Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs Apple AirPods Pro: the tech giants’ wireless earbuds do battle

the samsung galaxy buds 2 next to the apple airpods pro
(Image credit: TechRadar)

Are you trying to choose between the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and the Apple AirPods Pro? With the true wireless earbuds sharing so many specs in common, we know it can be tricky, and we’re here to help you make a decision.

Samsung’s latest wireless earbuds are its most convincing rival for the Apple AirPods Pro, offering active noise cancellation at a lower price than Apple’s popular earbuds

But, are the Galaxy Buds 2 let down by a lack of premium features like the Spatial Audio support found in the AirPods Pro? And which earbuds should you buy if you have an Android phone?

Here’s everything you need to know about the two noise-cancelling earbuds models, and how to choose the right wireless earbuds for your needs.

the samsung galaxy buds in olive in their charging case

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs Apple AirPods Pro: price and availability

If you’re looking to save some money, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 are the cheaper of the two models. Available to buy now, they’ll cost you $149.99 / £139.99 / AU$219. 

The Apple AirPods Pro on the other hand, cost $249 / £249 / AU$399 when they launched in 2019, but they do see regular, if not large, discounts, and they tend to drop to their lowest prices around Black Friday. Still, they’ve never been as cheap as the Galaxy Buds 2. 

For those on a really strict budget, the original Galaxy Buds have recently seen price drops as low as $80 / £65 / AU$120 – we wouldn’t recommend them over the newer model, though, and stock is likely to sell out relatively quickly.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs Apple AirPods Pro: design

The Apple AirPods Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and represent the two types of true wireless earbuds: those with protruding stems, and those without. Which style you should opt for will largely come down to personal taste.

The new Galaxy Buds 2 come with smooth, rounded housings, and a slim, lightweight build that makes them comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Those housings are touch-sensitive, allowing you to control your music playback without digging your phone out of your pocket. 

The AirPods Pro also come with touch-sensitive controls; however, these are housed in the stems. A small ridge on the stems delineates a capacitive force sensor – you can squeeze this area to activate the noise cancellation or transparency modes, and control your music playback.

Both models come with a range of silicone eartips, so you should be able to find a comfortable and secure fit – and they both come with accompanying apps that allow you to carry out a fit test using the earbuds’ built-in microphones to analyze how well sealed they are against your ear canal.

the AirPods Pro next to their charging case

The Apple AirPods Pro. (Image credit: Future)

Unlike the AirPods Pro, the Galaxy Buds 2 come in a range of stylish, muted colors: Lavender, Olive, White, and Graphite. While the outside of their charging case will be white no matter which color you choose, the inside of the case corresponds to the color of the buds. 

Both charging cases are pretty sleek, and small enough to comfortably slip into a pocket – they only really differ in terms of shape, with the Galaxy Buds 2 case sporting a flatter, more ovaloid shape than the square, flip-top design of the AirPods Pro case.

Disappointingly, the Galaxy Buds 2 only come with an IPX2 water resistance rating – that should protect you from a very small amount of sweat if you use the buds while working out, but we wouldn't recommend using them in heavy rain.

The AirPods Pro are more robust, with an IPX4 rating – if you’re planning to use your earbuds while working out or in adverse weather conditions, these are the buds you should buy (though some models, like the Jaybird Vista 2, are even better suited for outdoor pursuits, thanks to an IPX7 rating). 

the samsung galaxy buds 2: one in the case, and one being held between the thumb and forefingere

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs Apple AirPods Pro: audio performance

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 provide a much better audio performance than the original Galaxy Buds, with each earbud containing a separate tweeter and woofer for a wide, clear soundstage. 

Overall, the sound is pretty balanced – though the way the Galaxy Buds 2 have been tuned means you’re missing out on chest-thumping sub bass and detail in the very highest frequencies. 

The AirPods Pro are pretty similar in this respect – they certainly don’t deliver the detail you get from audiophile wireless earbuds like the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus or the Grado GT220, but a generally warm, well balanced soundstage makes for an enjoyable listen.

We’d say that the two models are pretty evenly matched if it wasn’t for the fact that the AirPods Pro come with support for Apple’s Spatial Audio technology. It works in 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos, which positions sound all around you within a virtual sphere – that means that if you're watching a Dolby Atmos film that shows a plane flying overhead, it will sound as though the plane is really passing above you.

