The Galaxy Buds are priced at Rs 9,990.
The carry case comes with wireless-charging feature.
The Galaxy Buds are AKG tuned for better audio experience.
Samsung launched its truly-wireless headphones, the Galaxy Buds, alongside the Galaxy S10-series. Priced at Rs 9,990, Samsung is also offering a neat 50 percent discount on Galaxy Buds when you buy the Galaxy S10-series smartphones. Yes, the Galaxy S10 still comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack, but the Galaxy Buds are for those who want to go truly wireless.
Compared to the previous offering, Gear IconX (2018), the Galaxy Buds come with wireless charging feature, AKG Tuned audio for better listening experience, and pairing with smartphones is easier too. With all these additions, does it make for a good purchase? I’ve have been using the Galaxy Buds for over a month now, and here’s what I think.
Watch: Samsung Galaxy S10 Series First Look
Good design, comfortable to wear, for hours
The Galaxy Buds are compact in size (compared to IconX), sleek and feature an attractive design. They come in three colors, including black, yellow and white. The outer edge of the buds have a touch-sensitive panel where a single tap is used to play/pause music, double tap skip tracks forward, triple tap to skip backwards.
Similarly, you can either tap and hold one earbud to increase/decrease volume, or you can configure it to summon Bixby, or activate ambient mode. With ambient mode turned on, you can be aware of the surroundings, just to ensure you aren’t caught off guard. But these only work with an Android smartphone when the companion app is installed.
On the inside, you have an infrared sensor which detects when the buds are plugged in, and activates them. There are also two connector pins for charging the buds when put in the case. The buds snugly fit into your ears, and have wingtips to ensure a secure fit. You get small, medium and large eartips to suit your needs. If these are your first truly wireless earbuds, you’ll initially feel they are at risk of falling down, but I haven’t lost one yet. And with time, you’ll get used to them.
As there are no wires dangling around, there is no fear of the buds being pulled down, whether you’re commuting, sitting at your desk working or at the gym working out. I’ve been using the Galaxy Buds while traveling in a bus for four hours and for about five hours while on in a flight. For the initial couple of days I felt a little discomfort, but after that, I can now comfortably wear them for over four hours at a stretch.
Easy pairing, but poor codec support
Samsung has improved the pairing process making it easier to connect the buds with your Samsung Galaxy smartphones. But for seamless connectivity, you need to install the Galaxy Wearable app. The app also lets you fine-tune audio experience with some preset equalizers.
To pair with an iPhone or a laptop, open Bluetooth settings, enter pairing mode and just open the Galaxy Buds case. If the buds are not detected, plug them into your ears, and tap and hold on the touch-sensitive panels, which will put them in pairing mode. Once the buds are detected, they will show up on your laptop or iPhone, and you can then tap to pair and connect.
The Galaxy Buds support Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, but sadly, it does not support Qualcomm codecs like AptX Adaptive or AptX HD. Instead, there is support for Samsung’s Scalable Audio codec.
Sounds good, but could have been better
As mentioned, the Galaxy Buds are tuned by audio experts AKG, which is now owned by Samsung, and they know what they are doing. The headphones offer deep bass, good music separation, along with good clarity and details. They aren’t excellent, but for the price, they are pretty good.
I used the Galaxy Buds primarily with the Galaxy S10 to listen to all kinds of music. My primary sources were Apple Music and Spotify, both premium subscriptions, and playing music with the highest quality audio (320kbps). I also tested while watching videos on YouTube and watching series on Netflix.
Starting with Sleepwalk by The Shires, the vocals and details were clear, but I did find the highs to be a bit sharp. Next, I played Baby by Clean Bandit, and again the vocals were clear, the highs were under control and the bass felt pretty deep, while not causing any distortion. These days, I prefer listening to calming music and my next track was Fireflies by Still Corners. The song has a mix of both, vocals and some peaceful music, and the buds offered a good listening experience with wide soundstaging.
I’ve used the Galaxy Buds for watching TV shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in high-quality. When watching Stranger Things even the minute background noise of some creature, or someone’s footsteps was clearly audible, with proper surround effect. The same goes when playing PUBG and Fortnite, where you would want to know where the gunshots are being fired, and hear footsteps of the enemy to be better prepared.
I even used the Galaxy Buds with iPhone 8 Plus and MacBook Air to play the same set of songs via Apple Music and Spotify. Now, while the audio was decent, the depth and clarity were missing, and that’s because lack of codec support.
Two ways to charge, good battery life
Unlike other truly wireless headphones, one of the highlights of the Galaxy Buds is the support for wireless charging. The new AirPods case that Apple recently introduced also come with wireless charging support. Coming back to the Galaxy Buds, each one has a 58mAh battery, whereas the cradle has 252mAh capacity.
The cradle has a USB Type-C port at the back, and it takes about 100 minutes to charge them to full capacity using a wall charger. And with the Galaxy S10 reverse charging, it takes a little over three hours to charge it to full capacity. Once you connect the buds with your Android smartphone, the Galaxy Wearable app shows a pop-up showing individual battery percentage for each bud. There is however no way to see the battery capacity of the cradle.
Samsung is promising a battery life of six hours on a single charge, and up to two extra charges using the cradle, which means a total of around 18 hours of playback. During my usage, I was able to continuously listen to music/watch TV series for five hours and 45 minutes before the battery died.
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Buds?
The Galaxy Buds are aimed at users who are looking for superior, truly wireless music listening experience. The audio quality is really good for its price, and wireless charging is an added bonus. If you want a good pair of truly wireless Bluetooth headphones, the Galaxy Buds should be in your list for under Rs 10,000 budget. If you want something with a slightly bigger battery, and built-in storage for offline music listening without connecting to a phone, the Gear IconX (2018) is what I would recommend.
Having said that, I must admit that the Galaxy Buds are not perfect. To use the gesture control features, you need to have the Galaxy Wearable app installed on your Android smartphone (even a Samsung device). Clearly, not a flawless experience like using AirPods on iPhone. Secondly, codec support is limited and only works best with Samsung smartphones. When you connect with an iPhone or a laptop, the audio quality suffers.
Overall, the Galaxy Buds are a perfect complement for your Galaxy smartphones, but if you have any other device, you’re better off looking for alternatives. There is Jabra Elite 45e priced at Rs 7,499, there is Bose SoundSport Free priced at Rs 18,990, Nokia BH-705 priced at Rs 9,999 and JBL Free Wireless in-ear headphones priced at Rs 8,999 to choose from.