Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review: Excellent ANC, ecosystem limitations

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro in graphite black color in charging case from above 1

aa2020 recommended

Samsung Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are top-class noise-cancelling buds. Yet while Galaxy smartphone users get plenty of ecosystem-exclusive features to enjoy, other Android (and iOS) users are left with a more limited experience. Still, if you can live with being locked out of the walled garden, Samsung’s second-gen Pro buds can still delight all comers with their outstanding ANC and comfortable fit.

Samsung has been a notable player in the buds game for a while now. During that time, it has dropped two generations of vanilla true wireless earbuds, mixed it up with Plus and Pro models, and even tried out new form factors like the bean-tastic Galaxy Buds Live. Those Pro buds are the flagship offering though, and we’re now on round two with the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. What do they have to offer this time around and do they do enough to warrant an upgrade from the first-gen Buds Pro? Find out in our Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review.

This review comes from the audio experts at our sister site SoundGuys. Check out their in-depth take on the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.

Who are the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro for?

  • Samsung Galaxy device owners: Anyone invested in the Samsung ecosystem will get the most out of the Buds 2 Pro, including access to exclusive features like the Samsung Seamless Codec and automatic device switching.
  • People looking for great ANC: The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are some of the best noise-cancelling buds around.

What’s it like to use the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro?

A set of Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro in Bora Purple in their case being held up by a hand.

Ryan McLeod / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro feature a matte surface, in contrast to the shiny plastic of their predecessors. They feel premium, but we found that the new finish is a little more prone to scratches. And that applies to the case too, which also readily attracts dust if left open. Fortunately, strong magnets keeps the case’s lid closed and stow the buds in place, though they don’t do a great job of orienting them correctly. Sometimes you’ll have to shift them around manually to get everything to fit before closing the lid.

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro feature an IPX7 rating, so rain and sweat shouldn’t be a big concern. Each earbud also has a handy vent to relieve the “pressurized” sensation some people experience when enabling active noise-cancelling (ANC). Still, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro might not be the ideal choice for those who partake in intense workouts as they don’t have ear hooks or stabilizers to help keep them in place during rapid movements.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro aren’t the most secure earbuds out there, but they are comfortable.

While they may not be the most secure buds out there, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro proved to be pretty comfortable in our testing. The ear tips are made from silicone, and you can choose 11mm, 13mm, and 15mm tips. We found that the Fit Test in the companion Galaxy Wearable app is handy, and swapping the tips out isn’t too tricky either.

If you’re the kind of person that’s always on the go, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro can ease into your schedule by reading out your notifications. Voice detection is also available if you’ll constantly be having conversations throughout the day. This automatically switches the buds into Ambient mode so you can hear your surroundings and chat to another person while keeping the buds in your ears. This transparency feature will deactivate after ten seconds without speech, hence Samsung’s “Intelligent Conversation Mode” moniker. There’s also a neck stretch reminder feature which, as you might expect from the description, reminds you every ten minutes to stretch if you enable it. Thanks, Samsung!

How do you control Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro in white color sitting next to their charging case on a block of clear plastic.

Kris Carlon / Android Authority

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

Samsung’s buds have always had a bit of an issue with being a tad too sensitive with touch commands, with minor adjustments to the buds’ positioning in your ears often mistaken for tap input to pause or skip tracks. Thankfully, the Buds 2 Pro have squashed this particular bug. You can now adjust the fit of the buds throughout the day without too many unintended actions (it still happens occasionally). When you do tap the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro for a quick command you’ll hear a corresponding tone. This is a nice bit of user feedback so you know your buds actually did something.

By default, the controls are set to the following:

Action Music control Phone calls ANC/Ambient sound
Action

Touch once

Music control

Play/Pause

Phone calls ANC/Ambient sound
Action

Touch twice

Music control

Skip to track ahead

Phone calls

Answer call/End call

ANC/Ambient sound
Action

Touch three times

Music control

Skip to previous track

Phone calls ANC/Ambient sound
Action

Touch and hold

Music control

Right: increase volume
Left: decrease volume

Phone calls

Reject call

ANC/Ambient sound

*Only available if you remove volume control

You can set touch-and-hold to activate your voice assistant of choice, such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Bixby fans pairing their buds to a Galaxy phone have the option of going fully hands-free by activating Samsung’s assistant with a basic “Hi, Bixby” wake work. Spotify Tap is available to all phone users, though. Spotify subscribers can quickly start listening to their favorite tunes with just a single touch.

