Samsung introduced its latest flagship true wireless earbuds, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro, with a lot of updates and improvements. However, the price has also received a similar upgrade. In addition, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro are primarily intended for owners of Samsung Galaxy devices, who can use exclusive functions such as the Samsung Seamless Codec and automatic switching between Samsung devices. But what about users who are simply looking for great sound and the best active noise cancellation (ANC) on the market? Our Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro review is here to investigate.
The Galaxy Buds2 Pro come in a compact little box. Included are the buds themselves in a small case, three different sizes of rubber tips, and a USB-C-to-C cable. The usual instructions and the guarantee card are of course also on board.
The case is made of matte, rubberized plastic that feels comfortable and has a good grip. Unfortunately, the material scratches easily. Magnets keep the lid closed, which seems pretty sturdy. The strong internal magnets pull the Buds2 Pro into the case, requiring adjustment here and there.
The design of the buds matches the case. The same matte, rubberized texture coats the outside of each earbud, and the inside is made of smooth plastic. There is a small vent on the top to regulate the pressure from the active noise cancellation. The IPX7 rating of the Galaxy Buds2 Pro helps against rain and sweaty sports and also guarantees protection against short-term submersion.
The fit may not be ideal for runners. There are no stabilizers or hooks for attachment, so you have to rely entirely on the fit of the earbuds. For that, Samsung offers three sets of ear tips to find the right fit. In this review, however, we occasionally had to adjust the seat as soon as we moved with the Buds2 Pro.
The silicone ear tips come in three sizes – 11mm, 13mm and 15mm – and are relatively easy to swap out. Then you can run the fit test in the Galaxy Wearable app. The test uses a test melody to determine whether the earphones are optimally sealed. This is the only way to ensure optimal sound and enable active noise cancellation (ANC). While the Galaxy Buds2 Pro don’t offer the most secure fit, they are definitely some of the most comfortable earbuds out there. Sometimes we only noticed that you we were still wearing them when the warning message about the low battery level came up.
If you want maximum productivity, you can also have notifications read out to you by the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro. In addition, you can choose whether this should also happen while you are actively looking at your cell phone. If you often need the full attention of your colleagues, you can activate speech recognition. Then the buds automatically switch to ambient mode and back to ANC if your own voice is not recognized for a freely selectable time.
Samsung officially calls this feature Conversational Mode. It works like Sony’s speak-to-chat feature that debuted with the WH-1000X series headphones.
You can even set the Galaxy Buds2 Pro to remind you to stretch your neck every 10 minutes. The Galaxy Wearable app also displays the appropriate animation.
Controlling the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro
The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro are controlled by tapping, pressing and holding the earphones. Samsung has fixed the over-sensitivity that was present on previous Galaxy Buds series touch panels. The new version has reasonable sensitivity and acknowledges every touch with a sound. However, user control customization is very limited. By default, the touch-and-hold command is set to volume up on the right and volume down on the left.
|Eingabe||Action earbuds||Action smartphone|
|2x tap||Next track||Answer/end call|
|3x tap||Previous track||Reject call|
|Tap and hold||Right: louder|
|“Hey, Bixby!”||Start Samsung’s assistant Bixby (only with Samsung smartphone)|
Galaxy wearable app
However, there are limits when it comes to customizing the controls. For example, you cannot set one bud to increase the volume and the other to turn ANC on and off. Instead, the app adjusts the other earbud according to the function that is currently set. It gets easier when using the Buds2 Pro with a Samsung tablet or smartphone. Then you just say “Hey, Bixby!” and in the best-case scenario, the digital assistant will do the rest.
As soon as you allow the app access to your data, a start page with the current mode is displayed. There’s also a useful little widget to control listening modes and monitor battery status. In addition, you can then adjust the volume on the earphone touchpads and control ANC via the widget.
There is currently no iOS app, which means that advanced features such as the equalizer, custom commands or ANC settings cannot be accessed on iPhones and iPads.
With the Samsung Seamless Codec, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro are primarily aimed at owners of Samsung devices. All other users have the Bluetooth codecs AAC and SBC to choose from. There is also an auto toggle feature for switching between devices. However, only as long as it is a Samsung device and you are logged in with a Samsung account. Something similar is already known from the Apple H1 chip and the upcoming H2 chip in Apple’s AirPods. In addition to the latest Bluetooth 5.3 standard, LE Audio support is also available.
