Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Review: great till they ain’t

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Review: great till they ain’t

MSRP $229.00

“The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are good for Samsung users, but not great on the earth of earbuds.”


  • Excellent fit and feel
  • Loads of features
  • They give the impression of being great
  • Acceptable battery life


  • “360 Audio” will not be good
  • Head tracking is not great

We’ve now come to the second iteration of Samsung’s “Pro” earbuds — the $230 Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. It’s an ungainly name, of course (and that’s after you ignore the incontrovertible fact that Samsung actually calls them “Buds2 Pro”). And on condition that these live in the identical world — and the identical relative pricing category — as Apple’s AirPods Pro and Google’s Pixel Buds Pro, there’s rather a lot to live as much as for the Buds 2 Pro.

And this being Samsung we’re talking about, that also means an entire bunch of fun little features to go together with the bread-and-butter of earbuds — the sound.

So are the Buds 2 Pro going to make your decision any easier? Or, as often is the case, is it more a matter of ecosystem?

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

The fundamentals

Allow us to hark back to the start of 2021, with the primary Galaxy Buds Pro. Our takeaway: “The Galaxy Buds Pro are an excellent pair of everyday-wearable true wireless earbuds. They aren’t for audiophiles, nor were they ever going to be.” Keep that in mind.

What we’ve came is a fairly iterative set of earbuds. That’s not bad. They’re a bit smaller — 15 percent, Samsung says. They’re a bit costlier. (Hey, even price can iterate upwards.) They’ve got full energetic noise cancellation and transparency and a few newfangled 24-bit audio support that we’ll get into in a minute.

They’re, simply put, Samsung’s earbuds.

The Buds 2 Pro can be found in three colours — graphite (black), white, and Bora Purple, which is probably more lilac than purple Muppet. (If I were Samsung, I might need gone for the Pixar tie-in with “Spots of James P. Sullivan,” but that’s just me.)

The case

It’s perhaps not all that popular to wax poetic about an earbuds case today, but Samsung’s is the primary I’ve used that doesn’t flip open from the highest edge. So on the very least, it’s a pleasant change. The mechanism is similar because the previous model, more like a jewellery box. You get a satisfying click when it closes, and LEDs on the front and inside to let you recognize what’s up.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro case.Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

Charging continues to be handled wirelessly, or via USB-C, which is precisely what you’d expect in earbuds like this. There’s also a USB-C cable included, which is good.

The one thing missing is a pairing button. That’s, perhaps, considered one of those gripes that only bothers reviewers, and never normal people. Most folk don’t change devices all that usually, and “forgetting” the buds from the Bluetooth menu works well enough. Just don’t strain an eyeball in search of it’s all.

Fit and feel

Out of the three earbuds I’ve had in rotation of late — the others are the AirPods Pro and Pixel Buds Pro — the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are probably the most comfortable. They’re smaller and fewer obtrusive than the others. They’ve a light-weight fit, but not so light that I keep worrying that they’re going to come out due to weight on the outside side.

They’re comfortable. They feel wonderful. Samsung nailed it here. No notes.

Samsung lists the buds at 5.5 grams each. My $15 kitchen scale has them at 5.7 grams. That’s close enough.

My only criticism here really is considered one of personal preference. On the odd occasion that I did reach as much as reseat an earbud — which really could just be muscle memory as much as anything at this point — I’d almost at all times find yourself pausing whatever it was I used to be listening to because of the capacitive-touch buttons. That’s on me, nonetheless. It’s not Samsung’s fault.

I had zero problems with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro on the gym. There wasn’t a single time I used to be fearful about them coming out. Sweat wasn’t an issue. They’re rated IPX7 for water resistance. I sweat a good amount here in Florida, but not a lot as to approximate being submerged in a meter of water for half-hour. That’d be really gross.

And I like the audio feedback you get once you actually do mean to tap to pause or toggle the energetic noise cancellation. You get the tone only from the earbud you touched, which is precisely what your brain expects. That’s a pleasant little attention to detail.

