The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus is the update that the company’s true wireless earphones desperately need. The y offer improved battery life; the enhanced call sounds thanks to a third internal microphone and a new dual-driver design that uses two dominant drivers for better, more precise sound. What’s more, iOS is finally supported via the new Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus app. The downside? The new Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus has no high-end audio codecs and a higher IPX4 rating than the Apple AirPods Pro. This is our Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus Review.
That is not even the fact that they do not offer any form of noise cancellation/noise reduction, nor do they have a built-in voice assistant like other real wireless earbuds out the re. What Samsung has done here, and what we should be praised for, is to create a competitive pair of genuine wireless earphones in an increasingly competitive environment. The y stand up to rivals in their price range, and although they do not reach the same heights as, for example, the Sony WF-1000XM3 or AirPods Pro, they are significantly cheaper and offer several fun features for Samsung smartphone owners.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus Review: Design
The new Galaxy Buds Plus has a very similar design to their predecessors, with smooth mother-of-pearl-like housings and adjustable silicone earplugs. The y’re available in red, white, blue, and black, and you should be able to find a color to match your sense of style – something that can’t be said for the strictly white AirPods. Except for the AirPods and AirPods Pro, these slim little buttons pop neatly into their charging case and your ear and are held in place by a small button that catches a fold in your outer ear.
Measuring at 17.5 x 22.5 x 19.2 mm, they fill most of the ear canal (which helps them to stay indoors while training) and stick out slightly. Because of this design choice, we had problems wearing these earplugs while lying in bed because the constant pressure on the earplugs of the cushion made them uncomfortable in the ear. When it comes to customization, the box includes extra earplugs in three different sizes, larger studs to hold the earplugs in place when they fall out, and a rubber ring if you don’t want studs on the outer edges of the earplugs.
On the outside, you’ll find the touch-sensitive button that understands single, double, triple, and prolonged pressures. Single, double, and triple do what you expect them to do, and the long-pressure can either activate your assistant, lower the volume or turn on the ambient sound amplification. Using the touch-sensitive button as a means of operating the earplugs can be a bit uncomfortable at first, as pressing the button pushes the earplugs further into the ear canal. Still, you will soon learn to apply less pressure when using them. It would have been nice if Samsung had decided to implement an ever listening virtual assistant here, but unfortunately, that didn’t work out.
The only other notable problem we have found so far with the Buds Plus is that they are only IPX2 splash-proof. That means they’re usually excellent for training, but not the kind of thing you’d like to take to the pool or beach, where they could quickly get damaged. By comparison, the Apple AirPods Pro is IPX4 water-resistant, and while that’s not as good as fully waterproof, it should take away any fears you might have of damaging them in the gym or outdoors in the rain.
As for the case itself, it’s pretty light and smooth with rounded edges. It should fit quite easily in your pocket and offers an extra charge for the earplugs in between. As you would expect, the charging case uses USB-C, like Samsung’s flagship phones, which means you don’t need to carry a separate cable.
When it comes to wireless connectivity, Bluetooth 5.0 provides a stable wireless connection that never once fell on us, even in a busy area. By comparison, the AirPods still only support 4.2, which is quite old now but has the advantage of the H1 Chip, which optimizes battery life and sound quality on the earbuds. Unfortunately, neither the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus nor Apple AirPods Pro support high-end audio codecs such as aptX, aptX Low Latency or, even better, LDAC.
As for now, your only alternatives are SBC and AAC. Unless you also use a Samsung smartphone that runs Android 7.0 or above, then you also have the choice of Samsung’s own Scalable Audio codec that offers higher-bitrate support and better stability, a handy advantage if you have dropped earplugs in the past. Setting up the earplugs can be done by pairing via Bluetooth for basic playback or by the Galaxy Wearable or Galaxy Buds Plus app from the Play Store and Apple App Store.
This allows you to customize the headphones and set the noise reduction so that it’s worth downloading. We found both apps quite intuitive to use, and they offer a few options for adjusting the sound and amplifying the ambient sound that we’ll be working on in a minute. Finally, the last feature worth mentioning is that if you have multiple devices, the Galaxy Buds Plus supports multi-pairing, allowing them to connect to various devices without having to repair them every time you use them.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus Review: Sound Performance
The most important news in the audio department is the new dual-driver system used by the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus. The re is now a woofer and a tweeter to extend the range of the earplugs and increase the overall clarity. After spending some time with them, we feel that this is the case, and we can appreciate the sound that Samsung has made here, which is rich, warm, and comfortable to listen to for a more extended period.
