Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review: The company’s wireless earphones have shrunk in size

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Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review: The company’s wireless earphones have shrunk in size
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review: The company’s wireless earphones have shrunk in size

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The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review: The company’s wireless earphones have shrunk in size

The latest model in the Galaxy Buds line costs $150 and features active noise cancellation along with a lighter, more compact design that allows the earbuds to be worn comfortably for hours. The Galaxy Buds 2 earbuds are technically the third generation of Samsung’s entry-level true wireless earbuds, but their name makes sense. Introduced alongside new Galaxy foldable phones and smartwatches at Samsung’s August Unpacked event, the Buds 2 are a departure from the original Galaxy Buds and the upgraded Galaxy Buds Plus, which had a similar design aesthetic.

The Buds 2 are more closely aligned with the newer Galaxy Buds Pro and Galaxy Buds Live, both of which feature striking glossy curved designs and the same compact charging case as this new model. In fact, it’s the design and fit of the Buds 2 – they’re 15% smaller and 20% lighter than the Buds Plus – that makes them a potentially more attractive alternative to the slightly better sounding Buds Pro. Available now for pre-order and shipping on August 27, the Buds 2 ($150, £139, AU$219) is available in four colors (graphite, white, olive and lavender) with a white charging case.

Like the Buds Pro, the Buds 2 are equipped with active noise cancellation. That now means all the latest Galaxy Buds models feature some form of active noise cancellation, although it’s minor with the Buds Live, which have an open earless design tips. While the Buds 2 look more like shrunken versions of the Buds Pro, I found them more akin to the Buds Live in that they barely stick out of your ears and are discreet. Because they sit more flush with your ears – and have that curved design – they also opt for up less wind noise.

While the bean-shaped Buds Live fit me well, some people complained that they didn’t fit their ears well. The same can be said for the Buds Pro. When I tried them I had to use my own oversized ear tips to get a good seal. The smaller Buds 2 should fit a wider range of ears — Samsung says they’re designed for “all-day comfort” — and I liked how they felt. When I tried the largest of the three included earphones tips, they fit snugly and comfortably. (A single Buds 2 bud weighs 5 ounces, while the Buds Pro and Buds Plus buds both weigh 6.3 ounces.)

I wore them straight for over 4 hours on a plane ride from Salt Lake City to New York with no discomfort. And even without the stabilizing rubber fins on the Buds Plus, I was able to run with the Buds 2 without any problems. However, these aren’t as sport-friendly as the Buds Pro, which are fully waterproof with an IPX7 rating. The Buds 2, like the Buds Plus, are only IPX2 sweat resistant. That means they should be fine for lighter workouts, but there are probably better options for runners.

The Buds 2 have a similar sound profile to the Buds Plus. They are a little bass forward, meaning they are warmer, more forgiving sounding earphones. Although the treble is a bit more subdued (at least there are no hiss), there is enough detail and the sound image is fairly open, although a little less spacious than the sound image of the Buds Pro.

Samsung didn’t give much detail on the drivers, only mentioning that they were “two-way” (they have a tweeter and woofer), but I found the earphones pleasant to listen to and tonally appealing, especially if you’re listening to bass-heavy music . They would work fine for all genres, but seem a little more geared towards hip-hop and contemporary pop music. That said, they don’t deliver the richer, more articulate and refined sound of more expensive buds like Sony’s WF-1000XM4, Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless II or even Samsung’s own Galaxy Buds Pro. Still, most people should be just as happy with their sound as they are with the Apple AirPods Pro.

The Buds Pro got high marks for voice calls and the Buds 2 also performed very well in my voice call tests. Samsung says they have three microphones on each button – two outer beamforming, one inner – a Voice Pickup Unit and a new “machine learning-based solution” that Samsung says filters out a variety of distracting background noise.

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