Every smartphone brand is trying to do what Apple did years ago and proudly continues to do: create a mobile ecosystem in the most convenient way that compels the user not to leave it. An ecosystem includes the phone and everything that it can power to give you the ultimate gadget experience. I am talking about wearables and truly wireless earbuds are a crucial part of them. For example, Apple’s AirPods do not work well on any phone other than an iPhone (or other Apple products). For years, Samsung, which uses the open ecosystem of Android, has been trying to do that. With the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, it seems to have finally landed its dream. Also Read - Best 5 premium wireless earbuds you can consider
The new and not-shiny Galaxy Buds 2 Pro borrows a lot from its prequel, but these earbuds do not work on all phones similarly. Samsung has locked certain features of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro for its phones. So unless you use the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with a Samsung phone, you cannot experience features such as 24-bit lossless music or spatial audio. In essence, these are incentives that a brand gives you to stay inside its ecosystem. Apple does that on a stricter level, while Google, too, has built a robust ecosystem for its Pixel-branded products. Singling out Samsung isn’t fair, but, at the price of Rs 17,999, do the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro make sense for you? That depends. I have been using the new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro for a while, and I can say they are among the best wireless earbuds money can buy. Here is my review. Also Read - Samsung launches Galaxy Watch 5 series and Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro design
The new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro looks a bit twee, which is a good thing because other earbuds look more or less the same. Samsung has continued with the in-ear design that lacks the stem, so it may not suit everyone. For me, it is irrelevant as long as the fit is comfortable — something I experience with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. Not only the earbuds are lightweight, but they also snug well inside ears and do not fall unless triggered by your facial movements. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is smaller than the original Galaxy Buds Pro and comes with a soft fabric-like matte finish, which makes it less prone to scratches and dirt, and gives it a better grip. The overall design of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro makes for a comfortable fit. I never felt discomfort wearing the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and the earbuds stayed intact unless I laughed. And yes, there is a USB-C port on the side. Also Read - Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro leaked price hints at Apple AirPods Pro rival
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro sound
Previous Galaxy Buds Pro models have offered great audio listening experience, so my expectations from the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro were based accordingly. I was not disappointed. Within the first few minutes of my usage, I realised the Buds 2 Pro can easily take on the AirPods and Sony WF-1000XM4. The sound is not only clear but there is also a wide soundstage that makes the entire listening experience better. That helps when you have music coming from several instruments. And that is why I played some Indian Cinema music to test out if the bass, treble, and vocals were on point.
Oo Anatava from the movie Pushpa played out nicely, leaving enough room for every instrument to be perfectly heard. Of course, the song is bass-heavy and likeable in that form. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro takes care of that, giving an enjoyable experience. Shringaar by Aastha Gill and Akasa is a fusion of both Indian Classical and hip-hop, which the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro did justice to. The warmth of tabla and dholak was on point, while the electronic music-inspired hip-hop beats made me groove. I am also a fan of retro music, which lacks bass and modern music composition. So, when I played Ye Shaam Mastani, I went into a zone of tranquillity.
Adele’s Oh My God had a good funk to it while making sure the vocals do not get meddled with by the sound of instruments. Midnights by Taylor Swift was another album I loved listening to on the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, primarily because it can pick up soft tones and render them beautifully.
Some of the credit for this enjoyable listening experience goes to noise isolation, but if you have turned on noise cancellation, you can recognise the instruments and their contribution to the melody you are listening to. Not that it is outstanding, but it is nice to see Samsung paying attention to detail when it comes to earbuds.
Sure, the music on the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is good, but what about that 24-bit hi-fi sound? Samsung claims the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro can play hi-fi music when paired with a Samsung phone running One UI 4.0 or later. That is a lot of phones, so even if you have a cheaper Galaxy A or Galaxy F series phone, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro will work as intended. Samsung says its new Seamless codec allows Galaxy Buds 2 Pro to stream 24-bit, 48kHz audio, but it does not tell the bitrate. According to The Verge citing a Samsung spokesperson, the hi-fi audio quality offers a bitrate of 2304kbps. I honestly couldn’t verify it, but I would agree that listening to music in the lossless quality on Apple Music on a Samsung phone using the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro was slightly better than what I have heard otherwise.
If you are using a Samsung phone, you can also experience spatial audio on the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. It is essentially the movement of audio according to the movement of your head. I don’t think it is a revolutionary thing for the music tech, but it’s good to have on devices outside of the Apple ecosystem.
Both the hi-fi audio quality and spatial audio, however, are exclusive to Samsung phones. If you use a phone from other brands, these features are not for you. But that does not mean everything else is also irrelevant. You get amazing sound quality, as well as noise cancellation, even if you have a Pixel, OnePlus, or Xiaomi phone. And you shouldn’t blame Samsung for it. Every brand is trying to create an ecosystem, as I said earlier, and moreover, it is easier and more convenient for a brand to offer its technologies through its own products.
Calls are clearly audible in the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, and with environmental noise cancellation, my callers did not face the issue of disturbing background noise. Samsung also lets you turn on the natural sound functionality that would let you listen to your voice while on a call just so you don’t end up speaking loudly and startling people around you.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro noise cancellation
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro has the best kind of noise cancellation to offer. Active noise cancellation has improved drastically over years, and Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro will let you experience it. I won’t give you numbers — although Samsung has provided them, but talk about how effective the ANC is in different scenarios. I was able to isolate myself from the chatter in the coffee house using the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, and these earbuds became my good companion when hitting the gym.
Sitting and typing at my workstation became a little more enjoyable with the earbuds with ANC turned on and music playing on them. But when music is not playing, some sound can seep into your ears. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro also has a voice detection feature that temporarily turns on the transparency mode and lowers the media volume significantly the moment it detects you are speaking. It is a good functionality, copied from Sony earbuds. I don’t care about who did it first as long as the implementation is good. I can say that Samsung has done a good job here. But people who like to mumble would want to avoid turning this feature on. For me, this feature turned out to be a mixed bag. For small talks with colleagues, this feature proved useful, but I like to karaoke to songs I am listening to. My voice turns on the voice detection feature, minimising the music volume.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro gestures and battery
Gestures on the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are pretty standard. A single tap accepts calls, disconnects an ongoing call, and plays/pauses music. Double taps play the next track, while a long tap changes the noise cancellation mode. I did not find it hard to get accustomed to, but the earbuds are extremely sensitive. A slight touch can trigger the assigned programmes. I often put on an earbud when driving a bike and I have been annoyed by my helmet pausing and playing music. I am nitpicking.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro run for about six hours with ANC turned on and eight hours without it on a single charge. Adding the charge from the case takes the total runtime to 18-19 hours with ANC and 28 hours without it. It is not a radical improvement over last-generation earbuds, but not bad either. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro supports wireless charging, so when you need a trickle of battery charge, you can turn on power-sharing on your compatible Galaxy phone and charge the earbuds.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro verdict
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are the best earbuds from Samsung. They offer the best of the three basic functionalities: sound quality, design, and noise cancellation. Apart from my small gripes, such as the lack of multipoint connections and exclusivity to Samsung phones, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have nothing as big as a deal-breaker. Sure, they work to their fullest potential with Samsung phones, but they are still plenty good when you are using them with other phones. At Rs 17,999, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are the best bet for Samsung phone users, but if you have a phone of a different brand and you are a stickler for features such as spatial audio, you need to give in and enter an ecosystem.