Samsung unveiled a bunch of new flagship products at the Galaxy Unpacked event about a month ago. We got to see a couple of new Samsung foldables, smartwatches, and also a $230 pair of wireless earbuds called the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, which I’ll be going through at length in this full review. And while watching the livestream of all the new devices, the one thought that constantly hit my mind was “incremental upgrades”.
Now, some of you might already be turned off by iterative upgrades in the tech industry these days, but hear me out. In case of the Buds 2 Pro, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing because the Galaxy Buds 2 and the Buds Pro before it were already pretty impressive. Instead, I believe Samsung has tried to achieve two big things with the Buds 2 Pro:
- number 1: offer its best pair of wireless earphones (of course)
- and number 2: further lock you into the ecosystem by making a bunch of cool features available only on Samsung devices
That means if you connect these earbuds with a phone other than Samsung’s, you lose so many of what makes the Buds 2 Pro special in the first place. Great news for Samsung owners, but not so much for everyone else. And after testing these out on a bunch of smartphones and laptops from different companies, here’s my full review of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Review: Specifications
- Earbud: 21.6 x 19.9 x 18.7 mm, 5.5 grams (each)
- Charging case: 50.2 x 50.1 x 27.7 mm, 43.4 grams
- Water Resistance: IPX7 (Up to 1 meter for 30 minutes)
- Color Options: Black, White, Bora Purple
- Sound Driver: 2-way (10mm woofer, 5.3mm tweeter)
- Microphone: 3 High-SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio) mics on each earbud
- Audio Codecs: AAC, SBC, SSC (Samsung Seamless Codec)
- Noise Cancellation: Yes, Intelligent ANC
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3, LE Audio (will be available later)
- Companion App:
- Control: Touch-sensitive area in each earbud
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyro, Hall, Proximity, Touch, VPU (Voice Pickup Unit)
- Battery: 61mAh (per earbud), 515mAh (case)
- Battery Life: 5/8 hours continuous playback (ANC on/off)
- Other Features: 24-bit Hi-Fi Audio, Voice Mode, Dolby Atmos, 360 Audio, SmartThings Find, Neck Stretch Reminder, Auto Switch
- Price in Nepal: Rs. 27,999
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Review:
Before talking about the earbuds themselves, I want to discuss its name for a bit. You might be wondering, “Hey, what’s in a name?” But trust me, there are a few things to unpack here. According to Samsung, the Buds 2 Pro is the successor to the now discontinued Galaxy Buds Pro.
If you look at their spec sheet though, the difference between these two isn’t that substantial. At least not to me. Only when comparing it to the regular, non-Pro Galaxy Buds 2, this guy really begins to shine. So yeah, I guess the Buds 2 Pro is the sequel to both of ‘em in a way.
Design & Comfort
- 21.6 x 19.9 x 18.7 mm
- 5.5 grams (each earbud)
- IPX7 water-resistant
Okay, one of the biggest upgrades with these earbuds has to be the design and comfort department. If you ask me, these two are the most important factors on any audio product besides audio quality itself. And from the all-matte finish to the smaller size and more lightweight build quality, the Buds 2 Pro is a big win as far as fit and feel are concerned.
The Buds Pro wasn’t 100% comfortable in my ears, but I’m glad to say that the Buds 2 Pro feels fantastic to put on. If you want to talk numbers, it has a 15% smaller geometry while weighing about 15% less.
Thanks to that combo, I can almost wear it all day long. Almost.
The thing is, ear shapes are unique to every person—like fingerprints. And I’m told my left ear has an especially weird contour. So while most people, including most of my colleagues, have found the Buds 2 Pro perfectly cozy, the standard Galaxy Buds 2 is still the most comfortable pair of Samsung earbuds for my ears.
Comfortable fit is the name of the game
You also get a couple of extra pairs of ear tips inside the box, and I found the large ones worked best for me. Both in terms of comfort and seal. Oh, and you can confirm if you’ve got a perfect seal by going through the “earbud fit test” feature inside the Galaxy Wearable app, by the way.
And with the right fit, the Buds 2 Pro stay pretty firm inside the ears—although I’ve had to readjust them a couple of times when walking down the stairs or something. I was also hoping Samsung would go with foam ear tips this time, just like what Sony did with the WF-1000XM4. But since these silicone ear tips feel great, I’m not complaining.
