Samsung shows off a Galaxy Buds case with an OLED screen – has no plans to release it

Three images showing the OLED screen of the Samsung Galaxy Buds concept
(Image credit: CNET)

As part of its CES 2024 Samsung has unveiled a prototype Galaxy Buds case with an in-built OLED display. The circular screen takes a few cues from the Galaxy Watch; not just in its shape but also that it could display different information such as the remaining charge in your earbuds, the time, or what song is currently playing.

This wouldn’t be the first earbuds case to feature a screen. It’s not even the only product like this at CES 2024. The JBL Tour Pro 2 launched with a screen in its case in January 2023 – we gave it three-and-a-half-stars in our JBL Tour Pro 2 review – and at CES this year JBL is showing off the JBL Live 3 Earbuds with an improved screen that are set to launch in in 2024.

The Samsung design (which you can check out in the video below) is a prototype, with the Korean tech giant saying that it currently has no plans to launch it as a real product. 

That might not be a bad thing. Who really wants a screen in their earbuds case anyway?

You can have too many screens in your life 

JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds and case showing ANC profiles

The JBL Tour Pro 2 had a screen first. (Image credit: TechRadar)

The first obvious drawback is that the full-color OLED display would eat away at the limited battery life that the earbuds rely on to stay powered up. You could cram in an extra-large battery to counteract the higher electricity consumption, but you’d make the cases bulkier and add to the other big issue: cost.

As we found in our JBL Tour Pro 2 review, while the display is neat it means that the buds are quite pricey – coming in at $249.95 / £220 / AU$350. JBL’s follow up Live 3 buds that have a case with a screen are also set to cost a fair bit – $199.95 (around £156 / AU$296).

These prices aren’t unheard of for high-end audio tech, but (at least in the case of the JBL Tour Pro 2) you aren’t getting anything like the levels of detail or dynamic breadth you’d expect. The ANC also leaves a lot to be desired.

Hand holding a Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 fitted with ear tip and stabilizer band

You'd get way more from the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (Image credit: TechRadar)

If you’re after earbuds that pack an audio punch – you know, the main thing you want them to do – then you’d be much better served by buying something from our best wireless earbuds guide, such as the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II. They're also pricey, but have taken a price cut now that the new Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds are out, and they sound just fantastic, with supreme active noise cancellation.

That’s not to say the screen isn’t neat – it is – though it’s no more practical than pulling out your phone in the other pocket. For the all comparisons we make to smartwatches in terms of functionality, these cases lack the convenience of always being on your wrist.

To that end maybe rather than JBL it’s the the Huawei Watch Buds that Samsung should be looking to emulate, with their earbuds case built into a smartwatch, rather than the other way around.

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Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.