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A picture of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus earbuds out and in front of the case, which is open in the background.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review

If you only have $100 to spend, this is still a great pair of earbuds.
By
February 25, 2022
7.7
Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus
The bottom line
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus makes important improvements over the original Galaxy Buds. You get Spotify integration, greater battery life, Qi wireless charging functionality, and improved mic quality, all of which make these true wireless earphones a compelling buy.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus makes important improvements over the original Galaxy Buds. You get Spotify integration, greater battery life, Qi wireless charging functionality, and improved mic quality, all of which make these true wireless earphones a compelling buy.
Release date

February 14, 2020

Price

Original: $149 USD

Dimensions

17.5 x 19.2 x 22.5 mm (earbud)

38.8 x 70.0 x 26.5 mm (case)

Weight

6.3 g (earbud)

39.6g (case)

Model Number

SM-R175NZKAXAR

Waterproof

IPX2

What we like
Bluetooth 5.0
SBC, AAC, and Scalable Samsung codec
Battery life
Qi Wireless charging
Compact build
Mic quality
What we don't like
Lacks aptX
No auto-resume playback
Lacks multipoint functionality
7.7
SoundGuys Rating
8
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Sound Quality
9.7
7.7
8.0
Isolation / Attenuation
4.6
7.2
7.0
Durability / Build Quality
6.9
8.0
8.0
Value
8.6
8.2
8.0
Design
7.6
8.4
8.0
Connectivity
5.0
7.3
7.0
Microphone
6.4
7.8
8.0
Portability
10.0
8.9
9.0
Battery Life
8.0
8.6
9.0
Feature
8.8
7.8
8.0
Comfort
9.5
8.2
8.0

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 this is worth its asking price. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus may be nearly indistinguishable from the original Galaxy Buds, but don’t let that discourage you. Samsung makes a host of improvements to the Galaxy Buds Plus like extra-long battery life and better microphone quality.

With the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 out now, you can snag this headset at a steep discount nowadays.

Editor’s note: this Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review was updated February 25, 2022, to add a Controls section and to address how the Buds Plus compares to the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2.

Who should get the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus?

A picture of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus true wireless earbuds on top of a Samsung Galaxy S10e smartphone in flamingo pink.
You can charge the case via Wireless PowerShare or with a Qi-certified power mat.
  • 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.
  • Long-haul commuters will appreciate the excellent battery life.

Start here: What makes a good set of in-ears?

What is it like to use the Galaxy Buds Plus?

A picture of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus true wireless earbuds on top of a Macbook Pro with a Samsung Galaxy S10e in the bottom right corner of the image.
Playback automatically pauses upon removal simultaneous removal.

Samsung noted the Galaxy Buds’ wild success and took a calculated approach to the Buds Plus: this is 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 get 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.

A picture of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus and Galaxy Buds earphones without the ear tips on.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus looks nearly identical to the original but houses a new dual-driver system for clear audio reproduction.

Another under-the-hood change has to do with the dual-driver system; each earbud contains a dedicated woofer and tweeter. AKG tuned the frequency response which reproduces impressively clear audio for the price.

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 the remaining battery life for each earbud, but alas, it’s just a fancy label.

How to control the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

This table depicts the default commands for the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus touch controls.

SINGLE TAPDOUBLE TAPTRIPLE TAPTAP AND HOLD
LEFT EARBUD
SINGLE TAP
  • Play / pause media

DOUBLE TAP
  • Next track
  • Answer / end call

TRIPLE TAP
  • Previous track

TAP AND HOLD
  • Custom command
  • Reject call
  • Both buds at once: enter pairing mode

RIGHT EARBUD
SINGLE TAP
  • Play / pause media

DOUBLE TAP
  • Next track
  • Answer / end call

TRIPLE TAP
  • Previous track

TAP AND HOLD
  • Custom command
  • Reject call
  • Both buds at once: enter pairing mode

You can customize the tap-and-hold function of the Galaxy Buds Plus from the Galaxy Wearable app. By default, holding either touch panel will enable your smart assistant. With the app, you get the added functionality of “quick ambient” or volume controls.

Should you download the Galaxy Wearable app?