As for durability, the Buds 2 Pro is IPX7 water-sealed, so you don’t have to worry about getting it wet in the rain in this monsoon season. Or damaging it from sweat during your gym workout routines. Still, I would’ve loved to see some form of dust protection on Samsung’s most expensive set of earbuds yet.
Not to mention, the charging case has no IP rating whatsoever—but that’s really not a big deal. Its sleek design and soft matte coating are all that matter to me!
There’s wireless charging support, and the magnets securing the earbuds inside the case are also quite strong. The color-matched case is a nice touch as well, and this Bora Purple variant that I have with me looks particularly beautiful! But hey, if you’d rather prefer a little more subtlety, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is available in Black and White colorways too.
- A touch interface on each earbud
- Customizable via the companion app
I also like how extensive the control options are here. From skipping tracks, answering calls, switching between noise cancellation modes, to even changing volume levels, you can do it all. And for the most part, they work perfectly fine. There’s audible feedback to let you know what gesture was registered, which seems like a small thing at first, but it ends up making a big difference in the user experience.
But I’m not a big fan of how sensitive its touch panel is. Seriously—sometimes even when I’m just adjusting my hair, the Buds 2 Pro suddenly decides to interrupt my music. Or when I’m lying down on one side of the bed and it accidentally shifts through the ANC modes.
This is something I’ve complained about in almost every pair of Samsung earbuds I’ve tested so far, and it’s sad to see that Samsung still hasn’t found a way to fix it.
Also, Samsung’s implementation of wear detection continues to amaze me with its stupidity. So… for my music to automatically pause, I gotta take not just one but both earbuds out? And I still gotta manually press play to resume playback after I put them back in? What?!
Anyway, one interesting thing I’ve found about its controls is just how well one of the experimental features works. Yeah, I’m talking about how Samsung lets you double-tap the edge of the earbuds to make volume adjustments.
It seems that you don’t actually need to awkwardly hit the edge of the earbud like Samsung shows in its illustrations. You can instead double tap anywhere near the outer ear and it just… works. Just below the ear canal was the sweet spot in my experience.
- Bluetooth 5.3
- Auto Switch between Samsung devices
- SmartThings Find support
Connectivity-wise, the Buds 2 Pro supports the latest Bluetooth 5.3 standard. So… steady connection, high data transfer rate, less interference, and all those stuff are baked right into these earbuds. And throughout my usage, I had zero connectivity troubles here—even when walking past some congested streets of Kathmandu.
As expected, pairing them with a Samsung phone is a lot easier than it is on a non-Samsung phone. And iPhone users are better off with the AirPods because the Buds 2 Pro isn’t exactly iOS-compatible. You can manually pair and stream music off of them just fine, sure. But the Galaxy Wearable app, which is where you customize, apply firmware updates to these earbuds, and such isn’t available on the App Store.
Easier to find
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is also part of Samsung’s “SmartThings Find” network now. That means you can now get an approximate location of your earbuds in case you misplace them—even without the case. It worked pretty well during my tests but it’s a bummer that this feature is exclusive to Samsung devices only.
Another Samsung-exclusive feature here is “Auto Switch”. It is similar to the “Multipoint connectivity” feature found on something like the new Pixel Buds Pro, where you can connect the earbuds on two devices at the same time. Once again, it worked fine between my Fold 3 and Watch 4 Classic, even though it’s simply no match against multipoint connection.
- Intelligent Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)
- Ambient Sound Mode, Voice Detect
Moving on, Samsung says the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro boasts a whopping 40% better noise cancellation over the original Buds Pro. I have no way of actually verifying that number but yeah, its ANC is indeed quite outstanding.
Because of the relatively bulky design and a not-so-comfortable fit, my experience with ANC on the Buds Pro wasn’t that great. The improved fit and a new 3-mic system on the Buds 2 Pro, however, does an incredible job at blocking out outside noise. Like most ANC-capable earbuds out there, it is also most effective at dampening low frequencies.
Wearing it in my office room, the Buds 2 Pro could completely mute the HVAC noises coming from the AC and the fan noise from nearby desktops. But it clearly lets in sharp, high-frequency noises like my colleagues typing on their mechanical keyboard or horns from the vehicles passing by just outside. I got similar results when wearing it outdoors or during my commute to work as well.
What’s “intelligent” about its ANC?
And when mixing it up with some music playback at like 30-40% volume, the outside world would be fully inaudible to my ears. Samsung also labels the noise-canceling properties of the Buds 2 Pro as “Intelligent ANC”, although I honestly didn’t notice any difference in its effectiveness in a fairly quiet room or a rowdy marketplace.
