Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
Smaller than Buds Pro
Better Active Noise Cancellation
Great, 24-bit audio
More expensive than Buds 2
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Samsung's new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is a surprisingly aggressive reimagining of the Buds line. Instead of jumping off from the Buds Pro design, these Bluetooth earbuds clearly started with the look and feel of the Galaxy Buds 2 and then took an Exacto blade to the body, carving away bits and pieces to accommodate better mics and sensors to improve fit, audio, and noise-canceling abilities. That Samsung did this while making the earbuds 15% smaller than the last Buds is impressive.
The result is an already impressive pair of buds that, in my brief hands-on, provided a great fit, notably good active noise cancellation (ANC), and rich audio.
There's also the promise of great battery life (29 hours with the case and without using ANC).
I'm also happy they have IPX7 for surviving a drop in water or splashes, though I didn't get to test that out.
These aren't, at $229.99, the cheapest buds, but they are feature-packed and look ready to take on the best Apple can offer in the Bluetooth earbud space.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro release date and price
Samsung unveiled its new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro on August 10 during its Unpacked event, where it also announced the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, its Galaxy Watch 5, and Watch 5 Pro.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro costs $229 / £219 / AU$349 and is available in Graphite, White, and Bora Purple. It's on pre-order now and arrives in stores on August 26.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro design and operation
Compared to the last Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, the Buds 2 Pro is, at 5.5g, considerably lighter than the 6.3g Buds Pro.
Between the case and body, the Buds 2 Pro appears to be a hybrid between the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and the original Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. The bean-like design retains a tiny bit of the edginess of the last Pro, but with the softer hue and mostly curved design, it looks more like the Buds 2.
Even so, the cutouts for sensors and mics are much more significant and visible than on any previous Galaxy Bud version. This isn't about looks, though, it's about audio performance, especially Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), which can use all those mics to capture sound for calls and audio pass-through, as well as cut out all the ambient noise you don't want to listen to.
The Buds 2 Pro comes pre-equipped with the middle-sized silicon ear tips, which worked well for my ears, but it's easy enough to pop those off those silicon tips and substitute one of the other two size options.
You can't really talk about earbud design without addressing fit. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro feel as good and secure as they look. I found that taking a firm grip on the outside of one bud, inserting the silicon tip into my ear canal, and then turning the bud counterclockwise until the small lip rested on one edge of my tragus worked perfectly to create a solid fit and seal. They never felt loose, uncomfortable, or like they were about to fall out of my ears.
There are, by the way, sensors on that lip so the Buds 2 Pro know when they're in or out of your ears.
The buds have an IPX7 rating which means they can withstand a drop in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. And they should hold up well to sweat and a splash of water.
As far as the case goes, it's a nice, small (think pocketable) square clamshell design, with magnetized charging ports for each bud. There's a power and connectivity light on the front, a USB-C charge port on the back, and that's it.
The Galaxy Buds2 Pro are touch sensitive. You activate and deactivate ANC by holding down for a moment on either bud. A tap on either one pauses and plays your music. You should also be able to skip songs with two taps and replay with three. I had trouble getting those latter two operations to work.
I would not suggest you swipe your finger along the outside surface of the buds while they're in your ears or you will endure a rather uncomfortable scrubbing sound delivered straight to your ear canal.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro sound and noise cancellation
Let's start with the Active Noise Cancellation because, as Samsung promised, it is impressive (even in my brief hands-on experience).
As soon as I put the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro buds in my ears I noticed that ambient sounds were all coming through a bit differently. This may be because Samsung is over-processing the audio it's picking up and passing through to my ears. However, when I held my finger on one bud for a moment, turning on ANC, I was honestly a bit shocked at the thudding silence.
To put this in perspective, the noise cancellation felt slightly more complete than what I get on Apple's AirPods Pro. It's not a huge difference, but there is something there. Samsung says the ear buds cut out 3db more than the last model.
To be clear, the ANC does not deliver total silence. I still hear loud and high-pitched sounds, including my heavy-handed typing but virtually everything else is gone. It's almost too much.
Of course, the ANC is awesome when you are listening to something through the Buds 2 Pro like music or a movie.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro now supports 24-bit audio and Dolby Atmos. Apple and Tidal support this form of lossless audio, but not being a true audiophile, I'm not sure I can accurately describe the difference.
Here's what I can tell you: These are some excellent-sounding buds. I installed Apple Music on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and found its Spatial (Dolby Atmos-supporting) playlist.
Here's how I described the experience in my notes:
Sound is good
Clear as a bell
Nice bass beat support
Head filling sound
While the bass was lacking on A Ha's Take On Me, the highs were quite good, mids sounded great, and all the percussion came off strong. The high note with an echo near the end was fantastic.
I think co-workers may have noticed me bopping my head to the music. I couldn't help it.
Cold Heart Remix by Elton john and Dua Lipa definitely offered a stronger bass beat. The general lack of heart-thumping bass is a limitation of almost any earbuds, as opposed to over-the-ear cans, which can fully cover the ears and slam your head with audio. Still, I was impressed.
In all songs I listened to there was great voice clarity.
After the music, I loaded up Amazon Prime and started playing James Bond No Time to Die, a movie with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.
It sounded awesome. There was no muddiness in the action and Dolby Atmos puts the sound all around my head. A car drives to the right of you, hits a hill, flies over your head, and lands on the left with a crash as a helicopter flies in from left to right. Every sound was where it should be in relation to the on-screen action.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Battery
Each bud comes equipped with a 61 mAh battery and Samsung rates the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro for 5 hours of playback with ANC on and 8 hours with it off. The 500 mA charging case can deliver a total of 18 hours of playtime without ANC and 29 hours with ANC off. The case also supports wireless charging on a Qi-based charger.
My limited hands-on test means I can't tell you much about battery performance. Stay tuned for a full review, which should answer that question.
Samsung's Galaxy Buds 2 Pro appears to be a good mix of smart design and winning audio technology.
The buds fit perfectly and don't look silly. Noise cancellation is above average and the audio is, in my experience, exceptional. This is rich, resonant sound in a small package that you could easily forget you're wearing.
Price-wise, they fall in the mid-range: cheaper than the Apple AirPods Pro, but more expensive than Buds 2 or AirPods 3. The solid audio, top-grade ANC, looks, and potential battery life probably add up to a fair value.
Apple may want to raise its game for its anticipated AirPods Pro 2.
A 35-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of PCMag.com and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.
Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, Fox News, Fox Business, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.
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