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Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM4
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is another new set of active noise cancelling earbuds (ANC) on the market, competing with lots of great performers out there. One of the best is the Sony WF-1000XM4, renowned for its noise cancelling, comfort, and software. After spending a week with each pair of earbuds, we’ve put the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM4 side by side to see how they compare.
Editor’s note: this article was updated on January 20, 2023, to update formatting and add the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) as an alternative.
What’s it like to use the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro compared to the Sony WF-1000XM4?
Both the case and the earbuds of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are made of a soft finish, matte plastic. The material shows scratches and lint, and marks won’t buff out well. The earbuds have three ear tip sizes to choose from for getting the best fit, and you can double-check the fit in the Galaxy Wearable app (Android). Samsung’s earbuds also have an IPX7 rating, and the case is unrated. With the case, you get the same jewelry box design that dates back to the Galaxy Buds Live, and it’s easy to open singlehandedly. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro comes in Graphite, White, and Bora Purple.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds and case are similarly made of black matte plastic, though Sony adds flair with some gold accents to the black and white colorways. It comes with three polyurethane foam ear tips, making for a more comfortable fit and better seal. Like the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, you can take an ear tip fit test in Sony’s app to ensure you’ve chosen the best tips. The earbuds have an IPX4 rating and are exercise-friendly, and the case lacks any kind of water resistance.
While both earbuds have water-resistant ratings, neither have stabilizing wing tips, so there’s always a chance the earbuds will jostle around or fall out of your ear while you exercise. If you’re in search of the best wireless workout earbuds with noise cancelling, we recommend the Jaybird Vista 2 or Beats Fit Pro (though the latter has prevalent ANC issues).
How do you control the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM4?
To control the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, you have a touch panel on each earbud. The sensitivity of the touch panels is great. Unlike other Samsung Galaxy Buds, making fit adjustments doesn’t cause misfires. When you tap the earbuds, a sound emanates to alert you that the buds registered your command. It’s not without issues, however: when our reviewer wears the buds for extended periods of time, the touch commands no longer register. This can be solved by re-pairing the earbuds to your device, which is inconvenient.
Controls aren’t solely via touch, as you can also pause music by removing both earbuds. Unlike other wireless earbuds with automatic wear detection, you must reinsert the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and then tap one bud to resume playback. You also get hands-free Bixby access when the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is paired to a Samsung device.
|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)
Controlling the Sony WF-1000XM4 is similar since it also features touch controls. It also has automatic ear detection, so you can auto-pause your music by taking out an earbud. Unlike the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, media playback automatically resumes when you reinsert the earbud. You don’t get direct voice access to any smart assistants on the WF-1000XM4, but a long press will do the trick.
|ACTION||LEFT BUD||RIGHT BUD|
Track forward/answer call
TAP AND HOLD
Should you use the apps of either the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro or the Samsung WF-1000XM4?
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro uses the Galaxy Wearable app, only available on Android. The app will ask for a lot of permissions upon downloading and won’t work until you allow all permissions, which is a pain if you care a lot about data privacy. After that, you will be able to control listening modes, monitor the battery level, conduct an ear tip fit test, choose between EQ presets, update firmware, and more. The controls are customizable in a very limited manner, and you can’t make your own custom EQ. Since the app is only available on Android, iPhone users won’t be able to access any of these features.
The Sony Headphones Connect app is the software for the Sony WF-1000XM4, which is available on both Android and iOS. In the app, you can test your fit, change your EQ, customize touch controls, optimize Sony 360 Reality Audio, and more. One of our favorite features of Sony’s app is the ability to prioritize connection stability over streaming quality, and vice versa. Since the app is available on any OS and doesn’t have any differences in experience, the Sony WF-1000XM4 will work the same everywhere. You won’t miss out on anything just because of the phone you own, unlike the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.
How do the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Sony WF-1000XM4 connect?
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro uses Bluetooth 5.3, and supports the SBC, AAC, and Samsung Seamless codecs. Only people with Samsung Galaxy devices can listen to music using Samsung Seamless Codec. The Seamless Codec is different from Samsung’s Scalable Codec, and this time around those with devices running One UI 4.0 and later can enjoy 24-bit audio. You can also auto-switch between Samsung devices you’re signed into with the same Samsung account.
On the Sony WF-1000XM4, you get Bluetooth 5.2, and it supports the SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs. Since LDAC is part of the Android Open Source Project, you can listen to high-quality audio with LDAC on any Android device.
Is battery life better on the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro or the Sony WF-1000XM4?
In our battery testing, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro lasted 4 hours, 50 minutes with ANC on. It charges using USB-C, and also supports wireless charging using a Qi mat, or Wireless PowerShare atop a Samsung Galaxy device.
On the other hand, the Sony WF-1000XM4 lasts 7 hours, 43 minutes in our testing and so outdoes the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. Another benefit to longer battery life is that the battery is likely to keep a fuller capacity over its lifetime for longer than the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. This is because you won’t have to charge the Sony earbuds and case as much as you would the Samsung ones. If you care about battery waste and its environmental impact, the Sony WF-1000XM4 is the slightly more eco-conscious choice. The WF-1000XM4 also charges using USB-C and supports Qi wireless charging.
Does the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro or the Sony WF-1000XM4 block noise better?
This is where the competition ramps up a bit more. The ANC on the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is excellent, especially in the low end. Isolation is just fine, though that is very reliant on getting a good fit in your ear. Without a proper fit, you risk turning up the volume too high to make up for the lack of isolation, heightening your risk of noise-induced hearing loss.
