Google Pixel Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus: Which wireless earbuds win?

Google Pixel Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Google Pixel Buds 2 are a huge improvement over their predecessor, but they have serious competition from Samsung’s excellent Galaxy Buds Plus. Two of the best wireless earbuds sets you can buy, both of these in-ear headphones offer impressive sound quality, smart adaptive noise features and attractive, sleek designs.

Choosing between the Google Pixel Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus may just come down to what phone you have, as Google’s buds are optimized for Android compared to the relatively platform-agnostic Galaxy Buds Plus. But both of these buds offer lots of compelling features regardless of your mobile operating system, from the Galaxy Buds Plus’ superb battery life to the Pixel Buds 2’s durable, sturdy construction.

Whether you’re looking for a great Apple AirPods alternative for your iPhone or want the best possible buds for your Android device, here’s how the Google Pixel Buds 2 and Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus stack up. 

Google Pixel Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus: Specs 

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Google Pixel Buds 2Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus
ColorsClearly White, Oh So Orange, Quite Mint, Almost BlackWhite, Black, Red, Cloud Blue
Battery life (rated)5 hours (24 hours with case)11 hours (22 hours with case)
Size and weight0.8 x 0.7 x 0.7 inches, 0.18 ounces0.7 x 0.9 x 0.8 inches, 0.2 ounces
DurabilityIPX4 (water and sweat resistance)IPX2 (water resistance)
Special features Adaptive Sound, Google AssistantAmbient sound, EQ modes

Pixel Buds 2 vs. Galaxy Buds Plus: Price and value 

The new Google Pixel Buds 2 cost $179 and come in Google’s Clearly White hue, with Oh So Orange, Quite Mint and Almost Black options set to arrive later this year. Google’s buds are significantly pricier than the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, which cost $149 and come in White, Black, Red and Cloud Blue variations. If you’re looking for the cheapest earbuds out of the two, Samsung has the edge here.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

Pixel Buds 2 vs. Galaxy Buds Plus: Design 

Google Pixel Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

These are two sleek pairs of buds. The Pixel Buds 2 and Galaxy Buds Plus both have attractive, understated designs that are comfortable to wear and don’t hang out of your ear like Apple’s AirPods do.

Still, there’s something about the perfectly circular exterior of the Pixel Buds 2 that sticks out to me more, especially when comparing how both sets of headphones look in my ear. Google’s matte earbuds have a bit more pop to their design and look cleaner than the glossy Buds Plus, but I was still happy to wear Samsung’s buds in public for long stretches of time.

Both earbuds benefit from coming in a range of colors: Clearly White, Oh So Orange, Quite Mint and Almost Black for the Pixel Buds 2, and White, Black, Red and Cloud Blue for the Galaxy Buds Plus. Both sets of hues are attractive, but I like the understated Pixel colors a bit more.

The Google Pixel Buds 2 and Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus both have attractive charging cases that juice up via USB-C, and both fit into my pockets without issue. However, I have to give the Pixel Buds a slight edge here once again -- I prefer the flat egg-like design of Google’s case to Samsung’s pill-shaped case, and I had an easier time getting the buds to fit securely into the Pixel Buds’ charger. On the flip side, I found the Pixel Buds 2 case to be more prone to scuffs and smudges than the Galaxy Buds’ casing. 

Google Pixel Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The 0.18-ounce Pixel Buds 2 and 0.2-ounce Galaxy Buds Plus are both incredibly lightweight and comfortable, to the point that I often forgot I had them in when I was hammering away at work or shopping for groceries. I found the Pixel Buds to feel slightly more secure in my ear out of the box, but the Galaxy Buds Plus offers more customization options. Both earbuds include three sets of ear tips, but only the Galaxy Buds Plus also include swappable wing tips for finding the best fit for your outer ear.

The Galaxy Buds Plus sport an IPX2 rating for basic splash resistance, while the Pixel Buds 2 have a slightly stronger IPX4 rating for enduring sweat and water. 

Winner: Draw

Pixel Buds 2 vs. Galaxy Buds Plus: Controls 

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

(Image credit: Samsung)

This round is a no-contest. The Pixel Buds 2’s touch controls proved reliable in my testing, allowing me to pause tracks with a tap, skip tracks with a double-tap and even slide my finger up and down to control volume.

By comparison, the Galaxy Buds Plus’ controls are way too sensitive and finicky. Even when I had the Buds programmed to perform the same actions as the Pixel Buds, I often found that they would skip a track that I meant to pause, or pause a track when my finger just barely grazed the buds. It’s not a dealbreaker for Samsung’s earbuds, but it is an annoyance that gives the Pixel Buds 2 the edge. 

