The new Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) makes big improvements to the original Echo Buds at an affordable price. Do Alexa integration and active noise cancelling (ANC) make the Echo Buds good enough to compete with more premium true wireless earbuds? Earlier this year, Samsung released the Galaxy Buds Pro, another pair of true wireless earbuds with ANC. Let’s compare these stemless earbuds to help you narrow down your shopping decision.
Editor’s note: this article was updated July 24, 2021 to include information about the Amazon Echo Buds Ear Tip Fit Test and Samsung Scalable Codec.
What’s the difference between the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro?
Though they lack an interesting design, the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)’s unobtrusive build won’t distract from your earrings or get in the way of your glasses. Not only do they include a selection of ear tips, but they also come with three sets of replaceable wing tips. These secure to part of your outer ear to ensure stability even as you exercise with them.
Start here: What makes a good set of in-ears?
The Echo Buds touchpads make it easy to adjust media playback, take calls, and toggle between ANC and transparency modes. You can remap the controls or enable direct voice access once you download the Alexa app, which we’ll get into in a bit. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro also features touch controls, and while they are hypersensitive, you can disable them in the Android Samsung Galaxy Wearable app.
Anyone who wants to avoid fashion statement earbuds will appreciate the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and Echo Buds (Gen 2). The Samsung earbuds have tiny protrusions that stabilize them in your ears, though they are smaller than those on the Echo Buds and are not removable. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro comes with plenty of ear tip options and has an IPX7 water-resistance rating. While we don’t recommend you take them swimming, you should be able to submerge them in shallow water for up to 30 minutes.
What Bluetooth codecs do each headset support?
The Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) supports the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, and using SBC the earbuds’ response time is a little slow, with about 360ms of delay. You’ll only notice this in instances when you press play on your device, as there will be a slight delay from the press to when audio streams through your earbuds.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro offers one additional codec on top of SBC and AAC: the Samsung Scalable Codec. This codec constantly adjusts the transfer rate for optimal audio quality and connection stability, but it only works for Samsung devices. Another trick up Samsung’s sleeve is automatic device switching, which operates akin to Apple’s device switching across linked hardware, but it only works on Samsung Galaxy devices hooked up to your Samsung account.
What voice assistants do the Echo Buds and Galaxy Buds Pro support?
First thing’s first: if the prospect of Alexa (or Bixby) listening to your conversations gives you the heebie-jeebies, don’t get either of these headsets. While neither company may blatantly spy on you, people have varying thresholds of comfort when it comes to privacy. There’s no reason to push those boundaries for yourself when plenty of non-smart true wireless earbuds exist.
For everyone else, download the Alexa app before you connect the Amazon Echo Buds (Gen 2) to your smartphone. While you don’t need the Alexa app to use the basic functions like media playback, it lets you access a bevy of software features that make the Echo Buds really shine. You’ll have access to all the best Alexa skills, as well as tools like equalizer control, find my device, ANC adjustments, Alexa wake word settings, and touch control customization. The ear tip fit test is the holy grail of features and makes it easy to ensure that earbuds are isolating sound as well as they can. The app also brings access to workout data, live battery data for each earbud and the case, and the ability to enable power-saving mode.
iPhone owners can't access software features for the Galaxy Buds Pro, while anyone can download and use the Alexa app.
With the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app, you can adjust the Galaxy Buds Pro’s ANC and ambient sound mode, change the touch controls, select from preset EQ settings, and enable automatic voice detection. These buds also have 360 Audio that works with Dobly Atmos content for an immersive viewing experience (limited to Samsung Galaxy devices). The Echo Buds and Galaxy Buds Pro both support mono playback.
Do the Galaxy Buds Pro or Echo Buds have better battery life?
The Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) lasts 4 hours, 42 minutes with ANC enabled, which is pretty average, and nearly identical to the Galaxy Buds Pro’s 4-hour, 48-minute playtime with ANC on. The Echo Buds charging case displays red, yellow, and green LED lights that represent different levels of battery life so you won’t be worried about them unexpectedly running out of fuel. The case also quickly charges the earbuds: 15 minutes yields 120 minutes of playtime, which is slightly less efficient than the Galaxy Buds Pro case, which provides 85 minutes of playback after 10 minutes of charging.
Learn more: How long do AirPods last?
By default, the Galaxy Buds Pro case supports wireless charging, but this costs a little extra for the Echo Buds (2nd Gen) and wireless charging case bundle. Still, Amazon’s more premium bundle remains cheaper than the Galaxy Buds Pro.
Which pair of earbuds have better active noise cancelling?
Though it’s nothing too exceptional, the active noise cancelling on the Amazon Echo Buds (Gen 2) works pretty well to cancel out the sounds of a daily commute. Sounds like plane engines and road noise will be dulled to anywhere between one-half and one-eighth as loud as they’d sound without any ANC. Using the Ear Tip Fit Test unique to the Echo Buds in the accompanying app ensures a proper fit. It helps that the different ear tip and rubber ear stay options improve passive isolation—thanks to this, the ANC doesn’t need to work quite as hard.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro noise cancelling is also pretty good, and aided by the passive isolation performance. The Samsung Galaxy Wearable app also lets you select between two ANC settings, one of which does more to attenuate bass frequencies, while the other prioritizes midrange frequencies. Neither setting does a particularly great job at cancelling out unexpected sounds like speech, but this is pretty typical for any noise cancelling headsets and especially in-ear ANC.
Do the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) or Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro sound better?
The Amazon Echo Buds (Gen 2) has a nice, consumer-friendly frequency response that emphasizes treble notes and emphasizes bass notes. The bass isn’t boosted nearly as much as it is on some consumer earbuds like the Beats Powerbeats Pro, but the Echo Buds still struggle a bit with vocal clarity. The loudness disparity between bass and midrange frequencies can cause auditory masking, making it hard to hear quieter sounds and instrumental detail.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro’s frequency response is more consistent across the frequency range, though there remains a boost in bass and treble notes. This can cause a bit of auditory masking to vocals as well, but it’s nothing too noticeable. Plus, if you don’t like the frequency response, you can always go into the Galaxy Wearable app and play with the EQ presets.
Is the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro or Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) better for phone calls?
Neither of these earbuds will be winning a microphone award anytime soon, but both of them get the job done. The Echo Buds’ microphone is a little hollow-sounding, but should be just fine for any casual phone calls and even the occasional business call.
The mic on the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is pretty good too and doesn’t sound as compressed as the Echo Buds. It does a pretty good job at rejecting ambient noise, so it can work for phone calls outdoors or in public.
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) microphone demo:
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro microphone demo:
Which is better, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro or the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)?
We still have to address a key difference: price. They aren’t the flashiest or best earbuds you can buy, but the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) undercuts the competition quite aggressively. While Amazon and its earphones have their flaws, there’s no denying that these true wireless earbuds are an exceptional value at just $119.99 USD (non-wireless charging variant). The wireless charging bundle costs an extra $20, which is still significantly cheaper than the Galaxy Buds Pro which runs for $179.99 USD.
What’s more, the biggest selling point for the Echo Buds (2nd Gen) is its Alexa compatibility. Anyone fond of seamless smart assistant compatibility will love the Echo Buds. If you’re not keen on giving your information to headphone apps, you’re probably better off with the Galaxy Buds Pro (even if just slightly). Of course, that’s not the only reason to pony up for Samsung’s earphones: they sound better, have a better IP rating, and offer the Samsung Scalable Codec (if you have a Samsung device).
All in all, both of these earbuds satisfy similar consumer desires, and the major differences just come down to price and whether you prefer Alexa or Bixby integration.