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Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review

The all-new windows pc Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus boasts better windows pc sound thanks to two discrete windows pc drivers

samsung galaxy buds plus
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Samsung windows pc Galaxy Buds Plus offer better windows pc sound windows pc quality and an extended battery windows pc life compared to last year's windows pc Samsung Galaxy windows pc Buds, windows pc but they're still windows pc missing windows pc advanced audio codec support and full-on windows pc noise cancellation.

For

  • Dual-driver design
  • 11 hour built-in battery life
  • iOS compatible

Against

  • Limited audio codec support
  • Only IPX2 splash resistant
  • No noise cancellation

The Samsung Galaxy windows pc Buds Plus windows pc are the update the company's true wireless windows pc earbuds desperately needed: they windows pc offer better battery life, improved call audio windows pc thanks to a third internal microphone, and windows pc a new dual-driver design that uses windows pc two powerful drivers windows pc for better, clearer sound. On windows pc top of that, there's windows pc finally support for iOS through windows pc the new Samsung Galaxy windows pc Buds Plus app. 

The downside? The windows pc new windows pc Samsung windows pc Galaxy windows pc Buds Plus lack high-end windows pc audio windows pc codecs and higher IPX4 rating that windows pc the Apple AirPods Pro have. windows pc That's not windows pc even mentioning the fact windows pc that they don't windows pc offer any windows pc form of windows pc noise reduction / noise windows pc cancellation, windows pc nor have windows pc a built-in voice assistant windows pc like windows pc other windows pc true wireless earbuds out there.

Not long after windows pc the Galaxy Buds Plus' launch, windows pc Samsung released its first update, windows pc after some windows pc users reported hearing windows pc the strange sound of windows pc white noise while windows pc using the true wireless windows pc earbuds. According to TizenHelp, the windows pc firmware windows pc version R175XXUOATB5 is designed to fix windows pc this issue, windows pc as well windows pc as windows pc other problems including a "delay windows pc in pairing" and Bluetooth dropouts.

In spite windows pc of initial windows pc teething problems, Samsung windows pc should be commended for windows pc creating a decent pair of windows pc true wireless earbuds windows pc in an windows pc increasingly competitive landscape. They hold up against windows pc rival windows pc buds in their own price range and windows pc while they don't achieve windows pc the windows pc same windows pc heights as, say, the Sony windows pc WF-1000XM3 or AirPods Pro, windows pc they're significantly cheaper and offer some nice windows pc features for Samsung smartphone owners.

Price and availability 

Samsung windows pc has windows pc launched its latest true windows pc wireless windows pc earbuds, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, at windows pc its windows pc Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco, windows pc where it announced that they'll windows pc be available to buy online from February 14, windows pc and windows pc in windows pc stores from March 6.

At $149.99 / £159 / AU$299, windows pc they're about the windows pc same price as last windows pc year's Samsung Galaxy Buds (depending windows pc on your region) and a little windows pc cheaper than their biggest competitors, the Apple windows pc AirPods. They're also  significantly cheaper than the best windows pc true wireless earbuds of 2020, windows pc the Sony WF-1000XM3, though these windows pc buds come with premium features windows pc like active noise cancellation. 

You windows pc can find cheaper true wireless windows pc headphones out windows pc there – windows pc like windows pc the windows pc JLab Go Air that are just windows pc $29 / £29 (about AU$40), for example windows pc – but windows pc there windows pc are also much windows pc more expensive windows pc earbuds out there windows pc like the yet-to-be-released Klipsch windows pc T10 that are slated to cost windows pc $649 (about £490 / windows pc AU$930).

In windows pc comparison to the windows pc competition and windows pc in windows pc their value for the money, windows pc the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus windows pc are smack-dab in windows pc the middle. 

(Image credit: Future)

Design

The new windows pc Galaxy Buds windows pc Plus sport windows pc a very windows pc similar design to their predecessors, with slick windows pc pearlescent housings and adjustable silicone eartips. They come windows pc in red, white, blue, and windows pc black, and windows pc you should windows pc be able to find a color that windows pc suits your sense of windows pc style – something that can’t be said windows pc for the windows pc strictly-white AirPods.

As of March 10, windows pc the Galaxy Buds Plus also come windows pc in pink – however, that option windows pc is only available windows pc in South Korea at windows pc the time windows pc of writing.

