Samsung Galaxy Buds Review: So close to great

The Samsung Galaxy Buds are the third iteration of truly wireless earbuds that Samsung has launched over the years. Many of the previous generations have performed mediocre at best and at times down right awful. The Galaxy Buds are the first set of Samsung truly wireless that are worth looking at and is currently the best truly wireless earbuds for Android.

The Basics

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Audio Profile: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP
  • Audio Codec: Scalable (Samsung proprietary), AAC, SBC
  • Battery: Earbuds: 58mAh, Case: 252mAh
  • Sensor: Accelerometer, Proximity, Hall, Touch
  • Color: Black, White, Yellow

What sets this device apart?

Price

The Samsung Galaxy Buds are one of the cheaper truly wireless earbuds on the market. With a MSRP price of $129.99 and regularly discounted to less than $100, these are a great option for anyone looking for something compact and easy to use.

USB-C and Qi Wireless Charging

The Galaxy Buds are one of the few truly wireless earbuds that charges both through a USB-C cable and Qi wireless charging. By including both, Samsung has made charging these earbuds a breeze. Whether it be having to just bring one cable or having a Samsung Galaxy S10 series phone the supports reverse wireless charging, its one less charger you have to worry about.

Small and Compact

Samsung was able to shrink the size of the earbuds making them more compact. While the previous Gear IconX 2018 I reviewed hurt after extended use and often fell out of my ear, these felt lightweight and dare I say comfortable. I no longer notice them after long listening sessions of podcasts or songs and can comfortably listen to them for hours on end.

What are the drawbacks of this device?

Audio delay

Unfortunately, the Samsung Galaxy Buds do have some bugs that Samsung is still trying to iron out. One of these bugs is an audio delay issue when watching videos. Over the past month or so, Samsung has released quite a few firmware updates that have definitely cut down that delay. I can’t say if these delays are completely gone, but they are significantly less noticeable.

No high quality audio codec support

Samsung opted not to include any high quality codec support for the device. You will only have the option of AAC and SBC codecs.

Touchpad gestures are sub-par

Samsung simplified the touchpad gestures on the Galaxy Buds but also took away some features. You now have to select only one “Touch & Hold” gesture to use. This means you will have to choose between volume controls, ambient sound, or launching an assistant. The volume control gestures are no longer their own dedicated gesture. I have fully switched to using volume control for “Touch & Hold” and never use the ambient sound or assistant feature anymore due to this. I wished Samsung would have kept the swipe up and down for volume.

Charging case only has enough juice for a single charge

The charging case of the Samsung Galaxy Buds only provides a single charge. Given its size, it would be great to see that bumped up to two charges. The small battery size in the charging case has not been a problem for me in my daily routine though. I only find myself charging the device every 2 days after using the earbuds for most of my 8 hour work day.

Other things to know

Sound Quality is decent

The sound quality on the Galaxy Buds are, for all intent and purposes, adequate. It is certainly nothing to rave about. The wear app does include some Equalizer presents that you can choose from that do help on the sound quality. I would recommend setting things to “dynamic” if you find the default sound a little flat.

Sound Isolation is decent

With the in-ear earbud tips, the sound isolation is decent. I have had no problem using these on the bus or plane. They are not noise cancelling by any means, but definitely good enough to use on the go.

Notification reading

One nice feature that the Galaxy Buds have is the ability to read out notification when you receive them. In the wear app, you will have the ability to select which apps to have notification read out. You can also select a summary version (which only tells you the app that the notification is from) or a full version (which will read out the entire notification). This feature is pretty useful especially if you receive a lot of notification throughout the day and only want to focus on the ones that matter to you.

Ambient Sound

Just like the old Gear IconX 2018, the Galaxy Buds have the ability to bring in sound from the outside. Based on my experience, the ambient sound feature is still sub-par. High pitches noises get emphasized rather than the voices of people. Sure, you are able to hear the outside world with this feature. But I found myself opting to take out one ear rather than deal with a potential loud high pitch noises being funnel into my ear.

Would I recommend it?

At a starting price of $129 and a useful array of features, the Samsung Galaxy Buds have a lot going for it. It is a good value for anyone looking to dip their toes into truly wireless earbuds. I would say try these out to anyone looking for truly wireless earbuds today, especially if they aren’t looking to spend two to three times more on earbuds like some competitors.

My only hesitations from fully recommending these are the small short coming. The small audio delay and sub par sound quality will make some shy away from these. Given how fast companies come out with new iterations, if you aren’t in a hurry I would wait for the Galaxy Buds 2.

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