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Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
From the shape to the feature set, and even down to the model name, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro shares a lot with the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. Samsung’s confusingly similar product names can make anyone question whether they’re choosing the right earbuds. To clear it all up, let’s examine these active noise cancelling (ANC) wireless earbuds side by side to see which is right for you.
Editor’s note: this post was updated on March 16, 2023, to address a software update that adds spatial audio recording on the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Galaxy Buds 2 are both for Samsung phone owners. You can still use the earbuds with an Android phone and enjoy most features, but Samsung users get exclusive access to stuff like proprietary Bluetooth codecs, Wireless PowerShare, automatic device switching, and more. iPhone owners can also use the Galaxy Buds 2 series, but we don’t recommend it. There’s no iOS app support for either set of buds on an iPhone. Instead, you’re better off with a pair of AirPods Pro (1st generation) buds or some of the best AirPods Pro alternatives.
What’s it like to use the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro compared to the Galaxy Buds 2?
Since the discontinued Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, Samsung’s earbuds have adopted a rounded, playful design that unifies the lineup. At a glance, strangers to Samsung may have trouble differentiating between the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Buds 2. Most obviously, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro has a grippy, rubberized coating that contrasts the slippery, glossy coating on the Buds 2. The Bud 2 Pro case is a dust magnet, while fingerprints tend to grease up the Galaxy Buds 2 case.
Samsung provides three sets of silicone ear tips (small, medium, large) for either pair of Galaxy Buds. Both mobile apps include an ear tip fit test to ensure that you’ve chosen the right set. We like that Samsung’s ear tips have built-in guards to prevent ear wax from clogging up the actual speaker grille. Attention to detail like this helps Samsung’s in-ears stand out from cheaper products.
Regardless of which set of Galaxy Buds 2 you purchase, you get some degree of water resistance. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro buds merit an IPX7 rating, giving you the option to drop the earphones into one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. We don’t recommend this, but you don’t need to worry if they fall into the pool. On the other hand, the standard Galaxy Buds 2 earphones feature a more delicate IPX2 rating. While this doesn’t read as impressive, it should still get you through all sorts of cardio workouts—just don’t drop them in the sink.
How do you control the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2?
You control the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Galaxy Buds 2 via a series of taps on the earbuds’ touch panels. While the controls are the same between the two sets of earphones, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is much easier to use: its panels have the right amount of sensitivity. In comparison, the Galaxy Buds 2 earbuds often register commands when I readjust how the buds fit in my ears. This doesn’t happen with the “Pro” version.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Buds 2 controls:
|INPUT||ACTION (music)||ACTION (phone)|
Skip to track ahead
Skip to previous track
Tap and hold
Right: increase volume
Left: decrease volume
Toggle ANC/ambient modes (change in settings)
Voice your request or inquiry (Samsung device only)
Both the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Galaxy Buds 2 support hands-free Bixby access. You can say, “Hey, Bixby” to inquire about new notifications, skip a song, and more. Automatic wear detection works on either set of Galaxy Buds too. When you remove the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro or Galaxy Buds 2 earbuds, the music pauses. Media playback won’t automatically resume when you reinsert the buds as it does with the AirPods Pro (1st generation) and Nothing Ear 1. Instead, you need to tap either touch panel to resume playback.
Should you use the Galaxy Wearable app for the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Galaxy Buds 2?
The Samsung Galaxy Wearable app (Android only) is free and completes the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 series experience. With either pair of earphones paired to the app, you can access Samsung’s EQ presets (normal, bass boost, soft, dynamic, clear, treble boost), select your preferred listening mode (ANC on/off, Ambient Sound on/off), and customize the controls a little bit.
When paired to a Samsung device and streaming compatible content, you can access Samsung 360 Audio surround sound with either pair of buds. Both sets of earphones support head tracking and adjust the left and right channel volumes as your head rotates. This function simulates how people perceive real-world sounds.
What app features does the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have that the Galaxy Buds 2 lacks?
Only the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro has “Conversation Mode,” which works like Sony’s “Speak-to-Chat” function. Speaking while wearing the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro will enable Ambient Sound mode and pause your music. You can then carry on a brief conversation. This feature feels futuristic, but it’s more polite to just remove your earbuds.
Although both sets of earbuds have 360 Audio, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is more advanced and supports Direct Multi-Channel, 5.1, 7.1-channel, or Dolby Atmos content. This works with Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max.
Additionally, owners of the Samsung Z Flip 4 and Fold 4 will be able to use the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro to record spatial audio instead of the single-channel option like most smartphones do. This uses Bluetooth LE audio to use mics in each bud housing to create a binaural recording of the audio you’re trying to capture, making the video content you record have a more convincing sensory experience. Of course, this requires your listener to be using headphones, but it’s still a cool feature.
