The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro headphones mark a return to the company’s riskier innovations. Users can come to expect a top-notch listening experience from Samsung’s Galaxy Buds line. This comes with several improvements in sound quality and accessibility across various devices. Strangely, the Buds Pro doesn’t quite nail all of its brand-new changes to ambient sound and keeping that bean form factor.
When you put the Buds Pro next to past models, it’s an uneasy leap forward. Samsung is known for sticking to what works, while pushing changes one feature at a time. In the case of the Galaxy Buds line, Samsung moved away from their traditional earbuds for new makeovers every time. Stranger models like the Galaxy Buds Live would give listeners a jellybean to wear. But somehow, the Adaptive Noise Cancelling feature and comfortable fit would prove skeptics wrong. The Buds Pro keeps these awesome features but walks on thin ice with a few untried and untrue changes.
Users of the original Galaxy Buds in 2019 will be getting a clear upgrade. The Buds Pro offers different ways to block out noise. It can also take in noise through external speakers. Supposedly, it lets other users talk (with hilarious results). I can’t help but miss Samsung’s traditionally made Buds and Buds+, which sported a healthy 6-hour battery life and secure ear support. But first-time buyers of a Galaxy Bud looking for that truly wireless experience should start here with the Buds Pro, thanks to its number of settings.
Fit & Comfort
Of course, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro biggest feature comes from its new shape. It’s clear that Samsung misses that jellybean design from the Buds Live. Here’s where the Galaxy Buds Pro actually blends the older design seen in the Buds with the newer
jelly bean Live units. The result? A surprisingly comfy fit after you find the right tip size.
For users, the fit varies on ear shape. I can’t speak for all listeners that might have a problem getting the Buds Pro to stay on. After a week of wear, I understood that Samsung has created one of its most pain-free buds ever. There’s a smoother texture, while the cone design doesn’t sport any jagged edges. The strange design even goes a step further than the original Buds, which started to hurt after more than 5 hours of usage. Galaxy Buds Pro users are free to run, snooze, flip and even swim in 1 metre water for 30 minutes. No matter how hard I tried, these truly wireless headphones just wouldn’t fall out. For fit, the Buds Pro might be one of the comfiest models to live with.
The Galaxy Buds Pro needs a one-time pairing with the Galaxy Wear app. Surprisingly, that’s about it. Users have a pickup-and-go experience that doesn’t suck. Like previous Buds before, it’s satisfying to put the Pros on and start listening. The Galaxy Buds Pro takes advantage of Bluetooth 5.0 for delay-free use. Audio can even seamlessly transfer from a speakerphone to the Galaxy Buds Pro. As a person always on the move, the Buds Pro always kept up with me thanks to this fast start-up.
Samsung has stuck to some pretty fluid and reliable touch controls for all Buds. I’m happy to say the same multitouch controls are present. Users can customize their touch and hold commands, according to their preferences. The Galaxy Wear app lets users customize them, including typical volume settings, switching noise filters and activating Spotify. I was impressed at the experimental features, which let me use the edge as a function. This suggests the Galaxy Bud Pros are being supported with new ways to use them. For value, the continued software support is a nice bonus to getting new earbuds in 2021.
Sound Quality, Drivers & Levels
Truly wireless earbuds offer freedom and mobility. This often comes at the cost of sound quality when compared with bigger headphones. I didn’t expect a ground-breaking Hi-fi experience with Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. But it packs a crispier sound on the vocal, treble and bass side thanks to some smart AI. The new RTOS software can pick apart different sounds in audio. It’s impressive to see Samsung take an under powered 11mm driver and make it sound much better through careful tuning.
First time users and those upgrading from the original Buds are in for a treat. The sound quality is a noticeable improvement over past products. Samsung has made an effort in making bass thump deeper. Treble music and background noise surrounds listeners with immersion. Much of these upgrades come with a new dual driver system. The Samsung Buds Pro sports the standard 11 mm woofer. But a new 6.5 mm tweeter is also added. This did wonders for streaming the clearest audio. In other words, there’s a dedicated hardware for the best bass and treble.