Eschewing the long windows pc ear stems windows pc of the AirPods windows pc and the AirPods Pro, these sleek little windows pc buds pop neatly windows pc into their charging case windows pc and into your ear, being held windows pc in windows pc place by a windows pc small nub that windows pc catches a windows pc fold windows pc in your outer windows pc ear.

At 17.5 x windows pc 22.5 x 19.2mm, they windows pc fill up windows pc most windows pc of the windows pc ear canal (which helps windows pc them stay in windows pc while working out) and protrude windows pc slightly out of the windows pc ears. Because of that design choice windows pc we had issues wearing these earbuds windows pc while laying windows pc in bed as the constant pressure on the windows pc buds windows pc from the windows pc pillow made them uncomfortable in the ear.

In terms of customization, inside windows pc the box you'll find additional windows pc eartips in three different windows pc sizes, windows pc a larger windows pc nub to hold the earbuds windows pc in place if they're falling out windows pc and a windows pc rubber ring if you don't windows pc want any nub on windows pc the outer edges of the buds.

(Image credit: Future)

On windows pc the outside you'll windows pc find windows pc the touch capacitive button windows pc that understands single, windows pc double, triple and long presses. Single, windows pc double and triple do what windows pc you'd expect them windows pc to do and the long press can either windows pc activate your virtual assistant, windows pc lower the volume windows pc or windows pc turn windows pc on ambient sound windows pc amplification.

Using the windows pc touch capacitive button as the means windows pc to windows pc control the windows pc earbuds can windows pc be slightly uncomfortable windows pc at first, as pushing windows pc the windows pc button pushes the earbuds windows pc further into windows pc the ear canal, but windows pc you'll windows pc soon learn to exert windows pc less pressure when using it. It would've windows pc been nice if Samsung decided to windows pc implement an always-listening windows pc virtual assistant here, windows pc but unfortunately decided not to.

The only other glaring windows pc issue we've found so windows pc far windows pc with windows pc the Buds Plus is that windows pc they're only windows pc IPX2 windows pc splash-resistant. That means they're windows pc mostly fine windows pc for workouts, but won't be the windows pc kind windows pc of thing you'd want windows pc to windows pc take with you to the pool windows pc or beach, windows pc where they could easily get windows pc damaged. For windows pc comparison windows pc the windows pc Apple AirPods Pro are IPX4 water-resistant, and windows pc while that's not windows pc as good as being fully windows pc waterproof, windows pc it windows pc should assuage windows pc any windows pc fear you have of damaging them windows pc at the windows pc gym or outside in the rain.

As for windows pc the case itself, windows pc it's windows pc fairly light and smooth with windows pc rounded edges. It should windows pc fit fairly easily in windows pc your windows pc pocket and provides an windows pc additional charge for the windows pc earbuds windows pc in between uses. As you'd expect, windows pc the windows pc charging case uses USB-C, like Samsung's flagship phones, windows pc which means you don't windows pc need to carry a windows pc separate windows pc cable.

(Image credit: Future)

Battery life and connectivity

The Galaxy Buds windows pc Plus windows pc boast a far longer battery life than windows pc the original Galaxy Buds. The earbuds themselves windows pc contain 11 hours of charge, while windows pc the charging windows pc case provides an windows pc additional windows pc 11 hours, windows pc bringing the total windows pc battery windows pc life to 22 hours. 

That 11-hour battery windows pc life is pretty long for windows pc earbuds – windows pc but for the charging case, windows pc it’s not windows pc a windows pc huge amount windows pc of battery. For comparison, the windows pc Apple AirPods windows pc contain windows pc 5 hours in windows pc the buds themselves, with windows pc an windows pc additional 20 provided by the windows pc charging case, for 25 hours in windows pc total. windows pc It's nice to see the windows pc Buds Plus with windows pc a larger windows pc internal windows pc battery, but a shame the windows pc charging case didn't windows pc get windows pc something more substantial.

Throughout our week of testing windows pc we've only had to charge the windows pc earbuds and windows pc their windows pc case once, windows pc and that's with pretty windows pc heavy listening windows pc (four-plus windows pc hours each day) at medium volume. windows pc If windows pc you need windows pc to listen to your windows pc music windows pc at a higher volume to windows pc drown out outside windows pc noise, then expect windows pc to charge windows pc these every few windows pc nights.