In our review, a Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra activated the exclusive Samsung Seamless Codec by default, but it only ran with a sampling rate of 16 bits/44.1 kHz. However, Samsung promises 24-bit audio in its own ecosystem. One of the next software updates should remedy this – most of the Korean devices already support the higher bit rate. However, when streaming YouTube videos, the latency is imperceptible with the 16-bit codec or on an iPhone with AAC. Sound quality is excellent too, with well-defined highs and (on request) impressive bass.
The charging case feels grippy and solid, but is surprisingly bulky in your pocket.
With activated ANC, the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro lasted 4:53 h in audio playback in the review. The test results reflect the 5 hours stated by Samsung. That’s not record-breaking, but it’s also likely to put a heavy strain on the battery with the rather impressive ANC tech.
With the ANC deactivated, the Buds2 Pro barely managed the specified 8 hours. Including the charging case, the Koreans state 28 hours, of which we only managed 26.5 hours.
The charging case has a standard USB-C connector and is compatible with wireless charging pads. There’s also a Wireless PowerShare feature that allows you to reverse charge the earbuds with a Qi-compatible phone.
Active Noise Cancellation – ANC
The highlight of the Galaxy Buds2 Pro is clearly the active noise cancellation (ANC). Samsung uses a combination of isolation and active noise cancellation to block out ambient noise. Below 100 Hz down to around 30 Hz, which is the low frequencies, the Buds2 Pro are one of the best ANC headsets on the market. Above that, the ANC performance rises and falls, but no longer reaches the values from the lower frequency range.
Isolation works well once you find the best combination of a good in-ear fit and the best-fitting eartips. In the review we could still hear nearby passers-by speaking softly, but at the same time ANC filtered out most of the really loud noises like cars and trains. If you take the buds out for a second, it’s easy to see how, without ANC, our ears are flooded with ambient noise.
Samsung has in recent years teamed up with audio specialist AKG, which was once part of Harman Kardon and is now owned by Samsung. The normal EQ setting has boosted bass and slightly exaggerated treble, which should make most users happy.
The Galaxy Buds2 Pro also feature 360 audio for surround sound. It can be accessed through the Galaxy Wearable app under Earbud settings. Since it is surround sound, Dolby Atmos must be activated and of course you need appropriate audio or video material. Like many other features, iOS devices don’t get surround sound.
The bass-heavy design is also noticeable in analog music with guitar, bass and drums. The vocals can suffer as a result, especially if they were already recorded quietly. In general, all parts come through well. On the one hand we are complaining here at a high level, on the other hand it is always a question of personal preferences.
The Clear EQ preset boosts the highs by about 1-5 dB in the 4-10.5 kHz frequency range. The Bass Boost EQ is significantly louder than the normal EQ and averages around 5 dB more in the low frequencies. The “Dynamic” EQ preset sounds similar to the normal one, but boosts frequencies from 30-500 Hz by up to 3 dB. “Soft” significantly takes out bass compared to the Normal EQ.
Each preset has a few things in common with the standard EQ, which usually sounds pretty good due to the good basic tuning. Nevertheless, the question arises as to why Samsung does not give the user their own preset in which everything can be set individually.
Making calls with the Galaxy Buds2 Pro
With the Buds2 Pro, voices came through consistently lifelike. The activation of the ambient noise mode, which dampens the effect that you can no longer hear your own voice, is a good idea here.
In our review, the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro scored with very good sound, various features and excellent active noise cancellation.
- excellent active noise cancellation (ANC)
- very good sound
- Bluetooth 5.3, SBC, AAC, Samsung Seamless Codec
- sensible touch panels
- IPX7 water-/dustproof
- various intelligent features
- some features are Samsung-exclusive
The active noise cancellation (ANC) of the Galaxy Buds2 Pro was completely convincing in our review and is one of the best that we have heard so far. In addition, the in-ear earphones are extremely comfortable to wear for hours. People with Samsung phones will get the most out of the Galaxy Buds2 Pro. You get the high-resolution Samsung Seamless Codec with very good audio quality and low latency. At the other extreme are iPhone users who can only use the basic features of the flagship Buds due to the lack of app support.
In the middle are the Android users without a Samsung cell phone. You can access most features with the Galaxy Wearable app, with the exception of the Samsung Seamless Codec and Samsung Automatic Device Switching. For a current RRP of $209, the competition has better codecs than just AAC and SBC. On the other hand, Samsung regularly brings new headphone, tablet and smartphone deals, so with a little patience you either pay nothing at all or only a good $150 on Amazon.