off 99% of extraneous noise. How well the ANC function is implemented in Buds Pro and how its intelligence is expressed I’ll tell you later in the review.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Earbuds

Enhanced Speakers and Audio 360

The manufacturer promises a significant improvement in the quality of music reproduction thanks to the two-driver speaker system, consisting of an 11 mm woofer and a 6.5 mm high-frequency tweeter. A similar solution was used in the Galaxy Buds+, but the speakers there were strange – split, rectangular and installed side by side. They sounded good, but far from perfect. In Buds Pro, this drawback was eliminated by installing a two-way speaker directed directly into the sound guide.

Enhanced Speakers and Audio 360

Another new tech is Audio 360, that allows you to better immerse yourself in the events taking place in films and videos. The gyroscope tracks the position of your head as you turn it and changes the direction of the sound, as if events are happening around you. The only caveat is that this works on devices running One UI 3. Let’s check how cool this function is and whether it is in demand, since I happen to have Galaxy S21 right here.

Microphones

The microphone component was not ignored either. There are 6 microphones (3 in each earphone), 4 of them are external and two internal, they pick up the voice without extraneous noise, right through the ear.

Bone conduction technology

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro also features 2 Bone Conduction Vibration Sensors that detect when you start to speak, with a dedicated feature that automatically mutes music and enables sound transmission with amplification. In addition, the bone sensor improves the quality of your voice during phone calls and video chats. This solution is not completely new, we have already seen it in the Galaxy Buds Live, and some competitors have it, for example, the Huawei FreeBuds Pro. But it seems like there are no more analogues on the market, so there is a certain moment of exclusivity.

Connecting to multiple devices

What else is worth noting? Of course, the ability to quickly connect to multiple devices with automatic source switching function. For example, if you are watching a movie on a tablet, and someone calls toy on a smartphone, the headset will automatically switch to talk mode through the smartphone and then automatically switch back to the tablet. But naturally, there are limitations in the form of One UI 3.1 and an active Samsung account on devices. That is, this feature works only on new devices and within the proprietary ecosystem.

IPX7

It must also be said that the earphones (not the case) are equipped with IPX7, which is very cool, since in theory you can put the Galaxy Buds Pro in fresh water at a depth of 1 meter and they should hold out there for 30 minutes without damaging the electronics. I didn’t test this, and I advice you not to take your buds to the shower with you or swim with them, but with a high probability they will not take damage from an accidental fall into a puddle or from heavy rain. Also, do not put wet buds in the case; you must dry them thoroughly first.

Positioning and price

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are the most expensive earphones in the line at the moment. But this is not surprising, because the newest, most spec’d out product should cost the most, which now amounts to about $196. However, if you look at the state of the market, I would not call this a record price for a flagship product with unique features. The main competitor of the Buds Pro is the Huawei FreeBuds Pro, which costs even more ($214). I tried to determine which headset is the best in a recent TWS comparison, but there was no clear winner. In some points it is better than Samsung, and in others there is an advantage over Huawei. Throughout this story, I will compare these earphones more than once, and also focus on the differences between the new product and the Galaxy Buds+ model, the price of which has now dropped to ridiculous $ 124.

What’s in the box

In this regard, everything is traditional for Samsung. A compact black box, inside a charging case with buds and a pair of ear tips on them, next to a niche is another smaller box with a charging cable and another small box, which contains 2 pairs of additional silicone tips of different sizes.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Design, materials, layout, build quality

Upon first inspection, it becomes apparent that the Galaxy Buds Pro case is absolutely identical to the Buds Live. It is a low, compact square box with rounded corners, made of high quality plastic. It looks restrained and premium.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Case

The coating is matte, pleasant to the touch; it practically does not collect fingerprints. I have black earphones on the test, there are also silver and purple versions on sale.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Colors

On the outside, there is an LED charge indicator on the front (glows green, yellow and red when the lid is closed, showing the current status of the case battery) and a USB-C charging port on the back. Below is a platform for wireless charging and technical information. On top of the lid is the traditional Samsung logo and the inscription “Soung by AKG”.

Inside, on magnetic holders, there are rather compact tips. Purely visually in the case they look larger than the Galaxy Buds+, but simply because they have a different shape, which is more elongated. The earbuds are also completely plastic. The exterior is glossy, the interior is matte.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Outside, there is a hole in the recess. Here under them in the windproof chamber we have two external microphones.

