As a kid whether you had a Walkman an iPod or an Android smartphone. If you had a pair of headphones and a three-and-a-half millimeter jack you could always count on things to just work. You know like it’s good jack and nothing has ever made me appreciate it more than reviewing Bluetooth earbuds. Now it’s not that the Samsung Galaxy Buds are bad they’re actually pretty good.
They feature excellent audio quality a great fit and near-zero latency with Samsung devices but there are some other things about the buds that sour the experience. When we’ve had this other almost perfect audio standard for nearly 80 years is pretty good enough you know.
Now the Samsung galaxy buds are not Samsung’s first foray into the world of truly wireless earbuds. Their Gear Icon X launched back in 2016 and was refreshed again in 2018. They had features like fitness tracking for active users along with swipe support for volume control and four gigs of onboard storage, unfortunately, battery life is not so good and the originals only worked with Samsung devices.
For the Samsung Galaxy Buds Samsung took what they learned from the Gear Icon X and made a more refined product with more universal appeal. In short, they dropped the internal storage added a wireless charging case improved battery life added support for Bluetooth 5.0 and drop the price to undercut competitors like Apple’s air pods and Google’s pixel buds. But that would all be for naught if they kept that pesky Samsung only limitation, fortunately.
They didn’t, the Galaxy buds should work with any Android or iOS device even though they do still work best with Samsung ones more on that later. First, let’s take a look at them Samsung seems to have taken a lot of design cues from the Icon X down to the rounded triangular touchpad and like all decent earbuds, they include three sizes of rubber ear tips and three sizes of wingtips. To make sure that they will stay in your ears.
Inside we find the charging contacts and this curious little black dot which is a sensor that helps the buds detect whether or not they’re in your ears and allow them to automatically power on or go to sleep accordingly. Battery life is a strong point with six hours of music listening time and five hours of talk time but curiously the case only gives you about a third of the extended battery life compared to Apple’s case.
In spite of its similar size on that subject if Samsung would have had to increase the size to get more battery life into it. I’d probably have left it the way that it is to as it is. It slips easily in and out of even very small pockets with exterior LED indicating the battery level for the case itself and an interior LED which indicates the earbuds level of charge. Now it comes in white black or yellow just like the earbuds and if you’ve got a Galaxy S 10 it’s kinda awesome being able to plug in your phone turn on wireless power share and then charge your earbuds wirelessly.
It’s just one of those things that makes you go nice. Something else that’s nice is the audio quality Samsung is clearly getting their mileage out of their 2016 acquisition of Harman compared to the airport. Which to be clear are fine for most people the Samsung galaxy buds can put out a delightful amount of bass along with full-bodied mids and balanced treble of note. However, is that part of this superior performance is just the fact that you can customize your Samsung Galaxy buds to seal correctly in your ear canal by comparison the air pods don’t really fit snug and therefore let in a lot of ambient sounds.
Now with that said there’s a clear safety advantage to being able to hear the world around you fortunately if you’re into that the buds have an ambient sound mode. Basically, they used their two external microphones to record the noise around you and pass it through the speakers that are right in your ear holes. Overall we found that it didn’t interfere too much with music quality and it was helpful.
Especially in an office environment to know if someone’s yelling your name from across the room. Now let’s move on to the app it’s not available for iOS which blows but other than that it’s pretty cool. It’s actually got some great features so you can adjust your EQ. We liked the dynamic and clear presets best you can update your firmware without any voodoo magic. You just press a button called update firmware like every other tech product. Thank You, Samsung.
I didn’t think this needed to be a good thing but there you go and this is a really cool one you can actually both see your buds battery level and locate them by playing a high-pitched chirping noise. Also from in there, you can customize some of the buds touch gestures you cannot change the single tap to pause or play and that’s on both sides the double tap to skip a track or the triple tap to go to the previous track. But you can assign the long-press action to activate your voice assistant of choice.
It even works with Alexa turn volume up or down or Tran ambient sound on or off. Now each earbuds long press action is independent of the other so you can set them to do different things that are unless you want to use them for volume control in which case the right earbud has to be volume up while the left one is volume down as with the air pods you can turn the volume up down or to a specific percentage with your voice. Just watch out though because the buds themselves still don’t have voice activation so if your phone’s mic can’t hear you then you’ll have to summon Cortana manually with a long press.
I’m just kidding Cortana sucks now overall our experience with the Samsung Galaxy Buds has been pretty freakin sweet but there are a few flies in this. It’s really true here the galaxy wearable app is pre-installed on Samsung phones allowing you to instantly pair by opening the case while other users of Android phones will need to install the app and as we mentioned before iPhone users can’t get it at all. So they can’t customize their gestures even and while latency is near zero with a Galaxy S 10.
It’s very noticeable on the pixel three and even more so on the iPhone 10 are that we used and the thing is while we didn’t experience any glitchyness while listening on the iPhone or on the S 10. Our music tended to glitch out much more frequently on the pixel 3 especially when walking around with the earbuds in ears and then the pixel 3 in a front pocket another big negative and this was actually true on all devices was the call quality. It’s in a quiet environment I was trying to talk to you guys in our studio here that would be just fine but if you’re outside or in a busy room pretty much good luck having a coherent conversation.
So no matter how advanced Bluetooth earbuds get with their gesture controls and advanced features. It’s the little issues like this that always make me kind of long for the simplicity of a headphone jack. I mean don’t get me wrong I know that by the time this zipper finally really wears out I’m gonna have to replace these I guess I just wish that the technology had matured a little more before we started.