Sound and battery

Where things matter probably the most, after all, is within the sound quality. First, remember the value — greater than $200. That puts the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro in with some serious competition, just like the aforementioned offerings from Apple and Google. And the Jabra Elite 7 Pro and Sony WF-1000XM4.

If I were to provide you a pair and send you in your way, you’d likely say “Thanks!” a couple of times and luxuriate in the heck out of them. And on their very own, they sound pretty darn good. There’s a superb amount of bass and the highs are clear. The Buds 2 Pro are a superb set of earbuds. And loads of what you think that you hear goes to rely on, well, every thing. What you’re listening to, differences within the recording themselves, the environment wherein you’re listening, and the way the things slot in your ears in the primary place. There are loads of variables here, as is at all times the case with earbuds.

Samsung has an EQ option within the app, and also you’re welcome to mess around with all of it you wish. But not one of the other preset options made things any higher for me.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

The energetic noise cancellation is pretty good. It’s closer to what I experienced with the Pixel Buds Pro in that it blocks enough, but not an excessive amount of. I don’t feel like I’m in a vacuum, which is something I’ve never enjoyed. You’ll notice the difference when transparency is turned on, but it surely’s more like going from a dim room right into a brighter room, not from pitch-dark into sunlight.

Samsung has added spatial audio and head tracking. But when that’s a reason you’re trying to buy these earbuds, I’d look elsewhere. Samsung calls its spatial audio “Intelligent 360 Audio,” and it’s alleged to imitate a 7.1 surround system as a substitute of a 5.1 system within the previous model. There’s loads of instrument separation — enough to make me enjoy Pearl Jam’s Ten differently all these many years later. For as mushy because the grunge era could have sounded on the time, it’s price listening to the Ament/Gossard/McCready assault with each guitar properly split, very similar to you possibly can do with Izzy Stradlin and Slash, or Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood.

However the sound quality just isn’t there when 360 Audio is turned on. (I used to be listening to “Master” quality tracks from Tidal, and Apple Music with the standard cranked to its highest.) All the pieces sounds overly processed in comparison with the AirPods Pro, for instance. The bass falls out. All the pieces sounds more processed. (Since it is.) It’s just not an excellent experience within the slightest, with or without ANC turned on.

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro sound pretty good, all things considered. But 360 Audio and head tracking are bad.

And don’t even take into consideration turning on head tracking. Whereas that feature just works on Apple’s devices — sometimes too well — you lose any sense of fluidity with Samsung’s implementation. It’s like you possibly can hear the degrees at which the sound will shift from each earbuds into one, depending on which way you’re turning. It’s like you possibly can see (hear, really) a bit invisible line on the earth. It’s odd. It’s not great.

Lest the Samsung faithful accuse me of finding nothing good here, the “voice detect” feature works pretty much. Should you start talking, it’ll activate transparency and lower the quantity of whatever you’re listening to so which you could have a conversation with someone. And it’s smart enough to only trigger on your individual voice. I couldn’t trick it with podcasts. By default it’s set to resume normal playback after 10 seconds of you shutting your yap. I like to recommend shortening that to five seconds.

Call quality is high quality. You sound such as you’re using earbuds on a call. Wind noise mostly is handled, but occasionally some slips through. Same because it ever was.

I don’t push my earbuds to the brink of battery life. These aren’t what I’d wear on an overseas flight. Samsung claims as much as 5 hours of continuous playback with ANC turned on, and 18 hours once you pop ’em back within the case for a spell. I didn’t see anything that will lead me to have an enormous problem with those claims. But I’ll also encourage you to not have them in your head for that long.

The Samsung extras

If there’s one thing Samsung has done well over time, it’s constructing products that work well with its other products. Phones and TVs. Phones and headphones. Phones and earbuds. That rings true here.

First, it’s price noting that the Galaxy Buds2 Pro Manager (should you haven’t realized by now, we’re calling them “Buds 2 Pro” and never Samsung’s preferred “Buds2 Pro,” because we’re human beings and never marketing robots) app is obtainable not only on Samsung devices, but on latest Android devices. That’s good, since it means even those with no Galaxy phone can benefit from settings and features and, most significantly, firmware updates.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro app.Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

Other settings of note include an equalizer (which made the sound quality even worse, no less than for what I used to be listening to), an earbud fit test (I’m still batting 1.000 for those), the choice to read notifications out loud,  and “Seamless earbud connection,” which hurries up switching between different devices as long as they’re all signed in to your Samsung account. That is considered one of those things that unless you’re deep within the Samsung ecosystem, it may not matter a lot.

