There’s no other TWS headset that I wanted to try more than Samsung Galaxy Buds+. And when I received it, at first I did not understand what is there to write about it. It seemed that everything has already been said in the review of the previous model without a plus sign. I mean it looks absolutely the same. I could talk about better battery life, but it’s literally one sentence. However, after several weeks of using the headset, I realized that I still have something to say. Changes are not just present – they are very significant. In addition, the memories of the old model are little blurred for me and some of the common things I realized just now.
In addition, over the past period, a lot of TWS headsets have passed through my hands and ears and I accumulated lots of experience in that regard. Experience which will help me stay as objective as possible.
Positioning and price
This year we did not receive the long-awaited active noise reduction (by the way, whether it is needed in a such headset is a big question that I will consider separately), but I personally did not expect it, so… Probably because of this the price of the new headset practically did not increase. Which is good. In general, the cost of Galaxy Buds+ is reasonable. The official price is $142. Not middle rage, as you can see, but the product is cheaper than Apple AirPods Pro or Huawei FreeBuds 3. Oddly enough, the official cost of the old headset at the same has decreased only slightly. Is it worth it to overpay for the new product?
What’s in the box
The dimensions and design of the package are unchanged, as well as the contents of the box. The kit comes with a charging case with two headphones, 3 pairs of cushions and interchangeable ear pads with and without protrusions, as well as a USB Type-C cable.
Design, materials, build quality
Radically, the appearance of the headset has not changed at all. Samsung decided not to break something that already works great. The materials also remained the same – these are plastic and silicone elements. But the plastic has changed. If earlier the case was matte, then here it is glossy.
To be honest, I don’t really like it, especially in the case of the black version. The case quickly collects scratches and fingerprints. But the glossy white case looks quite fine and the prints on it are not noticeable at all, as are the scratches.
By the way, there are other color options, except for black and white. It is sky blue, blue, pink and red. In general, there are offers for every taste, gender and age.
In general, I still admire the quality of materials and the build quality of these headphones. The lid opens smoothly, has a fixation in any intermediate position, does not hang in the open state and closes with a pleasant sound of a snuff box. In the closed position, the lid has a certain looseness, but remains pleasant to operate.
The location of the elements remains unchanged. On the front of the case there is a single indicator of its charge level, it glows green, yellow or red when the lid is closed. Quite informative. Above is a wide and deep recess for opening the lid.
On top of the cover is the Samsung logo and the “Sound by AKG” reminder. On the back is a USB-C port for charging.
The bottom of the case is flat with a low ledge around the entire perimeter. In the recess is service marking.
Inside is a matte Galaxy Buds+ case with a slightly pearly shimmer. In front of the recesses you can see the main external difference from last year’s model – a silicone insert with markings R and L instead of simple inscriptions. As I understand it, the main purpose of the insert is to absorb the lid. Now it does not slam plastic on plastic. Such attention to detail is pleasing.
Above the silicone insert there is another LED indicator that glows red while the headphones are charging from the case.
Inside each recess for the headphones you can notice 2 spring-loaded gold-plated contacts. The earbuds are fixed inside the case with magnets. And quite firmly – they do not fall out even if you turn it over and lightly shake it. They automatically fall into the desired position. Missing and inserting the headphones incorrectly is simply not possible.
The earbuds themselves are an exact copy of the old model. Outside is a touch pad. Each earphone is equipped with THREE microphones. Why – we’ll discuss later.
In each earbud a recess is made around the perimeter for installing one of the interchangeable ear cushions, there is fixator for the correct positioning of the elastic in the right position.
On the inside there are 2 charging contacts, an L or R marker, as well as an infrared proximity sensor window. There is also some kind of a hole for an unknown purpose – perhaps for decompression of the case.
Ergonomics and comfort of use
Galaxy Buds+ Charging Case
The new Samsung headset is incredibly comfortable in every way. The case is miniature, small in height, nicely rounded and fits in almost any pocket. First of all, it is due to the dimensions that the headset stands out from the majority of competitors with a similar case design.
I especially want to note the wide and deep recess in the lid, thanks to which you can easily determine the position of the cover by touch. And it’s easy to open it.
It seems to be a simple and obvious solution, but for some reason many manufacturers do not pay due attention to this. As a result, such a banal action as opening the case causes difficulties, especially in the dark – it is simply impossible to quickly find out from which side the lid opens and often you have to pry it with a fingernail. Galaxy Buds+ is great in this regard.
You can even hold the case and at the same time open the cover with one hand, but you need to use a special grip. Let me show you how:
In addition, the USB-C port for charging is an important aspect of the convenient use of the headset. You can easily connect the cable almost without looking and without thinking where the top or bottom of the plug is.