The shape of the inner part of the earphone case is intricate and very ergonomical – it repeats the shape of the auricle and ensures an excellent fit of the earbud (for me personally). It should be borne in mind that this statement cannot be true for absolutely all users, but I will discuss this in the ergonomics section. There are several sensors on the inside of the earpiece.

First of all – the proximity sensor, which detects the location of the earphone in the ear. Moreover, I see not one, but two windows – the first in the middle, the second on the bottom. I will not say exactly why, perhaps there are really 2 sensors. Or they have different purposes altogether. Or is it some kind of external element of the bone conduction sensor.

There are also 2 silver contacts, large letters L and R and a ventilation grill for decompression to eliminate acoustic occlusion (congestion in the ears when you hear your voice louder than usual).

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Each earphone ends with an oval with an original proprietary mount and covered with a metal mesh. There are 2 protrusions on the tube, and the attachment has 2 notches, which must be aligned during installation.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

The caps themselves are also oval at the base and equipped with an inner mesh. That means that the ear tips are clearly non-standard and not all third-party options are suitable. Although I, for example, managed to use the tips from the Huawei FreeBuds 3i, but I’m not sure if this trick can be done with any rubber tips. At the same time, it should be noted that the bundled tips are of very high quality and are unlikely to require replacement. For me personally, the tips provide perfect sealing.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Read also: How to Choose the Best Eartips for In-Ear Headphones – And Why It’s Important

Ergonomics

Let’s start with the charging case. At first glance, everything is great. It is easy to carry, because it is compact and small in height, and it easily fits into any pocket. Visually, the case looks smaller, although I would not say that it is fundamentally better than the Buds+ case, which is exactly the same in height and has different proportions.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds+ vs Huawei FreeBuds Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM3

In addition, the old model had the ability to easily open the lid with one hand due to the large cutout in the front. The new case is completely symmetrical and it is not clear to the touch where is in front and where is the back. Moreover, the cutout between the lid and the bottom of the case is low, shallow and runs along the perimeter from three sides, so it is difficult to quickly determine the correct position, not to mention opening with one hand.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds+

Even opening the Galaxy Buds Pro case with two hands is not very convenient. I take it in my hands and begin to examine the inscriptions, twirl it in my hands, trying to find the charging port in the dark, determining the direction of opening the lid. So I like the old case more, because it is really more convenient. Sorry, Samsung designers.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

As for the earbuds. Personally, they suit me 100%. They directly merge with the auricle allowing for excellent fit and complete sealing. But I’m not sure that everyone will say the same. I sometimes come across confirmation of my suspicions: some users complain about bad fit. The fact is that the inner part of the Buds Pro has a reference ergonomic shape, corresponding to the structure of the auricle of an ideal person (according to Samsung). But in reality, the structure of human ears may differ. And the ear cavity may not line up with the protrusion on the headphones.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Because of this, some people may experience discomfort when wearing headphones for a long time, as well as poor fit and insufficient sealing due to the fact that the fit is not as deep as intended.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds+

As a result, I cannot call the shape of the Galaxy Buds Pro universal. From this point of view, Buds+ clearly wins. I recommend trying on all the earphones before buying. Again, I was lucky and the earbuds fit in my ears even better than the FreeBuds Pro. But I had to warn you.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds+

Another fundamental difference between Buds Pro and Buds+ is the overall proportion of the earbuds. The new buds seem to be more flattened. They protrude less from the ears and look great. But besides the pros, there are cons as well. It is completely impossible to adjust the buds without touching the sensor. The Buds+ has a rubber ring part that you can grab onto, as well as a clearly defined touch control area. In the Buds Pro, it looks like the whole outside area is a sensor. Therefore, any touch pauses the music.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds+

Here I will allow myself to dream. If Samsung released a new model of earphones with a case and in a Buds+ case, just updating the speakers, adding ANC and installing bone conduction sensors, this would be the perfect TWS model for me. But even the market leader cannot afford to use the same design for 3 years in a row. I understand that an external update was inevitable. Therefore, there is nothing left but to accept the fact that the new product has flaws. After all, the advantages of the new headset still outweigh the minor flaws in ergonomics.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds+ vs Huawei FreeBuds Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM3
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds+ vs Huawei FreeBuds Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM3

Read also: Huawei FreeBuds Pro review. Near Perfect TWS Earbuds

Controls

Another downgrade is the lack of an accelerometer and the ability to control the volume by double tapping on the earbud or on the ear next to it. I want to emphasize that this is not touch control, but tapping. This alternative method can be activated in Buds+. After all, the sensors can be used to control playback, switch sound modes and call the voice assistant. And the accelerometer is responsible for the volume. This method is especially convenient, as it works even through a hat or hood, which is very important in winter.