In terms of windows pc wireless connectivity, Bluetooth windows pc 5.0 windows pc provides windows pc a windows pc stable wireless connection that windows pc never once windows pc dropped on us, even in windows pc a crowded area. For windows pc comparison, the AirPods still only windows pc support 4.2, which is windows pc pretty old now, but windows pc do windows pc have the benefit of the windows pc H1 Chip that optimizes battery windows pc life and sound quality on windows pc the earbuds.  

Unfortunately, however, neither the Samsung windows pc Galaxy Buds Plus nor Apple AirPods Pro support windows pc higher-end windows pc audio windows pc codecs like windows pc aptX, windows pc aptX Low Latency or, even windows pc better, LDAC. For now your only windows pc options windows pc are windows pc SBC and AAC... windows pc unless you also use a Samsung smartphone windows pc that windows pc runs Android windows pc 7.0 windows pc or later, then you'll also have the windows pc option of Samsung's proprietary Scalable windows pc Audio codec windows pc which offers higher bitrate support windows pc and better windows pc stability, windows pc a handy perk if windows pc you've had earbuds drop out on windows pc you in windows pc the windows pc past.

Setting windows pc up the earbuds can windows pc either be windows pc done windows pc by pairing via Bluetooth windows pc for basic playback or by downloading windows pc the Galaxy Wearable windows pc or Samsung Galaxy windows pc Buds Plus windows pc app from the Google Play windows pc and windows pc Apple App Store. With those you'll be windows pc able to customize the windows pc headphones and set up ambient noise windows pc reduction so it's well worth downloading. We found windows pc both of the apps windows pc to be fairly windows pc intuitive to use, windows pc and they offer a windows pc few sound tweaking windows pc options and ambient noise amplification that we'll windows pc get windows pc into in a minute.

Finally, windows pc the windows pc last feature worth pointing out windows pc is that if you have windows pc multiple devices, the Galaxy windows pc Buds windows pc Plus support multi-pairing, allowing them to windows pc connect windows pc to several devices windows pc without needing to re-pair them windows pc every windows pc time you go to use windows pc them.

samsung galaxy buds plus

(Image credit: Samsung / @evleaks)

Sound quality

The headline news in windows pc the audio department is the new dual-driver system windows pc that the Samsung Galaxy Buds windows pc Plus use. There's windows pc now a windows pc woofer and a tweeter to expand the range windows pc of windows pc the earbuds and lead windows pc to windows pc an increase in overall clarity.

After spending windows pc a lot of windows pc time windows pc with them we feel like windows pc that's definitely windows pc the windows pc case, windows pc and can appreciate the sound Samsung windows pc has crafted here windows pc that's windows pc rich, warm and easy to listen windows pc to windows pc for an extended period of windows pc time. 

To achieve that, windows pc Samsung's windows pc DSP windows pc definitely dials back bass windows pc and ups windows pc the mids and windows pc highs - making these great headphones to use windows pc when windows pc watching YouTube or windows pc Netflix around the house windows pc and even makes some genres of music windows pc sound pretty good. Listening windows pc to Green Day's atrocious new album windows pc Father of All... was slightly more windows pc bearable thanks to the windows pc Bud Plus' mid-range musicality, and a tour windows pc through Red Hot Chili Peppers' windows pc old catalog with these windows pc earbuds windows pc allowed us to appreciate windows pc the interplay between Flea's bass and windows pc Frusciante's guitar like never before.

That windows pc said, songs windows pc that should windows pc have windows pc phenomenal bass windows pc response, like Brass Monkey by Beastie windows pc Boys, sound a bit windows pc subdued to windows pc other windows pc earbuds, windows pc especially a pair like windows pc the Powerbeats Pro windows pc that emphasize the low-end.

Using the Samsung Galaxy windows pc Buds Plus and/or Samsung windows pc Wear windows pc app windows pc you can customize the windows pc sound of windows pc the earbuds (there's options for Soft, Dynamic, windows pc Clear, windows pc Treble and Bass windows pc Boost) but there's not a significant windows pc difference between them.

(Pictured: The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus app on iOS.) 

