A look at the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro series
According to JBQ, Consider the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro as your next pair of buds for their excellent low-frequency active noise cancellation (ANC) and comfortable fit. For Samsung users, integration with your devices is useful and helpful for productivity. We wish Samsung had paid more attention to listeners when it comes to audio control and customization, but limitations are to be expected. The Buds sound best when paired with a Samsung phone, and non-Samsung Android owners get the short end of the stick with fewer codec options. Android phone owners who have made peace with previous features like 360 Audio and Wireless PowerShare will love the Buds 2 Pro.
What we like:
1. Bluetooth 5.3; SBC, AAC, and Samsung seamless codecs
2. Sound quality
3. ANC is great
4. Touch panels have a good level of sensitivity
5. IPX7 water resistance
6. Smart conversation mode
What we don’t like:
1. The case is prone to scratches and scuffs
2. Battery life is good
3. The app does not have custom EQ (it has EQ presets).
4. Many exclusive Samsung features
Samsung introduces its latest true wireless headphone flagship, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, with a series of incremental updates and improvements. It’s nice and fancy, but the major league features make for a major league price. We spent over a week with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro to determine whether existing Galaxy Buds Pro owners should upgrade and, simply put, whether the Buds 2 Pro are any good.
Editor’s note: This Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review was updated on October 6, 2022 to include how the headset compares to the Google Pixel Buds Pro. We also updated the rating to reflect the results of our readers’ poll.
Right off the bat, Galaxy Buds 2 are for Samsung Galaxy device owners who enjoy exclusive features like Samsung’s seamless codec and automatic switching between Samsung devices. You can still use Samsung’s hands-free wireless in-ear-headphone, and they’re ideal for anyone looking for some of the best active noise cancellation (ANC) available.
How to use Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro?
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro has a matte plastic and rubberized frame that is rounded square in shape. Unlike the others, this one feels nice and grippy. Unfortunately, the material scratches easily and you can’t remove it like you can with some plastics. Magnets hold the lid closed, but the frame is also a dust magnet that catches dust particles like a lint trap in a clothes dryer. The shape of the bag is flat like a jewelry box and the lid looks very sturdy. The strong internal magnets pull the buds into the body but do not guide the buds precisely into the cuts. Sometimes I need to move the headphones around to get them to fit properly.
Keeping with the whimsical theme, the design of the buds matches this. The same matte and rubber texture covers the outside of each headphone and the inside is smooth plastic. On top of each bud, you’ll find a pressure relief valve from the ANC. If you’re regularly caught in the rain or participating in sweaty activities, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s IPX7 rating should ensure your buds last. The fit may not be ideal for runners, even if the IP rating is appropriate. The lack of a stabilizer or hook can mean that one relies entirely on the shape of the bud and finds a perfect fit with one of three sets of ear tips to secure the buds. While comfortable, hiking boots require occasional adjustments.
The silicone ear tips come in three very practical sizes: 11mm, 13mm and 15mm. They’re easy to swap out, which is good considering changing ear tips is a tricky process. Use the app fit test to ensure you’re choosing the right set. While the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro buds don’t offer the most secure fit, they are among the most comfortable buds for long stretches. Sometimes, the battery actually dies before I have a chance to remove the buds from my ears and rarely notice how many hours have passed.
Does the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have any other unique features?
JBQ says, The productivity-minded can set the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro to read notifications, and you can choose whether or not this happens while you’re actively looking at your device. If you anticipate frequent interruptions, you can enable voice recognition to automatically switch you to ambient sound mode so you can chat with people. Samsung officially calls this feature “Smart Talk Mode,” and it’s similar to Sony’s talk-to-chat functionality that came with the WH-1000X series headphones.
You can even set the buds to remind you to stretch your neck every 10 minutes. It comes with an animation in the Galaxy Wearable app. Text neck is indeed a real medical problem, even if most of us don’t have it.
How do you control Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro?
Samsung fixed the over-sensitivity of the previous touch panels of the Galaxy Buds series. This new version has reasonable sensitivity and balances the need for occasional fit adjustments with recording commands as intended. When you tap your command on the panel, the buds will make a sound indicating that they have registered your command. Feedback is useful here, as users can wonder if a headset is actually registering their taps and swipes.
However, user control customization is very limited. Only one touch control can be customized, and even then, the extent to which you can customize it is limited to one “type” of command. By default, the touch and hold command is set to Volume Up on the right and Volume Down on the left. There’s a list you can choose to change, but Samsung won’t let you mix it up.
