A skeptical eye may roll at what appears to be an iterative upgrade from Samsung with the new Galaxy Buds Plus, but I’m here to tell you that these earphones are worth their asking price. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus may be nearly indistinguishable from last year’s model; however, don’t let that fool you: improved microphone quality is noticeable, and the extra-long battery life is great for international flyers.
Editor’s note: this Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review was updated on September 3, 2020, to include information about the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live noise cancelling earphones.
Who should get the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus?
- Samsung Galaxy smartphone owners and anyone with an Android device should consider the new Galaxy Buds Plus. Although Wireless PowerShare is a Samsung exclusive, other important features including Spotify integration, are available across Android. Plus, even iPhone users will benefit from AAC support for lag-free media playback. Then, there are things everyone can enjoy like IPX2 water-resistance and nearly 12 hours of playtime on a single charge.
Using the Galaxy Buds Plus
Samsung noted the Galaxy Buds’ wild success and took a calculated approach to the Buds Plus: these are virtually identical to last year’s model with most of the changes taking place under the housings.
The all-plastic build feels cheap, but has its benefits by keeping the earphones lightweight, comfortable, and lest we forget: affordable. One welcome change to the Galaxy Buds Plus has nothing to do with the earbuds’ design, but with the included accessories. Listeners are afforded the pre-installed medium ear and wing tips along with three extra pairs varying in size. This is great news for all, as a solid fit rewards listeners with better audio quality.
Another under-the-hood change has to do with the new dual-driver system; each earbud contains a dedicated woofer and tweeter. This system is tuned by AKG and reproduces an impressive, consumer-friendly sound with minimal distortion. If you’re familiar with 1More’s earphones, you’ve come across this kind of technology before.
The Galaxy Buds Plus are the perfect AirPods alternative for Android users.
A glossy finish adorns the whimsical charging case and collects more fingerprints than the FBI. Despite the sleek exterior, it’s easy to grip and never slipped from my hands when opening. Lifting the lid reveals a rubberized strip with “L R” to indicate which earbud is which. At first, I thought this was a button that would share remaining battery life for each earbud, but alas, it’s just a fancy label.
Get Spotify integration through the Galaxy Wearable app
One of the most unique features of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus is Spotify integration, which is now available with the original Galaxy Buds, too. In order to directly access the popular streaming service from the earphones, you have to download the Galaxy Wearables app, which happens to be one of the better apps accompanying true wireless earphones. Just remap the tapping gesture on the earbuds to receive recommended songs. Unfortunately for iOS users, Spotify functionality is only available to Android devices.
There are other great functions afforded by downloading the Galaxy Wearables app, too, including ambient sound adjustments, find my earbuds, software updates, an EQ, and more. Gamers who enjoy beta testing things should consider giving Game Mode a shot for reduced latency. The Apple App Store now has Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus app available; however, the application does not support the original Galaxy Buds, which is ridiculous. You’re afforded all of the same features as the Android app provides, save for Spotify integration as of app version 1.1.2.001.
How do you connect the earphones?
If you have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone running Android 7.1.1 or later with the SmartThings app installed, then you’ll be met with a pop-up window when initially pairing the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus. Otherwise, you can pair the earbuds by removing them from the case, going into your phone’s Bluetooth menu and selecting “Galaxy Buds+.”
The earphones use Bluetooth 5.0 firmware and grant listeners a 10-meter wireless range. I was hoping to see aptX support with the second-generation Galaxy Buds, but the same codecs are supported by these earphones as the first-generation model: SBC, AAC, and the scalable Samsung codec. Although Qualcomm True Wireless Stereo Plus isn’t supported, connection strength is reliable within the listed span. If you have an iPhone or Samsung device, latency is a non-issue.
Multipoint functionality isn’t available
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus were supposed to support Bluetooth multipoint between Bluetooth 5.0 devices. However, the company discreetly removed any mention of this functionality on the official Galaxy Buds Plus page. Perhaps we’ll see this reinstated in a future software update.
No matter, the Buds Plus remember multiple devices which makes switching easy. In fact, I don’t need to manually disconnect the earphones from my smartphone when connecting to my desktop. Instead, I can just select the pre-paired Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus from my laptop’s Bluetooth menu and it automatically disconnects from my S10e. Sure, it’s still a bit cumbersome but it’s not too much of a chore.