“…The Galaxy Buds Pro active noise cancellation. Dare I say some of the coolest applications of noise cancellation in any headphone to date.”
The Buds Pro are light on volume levels. At half, music and media still felt soft. There’s a lack of thump until users crank it up to 70 percent. These underwhelming levels start to dampen the more advanced features, including noise cancellation and its dual drivers. Here, the Galaxy Buds Pro starts to cheap out by keeping that older driver when 12 mm exists. As the most premium of the Galaxy Bud line, owners deserve a bit better.
Adaptive Noise Cancellation & Ambient Sound
I was disappointed with the audio levels, but a saving grace comes from the Galaxy Buds Pro active noise cancellation. Dare I say some of the coolest applications of noise cancellation in any headphone to date. Samsung has figured out how to tell apart outside noise from music. It intelligently uses the built-in RTOS operating system, eliminating the loudest of noises. I sensed a bit of white noise created by the Buds Pro for this effect. But listeners will feel like they’re in an empty room. Anywhere.
Like magic, the Buds Pro were able to tune out a train full of chattering passengers. The roaring from large construction machines. I can’t speak for the dangerous results that can come from Samsung’s smart noise cancellation. But it’s just too good. There are trade-offs from using this special power. Battery life is significantly cut from eight to five hours. Older users might not have a problem with this. But it’s worth the cost when users start seeing the differences.
The Buds Pro also features ambient sound. But it gives an opposite effect of letting sound in. Supposedly, your music would fade to a lower level. Friends and others can speak to you without taking off earbuds. On opposites, it’s easily the worst feature in the Buds Pro. The RTOS software has a hard time telling voices and other sudden loud noises apart. It’s all fun and games until your R&B song features a crying infant, screeching trains, passing cars or typing keyboards. Yes, the feature is meant to interrupt. But it works counter-productively next to the Buds Pro noise cancellation. Luckily, this is just one mode that can be toggled off and listeners aren’t forced to feature Pitbull or construction noises.
Mic and Calling
As standard, the Buds Pro packs a built-in microphone on both earpieces. Recipients on the end of a phone and Zoom call had no problem hearing me. Using the Buds Pro for voice is definitely a step-up from chatting through a phone. With added hardware and dual mics, users have a clearer tone over calls. The microphones now feature a small mesh and grill. I did notice an improvement for filtering out wind and other background noise.
Unfortunately, the Bud Pro’s aforementioned noise cancellation and AI don’t play a part for the microphone. But the built-in microphones get the job done. They also come in handy for making Bixby or Google commands. It also worked wonders for hands-free calling when only one bud is used (again, like a super-spy).
Charging Cradle & Battery life
As mentioned, the Galaxy Buds Pro has a standard charge of 8 hours for media playback. This takes a step back from the older Buds+, which could run for up to 11 hours without a case. The Buds Pro runs at an underwhelming 5 hours with adaptive noise cancelling or ambient sound on.
The charging cradle adds about 13 additional hours of life. This makes the Buds Pro barely practical for two days of use before fully dying. Luckily, the cradle also supports quick charging. Charging each bud in the cradle for 3 minutes gets you 30 minutes of listening time. At that rate, it wasn’t hard to get a full charge in half an hour or less.
Naturally, an all-day battery isn’t a problem for most users. Carrying the buds in the case means the battery is constantly charged. The faster charging rates mean no listener is left empty. My only gripe came from the case itself. Samsung has gone for a symmetrical square design, which can be a hassle to open without knowing where the front side is. This made opening the case an inconvenience most times. Samsung should have stuck to the oval cases from Buds’ past, which had a more user-friendly shape.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro falls short of being perfect. Its comfortable design and amazing noise cancellation are worth a purchase alone. But the advanced trade-offs in battery and ambient sound do more to annoy users on their day-to-day routine. This doesn’t stop the Buds Pro from offering the same reliable listening experience. It goes a step further with mixing AI and an extra driver to deliver on crispy sound. I only wish that much of the innovations Samsung has added here didn’t need to be improved on in another future model. But it’s bound to happen, with the Buds Pro acting as solid proof of concept users can adopt now.