Samsung in January unveiled new flagship Galaxy S21 smartphones and alongside the new phones, introduced the $200 Galaxy Buds Pro, which are priced at $199 and offer Active Noise Cancellation.
These new Galaxy Buds Pro are clearly designed to compete with Apple’s AirPods Pro, so we thought we’d compare the two sets of earbuds in our latest YouTube video.
Design wise, the Galaxy Buds Pro look nothing like the AirPods Pro, featuring a rounded in-ear design with no longer stem. They do have silicone tips like the AirPods Pro, but MacRumors videographer Dan, who tested the Galaxy Buds Pro, found them to be much more uncomfortable than the AirPods Pro.
They need to be fitted tightly inside the ear to get the right fit and the proper seal, both to make sure they stay in the ear and to allow the ANC functionality to work properly. Without the right fit, the earbuds won’t sound right and the audio quality will suffer. Samsung does offer several silicone tips to get a decent fit, but these earbuds may not work well for some users.
Like the AirPods Pro, the Galaxy Buds Pro offer Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), which is decent, but it’s not as good as the ANC in the AirPods Pro. It’s definitely better than the ANC in last year’s Galaxy Buds Live, but still not up to par with the AirPods Pro. There’s an ambient mode that’s the equivalent of Transparency mode to allow ambient sounds to come through, but again, it’s just okay and doesn’t work as well as Transparency mode.
There is a standout feature that the Galaxy Buds Pro offer that is not available in the AirPods Pro and that’s Voice Detect. Voice Detect turns down the volume and turns on ambient mode when it hears the sound of your voice, which is handy.
When it comes to sound quality, the Galaxy Buds Pro are close to indistinguishable from the AirPods Pro. Audio on both sounds great, and whether you prefer one to another will come down to individual listening preferences. The Galaxy Buds Pro are warmer and heavier on the bass, which some people prefer. You do need a good in-ear fit for the best sound quality because if that’s off, they don’t sound as good.
The Galaxy Buds Pro come with a case that’s small and pocketable, with the case adding 18 to 20 hours of additional battery life depending on ANC use. The Galaxy Buds themselves have a five hour battery life with ANC on and an eight hour battery life with ANC off. Comparatively, the AirPods Pro last for 4.5 hours on a single charge with ANC on and five hours with it off, but the case provides an additional 24 hours of listening time. Apple’s AirPods Pro charge wirelessly or via a Lightning port, while the Galaxy Buds Pro use USB-C.
There are touch controls on each side of the Galaxy Pro earbuds, and taps enable play/pause, skipping tracks, and turning the ambient sound feature on and off. AirPods Pro offer similar controls, but on the stem rather than relying on taps, which works better.
Apple designs AirPods Pro to be used with Apple devices, and the Galaxy Buds Pro are designed to be used primarily with Samsung devices. There are several features that only work when used with a Galaxy device, which is a little bit new for Samsung. Prior earbud models have been more feature agnostic and have been easily pairable with other Android devices or even iPhones, but with the Galaxy Buds Pro, you’ll be missing out on features without a Galaxy smartphone.
There’s a one tap pairing feature for setting up the Galaxy Buds Pro with a Galaxy smartphone (you’ll need to connect manually to an iPhone), and there’s a 360 Audio feature that’s the equivalent of the spatial audio feature in the AirPods Pro. We couldn’t test 360 Audio because the update that enables it on Galaxy devices (other than the S21) isn’t available yet.
Along with one tap pairing, the Galaxy Buds Pro support auto detecting devices and fast switching, but again, Galaxy devices only. There’s an app for adjusting the EQ and other settings, but it’s Android only and there’s no iPhone version available.
All in all, the Galaxy Buds Pro are solid headphones if you have a Galaxy smartphone, but these are not headphones that you’re going to want to pick up if you have an iPhone because you’ll be missing out on so many features. The price point is also only $50 cheaper than AirPods Pro, so you’re better off spending the $250 for AirPods Pro if you have an Apple device.
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