Battery life is stellar
True wireless earbuds aren’t known for having impressive battery life, but the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus last 11 hours, 44 minutes. Interestingly, depletion is uneven: the right earbud cycled out 24 minutes before the left. It’s curious, but likely something that will be remedied with a software update.
Once they deplete, it takes just three minutes of throwing them in the case to enjoy one hour of listening. Said charging case provides just one extra charge cycle, which isn’t great but is the sacrifice we make when getting such a compact case. The charging case is Qi-certified, meaning there are more ways to wirelessly charge than Wireless PowerShare atop a Samsung Galaxy phone.
How do the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus sound?
Just as before, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus are tuned by AKG, this time to have a slight elevation in bass response. This is great for listeners who enjoy popular genres of music like pop, hip-hop, and so on as it adds a greater sense of impact with every kick drum. Highs and mids hardly receive any amplification, which means instrumentally busy songs may seem like they’re lacking detail. That’s not the fault of the audio file, rather of how louder bass notes are bound to mask quieter, high-pitched notes.
Isolation is good, thanks to the spare ear and wing tips provided by Samsung. If you can hear what’s going on around you with the default ear tips, take a few seconds to swap them out for the small or large size: finding the right fit will greatly improve clarity and audio quality.
Lows, mids, and highs
Noname’s song Blaxploitation relies on a simple pattern comprised of a bass guitar, drums, high hats, and synth. The Galaxy Buds Plus’ sound signature is perfect for this type of music whereby the bassline isn’t rendered to overpower the vocals, but could use some emphasis to please general consumer taste.
Skip ahead to 0:23, when Noname says, “… eating Chick-fil-A in the shadows that tastes like hypocrite.” Her voice is easy to hear above the constant accompaniment, even as it increases in pitch during the word “hypocrite.” The dual-driver system does a great job of ensuring clear vocal reproduction while simultaneously pumping out amplified bass lines.
Microphone quality is very good
Samsung equipped the Galaxy Buds Plus with a three-microphone array: two outer and one inner microphone which work in tandem for clearer voice transmission than before. The two external microphones focus on your voice while simultaneously combating ambient noise, similar to what’s used by the Apple AirPods and AirPods Pro.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus microphone demo:
When using the Galaxy Buds Plus during a conference call, my fellow SoundGuys shared that I sounded quite clear, especially for earbuds. Don’t take their words for it, though; I read an excerpt from Catcher in the Rye with the Bud Plus above.
How are the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus better than the Galaxy Buds?
Looking at specs alone, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus are better than the original Galaxy Buds. They have significantly better battery life, lasting listeners almost 12 hours on a single charge. On a related note, quick charging efficiency is improved, which is great for on-the-go users.
I discovered some fun bops, thanks to the Buds Plus Spotify integration.
I thoroughly enjoyed Spotify integration when using the Buds Plus, something that is now available on the original Buds with the April 27, 2020, update. For anyone who frequently takes hands-free calls, the upgraded microphone system is a huge improvement over the 2019 Galaxy Buds, and makes it easier to justify the $148 price. You’re also given more color options: black, light blue, white, and red whereas last year’s Galaxy Buds are available in black, white, silver, and yellow.
On a budget? The original Galaxy Buds are still a fantastic deal
That being said, the Samsung Galaxy Buds were great when they were released and that sentiment holds true in 2020. Battery life may not be the absolute best, but it still outpaces many of its competitors by lasting 6.53 hours on a single charge. Audio purists will appreciate the accurate reproduction of audio, despite the single-driver system.
Samsung Galaxy Buds microphone demo:
The earbuds have the same IPX2 rating as seen in the newer version and a virtually identical appearance, save for the additional colorways. Sure, fast charging is more efficient but it’s not slow by any means with the Galaxy Buds: 15 minutes of charging supplies 1.7 hours of playtime. With the April 27, 2020, software update to the Galaxy Buds, users can also benefit from Spotify integration, one of the Buds Plus’ main selling points.
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus?
If you must have the latest and greatest, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus are a fine purchase to make. Sure they don’t disrupt the field of true wireless earbuds, but they retain many of the features from the Galaxy Buds while making major battery life and microphone improvements. Anyone who’s constantly on the hunt for new music will rejoice upon realizing how easy it is to directly access Spotify. Again, if these things don’t tickle your fancy, last year’s Galaxy Buds will serve you just as well.
