7.5
Score

Pros

  • Compact and Minimalist Design
  • Balanced Sound Staging
  • Good Controls
  • Impressive Battery Life

Cons

  • Ambient Sound is a Hit and Miss
  • Poor Microphone
  • Pretty Price Tag

Samsung literally revamped their whole wearable lineup by including them under the Galaxy lineup, which we all are well aware of. With that said, Samsung didn’t announce a successor to the Gear IconX which we reviewed a while back but instead released a whole new True Wireless Earbuds that claims to take the music listening experience to your own liking and we used it for a month to see if its worth it. Here’s our review on the Samsung Galaxy Buds.

Design, Build and Comfort

1/4

The Samsung Galaxy Buds has a very minimalist design going on and on the outside, its’ pearl white finish is one looker. On the top, it has a very subtle print where it mentions the brand name and a tagline “Sound by AKG”. It opens and closes with the help of magnets which is definitely a nice touch compared to a clip hook button release design instead. The hinges are pretty solid and has a bit of a resistance as you open. On the inside, you are immediately welcomed by the two earbuds located in its respective slots. The case is prone to getting a bit of dirt but it’s easy to clean. Although I’d suggest you to have a small protective pouch so that it doesn’t get scratches or anything.

Looking back at the Icon X and comparing with the new Galaxy Bud, the form factor is much more smaller and has a better ergonomical fit in the ears. The tips are replaceable and they include other size tips in the box and it applies the same for the wingtip that holds the earbuds in the ear really well.

One of the things that made me not like the Icon X – was how discomforting it was even after using it for just an hour. But the Galaxy Bud has been improved by a lot and in fact, during our trip to Computex earlier, I took this with me and had a good 5-6 hours of pure music listening experience and watching Netflix on my Galaxy S10e. The Galaxy Bud offers a much more precise fit in the ear and the fact that it held in place even when I went for a walk or a jog shows how good these are even during times of workout.

Connectivity & Functionality

It’s a no brainer here. The Samsung Galaxy Buds connects via Bluetooth v5.0. During my time with the Galaxy Buds, I paired the Galaxy Buds with three different devices – Samsung Galaxy Note8, Samsung Galaxy S10e and Mi 9. The pairing on the Mi 9 take a bit of work but it’s not that complicated. All you have to do is tap and hold the touch pad on the side to enter into pairing mode and voila, you are connected. As for the Samsung device owners, you are in for a fun ride.

The moment you open the case up, your phone will detect a Galaxy Buds in range. It show this cool animation on the phone and ask if you want to connect to it. Once you do, it will show the battery on each ear buds – which is pretty neat. The whole thing does remind me of how the Cupertino tech giant did it with their own True Wireless earphones. It’s not a bad thing.

The functionality of the Galaxy Buds is heavily dependent on the Galaxy Wearable app which your phone will prompt to install as soon as you pair. The moment you launch the app, you have a handful number of settings to tinker. Let’s save the Equalizer and Ambient Sound for the later part of the review.

The Touchpad allows you to customize the way you handle the controls. Tapping will allow you to Play or pause a track. Double tap will skip to the next track and Triple Tap goes to previous track. If you touch and hold, you can perform certain actions according to your taste – like launch assistant or enable ambient sound. I personally prefer having the option to control my volume, so I switched to that instead.

Sound and Microphone Quality

Let’s talk about the sound quality. In order to test the sound quality, we used both local .m4a and .flac files on the phone and Spotify Premium to see how the music quality is. By default, the Samsung Galaxy Buds has a very unique sound profile that I have never come across on a True Wireless earbuds. As I was listening to my favorite jams, the sound staging was very bland. Honestly, it’s not a bad thing after all. The earbuds were able to give a clear, crispy sound quality but there was nothing extra to it. When we say extra, we mean the part that blows your heads off. It felt as if these were some balanced tuned in-ears. As someone who has a really wide taste in music ranging from Orchestral Music all the way to Rap and Bass heavy music, I was missing that thumping goodness as I was listening to songs like Bishop Brigg’s The Way I Do.

This is where the Equalizer plays a huge role. As we all know that equalizer on any device or headphones basically allows you to tinker the sound the way you like it. The Galaxy Buds give you few options to pick from and these are the 5 options.

  • Dynamic (By default)
  • Soft
  • Clear
  • Bass Boost
  • Treble Boost

The Dynamic is turned on by default and it’s the profile that has a very balanced listening experience which I liked. But later on I switched to Bass Boost to get that thumping goodness I want. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much but this is where it caught me off guard. The Bass Boost handles bass in a very perfect way and every song that I play with it which is more bass centric didn’t come off too much and it wasn’t too little either. It’s like the Buds were tuned in a way that the bass is perfectly handled well.

The Galaxy Bud handles music really well with good mids and high. The lows can be a bit better but it’s acceptable. Thanks to it’s tight fit, the noise isolation (not Noise Cancellation), it was pretty good and there wasn’t any sound leak of sorts. It blocked out the baby crying 2 aisles away in our flight.

If you are looking for Custom EQs, well, the Galaxy Buds app doesn’t have one and personally, I think the 5 options the offer is more than enough to get what you like. You can checkout our Spotify Playlist below to see the kind of songs we tested on the Samsung Galaxy Buds.

Onto the microphone, not only it allows you to attend calls but it also uses the same microphone for Ambient Sound. The Ambient Sound has a volume control of its own found in the settings and you can even set it to make it voice focus. The whole Ambient Sound is an amazing feature to have but it’s a hit and a miss. The earbuds sometime fails to capture the person’s voice even with the voice focus mode. It’s a feature that I wished it was better. Maybe the next generation of Galaxy Buds.

As for calls, my loved one from the other side of the line said that my voice isn’t particularly clear in loud environments and when it comes to a quiet environment – the sound was still faint and the microphone kind of fails to pick up the voice. Another thing that needs to be fixed – maybe with an update, if that’s possible.

Battery Life

After using it for a month, I can say these earbuds are the only one that has stayed longer in my ears than spending more time to charge in the case. The earbuds give you a battery life of 6-7 hours outside the case. What’s a good time to test it when you are on a plane travelling for 5+ hours right? We put the Galaxy Buds to test on my trip to Taiwan, starting from the time we boarded and all the way till I landed.

The earbuds were amazing. As we landed, the earbuds still had 30-35% battery on each side and I put back into the case as we were getting off the plane. The case easily offers about 2-3 days of battery life. This varies entirely up to each users usage. As a heavy user myself, I had to charge the whole case and the earbuds about every 2 days – which is still good enough.

You can charge it with the USB-C port behind but if you have any of the Galaxy S10 devices, well, you could always use the Wireless PowerShare.

Conclusion

The Galaxy Buds requires a lot of tinkering – the Ambient Sound and the Microphone. These are two things that users would want it to be good because that’s the whole point of a True Wireless Earbuds. The listening experience was a huge turn off at start but if it wasn’t for the EQ, it would have stayed that way. The Gear Icon X was a better sounding in-ears from Samsung. As long these gets fixed with an update (if that’s even possible in the first place), sure – go with the Galaxy Buds. If not, I’d suggest you wait for the next generation Galaxy Buds which might be announced later this year.