But you can also do something simpler – put the case on a wireless charging pad. It is very cool. Most often I charge it this way.
Yes, the dimensions of the earbuds are not the smallest. Tronsmart Spunky Beat and Onyx Neo are much smaller and almost get buried in the ears. But this moment has its drawbacks (in addition to the worse battery life): any manipulation with the headphones triggers the sensor. There’s nothing to grab onto. In the case of Galaxy Buds+ – everything is just fine. Headphones protrude slightly from the ears and there are side faces with an elastic band. It is possible to easily fix the earbuds and they will not turn off playback in the process.
At the same time, the shape of the earbuds has a very anatomical shape. I can spend hours working with a headset in my ears and it doesn’t bother me at all. And not just for hours, but for MANY hours – specifically for 5-6 hours. This is very important in times of self-isolation, when you have to work at home and somehow fence yourself off from everyone else who also work remotely during quarantine.
I also want to note the infrared sensor, which determines when the headphones are removed from the ears. The algorithm is very cool. Playback is not paused entirely, it’s just that the buttons on the earpiece you got out of it no longer sense touch. You can hold it in your hands. Or cover the sensor with your finger and pause the music. And the sound in it will turn off only when you put it in a case.
By the way, this is another advantage of the headset. Headphones do not just work in pairs or separately. In the case of Samsung Galaxy Buds+, you don’t have to think at all in what order to get them or put them in a case. There is no master and slave, the headphones are equivalent. And activation delays are minimal. You just get any earbud and it works in mono mode. You take out the second, and you get stereo right away. While you take it out of the case, it manages to turn on and starts playing music even before you put it in your ear. At this time, the proximity sensor is triggered and the system notifies that the headphone is ready to accept control through the sensor.
Notifications deserve special mention. They are not sharp and do not drown out the music. These are not voice prompts, but soft sounds unique to each action, and they are easily distinguishable from each other.
I live that Samsung Galaxy Buds+ is simply to use with almost no false touches. Sensors work very reliably and predictably. At the same time, music control is complete. Single tap – pause and play. Double tap – the next track or answer and end the call. Triple – previous track.
Long touch can be customized to your choice. It will be responsible for increasing and decreasing the volume (right and left earphones) or, as an alternative, for calling a voice assistant and turning on/off the background sound. It seems that in doing so we lose the ability to control the volume? This is exactly what happened in the previous version of the headphones. But in the Labs menu settings of the current version of the Galaxy Wearables application, it is now possible to enable volume control using an additional alternative action. I will talk about this a little later.
Noise reduction or sound background?
I just don’t understand the people who were waiting for the active noise reduction in Galaxy Buds+ and were upset when he was not there. Excuse me, why, for what? The best noise canceler is the vacuum headphone format itself. External sounds are muffled physically due to silicone caps. And this “function” works an order of magnitude better and more reliably than any electronic noise reduction. And does not consume excess energy. The main thing is to choose the right eartips.
Consider that your noise canceler is always on by default. But in Galaxy Buds, you can turn it off at any time! In this case, the headset acquires all the features of an open-type headphone. You begin to hear what is happening around. And even cooler! The headset amplifies all external sounds, giving you super hearing – better than in reality. A very useful feature on the street, especially in a busy city.
In fact, if you turn off music playback with an active sound background, then Samsung Galaxy Buds+ turns into a hearing aid. And an excellent one. It’s an undeclared function, by the way! Also, I just googled for fun how much hearing aids cost. Yes, there are cheap options (for sure – nothing good), but most of them are quite expensive. And this is for one element, as I understand it. And in the case of our headset, we get two devices for the price of one!
It seems to me that it’s worth considering if you or your relative needs such a device… Maybe it’s better to buy a modern universal headset?! More compact and stylish, and even with additional music features, the ability to make phone calls, voice communication and a voice assistant. Buy your grandmother Galaxy Buds+ instead of a regular hearing aid!
The sound of Samsung Galaxy Buds+
Probably the most important change that I expected from Samsung Galaxy Buds+ is improvement of the sound. I can’t say that last year’s model had big problems. On the contrary, her sound is very good – especially highs and mediums. But the bass was clearly not enough out of the box. I had to use 2 equalizers in parallel to pull the low frequencies to an acceptable level.
And in the case of Galaxy Buds + … I also use 2 equalizers. In fact, the situation seems to be similar to last year. Instead of a third-party utility, I turned on the Dolby Atmos effect (Rich profile) built-in to the smartphone (Huawei P30 Pro), and the second equalizer is the Dynamic profile in Galaxy Wearable. To be fair, I should note that the situation with the bass has become much better than in the previous version. If then I was able to achieve only the minimum acceptable level of bass, then this time I was completely satisfied.