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The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live have active noise cancelling
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds dropped on August 6, 2020. The new bean-shaped buds have active noise-cancelling, which pits them directly against the AirPods Pro. However, their ANC is considerably less reliable than that of the AirPods Pro due to their lack of sealing ear tips. They top out at 8 hours of consistent playback, when ANC is disabled and 5 hours, 15 minutes with ANC enabled. The buds’ Voice Pickup Unit senses when your jaw is moving and use bone conduction to make for better call quality. They retain the one-touch Spotify integration with Android devices that the Galaxy Buds Plus have. Additionally, they have Always On Mic functionality; this means you can directly access Bixby with just your voice, but if you use a different smart assistant, you can access it by pressing the earbud. You can connect two pairs of the Galaxy Buds Live to one device to share music with a friend without having to share earbuds. These new buds cost $170, but because of their dubious ANC, the Galaxy Buds Plus are probably a better buy.
Don’t want Galaxy Buds at all?
That’s fine, you may want to think about getting the 1More True Wireless ANC, which retail for $50 more than the Galaxy Buds Plus. That extra cash goes a long way, though, as you benefit from noise cancellation, a comfortable fit, aptX and AAC support, and Qualcomm True Wireless Stereo Plus. 1More is a company revered for its ability to keep costs down without sacrificing quality, making it a popular alternative to more expensive brands.
If you have an iPhone, the Apple AirPods or AirPods Pro have likely been on your mind. Well, the AirPods (2019), are a hard sell, especially when compared to the Pro. If you’re between the standard AirPods and Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, go with the latter: sound quality, fit, comfort, and durability are all better. However, if your budget is more flexible than mine, the AirPods Pro are an excellent choice.
They feature Apple’s H1 chip for hands-free access to Siri as well as ANC, and a DSP that calibrates noise cancelling intensity on the fly, among other things. Sometimes the price dips around $230, which is still expensive but a fine option for iOS users who want a seamless cross-device experience.
Another great option: the Google Pixel Buds. These buds are packed to the gills with features including voice access to Google Assistant, live Google Translate, and a wireless charging case. Battery life is above average, as are microphone and sound quality. The earbuds warranted an IPX4 rating, and can be used for pretty much any exercise regime. They cost much less than the AirPods Pro and are a better option than the AirPods for Android users.
Wait for the AKG N400 ANC earbuds
Samsung subsidiary AKG announced its AKG N400 noise cancelling totally wireless earbuds, which share a similar design to the Galaxy Buds. The case will support both fast and Qi wireless charging and AKG includes memory foam ear tips to optimize ANC performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, the microphone array works just as well with a laptop as it does with a smartphone. Some video chat apps may prompt you to select which device to use as a microphone (e.g. the laptop's integrated mic or the headset mic); in that instance, select the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus wireless range is 10 meters; this applies both to general audio streaming and for incoming calls. If you're more than 10 meters away from your smartphone with the earbuds in, you likely won't receive the call through the headset.
If you have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, you should select the scalable Samsung codec from the Android developer settings.
Yes! The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus make for great Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus earbuds, because the Galaxy Note 10 Plus smartphone supports Samsung's Wireless PowerShare charging. This means you can place the charging case on top of the Android smartphone to charge it from anywhere. What's more, since it's a relatively up-to-date Android phone, you can enable Spotify integration from the Galaxy Wearable app.
Aproximadamente la misma latencia.
Normal is a more neutral frequency response and will, therefore, sound truer to form; however, if you prefer emphasized bass and treble notes, you'll find dynamic more pleasing. It depends on personal preference.
As of software version R175XXU0ATA6, ambient sound mode adjustments only cover three modes: low, medium, and high. Although users have the option to enable "voice focus" on the original Galaxy Buds, that feature is not yet available for the Buds Plus. You can, however, use ambient sound during calls to better hear your own voice while on the phone. Samsung tests features out via the "Labs" section of the Galaxy Wearables app, and another ambient-oriented experimental feature is extra-high ambient volume. This relays ambient sound at a higher volume than is permitted by the standard "high" ambient mode.
Microphone quality has significantly improved over the original Galaxy Buds as demonstrated in the microphone samples within the article. Compared to other true wireless earphones, the Samsung Galaxy Plus earbuds have one of the best microphone systems available. There's minimal distortion across the human voice band, and the mics do a great job of focusing on your voice while simultaneously rejecting external noise. Great alternatives are the Apple AirPods Pro and Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus, both of which have excellent microphone quality but are more expensive than the Buds Plus.