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s controls are fairly robust overall, but — and this is a big bummer — you don’t get much in the way of customization. You can only tweak one input: touch-and-hold. By default, holding on the left bud is set to “volume down,” and the right is “volume up.” You can change these inputs completely, but there’s no mixing and matching. That is, if you want the right earbud to be “volume up” and the left to be ANC controls, for example, you’re out of luck. For “Pro” buds, it seems odd we can’t fine-tune the input controls on a more granular level.

We also encountered a fairly serious bug with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s touch controls during our testing: they simply refused to register any taps after a while. Disconnecting and reconnecting the buds fixed this issue, but that’s hardly a permanent solution. Hopefully, a future firmware update will fix this issue.

Should you use the Galaxy Wearable app for the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro?

While you can use the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro via Bluetooth without the Galaxy Wearable app, you’ll need to download it and register your buds to gain access to the full suite of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s features. It should be noted that the app demands access to a fair amount of personal data through app permissions. You can opt-out of things like location tracking initially, but the app won’t run the next time until you enable it. There’s also no Galaxy Wearable app for iOS, so don’t expect firmware updates or feature access if you’re an iPhone user.

The Galaxy Wearable app presents you with EQ presets (no full EQ, boo), displays what listening mode you’re currently in, and lets you control those aforementioned touch commands. This is where Samsung Galaxy device users can access exclusive features such as spatial audio, which Samsung calls “360 Audio.”

Samsung doesn’t give you a full EQ, which is disappointing considering the price of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.

As for the rest of the app, the aforementioned notification readout ability, accessibility options, phone call options, SmartThings Find, and the ear tip fit test are all also here. The SmartThings Find feature is similar to offerings from Apple and Google, but it’s tied to Samsung’s ecosystem, so you’ll need to be rocking a Samsung phone with Android Oreo or later. It’s clear that existing Samsung users are the core target audience here due to the many ecosystem-exclusive features.

Overall, the app is fine and necessary for enabling some optional features. We really wish it had a full equalizer and didn’t ask for as much data, though.

How do the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro connect?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro in their case next to a Galaxy Z Flip 4 in a folded up position sitting on a wood table.

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Bluetooth connectivity is where the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro fully showcase their ecosystem-focused feature set. Namely, they support the Samsung Seamless Codec on Galaxy devices running One UI version 4.0 or higher in apps that support 24-bit audio. Everyone else gets AAC and SBC codecs. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro also support automatic switching support when paired with Samsung devices under the same Samsung account, though there is no support for Bluetooth multipoint. Because they use Bluetooth 5.3, these earbuds should support the LE Audio down the line, but we’ll have to wait and see. Samsung could have included aptX for broader low-latency Android support — another sacrifice for the walled garden approach.

How do you pair Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro?

The pairing light on the interior of the case makes it simple to pair the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro to almost any device:

  1. Open the case and leave the buds inside.
  2. Ensure Bluetooth is enabled on your device.
  3. Put your fingers on the touch panels of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and keep them there until the light blinks red, blue, and green.
  4. Choose the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro in your device’s Bluetooth settings.

Future connections with the same device should happen automatically after you take the buds out of their case. For Samsung devices, in particular, you may see a window when you open the case near your phone or tablet asking if you want to pair the buds, even if Bluetooth is off.

We occasionally found that reconnecting to Samsung devices after a period of inactivity also opened the Galaxy Wearable app. This got tiresome pretty quickly.

How long does the battery in the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro last?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro in Bora Purple color in their charging case seen from the right side.

Kris Carlon / Android Authority

According to our tests, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro hit around four hours, 50 minutes of playback time. That’s pretty close to the five hours Samsung claims they’ll get. This isn’t the longest battery life of any true wireless buds out there, but it’s pretty typical for ANC earbuds. After all, it takes a lot of computational power to get good noise-cancelling results.

When it comes to total battery life, Samsung claims that if you drop the buds into the case, you can get up to 18 hours of battery life overall with ANC on. Switching it off allows that to climb to up to 29 hours.

You can recharge the case and buds with USB-C wired charging or wirelessly with Qi-compatible pads. If you have a Samsung phone that supports Wireless Powershare (or any device with strong enough reverse wireless charging), you can also use that to top them back up.

How well do the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro cancel noise?

A chart depicts the very impressive ANC and isolation performance of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.

