New to the scene, the Galaxy Buds 2 retains most of the series’ hallmarks, including an ergonomic design, strong sound, and a compact charging case. Samsung also added active noise cancellation and adjustable ambient listening, two features you won’t find on many $150 wireless earbuds.
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The Galaxy Buds Pro boasts many of the same traits as its lower-priced sibling, along with some notable upgrades. Sound is elevated with spatial audio, extra features in the Galaxy Wearable extend functionality, and sleeker aesthetics make these Samsung’s most stylish and functional buds to date.
These are two legitimate audio options for Galaxy smartphone owners, but only one can claim the title of Samsung’s best wireless ANC earbuds. Which one is it? Our Galaxy Buds 2 vs. Galaxy Buds Pro analysis breaks down the winner.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Specs compared
|Samsung Galaxy Buds 2||Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro|
|Wireless Charging Case||Yes||Yes|
|Chip||Not stated||Broadcom BCM43015|
|Battery Life (Rated)||5 hours with ANC on (20 hours with charging case), 7.5 hours with ANC off (29 hours with charging case)||5 hours with ANC on (18 hours with charging case), 8 hours with ANC off (28 hours with charging case)|
|Case Size||1.9 x 2.0 x 1.09 inches||2 x 2 x 1.1 inches|
|Case Weight||Not stated||1.6 ounces|
|Special features||Active noise cancellation, adjustable transparency mode, Gaming Mode, Galaxy Watch 4 support, Wireless PowerShare support||Adjustable active noise cancellation, transparency mode, spatial audio, Gaming Mode, Voice Detect, SmartThings Find compatibility, Wireless Power Share|
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Price
The Galaxy Buds 2 are listed at $149, the most accessible in the Buds line-up. While the Galaxy Buds Pro launched at $199, we’ve seen some retailers drop the price down to as low as $150. Samsung (opens in new tab) has them for $169 at the time of publishing, while Best Buy (opens in new tab) is selling the buds refurbished for $99.
For all of the latest wireless earbuds sales, be sure to bookmark our best headphones deals page.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Design
In terms of build quality, the Galaxy Buds Pro is superior. Samsung gave its flagship noise-cancellers a fancy oval-shaped exterior composed of what feels like composite plastic and aluminum. The combination is highly durable and chic. We love that the buds come with IPX7 water resistance, one of the highest IPX ratings. Color options are limited to Black, Violet, and Silver, but each one looks striking, thanks to shine factor produced by the aluminum.
Think of the Galaxy Buds 2 as a stripped-down version of the Galaxy Buds Pro. According to Samsung, its latest creation is made from Post-Consumer Materials (PCM). We’re still unsure of what exactly that means, but it’s evident that the frame is constructed of sturdy plastic. These buds will survive drops to the concrete, though the weaker IPX2 rating means it can only sustain small amounts of water at a 15-degree angle. At least Samsung gave these buds more enticing colors: Graphite, Lavender, Olive, and White.
The charging cases are practically identical, with the Galaxy Buds 2 version being bigger by a hair. Nonetheless, each one is lightweight, super-compact, and easily transportable by hand or in any carry-on bag. We like how the strong magnets securely shut the lid and keep the buds locked into their charging ports.
Comfort and fit are two areas where the Galaxy Buds 2 excel. Inserting the buds into your ears is a seamless task, plus the tips create a tight seal for proper stability. Wearing the buds for several hours throughout the day wasn’t fatiguing. Samsung even developed an Earbud Fit Test for this model to analyze and determine the best possible fit, though the feature doesn’t work as well as the AirPods Pro’s Ear Tip Fit Test.
The Galaxy Buds Pro is not a pleasant wear and causes soreness around the concha the longer you keep the buds in your ears. Fit is also a little loose.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Controls
Both models come with a full suite of media functions, including playback, call management, volume, listening mode activation, digital assistance, and instant access to Spotify. During testing, the Galaxy Buds 2 demonstrated better input accuracy, which, alone, earns it a win in this round. Double- and triple-tap commands don’t always register on the Galaxy Buds Pro, requiring two or three extra attempts to enable functions.