You get two extra sets of earbuds and a USB-C cable for charging
For example, if you want one earbud to control volume and another to control listening modes (ANC on/off, ANC to ambient sound, or ambient sound on/off), the other bud will change to “match” the on function. Another bud is this annoying. The maximum flexibility available to you involves changing one type of control, such as assigning one bud’s command to change ANC to normal listening mode, and another to change ANC to ambient sound.
Your other custom options are for press and hold voice commands for people who use smart assistants. When using the Buds 2 Pro with a Samsung device, you can just say “Hi, Bixby” and make inquiries. You can also assign tap and hold gesture for Spotify Tap. From there, the buds pick up where you last left off. You probably don’t need both earbuds to turn on Spotify, and it would be more useful to have the option to have different tap and hold functions on the left and right headphones.
Should you use the Galaxy Wearables app for Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro?
Depending on your device, you may not have a choice of apps. Even when you can access the app, there is no choice like the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro theme. When paired with my Samsung tablet, the Galaxy Wearables app (Android only) automatically downloads and then asks for too many data allowances. If you don’t agree with all of them (storage, call logs, media, photos, contacts, SMS, calendar, etc.), the app won’t work. It only allows the user to initially opt-out of location tracking, but then refuses to do so until it is disallowed. As someone who cares about data rights, this does not feel good.
There’s currently no iOS app, which means you can’t access the rest of the flagship features like EQ, custom commands or ANC settings.
When you allow the app to access your data, you’ll be presented with a home screen that prominently displays listening mode. You can also add a handy widget to your home screen to control listening modes and monitor battery status. This widget is especially useful because sometimes the app takes a while to open. Again, if you want to be able to control the volume with the headphones using the touchpad, you won’t be able to control the listening modes from the buds either. Having a widget on your device’s home screen at least makes it a little easier to access ANC, Ambient, or Normal mode.
In the Headphone Settings tab, you can choose from various EQ presets, but you can’t create your own. At this price, it is better to see more user control next to preset settings.
Samsung strives for busy bees by adding thoughtful options like read-aloud notifications, surround sound mode during calls, and accessibility features. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have an in-app fit test that works and is very simple. In addition to Samsung 360 Audio, Find my earbuds and updates, that’s the total.
What are the accessibility options with Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro?
You can adjust the channel balance using the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s stereo output slider, which is great for the hearing impaired. That way you can listen with one or both headphones while shifting the balance heavily to one side. You can also turn on ANC for use with just one bud.
How to connect Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro?
With its exclusive Samsung Seamless codec, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is specifically aimed at Samsung owners, and everyone else has the AAC or SBC Bluetooth codec to choose from. It also has an auto-switch function to switch devices, as long as they’re Samsung and you’re signed in with a Samsung account similar to the upcoming H1 chip and H2 chip in Apple products. Staying up to date, Samsung also prepares the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with Bluetooth 5.3. You can expect LE Audio support when it becomes widely available.
On my Samsung tablet, the connection defaults to Samsung’s proprietary seamless codec, which runs at 16-bit/44.1kHz sample rate. By the way, 16bit audio is fine, but Samsung has advertised 24bit audio and it defaults to 16bit/sample through the developer settings in Android and won’t change to 24bit. Latency is not noticeable when streaming YouTube with this codec, or on an iPhone that uses AAC.
You won’t have any control over iPhone codecs, but you don’t want to change it anyway. Android users without Samsung devices get the short end of the stick here because Samsung’s seamless codec isn’t an option, and AAC isn’t ideal for Android either.
One oddity is that sometimes when the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is reconnected to the Samsung tablet, the Galaxy Wearable app opens. Some people may like it, but most people don’t. Although you don’t need to consult the program after completing the setup process.
How long does the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro battery last?
With ANC on the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, it lasts 4 hours and 50 minutes when playing at a maximum volume of 75dB (SPL). The test results exactly mirror Samsung’s claimed 5 hours. It’s not the best battery performance, though let’s face it the battery is probably being drained by the very impressive ANC technology. However, if you tend to listen continuously for long periods of time, it may cause problems.
This case has a standard USB Type C charging port and is compatible with a wireless charging pad. Like previous Galaxy Buds, it features Wireless PowerShare functionality that lets you charge your buds by transferring battery life from a Qi-compatible phone.