Noise-cancelling is probably the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s biggest draw to those outside the Samsung ecosystem. In short, they do an excellent job of it. That’s especially true in the low range of audible frequencies, where these earbuds knock down unwanted noises significantly. However, their performance has peaks and valleys, as seen in the chart above. That could lead to a less-than-seamless experience at times. Still, if you pop these buds in while on the subway, for instance, you’ll quickly realize just how well they handle noise and how loud the world really is.

The buds’ isolation is alright, too, so higher-frequency noises get amply blocked, though this is very dependent on getting a good fit from the included ear tips. We didn’t find it to be too tricky, but the Galaxy Wearable app’s ear tip fit test is handy for those who might be struggling to get a secure fit.

The isolation combined with ANC should make your commute much quieter and prevent you from cranking up the volume so much that you risk damaging your ears. If you don’t want ANC, you can disable it or opt for the transparency mode in the app to hear everything around you. And as mentioned, the conversation mode feature works quite well if you want to strike a balance between noise cancellation and situational awareness.

How do the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro sound?

The normal EQ frequency response of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro as compared to the target curve, which it follows closely.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro follow our sister site SoundGuys’ house curve pretty closely, as you can see in the chart above, but they deviate slightly in the lows and highs. They stick close to the curve in the mids, so the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro should reproduce vocals accurately. We don’t have major complaints about the Buds 2 Pro’s sound quality in general. Mostly, we just have minor quibbles.

One of those is how those kicked up far ends of the audible frequency spectrum can make the hi-hats sound too loud compared to the guitar in a song like Nothing To Be Done by The Pastel. The bass guitar and kick drum are also quite noticeable which makes the vocals seem a little quiet, though if you like bassy audio, you might find this frequency response to your liking. Still, everything is distinguishable enough and nothing gets totally lost.

You can experiment with included EQ presets if you wish, but none of them will directly take care of those amped-up ends of the frequency response curve. You’ll have to use a third-party equalizer for that. Again, we wish Samsung had included a true customizable EQ for those that want to tinker with the mix.

Can you use the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro for phone calls?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro earbuds lying on a table with their case visible, though blurry, in the background.

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Yes, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro can take and make phone calls, and the microphone rejects external noise pretty well. Still, your voice may not sound “natural” to listeners. That’s fine for work calls or casual conversations, but be aware the mic may create a “lisp-like” sound or make plosives (such as the letter “p”) too emphasized. Anyone with a deep voice may notice this more in our experience. Overall, using these earbuds in an office setting or for chats with friends will be fine.

You can listen to sample recordings from the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro below. Tell us your thoughts in the poll underneath.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro microphone demo (Office conditions):

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro microphone demo (Street conditions):

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro microphone demo (Windy conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

42 votes

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review: The verdict

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

New range of silicon tips • Enhanced noise-cancelling technology • Satisfying battery-life

The best buds for Galaxy users, but are the compromises too much for everyone else?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro earbuds provide great sound and feature active noise-canceling. They offer great comfort and ANC efficiency with their vast range of ear tips, and the battery lasts up to five hours of usage.

Galaxy phone owners will absolutely get the most benefits from the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, which isn’t a huge surprise. Samsung is clearly targeting its walled garden first by offering exclusive access to its Seamless codec, high-bitrate audio, spatial audio, and much more. If you have a Galaxy phone already or are looking to buy one soon, these earbuds will make a great companion to it. For everyone else, the situation is a bit more nuanced.

Non-Galaxy Android device owners will still benefit from the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s excellent ANC, but Samsung users get the best experience.

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s stellar ANC performance is the big draw for all Android users, but there are notable drawbacks elsewhere. The most limiting is that you only get AAC and SBC Bluetooth codecs on non-Galaxy devices, which might result in latency and mismatches between visual and audio content. While the Galaxy Wearable app works on all Android devices and offers handy features, it demands lots of personal data that’s mandatory for it even to work.

Samsung’s omission of a truly customizable equalizer at this price point is disappointing for everyone, however. And finally, iPhone owners should steer clear — there’s no app support for iOS and other buds are far more suited to Apple’s devices.

How do the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro compare to the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro laying on table with their charging cases above them.

Kris Carlon / Android Authority

Samsung has been making earbuds for a while, so it’s not surprising the first- and second-generation Galaxy Buds Pro share a lot of DNA when put head-to-head. The biggest upgrade is the ANC, which is far more impressive on the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.