A photo of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus app on iPhone.
The App Store’s Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus app doesn’t support the first-gen Galaxy Buds.

One of the most unique features of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus is Spotify integration, something we’ve seen more recently from Skullcandy too. In order to directly access the popular streaming service from the earphones, you have to download the Galaxy Wearable 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.

Learn more: Ultimate headphone buying guide

There are other great functions from the Galaxy Wearable app, too, including ambient sound adjustments, find my earbuds (similar to Find My AirPods), software updates, EQ presets, 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 get 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?

A picture of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus true wireless earbuds on a wooden table in front of a vintage camera.
The Samsung scalable codec functions similarly to aptX adaptive, and constantly balances connection and audio quality.

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

An aerial picture of the Samsung Galaxy Wearables app with the Galaxy Buds Plus connected.
There are plenty of EQ options available from the Wearable app.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus was 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 remembers 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.

How long is the Galaxy Buds Plus battery life?

True wireless earbuds aren’t known for having impressive battery life, but the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus lasts 11 hours, 44 minutes. Interestingly, depletion is uneven: the right earbud cycled out 24 minutes before the left.

You may like: The best true wireless earbuds

Once the batteries deplete, it takes just three minutes of throwing the buds into the case to enjoy one hour of listening. The 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 well does the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus block out noise?

Isolation chart for the Samsung Galaxy Buds depicting midrange frequencies slightly attenuated.
Isolation performance is identical between the Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Buds Plus.

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.

Hold up! Something’s different:

This article’s frequency response and isolation charts were measured with our old testing system. We have since purchased a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test fixture (and the appropriate support equipment) to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this review (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements, isolation performance plots, and standardized microphone demos. These will be made obvious with our new chart aesthetic (black background instead of white). Each new mic sample begins with the phrase, “This is a SoundGuys standardized microphone demonstration …”

Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.

How does the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus sound?

A chart depicting the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus frequency response with slightly elevated bass and low-midrange notes.
AKG tuned the Galaxy Buds Plus drivers, resulting in clear audio with just a touch of boosted bass.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus gently amplifies bass frequencies, which 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.

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’ frequency response 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.

The isolation performance and sound profile tuned by AKG make for good sound quality overall.

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.

Can you use the Galaxy Buds Plus for phone calls?

Samsung equipped the Galaxy Buds Plus with a three-microphone array: two outer and one inner microphone which works 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:

How does the microphone sound to you?

14701 votes

As of January 5, 2022, nearly 77% of respondents voted the above microphone sample sounds somewhere between “okay” and “good.” This is better than most true wireless earbuds, especially for the price.

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus?

If you must have the latest and greatest, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus is a fine purchase to make. Sure this doesn’t disrupt the field of true wireless earbuds, but it retains 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.

A product render of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus in black and against a white background.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus
All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Buds 2: What’s the difference?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 noise cancelling true wireless earbuds with one 'bud out of the open, angled charging case.
Unlike the Galaxy Buds Plus, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 has active noise cancelling but lacks stabilizing wing tips.

Looking at specs alone, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 is better than the Galaxy Buds Plus, except as it applies to battery life. With the Galaxy Buds 2, you get very good active noise cancelling that’s a bit more effective than the flagship Buds Pro, and a more refined charging case.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Buds 2

Some listeners may not like how the Galaxy Buds 2 fits, or doesn’t, rather, but the earbuds should stay in during most activities. You get an IPX2 rating with either pair of earbuds, and both charging cases support USB-C, wireless, and fast charging.

A chart depicts the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 isolation and noise cancelling performance, with low-frequency sounds rendered one-quarter as loud with ANC on than without the earbuds in at all.
The noise cancelling renders low-frequency noises up to one-quarter as loud as they’d sound without the earphones in.

If you’re on a tight budget and don’t need noise cancelling, then the Galaxy Buds Plus is still one of the best pairs of earbuds you can buy for less than $200; heck, sometimes you can even snag the Buds Plus for less than $100 USD. Still, if you want good ANC for under $150 USD, the Galaxy Buds 2 or Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) is your best bet.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is durable and has the best software features

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is the company’s second active noise cancelling (ANC) true wireless earphones, and Samsung learned plenty from its experimental bean-shaped buds. The Galaxy Buds Pro drops the open-fit style of before in favor of silicone ear tips that actually block out background noise. This physical barrier between your ear canals and the outside world is key to effective, consistent noise cancelling performance.

Man holding up the open charging case for the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro charging case supports wireless charging and Wireless PowerShare.

Aside from ANC, Samsung improved the microphone quality of its Pro variant, and features a handful of new colorways. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is a great option for listeners who need an all-in-one headset that doesn’t break the bank. If you want to try an open-type fit, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds may be more your speed.

If you’re patient, you may want to wait around for the rumored Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. Not much is known about these earphones, so stick around and we’ll keep you updated on the latest specs.

What should you get instead of Samsung Galaxy Buds?

For listeners who want to stay within that $100 USD price point, or below it, the Jabra Elite 3 is a solid contender. It has an IP55 dust- and water-resistant build, comes with three sizes of silicone ear tips, works with Google and Siri, and uses Bluetooth 5.2. You can find the Elite 3 kicking around for $80 USD, or for as little as $60 USD.

A hand holds the open case of the Google Pixel Buds A-Series in front of a beach.
Fantastic plastic, the Google Pixel Buds A-Series closes like a shell.

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series is another solid alternative to the Galaxy Buds Plus. With the A-Series, you get a lightweight, comfortable fit, IPX4 build, and easy Android integration. Upon our initial review, the earbuds had some big volume problems, but you can fix this with a firmware update or via your phone’s developer options.

If you have an iPhone, the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) or AirPods Pro have likely been on your mind. Well, the AirPods (3rd generation), is 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 is an excellent choice.

Another great option is the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen), which includes very good ANC, an IPX4 build, and plenty of great software features like an ear tip fit test. With the Alexa app, you’ll always have the best ear tips selected, ensuring a stable, comfortable fit and optimal sound quality. The case is compact and easy enough to throw into a jeans pocket.

Next: The best noise cancelling true wireless earphones

Frequently asked questions about the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

The answer depends partly on which device you have. iPhone users, get the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2, because a lot of the Galaxy Buds Plus features are exclusive to Android. More to the point, if you’re using a Samsung device you’ll get even more functionality out of the Galaxy Buds Plus than other Android users, such as the proprietary Bluetooth codec.

The microphone on the Anker earphones is class-defining, so if that’s your main priority, then the choice is clear. The Liberty Air 2 also features aptX and AAC codecs which work well with Android and Apple respectively. An IPX5 rating also means the Liberty Air 2 can handle more water than the Samsung earbuds.

In terms of upgraded features, the Galaxy Buds Plus has Spotify integration which comes in more handy than you’d think. It’s also more comfortable than the Anker earphones. IPX2 will see you through most everyday situations, but it’s less hardy.

Neither device has Bluetooth multipoint, and both have slightly wonky frequency responses. The bass will be significantly louder than other instruments with the Anker, so you may want to adjust the EQ. At the moment there’s a $20 difference, and it’s really a matter of which features are more important to you and which device you’re running.

Yes! Samsung has BTS Edition Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus which are purple and have BTS symbols on them. They come in a fancy BTS-style box with printed photo cards of the band members wearing the purple Buds+ inside.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus don’t have true wing tips, but the buds house protrusions that will help stabilize them in your ears.

If the buds are light blue, they are the Galaxy Buds Plus. If they are yellow or silver, they are the original Galaxy Buds. If they are black or white, they could be either, and the only way to really tell the difference is to look at the serial number, which can be found in the Samsung Galaxy Wearables app or on a sticker found in the product’s box.

Unfortunately, as is the case with almost all true wireless earbuds, you should expect your earbuds to run optimally for about 2 years. After this time, the constant partial depletion and recharging will wear out the battery, and these lithium-ion batteries are not replaceable.

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.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus aren’t waterproof, but they are water-resistant. The Buds Plus have merited an IPX2 rating, meaning they can withstand most workouts as long as they’re not submerged.

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.

he Jabra Elite Active 75t and Jabra Elite 65t support multipoint.

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, Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, and Master & Dynamic MW08, both of which have fine microphone quality but are more expensive than the Buds Plus.