Yes, the Galaxy Buds Pro allows you to control playback and switch tracks with single, double and triple touches. It is also possible to assign one of the options for a long hold – you can change the volume (increase on the right and decrease on the left) or call the voice assistant, switch between Ambient sound modes (any of the actions on the right or left to choose from).

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds+ vs Huawei FreeBuds Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds+ vs Huawei FreeBuds Pro

Of course, automation partly solves this problem. Let me remind you about the speech recognition function. When you start talking, the buds muffle the music and turn on the ambient sound. But, like any automation, this feature is not reliable. Firstly, the earphones respond to random sounds – when you yawn loudly, sneeze or cough to clear your throat, the music is immediately muffled. You can click on the sensor of any earphone and the volume will be restored. But worst of all, the function often doesn’t turn on when it should. You start talking, but nothing happens. As a result, you have to pause the music, take the bud out of your ear, apologize, ask to repeat the question.

In general, this might become a killer feature, but not right now. Right now it’s too much of a hassle. Although, at first it was even worse. Because a few seconds elapsed between the start of the conversation and the detection. One of the updates has accelerated the response time of voice detection, now it starts almost instantly (if triggered), but, unfortunately, it did not add reliability. Perhaps Samsung will further refine this feature over time.

Also, in fairness, it is worth noting the presence of the voice activation function of the Bixby assistant. Although this is again only relevant for Samsung smartphones. Perhaps Samsung has really decided to ditch additional manual controls in favor of smart features and voice control. Innovative, fashionable, trendy, but the implementation still leaves much to be desired.

The touch controls are reliable and everything that should work works without issues. In addition, you can turn off the sensors altogether through the Galaxy Wearables mobile app if you are bothered by false touches.

But I will miss the accelerometer anyway. Which means… Yes, when choosing between Galaxy Buds+ and Galaxy Buds Pro, I will definitely prefer the new model, and I’ll tell you precisely why.

Read also: Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review: The most unusual TWS headphones of 2020

Sound

The Galaxy Buds Pro are the first Samsung TWS earbuds that sound perfect. Moreover, I consider them to be among the best in their class, if not the best. At least the model scored the highest for this parameter in my recent comparison of the top 10 TWS in the consumer segment.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Sound

Moreover, to be sure of my conclusions, I even took Sony WF-1000XM3 buds for a spin. Of course, this model is not new (late 2019), but it is still the favorite when it comes to sound quality. And yet, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is in no way inferior to it.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Sound

The headphones sound very juicy, even without any software enhancements. And they demonstrate good sound when paired with smartphones of any brands (the proprietary Sacalable Codec is used with Samsung or AAC smartphones, SBC with all the others). The bass is firm and not boomy, the high frequencies are in place.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Sound

But I still activate Dolby Atmos on my smartphone, and in the Galaxy Wearables I select the Dynamic equalizer setting. As for my taste, when these parameters are combined in terms of music playback, Buds Pro reveals itself most fully. Moreover, the sound is voluminous and detailed, and it stays like that even when the volume is increased, when it becomes even more expressive.

Musically, the Buds Pro win by a slight margin when compared with the main competitor – Huawei FreeBuds Pro, which are also not bad, but to my ear, they sound a little dry and flat without the use of software effects. Although here there’s a certain parity between them.

Read also: Tronsmart Apollo Bold review. TWS Headset with ANC, Great Sound and Lots More

Active noise control

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro ANC demonstrates excellent results. In my personal opinion, this is the best implementation of active noise control that I have tested. Of course, sharp sounds, especially high-frequency ones, break through, but the monotonous hum and noise is cut off almost completely.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

So what’s so intelligent about the ANC? I’d say the user will never know. In the Galaxy Wearable settings, you can select “high” or “low” modes. Samsung recommends using the first option outdoors and in public transport, and the second one indoors. In practice, the system here simply adjusts the ANC performance based on the level of ambient noise, most likely to improve energy efficiency. The ANC consumes less energy if the noise level is low. Let me remind you that there is a similar feature in the Huawei FreeBuds Pro (dynamic noise control).

Turning the ANC on does not change the character of the music sound in any way. Although in other headphones, ANC activation usually adds bass.

Ambient sound

Ambient sound is one of the most relevant and demanded features in modern earbuds, in my opinion. And in the Galaxy Buds Pro it works great. There are three volume levels to choose from, and a recent update has added an option for additional amplification of the background sound, which, in fact, turns the buds into an advanced hearing aid. The microphones transmit ambient sounds with good quality and no noticeable distortion. In addition, this feature is complemented by built-in protection against harsh loud sounds. The headphones instantly muffle loud background noise nd quickly restore the previous level when the sound fades.