At least the Buds Pro allowed you to manually switch between two different noise-canceling modes, which is missing here. But one thing I especially like about the ANC quality on these earbuds is just how clean everything sounds. And how effortless it feels.
This might not apply to everyone but I didn’t feel any sort of pressure build-up when using ANC for long hours on the Buds 2 Pro. There’s no white noise when turning on noise cancellation either, and all noise that ultimately manages to sneak in sounds natural too. And I’m also really impressed with just how better “Ambient Sound” is this time.
Ambient Sound mode is a great here
This feature basically lets you hear what’s happening around you without having to take the earbuds off. The only problem was that the previous generations of Galaxy Buds had an eerie—almost unsettlingly metallic—tone in human voices.
But I’m absolutely loving the near-natural ambient mode that Samsung has been able to pull off with the Buds 2 Pro. The AirPods Pro’s “Transparency Mode” is still the gold standard for me because my own voice still sounds somewhat synthesized here. That reminds me, the Buds 2 Pro also supports “Voice Detect”, which automatically triggers ambient mode when you start talking.
I must say it’s pretty effective—but also sometimes a bit too effective. It is smart enough to not go off when I’m yawning, mumbling, or speaking in hush tones, sure. But on multiple occasions—both indoors and outdoors—it activated on its own, seemingly based on other people talking around me.
So until Samsung fixes this, I’m keeping Voice Detect disabled on my Buds 2 Pro. And I must say that I am also a little surprised to see no ambient sound volume control on these earbuds, which is something I found truly useful on both Buds Pro and Buds 2.
Audio & Call Quality
- Dual-speaker setup (10mm woofer, 5.3mm tweeter)
- AAC, SBC, SSC (Samsung Seamless Codec)
- 3 High-SNR mics (2 out, 1 in) + Voice Pickup Unit + Wind Shield
Okay, let me now talk about the audio quality of this thing. As I mentioned in the very beginning, Samsung had already delivered a few great-sounding earbuds before this, so it didn’t really have to do much in the audio department with the Buds 2 Pro. Matter of fact, both the tweeter and woofer driver units are smaller here to make up for the compact design.
But let me be clear that driver size alone doesn’t make much of a difference in terms of perceived audio quality. And these earbuds sound incredible!
Its audio is full, warm, and with a soundstage wide enough for you to enjoy every beat and every note in the song. Something clearly demonstrated in “Be Sweet” by Japanese Breakfast with the clear separation between vocals and instruments. There’s also plenty in store for the bassheads as the Buds 2 Pro can produce a well-defined, tight bass. Including sub-bass with a few tweaks.
Under the default “Normal” equalizer, the Buds 2 Pro doesn’t produce that rumbly bass you might expect. There’s the “Bass Boost” profile for that, but it feels a bit overpowering for my ears. Turns out, the “Dynamic” preset has the right balance of lively audio and clean bass.
The Harman Curve
Its frequency response graph closely mimics the coveted “Harman Curve” sound signature as well—although I would’ve also liked to tinker with the EQ a little. As such, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to MF DOOM’s “Figaro” as these earbuds manage to retain that commanding demeanor in his voice alongside the warmth of the beat perfectly.
Now all that was when listening to the Buds 2 Pro with a Samsung phone—the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy A33—which supports the new Samsung Seamless Codec (SSC). But pairing it with a non-Samsung phone, it defaults to the lossy AAC codec. I don’t consider myself an audiophile in any way but it definitely sounds better on a Galaxy device.
Not by a whole lot but I could notice some subtle nuances of the pianos, strings, and harps in Florence + the Machine’s “King” clearer on the Fold 3, compared to the Nothing Phone (1), POCO X3, or the MacBook Air.
And perhaps the biggest talking point of the Buds 2 Pro is its ability to stream 24-bit/48kHz Hi-Fi audio (at up to 2,304 kbps bitrate) on Samsung phones running on One UI 4.0 or higher. Without going into too much detail, bit depth essentially determines how much and how well audio information is digitally stored. So yes—technically—24-bit has a wider dynamic range compared to 16-bit audio and it should sound better. Closer to how the track was recorded in the studio.
But as I’ve found, actually being able to stream 24-bit audio and tell the difference is not that easy. Samsung confidently promotes that Buds 2 Pro can stream 256 times more sound data than 16-bit—which is mathematically correct.