What’s unique to Spatial Audio though, is that it uses the built-in accelerometers and gyroscopes inside Apple’s earbuds and headphones to track the position of your head, as well as the position of your iPhone or iPad. 

a closeup of the AirPods Pro in someones ear

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs Apple AirPods Pro: noise cancellation

Both the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and the Apple AirPods Pro come with active noise cancellation, allowing you to listen to your music and podcasts in (relative) peace. 

With music playing and the ANC turned on, you probably won’t be able to hear someone in the same room talking to you with the Galaxy Buds 2, but you’d hear loud noises coming from outside. 

The AirPods Pro are a little more adept at blocking out environmental noise, though some sound might bleed through. Still, when you’re walking down the street, the AirPods Pro will practically shut out all the noise of traffic or wind. 

Both earbuds come with ambient modes. With the Galaxy Buds 2, you can hold either earbud’s touch-sensitive housing to switch to the ambient mode, which will pump environmental noise into the buds – handy if you want to quickly order a coffee without taking your buds out.

Apple’s version of this is called ‘Transparency mode’. It’s a well-implemented feature, with the world fading slowly in and out when Transparency is turned on, rather than a sudden dump of sound blaring through your ear drums.

the samsung galaxy buds 2 in their charging case next to a smartphone

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs Apple AirPods Pro: connectivity

As you may have guessed, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 are optimized to work with Android (and specifically Samsung phones), while the AirPods Pro work best with iOS devices.

Android users can use the Galaxy Wearable app to adjust the EQ settings, customize the touch controls, and see how much battery life the Galaxy Buds 2 have left. The app can also help you locate your lost buds, and if you have the Galaxy Buds 2, you can carry out a test to make sure your buds fit your ears correctly. 

Disappointingly, many of these features are only available on the Android version of the app. The iOS version hasn’t been updated yet and that means customization is impossible until it receives an update.

Similarly, the AirPods Pro come with some features that only work with an iOS device, like automatic switching between devices and Spatial Audio.

While both models offer stable wireless connections, the Galaxy Buds 2 support a slightly newer version of Bluetooth than the AirPods Pro, with support for Bluetooth 5.2 as opposed to the Apple earbuds’ support for Bluetooth 5. 

In terms of codec support, the Galaxy Buds 2 and the AirPods Pro both support SBC and AAC codecs. However, the Galaxy Buds also come with Samsung’s proprietary Scalable Codec, which enables noticeably improved audio quality over the basic SBC codec if you’re connected to a Samsung device.

the AirPods Pro with their charging case

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs Apple AirPods Pro: battery life

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 come with a 29-hour combined battery life if you use them with the active noise cancellation turned off. Turn this on, and you’re looking at 20 hours – that’s five hours from the earbuds themselves with a further 15 provided by the charging case.

That’s more than the Apple AirPods Pro provide. Their charging case will give you over 24 hours of listening time when fully charged, with each full charge of the AirPods Pro getting you five hours of listening (that’s with noise cancelling or Transparency off – you’ll get four and a half hours with it on), or three and a half hours of use if you use the AirPods Pro as a hands-free mic for calling.

Neither offer a class-leading battery life by any standards – the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus offer double that amount, though they don’t come with active noise cancellation, which can be a huge drain on battery life. 

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 by a swimming pool

(Image credit: Samsung)


The best way to choose between the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and the Apple AirPods Pro is to look at what kind of smartphone you’re using. Do you have an Android device – or, even better, a Samsung phone? Get the Galaxy Buds 2. iPhone devotee? You’re better off with the AirPods Pro. 

If you want to save some money, you’re probably better off opting for the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 – though you may find that the AirPods Pro are discounted to a similar price over Black Friday 2021

Otherwise, the two models are fairly evenly matched, even if the AirPods Pro do win out in terms of waterproofing, support for 3D audio technologies, and slightly more effective noise cancellation.

There are actually a few models we’d recommend over either of these. The Sony WF-1000XM4 are our pick for the best true wireless earbuds you can buy today, and are pretty much operating system-agnostic – their audio performance, noise cancellation, and features are far superior to the Galaxy Buds 2 and the AirPods Pro. 

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.