The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro have been officially announced. Samsung’s wireless earbuds are a true set of AirPods Pro rivals, offering adjustable active noise cancellation (ANC) and 360-degree audio along with a host of other new improvements.
Other perks include a waterproof design and Voice Detect feature that will automatically engage Ambient Sound when you begin speaking. The best part? The Galaxy Buds Pro cost just $200, which is $50 less than the AirPods Pro.
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From the Galaxy Buds Pro release date and colors to all of its features, here’s everything you need to know about Samsung’s earbuds.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro price and release date
As rumored, the Galaxy Buds Pro cost $200 (£219 in the U.K.). That’s more than the Galaxy Buds Live, but about $50 less than the AirPods Pro.
What’s more, they’re available to order right now from Samsung and Amazon, and are available through other major retailers starting from January 15. That gives the Galaxy Buds Pro a two-week head start on the new Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy S21 Ultra smartphones, which go on sale on January 29.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro specs
The Galaxy Buds Pro weigh 0.2 ounces each, which is very, very slightly more than the AirPods Pro, but they also introduce a new dual-speaker setup. Instead of a single dynamic driver in each earbud, which covers the full frequency range by itself, the Galaxy Buds Pro include both an 11mm woofer for low end and a 6.5mm tweeter for treble.
Each earbud also includes a total of three onboard microphones, two on the outside and one on the inside. These are used for voice calls as well as ANC, and are augmented by both Samsung’s “Wind Shield” tech and a Voice Pickup Unit. The former reduces the microphones’ susceptiveness to wind noise, and the latter emphasises your voice when speaking, so that the person you’re calling can hear you better over any background noise.
They also use the Bluetooth 5.0 standard, over the SBC and AAC codecs. There’s no aptX support here, unfortunately.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro design
Samsung says the Galaxy Buds Pro take design inspiration from the Galaxy Buds Live, but the new buds are a lot sleeker than their bean-shaped forebears.
There are practical improvements too. The tips sit on the end of a small cone shape, which more thoroughly fills up your ear canal — in the process enhancing the effectiveness of ANC by creating a tighter seal. The Galaxy Buds Pro won’t stick as far out of your ears either, which besides looking better should further help avoid picking up wind noise on the microphones.
Best of all is the IPX7 waterproofing. For the first time in the Galaxy Buds series, the Galaxy Buds Pro aren’t just sweatproof and splash-resistant, but can endure full submersion in fresh water for up to 30 minutes and in depths up to 1 meter. That’s a big advantage over the AirPods Pro, which only have basic IPX4 splash resistance, though keep in mind IPX7 only applies to the Galaxy Buds Pro themselves: their charging case is not waterproof.
You also get a choice of three Galaxy Buds Pro colors: black, silver and violet.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro features
Samsung has seemingly taken extra care to lavish the Galaxy Buds Pro with special features. Chief among these is the ANC, which Samsung calls “Intelligent ANC”: you can fine-tune how much background noise is silenced using the Samsung Wareable app, supposedly up to 99% of audible frequencies.
There’s also an Ambient Sound mode, essentially transparency mode, which boosts outside noises back up by as much as 20 decibels — for it you want to speak to someone, or instance, or to listen out for traffic, without having to remove the Galaxy Buds Pro from your ears.
Ambient Sound mode also ties in with a brand new feature, Voice Detect. With this enabled, simply speaking aloud will automatically engage Ambient Sound, as the microphones will be listening out for your voice.
ANC and Ambient Sound can also work dynamically, automatically adjusting how much ambient noise is cut out or amplified depending on the wearer’s surroundings.
Another major addition is 360 Audio, Samsung’s answer to the Spatial Audio feature on the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. In tandem with head-tracking tech from Dolby, 360 Audio creates a surround effect that keeps the origin points of different instruments and vocals consistent as you look around.
However, Samsung says the availability of 360 Audio will "vary by device," and confirmed to us that only the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy S21 Ultra will support 360 Audio for now.
The Galaxy Buds Pro have plenty of other tricks too. They’re covered under SmartThings Find, Samsung’s system for tracking down lost tech using a network of Bluetooth signals, so you could have a chance of retrieving the buds yourself if they’re misplaced or stolen.
Then there are some additional Galaxy-exclusive features that do sound neat, even if they require Samsung-specific source devices to work. For one, the Galaxy Buds Pro can automatically switch between Galaxy smartphones and tablets depending on what you’re using them for: the example Samsung gives is watching a video on a tablet using the buds, then answering a call on your Galaxy phone to switch the buds over to it, then hanging up and resuming the video to switch them back to the tablet.
You can also sync the Galaxy Buds Pro microphone input with video recording on a Galaxy handheld, which could be useful for video-makers who want better microphone quality than their device’s built-in mics can manage.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro battery life and charging
Each earbud contains a 61 mAh battery that holds up to 5 hours of ANC playback time, or up to 8 hours with ANC off. The 472 mAh charging case adds another 13 hours with ANC and 20 hours without, for grand totals of 18 hours and 28 hours respectively.
That’s another, if modest, advantage over the AirPods Pro, which promise 4.5 hours of ANC playback and a maximum 24 hours of non-ANC playback with repeated use of the charging case.
The Galaxy Buds Pro can also be quick-charged, gaining an hour of listening time from 5 minutes of charging, and the charging case itself can be topped up wirelessly: any Qi wireless charger should work.