Is 24-bit streaming really that great?
And to test it out, I had to download a bunch of 24-bit files because I only have a Spotify Premium subscription and it famously lacks hi-res streaming. But there are other streaming services like Tidal, Amazon Music, and Apple Music for the true audiophiles who want nothing but the best audio fidelity. And also Qobuz, which is definitely something I knew of before getting into this review of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.
And after listening to everything from the pop melodies in ABBA’s “Voyage”, folk rock anthems in Bob Dylan’s “Blood On The Tracks”, to the hip-hop bangers in Eminem’s “Curtain Call”, I simply couldn’t tell the difference between 24 and 16-bit files like… 99% of the time. Not to mention, not all songs are available for hi-res streaming either.
The only difference I could tell is how certain 24-bit tracks have broader soundstage and a little more transparency in the high frequencies, but that’s about it. So yeah, Buds 2 Pro’s 24-bit streaming isn’t going to be a big deal to most people, but if you’re someone who can absolutely tell the difference, this alone could be the reason to get Samsung’s latest pair of wireless earbuds.
360 Audio is yet another niche, Samsung-exclusive feature that’s worth discussing. I never found it any useful when listening to tunes, but this head-tracking surround-sound experience does make binging documentaries and movies more immersive. The Buds 2 Pro can also send you neck stretch reminders if you’ve been leaning your head down for too long. If you’re someone who can’t maintain a straight posture, you’ll definitely find this feature somewhat useful.
Its call quality is decent but not the best
Its microphones are pretty decent as well. And I never received any major complaints from callers, even when I was walking through some crowded streets. It does pick up ambient noise a bit more than I was expecting, but that’s fine.
You can also use these earbuds for gaming—as long you have a Samsung phone and turned on “Game Mode” inside the Galaxy Wearable app. Not much latency there. But on a non-Samsung phone, the in-game audio delay is still quite a lot.
- 61mAh (earbud), 515mAh (charging case)
- Up to 5/8 hours of music playback (with/without ANC)
- USB Type-C, Qi wireless charging
As for the battery life on the Buds 2 Pro, it’s just… so-so. Samsung says you can expect 5 hours of playback with ANC on, or 8 hours with ANC off—which is the exact same as what you got with the Buds Pro. And in my typical usage with noise-cancellation enabled at all times, the Buds 2 Pro lasted about four and a half hours on average. That’s an hour more than what I’d need to stream Adele’s all four studio albums.
Anyway, if you think about it, Samsung managing similar battery endurance while making the earbuds 15% smaller is actually kinda impressive! And if you run out of power, a quick 5-minute top-up gets you 1 hour of playback whereas the case adds up to 18 hours of battery life, so I can’t complain much.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Review: Conclusion
So that was the all-new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro—Samsung’s best and most expensive pair of wireless earbuds yet. It goes without saying that if you own a relatively new Galaxy phone, these are the earbuds you’d want. All the Samsung-exclusive features like 24-bit streaming, 360 Audio, and Auto Switch—complemented with excellent sound quality, ANC, and a comfortable fit makes it an easy recommendation for Samsung owners.
If you’ve already got the first-gen Galaxy Buds Pro though, I don’t think these are necessarily worth the upgrade. But hey, if you care about hi-res streaming and a more cozy fit, why not?!
On the other hand, even if your Android phone isn’t Samsung-made, these still sound pretty great. Definitely. But the premium wireless earbuds market consists of so many amazing alternatives right now that you might want to think twice before committing to the Buds 2 Pro. Like the Pixel Buds Pro, for example, which has great sound quality and ANC—on top of multipoint connection support.
Or Sony’s excellent WF-1000XM4 with industry-leading noise-cancellation and long-lasting battery life. And if you’re an iPhone user, then AirPods are probably the way to go—although you might want to wait a while because rumors suggest Apple could introduce lossless audio playback on its next-gen AirPods Pro.
Songs referenced in the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review:
- Japanese Breakfast – Be Sweet
- MF DOOM – Figaro
- Florence + the Machine – King
- ABBA – Voyage (album)
- Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks (album)
- Eminem – Curtain Call (album)
Watch our video review of Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Review: Pros & Cons
- Comfortable fit
- Extensive set of controls
- Great noise cancellation
- Terrific audio quality
- Decent microphone quality
- Many features exclusive to Samsung phones
- Not the best battery life
- No true multipoint connectivity