The Galaxy Buds 2 also allows you to assign all multi-tap and touch-and-hold gestures. You can only customize the latter on the Galaxy Buds Pro. Something else the Galaxy Buds 2 does is connect with the Galaxy Watch 4 to let you control ANC from your wrist.
Bixby voice activation gives you voice commands on demand by speaking out the activation phrase (“Hi Bixby”) and verbalizing a task. Siri and Google Assistant can be manually enabled on the Galaxy Buds 2 and Galaxy Buds Pro, but not their respective voice activation. The mic array on each model demonstrates great speech recognition, while all three AI bots register and respond to inquiries quickly.
On-ear detection comes as part of both packages as well. It just doesn’t work well. You must remove both earbuds to auto-pause, and there is no auto-play when placing the buds back on your ears. Furthermore, the Galaxy Buds 2 experiences a 2-second delay when initiating the action, while the feature barely works on the Galaxy Buds Pro.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Sound quality
Superb sound is what you get from these two offerings. An equalizer with six well-engineered presets, powerful drivers, and Samsung’s Scalable Codec support (only available on Galaxy phones) that gives music a hi-res boost culminates in some of the best audio in the category. However, the Galaxy Buds Pro seems to carry stronger horsepower underneath its hood and has one special feature the Galaxy Buds 2 doesn’t: 360 Audio.
The wider soundstage can be found on the Galaxy Buds Pro, which has two-way speakers that consist of an 11mm woofer and 6.5mm tweeter. Deep bass, crisp mids, and detailed highs are to be expected. These buds complement every music genre and do a fantastic job of upscaling lo-fi recordings and poor conversions of ripped YouTube files. 360 Audio is the cherry on top, employing Dolby Head Tracking to establish “multi-dimensional sound” and achieve greater audio depth when watching video content.
Details are scarce on the Galaxy Buds 2’s two-way drivers. Our ears tell us Samsung likely downgraded the woofer and tweeter to meet the lower price point. In any case, these buds are still sonically pleasing, pumping out clean and vibrant sound. Listening on a Galaxy smartphone warrants you the same upscale performance as the Galaxy Buds Pro. We just wish Samsung added spatial audio to the mix.
Tap deeper into the app to discover the Gaming Mode in the Labs section. Enabling it supposedly decreases latency for synchronized gaming sound. Unless you have a very detailed ear, you might not hear the differences when the feature is turned on or off. We noticed some improvement in synchronization on certain games, but not all.
Samsung has another hearing enhancement feature in the Galaxy Wearable app to adjust channel output. It’s basically a sound balance slider that increases sound on the left or right bud, whichever the listener prefers. You can also leave it in the middle for equal distribution. Oddly, the feature is placed in a different section for each model: Accessibility on the Galaxy Buds 2 and Advanced -> Hearing Enhancements on the Galaxy Buds Pro.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Active noise cancellation
Samsung makes similar noise-cancelling claims for both models. Apparently, the Galaxy Buds Pro comes with the “most intelligent ANC capabilities of any true wireless earbuds” and can supposedly reduce 99% of background noise, while the Galaxy Buds 2 “cuts external background noise by up to 98%.” Based on our testing, those percentages are wrong. At best, these two products can block out close to 85% of ambient sound, and the Galaxy Buds Pro’s ANC is preferable.
You’ll be able to silence common household noises (e.g., AC units, loud TVs), along with many outdoor distractions like certain landscaping tools (e.g., lawnmowers, electric hedge trimmers) and whisking vehicles when using either set of buds. However, the Galaxy Buds Pro comes with two ANC levels – Low and High – each developed for different environments and frequency ranges. High should be your default all the time since it minimizes noise at a greater level. Just don’t expect it to cancel out everything; baby cries and sirens will be heard.
It’s impressive to see how well the Galaxy Buds 2 deals with low-frequency noises like engine rumble and washing-machine tumbling. You can also assign ANC to one earbud for less discomfort via Accessibility. Like its competitor, high-frequency noises are unavoidable and creep onto the soundscape.
Adjustable ambient listening is another feature bestowed onto the Galaxy Buds 2 and Galaxy Buds Pro. As for which has the elite version, that would be the Galaxy Buds Pro, which comes with four levels (Low, Medium, High, and Extra High) versus the Galaxy Buds 2’s three levels (Low, Medium, and High). This makes all the difference because Extra High provides the best awareness and makes ambient noises sound more distinctive.
The Galaxy Buds Pro also has its own control option called Voice Detect that decreases the sound of what you’re listening to and increases audio passthrough volume to hear conversations more clearly without taking off the buds.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Special features and apps
Most features are the same on these two models and can be found in the Galaxy Wearable app. The Equalizer remains the most popular and has six selectable presets: Normal (the default), Bass Boost, Soft, Dynamic, Clear, and Treble Boost. Noise Controls is accessible right on the home screen to toggle between ANC and Ambient Sound, along with battery level indicators, control customization, Bixby wake-up, Gaming Mode, Read Notifications Aloud, and the Find My Earbuds function.
You’ll find that some features are reserved for one model. Regarding the Galaxy Buds Pro, we already touched on spatial audio and Voice Detect, but there is one more we haven’t mentioned: SmartThings Find. This is a service available through the SmartThings app to show the GPS location of any lost or stolen earbuds. With the Galaxy Buds 2, you’re looking at features we previously discussed, including the extensive Touch Controls setting, Earbud Fit Test, and ANC activation on one bud.
Let’s go outside of the app and talk connectivity. It is equally excellent, meaning you’ll instantly pair to devices without a hitch, especially Galaxy smartphones. Wireless range is the same at 40 feet, and the auto-connect capabilities are some of the strongest in the category.
Power Share returns, too. This is Samsung’s unique wireless charging technology that will power up either set of buds when placing their respective charging case on the back of a compatible Galaxy smartphone.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Call quality
Neither of these make our list of the best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls. But if you’re in a pinch and need to call someone, the Galaxy Buds Pro is the better option. Samsung’s mic array and new Voice Pickup Unit (VPU) don’t work as well as advertised, often struggling to pick up vocals in loud and windy environments. Indoors is where you’ll get feasible results with the buds producing better clarity in quiet settings, especially on video calls.
Samsung attempted to improve on this with the Galaxy Buds 2 and did more harm in the process. The “new, machine learning-based solution” they created that filters out background noises for clearer calls is flawed. Lots of ambient noise and wind creep onto calls, plus there are issues with muffling whether inside or outside.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Battery life
Battery life is disappointing on these models. The Galaxy Buds Pro has slightly better playtimes at 5 hours with ANC on and 8 hours with ANC off, while the Galaxy Buds 2 holds 30 minutes less in either scenario. We did find battery optimization more effective on the Galaxy Buds 2, squeezing every bit of juice out for optimal use.
The charging cases come with similar playtimes, though you’ll be surprised to hear which model holds more juice. That would be the Galaxy Buds 2, which has a case that possesses anywhere between 20 to 29 hours, depending how you use the buds. The Galaxy Buds Pro case can do between 18 to 28 hours.
There is no difference in quick charging; a 5-minute charge equates to 60 minutes of use. In addition, users can wirelessly charge either model via any qi-based wireless charger or Power Share.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Verdict
The Galaxy Buds Pro remains Samsung’s best pair of wireless earbuds. Spending extra on stronger audio, ANC and special features is worth every penny. The luxury design is more appealing and durable as well. You’re going to deal with middling battery life no matter which buds you choose, so why not go for the ones that offer the more complete package? Full price or discounted, brand new or refurbished, consumers are getting a fantastic deal either way.
|Samsung Galaxy Buds||Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro|
|Price and value (5)||4||4|
|Audio quality (20)||17||18|
|Active noise cancellation(20)||15||16|
|Special features and apps (15)||11||13|
|Call quality (5)||2||3|
|Battery life (10)||6||6|
|Total score (100)||74||78|
We salute Samsung for stuffing most of its top-performing features into the Galaxy Buds 2 and selling it at such an attainable price. Music sounds great, external sounds are blocked out at an efficient level, and features like Accessibility and Gaming Mode are fun to explore when you want to personalize the listening experience. But as much of a bargain as these buds are, the downgraded call quality, less premium design and lack of spatial audio will have you leaning towards the Galaxy Buds Pro, especially if you can score them on sale.
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