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Samsung Galaxy Buds FE vs Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
Today we’re checking out the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 to see if the intervening years have made a difference between these wireless earbuds. Of course, both are active noise canceling (ANC) and capable, so let’s see what earns one the label “FE” for “Fan Edition” and if it’s all in the name, or just more of the same.
Editor’s note: this article was published on November 8, 2023, and is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.
What’s it like to use the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE compared to the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2?
The idea behind the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE is like picking up a Galaxy Buds greatest hits compilation distilled into affordable earphones. So that the case looks a lot like the other Galaxy Buds cases comes as no surprise. Like most greatest hits, the Galaxy Buds FE don’t necessarily tick every favorite on your list, like the IPX2 rating which is okay, but notably less water resistant than an IPX4 rating at minimum found on most earbuds. This is a bit unfortunate because the design suggests you can workout with them, and you can, but they aren’t the most durable.
The matte-finished Samsung Galaxy Buds FE feature stabilizers to aid in the in-ear fit. Otherwise, you get three sets of ear tips. The nozzles don’t fit smaller ears as comfortably as previous Galaxy Buds, but they will stay in more reliably due to the stabilizers. At 5.8g per bud they’re a bit heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 at 5g per bud.
Meanwhile, the smooth and glossy textured Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 have the same IPX2 rating. The case is squarish, about the same dimensions as the Galaxy Buds FE. On the bean-shaped housings, you’ll find the touch controls in the middle of the convex shape. They don’t come with stabilizers, and tend to fit smaller ears better than the Galaxy Buds FE with one of three ear tip sets. On the other hand, if you have trouble getting a secure fit, the lack of stabilizers may prove more of a gamble than the Galaxy Buds FE.
How do you control the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2?
Using touch controls on the flat housing the Galaxy Buds FE don’t have all of the tap combinations enabled unless you use the app. Sometimes using the controls can dislodge the bud, requiring adjustment. Below are the default commands for the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE.
|Gesture||Left earbud||Right earbud|
Play / pause / answer call / end call
Play / pause / answer call / end call
Toggle ANC / Ambient
Toggle ANC / Ambient
One of the nitpicks with the Galaxy Buds 2 concerns the hypersensitive touchpads. These can accidentally trigger a command. While you can remap the controls in the app, the combinations are limited to types of controls. For example, you can’t make one gesture skip track and the same gesture on the other ear for something else. Here’s how to control the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2.
Next track; answer/end call
Previous track; custom option; decline call
Should you use the apps of either Samsung Galaxy Buds FE or Samsung Galaxy Buds 2?
Both the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 utilize the same Samsung Galaxy Wearable app. It only works with Android devices, and even better with Samsung devices. You’ll want the app to get the most out of either earbuds for updates, listening modes, control remapping, and EQ, as a start.
Annoyingly, in order to work you must agree to submit a lot of data, even as headphones apps go. This includes contacts, call history, access to your SMS, and you can’t pick and choose which permissions either.
How do the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 connect?
Both earbuds have the same Bluetooth 5.2 version with codec support for Samsung Scalable Codec, AAC, and SBC. The Samsung Scalable Codec only works with Samsung devices, and it works at a variable transfer rate to optimize a stable connection. Otherwise, non-Samsung Android users will do okay with AAC or SBC Bluetooth codecs.
Is battery life better on the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE or Samsung Galaxy Buds 2?
When comparing the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE against the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, surprisingly, the older model’s battery lasts longer. With the standard test conditions, the Galaxy Buds FE reach 4 hours and 38 minutes to a single chart with ANC on. You eke out a little more juice from the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 under the exact same conditions at 5 hours and 3 minutes. Both battery figures land below average these days.
They both charge via an included USB-C cable. You can use Wireless PowerShare to re-up your battery if you’ve got a Samsung phone with the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. These also support wireless Qi charging. In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE do not have Qi wireless compatibility, or Wireless PowerShare, signaling cost-cutting measures.
Do the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE or Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 block noise better?
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Samsung has made a name for its reasonably priced earbuds with useful noise canceling. The ANC on the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE reach 30dB of attenuation with low pitched noises. Assuming you get a good fit, the Galaxy Buds FE isolate quite well against high pitched environmental noises. Overall, the performance is slightly better than the Galaxy Buds 2.
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When the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 came out they outdid their price tag in the noise canceling department. These days, they’re still decent, but they attenuate less effectively than the Galaxy Buds FE. They isolate well, but without the stabilizer to hold the buds in place, the Galaxy Buds 2 don’t quite isolate as strongly as the FE version.
Do the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE sound better than the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2?
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Comparing the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE with the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, they both sound pretty good compared to our headphone preference curve. They roughly follow the same consumer friendly style frequency response, although, the Galaxy Buds 2 gets closer, particularly in the bass and highs, to our preference curve. Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE has a lot more bass volume by default, and does not scoop the mids as significantly as the Galaxy Buds 2. The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 by default sound better to most listeners.
Still, you can always open the Samsung Wearable app’s equalizer to adjust either wireless earphones to suit your taste.
Do the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE or Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 have a better microphone?
In most settings, the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 have useable microphones that filter enough environmental noise to suit a busy office. Both mic arrays have some issues with windy conditions, but they sound clearly different, as you can hear below, so this isn’t a case of Samsung recycling the same mic system. Let us know which you think captures speech better.
Samsung Galaxy Buds FE microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Samsung Galaxy Buds FE microphone demo (Office conditions):
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 microphone demo (Office conditions):
Samsung Galaxy Buds FE microphone demo (Windy conditions):
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 microphone demo (Windy conditions):
Which microphone sounds best to you?
Samsung Galaxy Buds FE vs Samsung Galaxy Buds 2: Price and availability
The Samsung Galaxy Buds FE come in at $99 at regular price, this makes them a contender for best earbuds under $100. When originally released, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 list price was $149, but these days you can easily find them for much less dough.
Should you get the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE or Samsung Galaxy Buds 2?
When the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 were released, they were one of the best options for mid-tier ANC earbuds. They’ve dropped in price and they’re still solid. Samsung hasn’t rested on its laurels because the ANC is improved on the Galaxy Buds FE. So by that measure, the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE win out.
When viewing other details, a few things are the same: connectivity, app, IPX2 rating, Samsung ecosystem, and similar touch controls. The main things that push the Galaxy Buds 2 ahead include a better default frequency response, a slightly better battery life, more charging options, and currently more 360 audio compatibility.
Besides that, ask yourself if you typically fit wireless earbuds, or if you need a stabilizer to hold your buds in place securely. If you’ve got small ears, the Galaxy Buds 2 likely will feel more comfortable, but that’s entirely down to your anatomy. Outside of that, because the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE are newer, it’s more likely they will receive updates further into the future than the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2.
Frequently asked questions
The Samsung Galaxy Buds FE and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 only have an IPX2 rating, which means they are minimally water resistant. Don’t drop them into a puddle.
You can basically use any Bluetooth earbuds with the iPhone, but you’ll miss out on many of the features if you pair an iPhone with Samsung Galaxy Buds FE or Galaxy Buds 2. These are exclusively found in Galaxy Wearable app which only supports the buds with Android phones. Some examples of stuff you won’t get with an iPhone include the ability to change your controls, EQ, or receive updates.
Only the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 have wireless charging and Wireless PowerShare. The Samsung Galaxy Buds FE do not charge wirelessly.
Yes, take a listen to the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 mic samples in the microphone section above.
Keeping these strictly budget oriented, the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE lack spatial audio with headtracking.