To achieve that, Samsung’s DSP indeed chooses the bass and treble back – making it possible to use these fabulous headphones when watching YouTube or Netflix in the house, and even making some music genres sound pretty good. Using the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus or Samsung Wear app, you can adjust the sound of the earbuds (there are options for Soft, Dynamic, Clear, Treble, and Bass Boost), but there is no significant difference between them.
While the increased brightness is the highlight of the new design, Samsung says that it has also increased the internal microphones by one, resulting in better call quality. That claim was included in our tests, and as everyone we called with the earbuds, they sounded as good as talking directly into the phone’s microphone.
Having the extra microphone also means that the amplification of the ambient sound is better this time. It’s clear that ambient noise amplification – which lines in the outside noise instead of turning it off – is not as good as noise cancellation or noise reduction. Still, it can be useful at airplane terminals or bus stations when you’re waiting for a crucial piece of information about the loudspeaker or while riding a bike.
The biggest objection we can make to the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus is that they do not offer active noise reduction, nor do they offer a lot of passive noise reduction. That means, if you intend to wear them out, you expect to hear a lot from the outside world while listening to music. That’s fine if you’re at the gym and don’t mind listening to a bit of the background noise or if you’re at the office and still want to hear what colleagues in the neighborhood are saying, but those looking for total auditory isolation will have to look elsewhere.
The good news? If you lose them, you can find them pretty quickly by going into the app and selecting ‘Find My Earbuds.’ As long as they’re still charged, this will give the earbuds a chirping sound at an increasing volume. This is quite handy if you’re the kind of person who takes your earbuds out and leaves them around the house.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus Review: Battery Life
The Galaxy Buds Plus has a much longer lifespan than the original Galaxy Buds. The earplugs themselves contain 11 hours of charge, while the charging case provides 11 hours extra time, bringing the total battery life to 22 hours. That 11 hours battery life is quite long for the earplugs – but for the charging case, it’s not a tremendous amount of battery. By comparison, the Apple AirPods include 5 hours in the earbuds themselves, and another 20 hours in the charging case, totaling 25 hours.
It’s nice to see that the Buds Plus has a larger internal battery, but it’s a shame the charging case didn’t get something more substantial. During our whole test week, we only had to charge the earplugs and their case once, and that’s with a pretty heavy listening (four hours a day) at average volume. If you have to listen to your music at a higher volume to drown out the outside noise, expect to recharge it every few evenings.
Price and Availability
Samsung launched its latest truly wireless earphones, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, at its Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco, where it announced they would be available online from February 14, and in stores from March 6. At $149.99/£159/AU$299, they are about the same price as last year’s Samsung Galaxy Buds (depending on your region) and a little cheaper than their main competitor, the Apple AirPods Pro. The y are also significantly less expensive than The Best true wireless earbuds of 2020, the Sony WF-1000XM3, although these buds come with premium features such as active noise reduction.
You can get cheaper real wireless headphones out there – like the JLab Go Air which only cost $29/£29 (about AU $40), for example – but there are also much more expensive earbuds out the re, like the yet to be released Klipsch T10 which are slated to cost $649 (about £490/AU $930). Compared to the competition and in their value for money, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus is smack-dab in the middle.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus Review: Conclusion
So, where does the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus stand in the wide and deep echelon of real wireless earplugs? Well, somewhere in the middle. Thanks to the better battery life of about 11 hours (give or take) per charge, it’s a decent choice for people who hate charging their headphones at night. That said, it doesn’t have a built-in virtual assistant, nor does it have real water resistance, it’s just IPX2. Most shameful, however, is its lack of noise cancellation or even noise reduction, a feature available on the equally priced Amazon Echo buttons.
Sure, they may not sound as good as the Galaxy Buds Plus and won’t last as long, but both functions lose their shine if you have trouble hearing your music in a crowded subway train. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus is a reasonable price for people who just want real wireless earplugs that they don’t have to charge every day. The y don’t sound the best, but the dual-driver design is a big step forward for Samsung and is good enough to watch videos and listen to bass-lite music.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus offers better sound quality and longer battery life compared to last year's Samsung Galaxy Buds, but they still lack advanced audio codec support and noise cancellation.
- Dual-driver design
- Decent sound quality
- 11-hour built-in battery life
- iOS compatible
- Limited audio codec support
- Only IPX2 splash resistant
- No noise cancellation