The funny thing is that Samsung declares innovative innovations in terms of sound quality. The headphones use a two-driver speaker system with separate high-frequency and low-frequency modules.
And the highs are really great, no questions asked. Like last year. Or maybe better, there is no possibility to compare. But with the low frequencies, I would not say that it’s a complete disaster, but “out of the box” they are dissappointing again, if you just connect the headset to your smartphone via the standard Bluetooth menu. And for some reason, my intuition tells me that half of the buyers, especially those who do not have a Samsung smartphone (where Galaxy Wearables are built into the firmware), will do just that without even thinking that there is some special utility. And they will be disappointed with the sound.
But they shouldn’t! It turns out that after installing Galaxy Wearable application and activating the corresponding profile, the bass really amplifies significantly. And everything becomes normal. But come on guys. It’s just funny when Tronsmart Spunky Beat headphones for 20 bucks sound so much better right out of the box. And with headphones that are 7 times more expensive, you have to tinker in the settings.
But after all these twists and turns I’m generally satisfied with the sound quality of Galaxy Buds+. The sound is clear and crisp, the scene is excellent. And despite all my complaints, the bass is also fine in the end. They’re not overpowering, but elastic and detailed, just how I like them.
I do not recommend using these headphones without the proprietary Galaxy Wearable application. Moreover, it is better to install the utility first thing, connect the headphones with it and immediately access all the settings. So, let’s talk software.
Galaxy Wearable and unique features
At first glance, the application has not changed much since the last time I checked. But it turned out that this was only the first impression.
The first thing that changed is that now you can see the exact current charge of the case when you open the lid.
Next, there are 3 levels of background sound and the ability to add a fourth, which greatly enhances external sounds (through the “Labs” menu). Again, we recall the function of the hearing aid.
One of the most important sections for me is the ready-made sound profiles without which the sound of the headset seems poor to me. And with them, everything becomes much more interesting. I use a “Dynamic” profile, but you can experiment with a balance of high and low frequencies.
Vocalization of notifications is also a good feature, with its help you will understand which application has a new notification without taking your smartphone out of your pocket. Now that’s a smart function.
Touch Panel Settings. You can lock the control buttons (if you do not need them for some reasons) or choose actions for a long hold. Basic options: volume or voice assistant/background sound. I recommend choosing the second. In this case, you do not lose the volume settings. Just go to the “Labs” menu and activate the volume control with double tapping.
About this action in more detail. You need to tap anywhere on the body of the headphones, except for the touch button itself (switching tracks there, I remind you). Moreover, apparently, this action is performed using the accelerometer, since you can even flick your ear! You can double-click behind the ear or pull the earlobe, if you like. An unexpected and just plain cool feature. But that’s not all! The volume can be adjusted with a double slap upside the head! True, then the headphones do not understand what to do – increase or decrease the volume, and do one thing after another. I did not check the double blow to the jaw. I only have a question, why the headphones have accelerometer at all? Just for the sake of this function? Hard to believe. Samsung is up to something…
Further there are utility functions – for example, headphone search. Useful if you constantly forget your earbuds everywhere. When you activate the search, the headphones begin to “tweet” quite loudly. Finding them indoors is becoming easier. Well, at the end of the list is standard – reset, tips for use and updating the firmware. By the way, updates arrive quite often. In a month I received a couple of them.
In general, even now, Galaxy Wearable is the coolest headphone app I’ve seen. And with the help of software updates, the functionality of both the utility itself and the headphones can be improved endlessly, since the hardware is great.
Six microphones is serious. Before Galaxy Buds+, I already decided that it is impossible to achieve good voice quality from a vacuum headset with microphones in the ear, as in the case of a smartphone microphone, which is located closer to the voice source. No matter how high-quality these microphones are. Perhaps when the headphones have a “stick”, like Apple AirPods or Huawei FreeBuds and the microphone is located slightly lower, and even directed towards the mouth, the situation will improve. But still its far from ideal.
But in the case of Galaxy Buds+ everything is completely different. Indoors, we get very close to perfect voice transmission, indistinguishable from talking via a smartphone. On the street it’s noticeably worse in timbre, but quite usable. At least speech is understandable. And all because of a unique solution; all other manufacturers simply don’t have anything like that. And this is not another “advanced intellectual noise cancellation during conversations.” Everything is much better.
The main difference is the internal microphone. In addition to the usual circuit with two external microphones, one of which picks up the voice, and the second external noise, ensuring the operation of the standard noise reduction algorithm, the headset seems to be listening to you from the inside. The third microphone is located inside the case, which is in direct contact with your body. And this arrangement not only allows you to better hear yourself (when you enable the corresponding function in the application). The most important thing is that the internal microphone significantly improves the transmission of your voice, as it picks up the internal vibrations of the voice directly from… a head or something. And makes the timbre of the voice deeper and more natural. It really works!