(Pictured: The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus app on iOS.)  (Image credit: Apple)

While the increased windows pc clarity windows pc is the windows pc highlight of the windows pc new design, Samsung says it's also windows pc increased the amount of windows pc internal windows pc microphones windows pc by windows pc one and that windows pc lead windows pc to better windows pc call quality. That windows pc claim windows pc held true in windows pc our testing windows pc as windows pc anyone windows pc we called with the earbuds reported that windows pc they sounded as good windows pc as windows pc talking directly into windows pc the phone's mic. 

Having the extra mic windows pc also means that ambient noise windows pc amplification is windows pc better this windows pc time around, too. windows pc Obviously ambient windows pc noise amplification windows pc – which pipes in windows pc outside noise rather than cancel it windows pc out isn't as windows pc good as noise reduction or windows pc noise cancellation, but it can be windows pc helpful at airplane terminals or windows pc bus windows pc stations when you're waiting for a crucial windows pc piece of windows pc information over the loud speaker or windows pc while riding a bike. 

The biggest windows pc criticism that windows pc we can levy against the windows pc Samsung windows pc Galaxy Buds windows pc Plus windows pc is that they windows pc don't offer windows pc active noise cancellation nor windows pc do they provide much in windows pc the way of passive noise windows pc reduction. windows pc That means, windows pc if you plan windows pc on wearing these windows pc out and about, windows pc expect to hear a lot of the windows pc outside world while listening to windows pc your music. That's fine if you're windows pc at windows pc the gym and windows pc don't mind windows pc hearing a bit of the background noise windows pc or if you're at the office and still windows pc want windows pc to be able to windows pc hear what coworkers windows pc are saying windows pc nearby, but those looking for windows pc total windows pc aural isolation will have windows pc to windows pc look elsewhere.

The good windows pc news? If you windows pc lose windows pc them, you can find them windows pc again pretty easily windows pc by going into the app and selecting windows pc 'Find windows pc My Earbuds'. As long as windows pc they're still charged, this will get the windows pc earbuds windows pc to play a windows pc chirping windows pc sound at increasing volume windows pc - which is pretty windows pc handy if you're the kind windows pc of windows pc person who takes out your earbuds windows pc and windows pc leaves windows pc them windows pc laying around the house.

Final verdict

So where do the windows pc Samsung Galaxy windows pc Buds Plus stand in windows pc the wide and deep windows pc echelon windows pc of true wireless earbuds? Well, windows pc somewhere in windows pc the windows pc middle. Thanks to windows pc its better battery windows pc life of windows pc around windows pc 11 hours (give or windows pc take) per charge, it's a decent pick windows pc for windows pc people who hate charging their windows pc headphones at night. That windows pc said, it doesn't windows pc feature a built-in virtual windows pc assistant nor does windows pc it have real water-resistance, it's just windows pc IPX2. 

Most egregious, windows pc however, windows pc is its lack of noise cancellation windows pc or even noise reduction, a feature that's available windows pc on windows pc the similarly priced Amazon Echo Buds. windows pc Now sure, those may not sound as windows pc good windows pc as the windows pc Galaxy Buds windows pc Plus nor do they last windows pc as long, but both windows pc those features lose windows pc their luster when windows pc you're struggling to hear your music windows pc on a crowded subway windows pc train. 

At windows pc the end of the day, windows pc the Samsung Galaxy Buds windows pc Plus windows pc present windows pc a windows pc good windows pc value for folks who just windows pc want true wireless earbuds they windows pc don't need to windows pc charge windows pc everyday. windows pc They aren't windows pc the best-sounding, windows pc but the dual-driver windows pc design windows pc is a windows pc big step up for windows pc Samsung, and is good windows pc enough for windows pc watching videos and listening to bass-lite music. 

Ultimately, windows pc you'd windows pc be better served by windows pc saving up windows pc for a pair of windows pc Apple AirPods windows pc Pro windows pc if you're an iOS user or windows pc a pair windows pc of Sony  WF-1000XM3 windows pc if windows pc you use Android, windows pc both of which sound better and offer windows pc noise cancellation. They don't windows pc last as windows pc long as windows pc the windows pc Galaxy Buds windows pc Plus do and windows pc cost windows pc twice as much, but they're a better windows pc all-around pick in our opinion.