Galaxy Buds 3 leak all-but confirms an AirPods-esque stem design plus 'pinch' gestural features

Samsung Galaxy Buds in lilac
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

With Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2024 fast approaching (although still unofficial, the event’s been heavily leaked as taking place on July 10, 2024, starting 6 AM PT, 9 AM ET, 2 PM BST or 11 PM ACT), the rumor mill is once again churning regarding the hotly anticipated Galaxy Buds 3 and Galaxy Buds 3 Pro

Just over a week ago, it was pretty much confirmed that the next line of earbuds will adopt a stem design echoing that of Apple’s AirPods, but a new leak hints that said stems could support a new ‘pinch’ feature for music playback too.

The leak was spotted on X (formerly Twitter) in a post from Samsung leaker @AssembleDebug, who allegedly found images in the Samsung Members app suggesting a ‘pinch’ gesture could be introduced with the Galaxy Buds 3. However, it’s unclear whether this feature will be available on both the standard and Pro models, or if it’ll appear in just one. 

While the leaked images don’t go into detail about how the pinch gesture will work or what exactly it will do, we can imagine it will work similarly to AirPods and Nothing’s new Chat GPT pinch-to-speak function, ie, pinch the stems to either play music or talk to a chatbot (Nothing), or control music playback (AirPods). We’d expect it will at least allow you to pinch the stems a certain number of times to pause, skip, and play previous songs – the kind of customisable morse code found in the majority of earbuds with pinch controls. But this is Samsung, so we’d expect more. 

With this latest leak, it’s evident that Samsung is tailoring its new Galaxy Buds 3 to adopt features found in other, perhaps more conventional “toothbrush head” earbuds models – they’re certainly a departure from the bud-shaped Galaxy Buds 2. Surprisingly, this is the first time Samsung has nodded to the AirPods Pro 2 stem design (the images of which were leaked a few weeks back). But the pinch feature leak shows that Samsung has been paying particularly close attention to its competitors.  

Analysis: Samsung’s late to the tailgate party – but will it matter?  

As mentioned above, the Galaxy Buds 3 and Buds 3 Pro are tipped to adopt a similar appearance to the AirPods Pro 2 and its touch controls – but the question remains, what exactly will the Galaxy Buds 3 pinch feature actually do? And is Samsung falling behind by only now introducing this feature? 

We’ve touched on the possibility that the pinch feature could allow you to control your music playback, but this could also come into play with the Galaxy Buds’ real-time translation powers which cleverly provide language barrier-free communication. So only time will tell if this will be supported by pinching. 

As Samsung gears up to launch one of its biggest Galaxy Buds upgrades, Apple on the other hand is starting to think about the future of AirPods and how Siri can be integrated into its controls. In the iOS 18 update, you’ll be able to answer Siri by nodding or shaking your head with AirPods Pro 2 – ie. without having to tap your earbuds at all. 

The AirPods Pro 2 on top of ice

AirPods are the original stemmed 'buds – and Samsung's hardly alone in adopting it (Image credit: Future)

It’s not a game-changing feature just yet, and its ideal user case scenario is answering or rejecting calls without talking, but there’s no doubt that Apple is already thinking about how it can up its hands-free game. If you’re anything like us, touching your earbuds can often do more harm than good (dislodging them, inadvertently skipping the song you were enjoying, whacking up the volume and having to remove them to sort it). So while Samsung is focussing on its new pinch controls, its competitors are already thinking about the future of touch-free functions with earbuds.

We still have a few weeks left until Galaxy Unpacked 2024, so we’ll see the full potential of the Galaxy Buds 3 and their Galaxy Buds 3 Pro counterparts when they’re launched. But given Samsung's track record (see our glowing Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review for reference), either pair might be gracing our best noise-cancelling earbuds guide, soon enough. 

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Editorial Associate

Rowan is an Editorial Associate and Apprentice Writer for TechRadar. A recent addition to the news team, he is involved in generating stories for topics that spread across TechRadar's categories. His interests in audio tech and knowledge in entertainment culture help bring the latest updates in tech news to our readers.