A year ago, Samsung launched the second generation of its original TWS buds. It was the first generational leap in two years. During this period, they tweaked the original design and introduced perhaps the most unconventional pair of TWS buds to date, the Galaxy Buds Live.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro₹17,999
VALUE FOR MONEY7.5/10
What Is Good?
- Lightweight & comfortable
- Amazing texture
- Powerful ANC
- Balanced sound
What Is Bad?
- Case loses texture over time
- Battery life could’ve been better
- Limited codec options for non-Samsung devices
The Galaxy Buds 2 was a fun little package – it offered a laid-back listening experience, both sonically and comfort-wise. But injecting steroids into it gives us the new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. Of course, Samsung is trying to justify the price hike with a grippier, satin-like texture, 24-bit HiFi audio and some other quirky features that make for great bar trivia. But, with the Buds 2 now selling for as cheap as Rs 6,999, does it make sense to pony up twice the money to be a Pro? And how does it stand in the competition? Find out in our review.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Review: Design & build
The grippy-yet-velvety texture of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is fantastic. These are one the most lightweight buds on the market, and the rounded contouring really helps in long-term comfort. Even without aids like winged ear tips, they fit snugly in our ears even when performing workouts. A quick tip – inserting the buds the right way up and twisting them once they are inside the ear canal will offer you a far more secure grip.
The case has rounded edges, and its weight is also unsubstantial. Nevertheless, you can easily carry it around in your pocket without it poking out awkwardly. The soft-touch texture is found here too, but because the case is exposed to the harsh realities of the world, the coating has started to come out after a month’s use.
In the first week of use, we were impressed by how resistant it was to scratches and lint, but now it is somewhat discoloured and has a few chinks that keep collecting stuff from our pockets. However, the coating on the buds is still intact, and there is no visible collection of gunk and wax on the buds from our ears.
The Buds 2 Pro comes in three colours: White, Graphite and Bora Purple. Fun fact – Bora in Korean means purple, so… Purple-Purple? Sometimes, nomenclature doesn’t make much sense.
The buds are IPX7-certified, so they are water-resistant and not splash-resistant, unlike the vanilla Galaxy Buds 2, which is only splash-resistant. The overall silhouette of the two buds has remained the same, though.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Review: Audio performance
A few additions earn these buds the ‘Pro’ moniker. So, you have support for 24-bit HiFi audio and the new Samsung ‘Seamless’ codec. Powering each of the two buds are two-way speakers that claim to provide a wider frequency response along with three high signal-to-noise (SNR) mics to drown out the annoyances around you.
Let’s dissect the sound one by one, starting with the codec. The 24-bit HiFi audio claims aren’t entirely baloney – you do get better reproduction of harmonics and overtones in songs with string and organ instruments along. Apart from this, the high-resolution codec also helps in creating a far wider soundstage, in which you can figure out which instrument is making what kind of a song. So if you’re a person who enjoys rock, metal, classical or acoustic music, you’ll appreciate these buds. This, of course, requires you to have the right software, which essentially means a subscription to either Apple Music or another hi-res music streaming service. But that’s not the only barrier. You also need the right hardware in the form of flagship Samsung smartphones because these support the Seamless codec. Our Z Flip 4 and Fold 4 worked fine with this, but the others, such as the Pixel 7 Pro, could only resort to 16-bit audio along with AAC or SBC codecs. That’s right, there’s no AptX support either, which is a bummer for non-Samsung users.
How big of a bummer, you ask? Not much, to be honest. Sure, the difference is apparent, but not as much as you would imagine. Even with the AAC codec, we could enjoy fairly decent music playback, mainly because most of the pop songs don’t require you to pay attention to the tinier details.
Does that mean the value proposition for non-Samsung users is absolutely bupkis? Not really. There’s a lot more that defines music than HiFi audio. The neutral sound tuning of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro helps you enjoy music more or less intended to be heard by the producer. It doesn’t meddle around much with the low-end frequency to give you a false sense of power. Instead, because the entire package is so well-rounded, it gives you a really balanced sound that has grunt and shine without compromising on the vocals.
For instance, roaring Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma seems as much in the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s character as playing Badshah and J Balvin’s new single, Voodoo. And, if, by chance, the song you’re listening to is also tuned to Dolby Atmos standards, you’re in for an auditory treat.
Moving further, 360-degree audio has been taken a notch further this time. The buds use the built-in accelerometer to detect your head’s position in space to distort the sound being played while keeping your smartphone as the source of the sound.
Complicated much? Think of it this way, if you moved your head to the right with your phone facing towards you, the buds would make the left earbud sound louder, giving you an illusion of 3D sound. Of course, it’s all pretty crazy until you try it out – only to turn it off within 5 minutes because of how irritating it can get. But it still holds up well as a party trick.