Like most of Samsung’s earlier earbuds, the Galaxy Buds Pro feature a shiny case and buds, and we found that these scratch just as easily as the matte Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. Both buds use the same Galaxy Wearables app and offer the same basic features, though 24-bit audio is reserved only for the new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. Battery life is roughly equal — our tests got four hours, 48 minutes for the first-gen Galaxy Buds Pro, which is only a few minutes less than their successors.

If you already have the Galaxy Buds Pro, your main reason to upgrade to the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro would be the much-improved noise-cancelling. If you’re considering both and want the best value, the original Galaxy Buds Pro are cheaper and should go on sale more often and with better discounts now that they’ve been replaced in Samsung’s lineup.

How do Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro compare to Samsung Galaxy Buds 2?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro in graphite sitting outside of their case to the left of the Galaxy Buds 2 in graphite outside of their (white) case on a table.

Zak Khan / Android Authority

Samsung’s more budget-oriented earbuds, fall in the middle of the pack compared to the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. Interestingly, despite being older and more affordable, the Galaxy Buds 2 actually block out higher-frequency noises slightly better via isolation than the new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. However, their ANC does not do as well in the low and mid ranges, which is where the Buds 2 Pro really shine.

Furthermore, the Galaxy Buds 2 only have an IPX2 rating. That means they are only resistant to occasional splashes, versus the tighter water resistance of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. The older Galaxy Buds 2 also have a shiny case and earbuds. And much like the matte Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, both textures show scratches easily in our experience.

Both sets of earbuds offer AAC and SBC for every non-Samsung device, but the Galaxy Buds 2 use the Samsung Scalable Codec on Samsung devices, while the newer Buds 2 Pro use the Samsung Seamless Codec. These two codecs function similarly, but you won’t get 24-bit audio support and other latest-and-greatest features with the former. Likewise, the Galaxy Buds 2 use Bluetooth 5.2, while the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro use Bluetooth 5.3.

When it comes to sound quality, the Galaxy Buds 2 follow the SoundGuys’ house curve more closely than the Buds 2 Pro. Still, both models are likely to please most listeners, and the differences are minor at best.

With all that said, price is what will likely tip you over to the Galaxy Buds 2 if you’re undecided. They’re a solid choice if you want good ANC earbuds without spending a lot.

What are the best Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro alternatives?

The Pixel Buds Pro outside ofo their case sittin on a dark wood table next a plastic plant.

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

The other manufacturer looming large in the ANC-equipped earbuds world is Sony. The Sony WF-1000XM4 ($278), still retain plenty of features that make them a reliable pick in the world of noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds. They don’t handle sub-bass as well as the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, but they offer good ANC overall. Plus, their foam ear tips effectively block high-frequencies noises. They’re also much more platform-agnostic than Samsung’s earbuds. Crucially, their LDAC Bluetooth codec support is available on many Android phones, and iPhone users still get AAC. The Sony Headphones app works on both platforms, too. That means no matter what device you use them on, you will get a smooth experience.

But iPhone always users can also always fall back on Apple’s trusty AirPods Pro (1st generation) and AirPods Pro (2nd generation), which are tightly integrated with iOS devices right out of the box. The first-gen AirPods Pro don’t do ANC as well as the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, but they still work well enough to drown out distracting noises. The second-gen AirPods Pro improve on their ANC and come in at a comparable price to the Buds 2 Pro.

If you want something cheaper, the Sony Linkbuds S ($179) — not the doughnut-hole Linkbuds WF-L900 — offer better battery life at seven hours, 43 minutes with noise-cancelling enabled. They sound good on their own, and an equalizer in the Sony Headphones app is there, just in case.

For Google die-hards, the Google Pixel Buds Pro ($199) offer tight Android integration and reliable noise-cancelling. Their case is IPX2 rated, and along with IPX4-rated buds, so sweat and drips shouldn’t be a concern. Plus, the battery life hit seven hours, six minutes in our testing. Oddly enough for Android-focused earbuds, they only support the AAC and SBC Bluetooth codes, though that puts them right in line with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro on any non-Galaxy device. Finally, the app (currently) lacks an equalizer, much like the Buds 2 Pro, though Google says this will arrive in a future update.

Frequently asked questions about the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are IPX7 rated for protection against the effects of immersion in water — between 15 cm (5.9 inches) and 1 meter (3.3 feet) for up to 30 minutes.

In its press releases, Samsung has said that the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro would bring broader ecosystem support, which may include automatic device switching with Samsung TVs. Regardless, if your TV has Bluetooth audio support, you can sync the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro as you would any standard pair of true wireless earbuds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *