If you’re a runner, you want clothes and accessories that work with you, without you having to stop every few minutes to adjust them – and that certainly goes for your best running headphones. Good running headphones need to be comfortable and secure, and ideally able to adjust your volume and settings on the fly.
When I tried my first set of Apple AirPods, the first generation, I fell in love. I began wearing them for training runs, 10Ks, and throughout my training for my first half-marathon, so I do remember them with a measure of fondness. But as soon as I tried Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro, I knew they were going to blow my AirPods out the water. Not only is their audio quality every bit as good as the AirPods, but their tiny tips molded into my ear for a perfect fit, so I never had to worry about them falling out.
I was a slow adopter of running earbuds – I was worried they would fall out as I ran, and that I’d never see them again, which isn’t ideal for such a costly piece of tech. But after doing my research, and after a few literal trial runs with cheaper sets of buds, I settled on the AirPods.
I thought I was a dyed-in-the-wool Apple convert – until, that is, I tried the latest Galaxy Buds2. Now I won’t wear anything else for running. So, why have I jumped ship?
I tried Samsung Galaxy’s first versions of its buds, but I found them a bit too big for my ears, and I couldn’t quite get the fit right. The Buds2, however, are 15% smaller than its predecessor, and while I generally find earbuds hard to place in my ear, these took just a couple of seconds, and they stayed put even during sprints. They’ve never once fallen out, to the point where I’ve stopped worrying about it; my Airpods, on the other hand, have fallen into bushes, mud, and once even into the eyeline of an excited, seemingly hungry dog. Thankfully I was able to recover them before my expensive headphones ended up inside Fido's lower intestine.
The sound from my Samsung Galaxy Buds2 is a big plus for me. The quality from the Airpods was great, but sometimes the sound would drop from one of the buds as I ran, meaning I wouldn’t get the full 360 surround sound as I do with the Galaxy buds.
When I’m running, whether it's in the gym or in a park, having my full attention on my music or an audio motivation track is really important to me – it gives me focus, helps me to forget about how much I’m pushing myself, and most importantly, allows me time for myself. My first-generation Airpods didn’t have active noise cancellation (ANC – new models do offer this), and I’m all for my Galaxy Buds2 giving me the right sort of distraction.
A study published last year in the Journal of Motor Learning and Development showed that experiencing the right sort of distraction when exercising actually makes it easier and helps us to increase our overall effort. With ANC, I can toggle it on or off, so on a busy road for example, I can still keep part of my hearing open to the world around me.
The battery life is great too – they’re good for eight hours of listening on a full charge, in comparison to the most recent AirPods' six hours, sans case. And while I wouldn’t want to drop them in a puddle (although, as mentioned, they haven’t fallen out of my ears yet) they do have an IPX7 rating, so they can theoretically be submerged in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes. AirPods 3 are only IPX4, resistant to water splashes but unable to be submerged at all.
The only slight drawback was how long they take, via Bluetooth, to pair with my phone – I have an iPhone, and I know the pairing process would be quicker and more intuitive if I was pairing them to a Samsung phone; but with that being the only downside, I’m one happy runner.
However, if you really don't like closing off your ears while you run – for example, you live smack-bang in the middle of a busy city – you might be better off with a set of the best bone conduction headphones, which pipe music through vibrations in your skull while leaving your ears open for the outside world.
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Sarah is a freelance writer - writing across titles including Woman&Home, Fit&Well, TechRadar, the Independent and the BBC. She covers a variety of subjects, including trends in beauty, business and wellness - but her biggest passions are travel and fitness. She can normally be found trying out the latest fitness class or on a plane to an exotic destination. While she loves to combine the two - signing up to do hiking holidays in LA, intense boot camps in Bali - last year she went on her dream activity holiday: paddleboarding around deserted islands in Croatia.