It works great, if you forget about the unreliable method of activating ambient sound by using voice detection. And if you assign a physical action it (holding the sensor), then the volume control is lost. Samsung needs to improve the automatic detection so that Ambient sounds becomes a true killer app.

Read also: Samsung Galaxy Buds+ review – The best TWS earbuds on the market?

Audio 360

I don’t know what to say here… This feature is there to play with it a couple of times, and that’s about that. Yes, it’s impressive that the sound seems to surround you and change direction when you turn your head, but how many actually need that? I don’t, especially given the fact that I like watching movies and TV shows on a big TV screen and definitely not with earphones in my ears. Also, the feature is limited by the proprietary ecosystem and the need to support Audio 360 in specific players and streaming services. In short, it’s nothing more than another marketing trick. But maybe someone will come of this.

Microphones and headset function

It was bad at first. Well, not bad, of course, but noticeably worse than the Galaxy Buds+ (even without bone sensors) and the Huawei FreeBuds Pro (where everything is perfect in this regard). But after 2 or 3 updates, the microphones and voice transmission system returned to normal.

The Galaxy Buds Pro does not show outstanding results; between the three mentioned buds, there’s an approximate parity in the quality of voice communication. There are slight differences in timbre, but this is all very subjective. Just so you know, in my experience, these are the best headsets on the market for phone calls and voice chats. Although, there is also the relatively inexpensive Huawei FreeBuds 3i with the great 6-microphone system.

Samsung Galaxy Wearable software

We are familiar with this app from previous reviews of Samsung TWS buds. And it remains one of the best on the mobile market. Galaxy Wearable provides a simple connection of headphones to a smartphone, has a simple and intuitive UI, is not overloaded with options, but at the same time it has everything you need to set up and control the the headphones.

The utility also provides an over-the-air update of the device’s firmware and search for buds if they are lost. You cannot do without it when using devices of the Galaxy Buds line, so installation is required. The Samsung smartphones have the app installed by default. But if you have a smartphone from another brand, here are the links:

Connection

The connection reliability of the Galaxy Buds Pro is amazing, especially with Samsung smartphones. Not once did I encounter interruption or delays with normal use (smartphone in my pocket or in line of sight) and in any even the most unfavorable situations (on the street, in the subway, in a shopping center, next to mobile networks towers) it worked flawlessly.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Connect

Also, streaming music is possible even through several reinforced concrete walls, which cannot be said about the Galaxy Buds+. The quality of the connection is clearly improved.

Delays

And again, everything is fine. I didn’t notice any delays when watching videos online or offline in any application or through a browser. But if you have a Samsung smartphone, it is recommended to also activate the Game Mode in the Labs menu. This will further reduce audio latency in games.

Galaxy Buds Pro

Battery life

Of course, the Buds Pro will not be able to beat the Galaxy Buds+ record. Which is logical – there are more sensors and features, but the batteries are the same. But nevertheless, the results are quite decent, the buds can live up to 8 hours without ANC and about 5-6 hours with active noise control. The case can charge the headphones 2 more times, so the total autonomy reaches 15-20 hours.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Wireless Charge

Fast charging. In 5 minutes you will get an hour of listening to music. Of course, the convenient modern USB Type C port and the wireless charging function make the process of using the buds even more comfortable.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is one of the best all-in-one TWS earbuds on the market right now in terms of features, performance and user experience. Of course, it works best when it’s in the Samsung ecosystem. Therefore, if you have a smartphone from this brand, I highly recommend it. Even if you don’t, it’s still worth it.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Of course, there were some compromises that I described in this review. If you are confused by them and you do not need the ANC function, then I recommend paying attention to the previous Galaxy Buds+ model, which, in my opinion, has not yet lost its appeal. Or any model from my recent article about current TWS buds.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Design
10
Materials
10
Build quality
10
Ergonomics
8
Controls
9
Sound
10
Mics
9
Connection
10
Delays
10
Battery life
9
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is one of the best all-in-one TWS earbuds on the market right now in terms of features, performance and user experience. Of course, it works best when it's in the Samsung ecosystem.
Vladislav Surkovhttps://root-nation.com/
Co-founder of Root Nation. Editor, CEO. I don't care about nameplates and I don't worship brands. Only the quality and functionality of the gadget matters!
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