Once you’ve downloaded the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app to your Android device and connected your Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro (Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, for that matter), you’ll likely get an alert from the app of an available update when you connect the buds. When connected you should see a pop up card letting you know an update is available either when you initially connect, or in the app. Depending on the size of the update it may take a couple minutes.
- Tap Earbud settings.
- Select Earbuds software update.
- Finally, select Download and install.
If it goes awry or your app freezes, exit the app, disconnect the buds, and then try again.
Keep in mind if you have an iPhone you can’t update the buds. If you have a PC you can also update the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro using the Galaxy Buds app available through the Microsoft Store, which works exactly the same way with the same user interface as the Galaxy Wearable app.
How do the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 connect?
The newer Galaxy Buds 2 Pro connects to your device over Bluetooth 5.3, while the older Galaxy Buds 2 model uses Bluetooth 5.2. Both Bluetooth versions mean the respective headsets will support LE Audio and the LC3 codec down the line, but for now, they each support just three codecs. On the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, you can choose between SBC, AAC, and the Samsung Seamless Codec. The Galaxy Buds 2 supports SBC, AAC, and the Samsung Scalable Codec.
With the latest Samsung Seamless Codec, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro can receive 24-bit audio from a Samsung device running One UI 4.0 or later. If your device doesn’t support this UI version, you’re booted down to 16-bit audio. When you use the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with a non-Samsung device, the buds will stream over a different codec altogether (SBC or AAC). Compare the Seamless Codec to the Samsung Scalable Codec, the latter acts like aptX Adaptive and constantly negotiates streaming quality (88-512kbps) and connection stability.
After reading all this, you may be tempted to buy the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro for its improved wireless audio quality but hold your horses. Very few people can actually perceive a difference between 16- and 24-bit audio quality, furthermore, unless you have a Samsung device running UI 4.1 or later you won’t be able to access the Samsung Seamless Codec anyhow.
Unfortunately, neither pair of earbuds supports aptX. This lack of support is a bummer since AAC streaming varies across Android devices. You shouldn’t notice much, if any, Bluetooth latency when streaming video to either pair of earbuds.
Is battery life better on the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro or Samsung Galaxy Buds 2?
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Galaxy Buds 2 share the same official 5-hour battery life with ANC enabled. In our testing for the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, the battery lasted 4 hours, 50 minutes. The Galaxy Buds 2 lasted a bit longer than the Buds 2 Pro at 5 hours, 3 minutes.
You get an extra 13 hours of battery life from the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro case, and the Galaxy Buds 2 case provides an extra 15 hours of charge. Both cases support Qi Wireless charging and Wireless PowerShare. With PowerShare, you can charge the case atop a compatible Samsung device. This seems like a gimmick until you need to use it on a flight.
When you use wireless earbuds regularly, they’re unlikely to last beyond two or three years. As you recharge earbuds and their cases, the battery cells degrade. With such middle-of-the-road battery life, the Galaxy Buds 2 series earphones aren’t winning any awards for standalone endurance either. There are ways to slow down this process, but the most eco-friendly option is to get wired headphones.
Does the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro or Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 block noise better?
That extra $80 USD you’re spending on the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro compared to the Galaxy Buds 2 goes right into noise cancelling performance. Not only does the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro ANC handily outperform the Galaxy Buds 2, but it also outdoes other fan favorites like the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. Don’t even get us started on how the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s noise cancelling compares to the AirPods Pro (1st generation); Samsung also wins by a landslide. With about 30-50dB of noise reduction to sub-bass frequencies, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro melts away droning sounds. The Galaxy Buds 2 has very good ANC and reduces the same low frequencies by 10-23dB, but it just can’t keep pace with the Pro variant.
Both sets of buds block out high frequencies to a similar degree, which makes sense seeing how they use similar silicone ear tips. Get the proper fit with your earphones to experience the ANC performance that the chart reflects. A good seal between the ear tips and your ear canals allows for the best possible isolation, leading to the best possible ANC. Not only does this make your music sound better but it can also help prevent hearing damage. Take a few moments to experiment with those ear tips. It’s okay if you need one size for your left ear and a different size for your right. We’re all asymmetrical.
Does the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 sound better than the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro?
Both the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Galaxy Buds 2 are sure to please most listeners, but the Galaxy Buds 2 comes a bit closer to our target curve than the Buds 2 Pro.
Listeners will likely notice the boosted bass and treble in songs they’re familiar with when listening to the Buds 2 Pro. On occasion, the bass output can make it hard to hear quietly mixed vocals, but simply increasing the volume could make the treble boost more noticeable—unpleasant, even. Conversely, the Galaxy Buds 2 under-emphasizes the treble frequency range that the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro boosts. This might make instrumental harmonics come through a bit quieter than the song’s producers intended. Neither earbuds’ treble deviation will turn a well-mixed track into something unlistenable though.