Winner: Google Pixel Buds 2

Pixel Buds 2 vs. Galaxy Buds Plus: Audio quality 

The Google Pixel Buds 2 and Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus both deliver solid sound quality, but I enjoyed listening to music more on Google’s earbuds. 

The Pixel Buds 2 shone especially on heavy rock tracks. When jamming the blistering post-hardcore of Dance Gavin Dance’s “Lyrics Lie,” the swirling guitars, lively bass and mix of screaming and singing vocals all came through cleanly. The same track sounded a bit thin on the Galaxy Buds Plus — the guitars sounded slightly muffled at high volumes, and I had a harder time picking out the bass. 

I noticed a similar disparity when listening to other genres, from the soft acoustic guitar rock of Phoebe Bridgers to the bubbly, synthesized radio pop of Taylor Swift. The Galaxy Buds Plus does benefit from having six different equalizer options in its companion app (normal, soft, bass boost, dynamic, clear and treble boost), but the dynamic setting is the only one I found to come close to the quality of Google’s buds.

Winner: Google Pixel Buds 2

Pixel Buds 2 vs. Galaxy Buds Plus: Battery life 

Here’s where Samsung’s buds truly shine. The Galaxy Buds Plus are rated for an amazing 11 hours of battery (with an additional 11 from the charging case), and they largely lived up to that in my experience. I went several days without having to juice up the Galaxy Buds’ case, even when wearing Samsung’s earbuds for hours at a time.

The Pixel Buds 2 don’t fare quite as well in the endurance department. Google’s buds are rated for 5 hours of endurance, but we found them to last closer to 4.5 hours in real-world testing. Google promises a total of 24 hours of listening time with the charging case. That’s about on-par with other earbuds such as the AirPods and AirPods Pro, but can’t hold a candle to the Galaxy Buds Plus.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus.

Pixel Buds 2 vs. Galaxy Buds Plus: Features and compatibility 

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

(Image credit: Samsung)

The Pixel Buds 2 and Galaxy Buds Plus both have special features for adapting their sound output to your surrounding. The Pixel Buds 2’ Adaptive Sound feature automatically adjusts the volume of your buds based on what’s going on around you, while the Buds Plus’ Ambient Aware feature lets you manually choose how much outside noise gets in. 

We found Adaptive Sound to do a solid job automatically raising volume whenever we entered a busy room, even if the effect was subtle. Samsung’s Ambient Aware, which offers three levels of sensitivity for letting sound in, was also useful for hearing things like cars and pedestrians when taking a walk. However, we found the feature to be a bit too sensitive at times, resulting in lots of muffled noise whenever things got windy. 

Google Pixel Buds 2

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The Pixel Buds 2 benefit from Google’s software smarts, allowing you to summon Google Assistant with a long press and ask it to do anything from check the weather to take a selfie for you. The Buds deliver real-time translation via Conversation mode, and work with the Pixel Buds companion app to let you do things such as check battery levels, find your missing buds and enable Adaptive Sound. 

There’s just one catch: the Pixel Buds 2’s software features are all exclusive to Android devices. That’s where the Galaxy Buds Plus have an edge, as you can use the Galaxy Buds Plus App with either iOS and Android, allowing you to enjoy features such as Ambient Aware and multiple EQ modes regardless of your preference of phone. You can even use the Buds Plus to summon Siri on your iPhone.

Winner: Draw 

Pixel Buds 2 vs Galaxy Buds Plus: Call quality 

Neither of these earbuds have stellar call quality, but Google’s buds are a bit more reliable for talking over the phone. I used both earbuds to chat with a friend over Discord, and he noted that the Galaxy Buds sounded much grainier and less clear than Google’s earbuds. I still found the Galaxy Buds Plus to be fine for everyday calls, but you might want to lean towards the Pixel Buds if you want a pair of wireless earbuds you can use for your daily Zoom meetings. 

Winner: Google Pixel Buds 2

Google Pixel Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus: Verdict 

Google Pixel Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

It was an extremely close fight, but the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus win this overall showdown thanks to its superb battery life, lower price and wider compatibility with iOS and Android.  

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Google Pixel Buds 2 Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus
Price and value (15)1013
Design (15)1313
Controls (10)95
Audio quality (20)1512
Battery life (20)1020
Features and compatibility (15)1010
Call quality (15)107

That said, there are plenty of reasons to pick the Pixel Buds 2 over Samsung’s flagship earbuds. The Pixel Buds 2 sound a bit better, have a more durable design and have some truly impressive software features, including Adaptive Sound and Google Assistant. It’s just a shame that you can only enjoy those features if you’re on an Android phone.

Overall, if you’re looking for the best battery life and feature set for the price, and want something that works well on either iOS or Android, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus are hard to top.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.