The active noise cancellation, however, is no show pony. It’s right up there among the best ANC implementations in TWS buds. It’s powerful enough to drown out the high-frequency clicking of a keyboard. Flying is a harsh mistress, and the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro were good enough to keep the hum of the jet engine of the aeroplane at bay while also muting slightly louder sounds, such as the whining of kids in the next row. The loudness was also to our liking, and this is really important while flying.
Ambient sound mode feels natural, but if you’re listening to music above 50% volume, there’s a possibility you won’t be able to hear stuff around you anyway.
There’s also a voice detect feature, which looks out for vocal activity around you. So if the buds, using their six onboard mics, detect that you’re speaking to someone or are being spoken to, it will reduce the volume of a song and engage the ambient sound mode.
Very cool but slightly stupid! Why? This means you can’t hum to songs in peace. We wish there could be an AI that could detect the context of the sounds around you, but for now, we recommend keeping the feature off to keep your sanity intact.
The mic quality of the Buds 2 Pro leaves a lot to be desired, though. In ideal conditions, the receivers of our calls would often complain about our voices coming from afar. Sitting in an autorickshaw or high-traffic environment made this worse, and we had to repeat ourselves multiple times. Also, the dominant mic is the one on the right bud, so if you are sharing your buds with somebody, you might have a tough time scrambling to find the right bud to speak.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Review: Software and quirks
While we mentioned some of the newly introduced software features in the previous section, we would like to take a moment to speak about the overall app experience. The Buds 2 Pro is really easy to connect to a Samsung flagship along with the accompanying app – everything comes pre-baked, and the most you’d have to do is update the Galaxy Wearable app.
But in non-Samsung smartphones, you’ll be required to download the Wearable app. It’s not the download bit that irks us, but the mandatory logging into the app bit. It’s an unnecessary intrusion of privacy, and many of the features provided by the app should ideally be offered free, given the premium price tag.
Nevertheless, the options presented to you in the app are plenty. The equaliser, ANC, 360 audio and voice detect features we mentioned before are just the beginning. You get to customise the touch controls, test your earbud fit and even make the buds read notifications aloud to you and give you neck stretch reminders. There’s also a seamless earbud connection feature that is essentially multi-device pairing. It lets you connect the buds to devices with a Samsung account logged in, even if you haven’t previously paired them. So, the buds will pause media on one device if the other is receiving the call while you’re simultaneously connected to both. It’s a pretty useful feature, and the best thing is it can work with Samsung TVs too.
You can also use SmartThings to find the earbuds even when they are resting within the case.
Bluetooth range is actually good indoors, but the moment you step out, the connection struggles with tons of airwaves interfering with the frequency of the buds. We have tried several buds in the past, but the Buds 2 Pro have been the most susceptible, especially while riding a bike.
Speaking of bikes, we also wish there was a way to entirely turn off the ANC to make music listening more comfortable in windy situations. In its current state, even when ANC is turned off within the app, the whirring sound from the mic seeps into the experience, and it’s not pleasant at all.
Another quirk is that even though there are light sensors in the buds, they don’t seem to auto-pause music when the buds are taken out. This is a hygiene feature even in buds that are half the price and was sorely missed here.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Review: Battery life
Samsung’s claims of 5-hour battery life on the buds and 18 more hours in the cradle are pretty much spot on. With ANC turned on, they are easily three-day buds when listening to music for about 4 hours every day. With ANC turned off, the buds last as advertised. It takes about an hour and a half to charge them entirely. Although the battery life is about average, the small package somewhat justifies it. Apart from the regular USB Type-C charging, these buds can also be charged wirelessly.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Review: Verdict
At Rs 17,999, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are the most advanced buds from the South Korean tech giant. The pricing puts them in a tier above the much-loved Enco Buds X2, in the same league as the LG ToneFree FP9 and a segment below the legendary Sony WF-1000XM4, AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) and Bose QuiteComfort Buds.
Out of context, the pricing raises eyebrows, especially if you’re planning to pair them with a non-Samsung smartphone. But when you take into account the competition, they do stand out. They feature fantastic sound and ANC quality, support for 24-bit audio to satisfy the audiophile in you and an addictive texture that feels extremely comfortable in the ears. The battery life is a little lacklustre, and the lack of high-quality codec options can make it frustrating for non-Samsung users. The appeal of the Buds 2 Pro is understandable.
Should the vanilla Galaxy Buds 2 users upgrade? Not really. There isn’t a good moneyback value for TWSes, and while the ANC and comfort are vastly improved, the overall sound of the Buds 2 is still good. Plus, the Rs 6,999 price tag is almost too good to pass.
So, if you can give the audiophile in you what it wants, you can buy the Buds 2 Pro right away. Those on a tighter budget can give the audiophile in you a pause for the cause and can wait another year for the price of the Buds 2 Pro to drop, which is always the option. Right!