Sony’s earbuds don’t do quite as much to eliminate low frequencies compared to Samsung’s, but passive isolation is much more effective. This means the WF-1000XM4 earbuds will do more to passively block out incidental, high-frequency noise due to the memory foam ear tips that seal any shape of ear canal, unlike silicone ear tips. But that’s not to say the WF-1000XM4 has poor low-frequency ANC: it does a great job here too, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro just happens to be particularly good in this department.
Ultimately, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro scores a little bit higher on ANC, but the Sony WF-1000XM4 still performs excellently and has much better passive isolation.
Does the Sony WF-1000XM4 sound better than the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro?
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro sounds quite good, coming close to our target curve in our testing. Notably, there’s a boost in the bass and sub-bass frequencies, as well as a boost above 10kHz. The boost in the highs can make upper harmonics sound prominent, though most listeners won’t mind this. You can cycle through six EQ presets, but you can’t set your own. If you need to go beyond the presets offered, you’ll need a third-party EQ app.
With the Sony WF-1000XM4, the bass area is still a bit boosted, but less so than the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. The highs are under-emphasized, which can make vocals and harmonics a bit quieter, as well as affecting the overall tone. If you don’t like the sound profile, you can change the EQ in the Sony Headphones Connect app, either using an EQ preset or by setting your own custom EQ.
Both the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM4 have virtual surround sound modes, with Samsung having Samsung 360 Audio, and Sony having Sony 360 Reality Audio. You can enable either in the headset’s respective app.
Does the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro or Sony WF-1000XM4 have a better microphone?
The microphone in the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is fine, though the processing applied can sometimes makes it sound like your voice has a lisp, or can make plosives (sounds like the letter “P”) sound unnatural, specifically with deeper voices. A big positive is that the noise suppression is good, so noisy weather or streets won’t mask your voice on a phone call.
While noise suppression is good on the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, the same can’t be said for the WF-1000XM4. Wind noise makes voices a lot less audible, so phone calls outside with this microphone won’t be as well received. In ideal conditions, the mic is just fine for phone calls, but it’s not good for much more than that.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro microphone sample (Ideal conditions):
Sony WF-1000XM4 microphone sample (Ideal conditions):
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro microphone sample (Windy conditions):
Sony WF-1000XM4 microphone sample (Windy conditions):
Which microphone sounds better to you?
Should you get the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro or the Sony WF-1000XM4?
As you can probably tell by now, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is great if you have a Samsung phone, though it’ll also work well with Android phones in general. Samsung users get the Samsung Seamless codec and seamless switching between Samsung devices, making for a better, more integrated experience. The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is also one of the best sets of ANC earbuds, especially considering how well it blocks out low frequencies. It’s also the more affordable option of the two, coming in at $230 USD.
If you want to be able to use great earbuds on any device almost equally, the Sony WF-1000XM4 is the best out of the two for that. You can adjust the EQ to your liking in the app so you can personalize your listening experience, and the ANC is really great, even if it falls a bit short in the low-end when compared to the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. The only thing tied to OS is the LDAC codec, which is unavailable to Apple users. The WF-1000XM4 is pricier at $279 USD, but that extra price for memory foam ear tips, a great app, and excellent ANC make it well worth it.
What should you get instead of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Sony WF-1000XM4?
Android phone owners may enjoy the Google Pixel Buds Pro. The ANC isn’t quite as good as the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro or the WF-1000XM4, but it’s still effective. The earbuds are IPX4 water-resistant, and the case is IPX2, so you can even get the case a little wet without damaging it. The battery life is between the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and the WF-1000XM4, coming in at 7 hours, 6 minutes. It’s also cheaper than both of them, coming in at $192.5 at Amazon. It’s also supposed to get spatial audio added in Fall 2022, making it a lot more similar to the other two.
iPhone owners should consider the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation), since it integrates perfectly with iOS. You get good ANC, Spatial Audio, and quick switching between Apple devices due to the H2 chip. It’s also IPX4 water-resistant like the Sony WF-1000XM4. At $229 at Amazon, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) is similarly priced to the other options mentioned here. You can also read our more in-depth comparison between the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. Another iOS-friendly option is the Beats Powerbeats Pro, which has an H1 chip. The ear hook design keeps your earbuds in place if you’re working out, and it has IPX4 water resistance as well. It also has a long battery life of 10 hours, 52 minutes. It doesn’t have ANC, but it does have decent isolation. The PowerBeats Pro is available for $179.95 at Amazon.
If you want an OS-agnostic option with ANC, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 is a really good option. It has multiple ear tips and ear fins to keep the buds in place, it has good noise cancelling, and it supports the aptX and aptX Adaptive Bluetooth codecs alongside SBC and AAC, so there’s a higher quality audio option for Android users too. It also has an IPX4 rating, so with that along with the stable fit, this pair of earbuds is great for athletes and for regular use as well. The price sits between the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and WF-1000XM4 at $199.95 at Amazon.
Frequently asked questions about the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Sony WF-1000XM4
Neither the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro nor the Sony WF-1000XM4 feature Bluetooth multipoint. Instead, they both offer quick switching between devices. The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro switches seamlessly between Samsung devices logged into the same account, and the Sony WF-1000XM4 can switch between devices that have been paired with the earbuds before.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro can handle being submerged in a meter of water for 30 minutes due to its IPX7 rating. The Sony WF-1000XM4 is IPX4 rated, so it can handle splashes of water, so it cannot be submerged in water.