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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Buds Live vs Buds Plus: Which should you get?

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Buds Live vs Buds Plus
(Image credit: Samsung; Tom's Guide; Samsung)

Samsung just added another pair of completely wireless earbuds to its lineup, complicating things ever so slightly with a new top-tier model called the the Galaxy Buds Pro. Smarter than ever before, and in an elegant violet hue, the Galaxy Buds Pro aren't too much more expensive than its older, less capable siblings.

And to figure out which pair is right for you, we've got a Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Buds Live vs Buds Plus face-off. While that's quite a mouthful, once you know how each set of earbuds differs, you'll have an ear-full of sweet sounding music.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Buds Live vs Buds Plus specs

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus
Price$199 $169 $149
ColorsPhantom Violet, Phantom Black, Phantom Silver Mystic White, Mystic Black, Mystic Copper, Mystic Red, Mystic Blue White, Black, Red, Blue, Cloud Blue
Battery lifeUp to 8 hours (28 with charging case) Up to 8 hours (29 with charging caseUp to 11 hours (22 with charging case)
Earbud size0.8 x 0.8 x 0.8 inches0.6 x 1 x 0.6 inches 0.7 x 0.9 x 0.8 inches
Case size2 x 2 x 1.1 inches2 x 2 x 1.1 inches0.7 x 0.9 x 0.8 inches
Weight0.2 ounces (earbuds); 1.6 ounces (case) 0.2 ounces (earbuds); 1.4 ounces (case) 0.2 ounces (earbuds); 1.4 ounces (case)
Water resistanceIPX7IPX2IPX2
CompatibilityAndroid, iOSAndroid, iOSAndroid, iOS

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Buds Live vs Buds Plus price and value

The Galaxy Buds Pro are the priciest of the bunch, at $199. The Buds Plus are $50 cheaper at $149, and the Galaxy Buds Live are $169. 

And while the Galaxy Buds Plus are the most affordable, that extra $20 may be worth it for many for the improved sound quality of the Buds Live, or $50 for the smarts of the Buds Pro, as we'll explain below. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Buds Live vs Buds Plus design and comfort

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live vs Galaxy Buds Plus — the Buds Live in Mystic Copper

Check out the Buds Live in Mystic Copper. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Galaxy Buds Pro retain the elegant chrome look of the Buds Live, but ditch its bean-ish silhouette. And while this is subjective on our part, we prefer the Buds Pro look, as it's a bit less weird, and a touch more normal. The Buds Plus look more generic overall and don't win any arguments on style.

The other way Samsung's offerings differ involves the colorways of the different earbuds. In photos, the Phantom Violet option is the true stunner, making the Phantom White and Phantom Black options look bland. The Mystic Copper version of the Galaxy Buds Live are equally gorgeous, and the only really stylish option of that bunch (the Mystic Blue and Red options are a bit too strong, and the Mystic Black and White are subdued). The Buds Plus also come in five options — white, red, black, Cloud Blue and Aura Blue — but aren't as eye-catching.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live vs Galaxy Buds Plus

(Image credit: Samsung)

The big upgrade in the design of the Galaxy Buds Pro is in durability. Unlike the IPX2-rated Buds Live and Buds Plus (which can only handle water when it hits at a 15 degree or less angle), the new Buds Pro have an IPX7 water resistance rating, which means it can be submerged in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes.

The Buds Pro and Buds Live charging cases share the same dimensions: 2 x 2 x 1.1 inches. That means both are notably larger than the Buds Plus case (0.7 x 0.9 x 0.8 inches). 

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live vs Galaxy Buds Plus - water resistance

(Image credit: Samsung)

We'll need to get the Buds Pro in our ears to say if it feels good and snug, but what we do know is that the Buds Live felt more comfortable and secure in our testing. And for headphones that are this intimate, that's worth a lot. 

Samsung, though, notes the Buds Pro "feature an updated, more ergonomic form factor," that "reduces the contact area between your ear and the bud, improving comfort and minimizing any clogged-up feeling."

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Buds Live vs Buds Plus controls

All three pairs of buds have touch controls, but the Galaxy Buds Pro stand out with a new way for users to silence audio output. That's because Galaxy Buds Pro will literally lower your music (or whatever you're listening to) when you're talking, as it reacts to when you're speaking. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live vs Galaxy Buds Plus — controls

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This means you don't need to always pause and unpause when you engage with someone else. The feature also works if you're using Ambient Sound or when active noise cancelling is disabled.

The Galaxy Buds Plus and Buds Live touch controls have shown to be either overly sensitive or not sensitive enough, in our testing, and we look forward to seeing if the Galaxy Buds Pro are just right

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Buds Live vs Buds Plus audio quality

Naturally, Samsung is boasting about the sound quality of the Galaxy Buds Pro, noting that "the shape of the canal-type earbuds improves sound quality." 

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live vs Galaxy Buds Plus — Buds Plus in ear

(Image credit: Samsung)

The company also claims that the 11mm woofer in the Galaxy Buds Pro will deliver deeper bass and 6.5mm tweeters will provide richer treble. Plus, a trio of microphones and a Voice Pickup Unit (VPU) are there to make sure you sound better on calls. Until we test the Galaxy Buds Pro out, though, we won't know which offers the best overall sound. 

Between the Galaxy Buds Live and Buds Plus, the former were the clear winner on audio quality. The Buds Live provided deeper bass, crisper treble and clearer vocals.  

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Buds Live vs Buds Plus battery life

Testing also will tell the truth here, but it looks like the Galaxy Buds Pro should offer great endurance, as Samsung rates it for up to 8 hours of life on a single charge — and then 28 with the charging case. The Buds Live are also rated for 8 hours on a single charge, but 29 with the case.

Impressively, the Galaxy Buds Plus last the longest on a single charge, rated for 11 hours. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live vs Galaxy Buds Plus - buds plus in case

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Buds Live vs Buds Plus noise cancellation and special features

The Galaxy Buds Pro should be amazing at letting you block out the world or letting it in, whereas the Buds Live and Buds Plus locked you into only one half of that equation. Samsung rates the Buds Pro's Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) for blocking out up to 99% of background noise, with the option to fine tune to the exact amount of noise cancellation you prefer. Want to hear what's going on around you? Ambient Sound mode increases the sounds around you by more than 20 decibels, and Samsung is again giving you the ability to set these tricks to the levels you prefer.

Comparatively, the Buds Live focus on ANC (though it's supposed to let in some voices and announcements), while the Buds Plus offer Ambient Aware mode for letting the world around you in.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Buds Live vs Buds Plus outlook

On paper, it looks like the Galaxy Buds Pro are the best option for new shoppers who want smarter headphones. The ability to toggle between ANC and Ambient Sound, plus Buds Pro feature that lowers sound while you talk, all combine for a richer experience. And then there's the added waterproofing on top, which could save you a lot of money in the long haul. 

That said, we're going to need to review the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro before we can come to a verdict for this Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Buds Live vs Buds Plus face-off.