The app also has a “Find my earbuds” feature, which can play a bit tone though the buds to allow you to find one or each in the event that they’re missing. It’s a bit faint if the buds are out of the case, or if the case lid is closed. But when the lid is open, it’s surprisingly loud. Not that you simply’re prone to lose the case with the lid open, but it surely was an interesting little detail.

One thing we haven’t talked about is 24-bit audio. So here we go. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro support 24-bit audio, which is healthier than 16-bit audio, since it’s one other 8 bits. That’s the kind of thing that could make a difference in a studio environment. In the true world, nonetheless, it’s really not that way more than a marketing gimmick. Can it make a difference? Sure. So, too, will whether you’re streaming or playing music locally, how the buds slot in your ears, and just how shot your ears could also be from too a few years of listening to heavy metal and punk rock. I’d reasonably have it than not, I assume. But there’s no flashing notification in any app saying, “You’re listening to this at 24 bits. Enjoy!”

That’s actually by design. Anything that’s done in 16-bit audio is robotically upscaled to 24-bit. So there’s no switch to flip on or off. That’s an enormous hurdle in testing this kind of thing on this kind of device, and in my normal, on a regular basis use, I can’t say that I’ve noticed that big a difference between the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and other earbuds. Might there be? Probably. Almost assuredly, even. But it surely’s just that for me, it hasn’t been anything greater than a line on a spec sheet.

And for the reason that Samsung Seamless Codec is a Samsung exclusive and never, say, aptX or LDAC, which anyone can license, none of this matters anyway unless you’re using the Buds 2 Pro with a Samsung device and on a supported service, which incorporates the aforementioned Apple Music and Tide, plus Amazon Music, Quboz in Europe, and Genie Music in Korea. (For Spotify, every thing gets upsampled to 24-bit, Samsung says.) So just keep that in mind.

In any event, it’s not magic. It’s math. And I used to be told there could be no math.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

Our take

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro aren’t for audiophiles. They’re not for somebody who walks right into a store and says, “Gimme the most effective you bought.” That’s to not say they’re bad — they’re not. They feel great. They give the impression of being great. But on the opening retail price of $230, you deserve higher audio, particularly once you get to the sting cases like 360 Audio.

So who, then, are these for? I can see them as a sweetener for the carrier stores. They’re a way for Samsung and whatever retailer you purchase your phones from to notch one other sale into their belt. Or to sell an extra protection plan alongside it.

In our review of the previous Galaxy Buds Pro, we said, “There’s nothing ‘Pro’ about them, aside from the incontrovertible fact that they’re Samsung’s costliest earbuds.” That’s harsh. It’s also still a bit true with this recent model.

Are there higher alternatives?

Yep. Well, yep and nope. Again, that is where the mobile ecosystem lock-in punishes us all. The AirPods Pro sound higher overall, and across the assorted special uses like spatial audio. And also you’ll get a greater experience with them on an iPhone or iPad or anything Apple. That’s a bit less true for the Google Pixel Buds Pro — and it’s price a reminder that they don’t yet have spatial audio of any kind. It’s coming with a future update.

And should you’re already within the $200 range, you absolutely have to try the Jabra Elite 7 Pro. Or the Sony WF-1000XM4 if you need to spend a bit extra money. But the straightforward fact is you possibly can do higher at that price point than the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.

How long will they last?

There’s no reason to think that they’ll disintegrate any time soon. Samsung has settled on a solid construct quality and has the support mechanisms in place should anything actually go mistaken.

Do you have to buy them?

If — and provided that — you’re deep within the Samsung ecosystem should you concentrate on these earbuds. And even then, I’d push for a hefty deal as a part of another Samsung purchase. Otherwise, you possibly can do higher.

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