Overall. It seems to me that Galaxy Buds+ is probably the best TWS headset at the moment in terms of voice transmission. The solution with an internal microphone is fantastic.
Connection and Delays
No this is not everything is as rosy as we would like. A year ago, I would say that everything is fine. But in the current situation, the reliability of the connection is not the best. Because competitors have seriously improved. Huawei FreeBuds 3 behaves noticeably better, there are almost no breaks ever. And even with the ultra-budget Tronsmart Spunky Beat and Onyx Neo on the new Qualcomm chips, I didn’t have such problems. Although, of course, this is due solely to the chip, but still … Users just don’t care what is inside.
I don’t want to upset you too much. No, not everything is so bad. It’s passable (it’s all quite good, taking into account all the other advantages of the headset). But with Galaxy Buds+, I sometimes catch short breaks in the music stream (mainly on one of the headphones), even in an apartment. For example, when I pass by a repeater in the corridor. Or at the moment when I put the smartphone in my pocket (not always, but in 30% of cases). Or if I quickly move around the room, I turn around sharply, and the smartphone lies on the table. But with the above-mentioned headset models in my apartment there are no problems at all. And Galaxy Buds +, well, they have problems, and often.
As for the street – the situation is similar. There are more lags than competitors. This is not the level of comfort you would expect from a premium headset. At least at the moment the situation is just that. Perhaps (as is often the case with new Samsung products), the reliability of the connection will be improved by firmware updates. Now I have such an impression that the headphones are very susceptible to interference and do not have time to quickly change the frequency.
UPDATE: I have to admit that I made a mistake during testing. I found this out after I connected the headset to another smartphone and checked it again with the first one. After the fact, I change my verdict. The constant interruption are the fault of UAG Plasma Series massive protective cover on my smartphone. Without thecase, the connection with the headphones works reliably and there are no problems at all. Just keep this in mind – the case may affect the quality of the connection.
As for the delays – everything is fine in YouTube. In games there is a small lag. Unfortunately, I can not recommend a single TWS headset to gamers. Delays are present everywhere and always, in any models.
But if you have a Samsung smartphone, forget about what I wrote about the games. Most likely, another exclusive setting in the “Labs” menu is available to you – the so-called “Game Mode”. It is designed to eliminate audio delays during games. I just found out that it is, but I have not personally tested it. Therefore this is just information to note. I hope that this setting will be available for owners of smartphones of other brands. But on Huawei P30 Pro it simply does not exist.
Everything is great here. 8-11 hours on one full charge of the earbuds, depending on the volume of music playback, activated features and the number of conversations. I can be mistaken, but apart from Samsung Galaxy Buds +, no one on the market at the moment can offer a similar level of autonomy. Naturally, when it comes to compact TWS-headphones. At least I have not seen anything like this in my practice.
As for the overall battery life, the case can charge the headphones about 2 times. This is not much, so I try to just recharge it on the Qi pad (10 watts) from time to time. A fully discharged case charges up to 100% in about 40 minutes – both by wire and without wire.
My opinion regarding Samsung Galaxy Buds+ has been continuously changing throughout the testing period. And this is not surprising. The quality and functions of the product were revealed gradually. And the initial impressions were wrong. The manufacturer did everything possible to make the new model as similar as possible to the old one. On the one hand, it is almost impossible to come up with the better design and construction. For me in this regard the last year’s model was perfect already. But safe for the appearance, Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Buds+ have nothing in common. And the appearance very much deceives the buyer, who does not want to understand the intricacies. They even managed to deceive me at first. But I figured it out. The main conclusion: the hardware and features tell is that these are completely different headsets!
That is why my impressions changed from “nothing new” and “same old, same old” to “wow!” and “now this is innovation!” At the end of the review, I’m ready to sing the praises to this headset. Especially, taking into account the cost, which has not grown much compared to last year. At the same time, in Galaxy Buds+, the consumer receives a lot of advantages due to unique software and hardware solutions.
Better voice transmission, better battery life, better controlling. Great sound. The unique background sound feature is significantly improved over last year. And the main drawback that I identified – the mediocre reliability of the connection, turned out to be the problem of using a thick and massive cover made of tinted translucent plastic. Not all cases are good for Bluetooth headphones! Therefore, as a result, I can’t recommend Samsung Galaxy Buds+ enough.
Regarding the main issue. Old or new headset? I think the choice is obvious. Although the original Galaxy Buds headset in 2019 is also not bad, but saving 20 bucks seems ridiculous considering all the benefits of the new model. But, of course, you decide.
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