You can play around with Samsung’s six EQ presets within the Galaxy Wearable app for either set of buds. We recommend downloading a third-party EQ app for greater control over your music.
Does the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro or Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 have a better microphone?
Neither pair of Galaxy Buds is the best headset for conference calls, but Samsung improved the mic performance on the Buds 2 Pro from the Buds 2. They sound pretty close in the “Ideal conditions” mic demos, but the Buds 2 Pro microphone array pulls ahead in the “Windy conditions” sample. Voices sound more natural through the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro in sub-optimal conditions whereas they can sound a bit “robotic” through the Galaxy Buds 2.
Take a listen and cast your vote below!
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro microphone demo (Windy conditions):
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 microphone demo (Windy conditions):
Which microphone sounds better?
Should you get the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro or Samsung Galaxy Buds 2?
For the best noise cancelling and most advanced feature set, we recommend the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro over the Galaxy Buds 2. Although the Buds 2 Pro is more expensive, it’s the first set of Galaxy Buds to have appropriately responsive touch controls and the Samsung Seamless Codec. Whether or not you can hear the difference between the Samsung Seamless Codec and the older Samsung Scalable Codec boils down to your age, source material, and hearing health. Even if you can’t perceive a difference in sound quality, it’s a nice gesture that Samsung’s pushing the limits of its wireless audio tech. We also prefer the Galaxy Buds Pro’s IPX7 rating and rubberized exterior, which make these earbuds better for exercising than the Galaxy Buds 2.
Even though we recommend the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro for most listeners, the Galaxy Buds 2 remains an excellent set of earphones, made even better by the cheaper price. Listeners who want active noise cancelling, but don’t care to pay for the best will find that the Buds 2 offers plenty of utility. These earbuds sound great right out of the box, and the frequency response requires even less tinkering than the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. Sure, the IPX2 rating seems delicate compared to the “Pro” model’s IPX7 rating, but it will withstand moderate to intense exercise just as well.
If you’re not sold on either pair of Samsung Galaxy Buds, check out the best wireless earbuds and peruse our list of alternatives below.
What should you get instead of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2?
If you came here looking for active noise cancelling earphones, the Sony WF-1000XM4 is another favorite around these parts. Sony’s flagship earbuds have uniquely good ANC, and a comprehensive app supports the same features on iOS and Android. Noise cancelling aside, Sony’s buds also have excellent passive isolation that only the Shure AONIC Free can outdo. In one package, you get memory foam ear tips, IPX4-rated earbuds, a wireless charging case, and 360 Reality Audio personalization. There’s plenty to love with these earbuds, though we wish Sony gave us more color options than just black and white, but if you’re down for monochrome you can find the WF-1000XM4 for $178 at Amazon.
Listeners who often travel to places where they don’t speak the native language may want to pick up the Google Pixel Buds Pro. Google’s noise cancelling earbuds support live Google Translate, though it requires that you interact with your phone a bit. The live translation experience is a bit clunky but cool when it works. You also get features like direct voice access to the Google Assistant, multipoint connectivity, and water-resistant earbuds and case. Grab the Pixel Buds Pro for $192.5 at Amazon. Like Google but don’t want noise cancelling? Read our Google Pixel Buds A-Series review to decide which earbuds are right for you. It’s definitely cheaper without that ANC, you can find it here $93.02 at Amazon.
Frequently asked questions
The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) is a great set of earbuds, but it isn’t made for Android users; likewise, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and Galaxy Buds 2 Pro aren’t made for iPhone owners, so it would be out of place to recommend an iOS-exclusive headset here. That said, you can still use the AirPods Pro (2nd gen.) on an Android device, you’ll just lose out on most of the features and update access.
We do recommend the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and (1st generation) to iPhone owners, because both sets of earbuds offer an exceptionally smooth experience on Apple devices. You get similar performance between the two headsets, though only the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) has Adaptive Transparency, powered by the newer H2 chip. With Adaptive Transparency, the earbuds relay external noise to your ears while dampening the intense loudness of unpredictable sounds like a nearby jackhammer.
Since the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is discontinued now, it’s hard to find, except from third-party sellers. At this point, we recommend you go with one of Samsung’s newer headsets like the Galaxy Buds 2 series in question.
Both sets have good enough IP ratings to survive most workouts. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro has the more durable IPX7 which is more than enough water resistance. However, without any stabilizers or ear hooks neither set is the very best for your exercise regimen. If either pair happens to fit your ears really well, both can handle the gym.