It’s a safe bet that the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 is in the works. This unannounced pair of true wireless earbuds was first revealed by an APK teardown, and the rumor mill has been quietly churning since then.
Judging by the naming, the Galaxy Buds 2 will return to more affordable pastures than Samsung’s most recent earbuds. The first Samsung Galaxy Buds was followed by the Galaxy Buds Plus, the Galaxy Buds Live and the Galaxy Buds Pro, each pair getting improved features but also a higher price tag. The Galaxy Buds 2 could therefore forgo some luxuries in pursuit of a more attainable, crowd-pleasing price.
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It may be a few months before Samsung formally announces its next set of true wireless earbuds, but for now here’s what we know about the Galaxy Buds 2 — as well as some changes we’d like to see.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 price
Given that Samsung’s own APK refers to a “Galaxy Buds 2” as opposed to, say, a new version of the Galaxy Buds Live or Galaxy Buds Pro, it’s safe assume it would have a lot in common with the original Galaxy Buds. This could well include a lower price: right now you can find the Galaxy Buds for $79, whereas the Galaxy Buds Plus' current lowest price is $99. The top-of the range Galaxy Buds Pro launched early this year at $199.
Taking into account price reductions over time, we wouldn’t say that the Galaxy Buds would definitely slot into that $80-$100 gap. But if it is meant to supersede the standard Galaxy Buds you can expect a much lower price than the Galaxy Buds Pro. Probably the Galaxy Buds Live, too.
Backing up this theory is the Galaxy Buds 2 product code, SM-R177. This puts it a lot closer to the Samsung Galaxy Buds (SM-R170) and Galaxy Buds Plus (SM-R175) than the Galaxy Buds Live (SM-R180) and Galaxy Buds Pro (SM-R190).
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 release date
While there's been no solid indication of a Galaxy Buds 2 release date, we might be able to deduce an estimate from the recent reveal of the earbuds's color options. Several of these match those rumored for the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3, which suggests the earbuds are designed to complement these folding phones — and could therefore share a launch, which for the latter is currently believed to be July 2021.
A 2021 release would make sense: Samsung has previously released new earbud models within a few months of each other, not annually like its Galaxy S-series smartphones. And the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 would certainly make for a good joint-launch event.
Unveiling the Galaxy Buds 2 in the second half of 2021 would likely put it in direct competition with the Apple AirPods 3, though nothing is official there either.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 specs and features
Even from the relatively small leaks thus far, we can determine certain Galaxy Buds 2 features. For instance, the phrase "supportMultiConnection="true" appears in the aforementioned APK teardown, and points towards multipoint support: a feature that would let it connect to several Bluetooth devices simultaneously, making it faster to switch between them.
This could also hint at the Galaxy Buds 2 supporting the same automatic device switching feature as the Galaxy Buds Pro. This lets the premium earbuds switch sources when detecting video or music playback on a different, but previously-paired device, though it only works with specific Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets.
That said, the same line of code in the APK leak includes the phrase supportNonSamsung="true"," so the Galaxy Buds 2 may play nicer with devices outside of Samsung’s ecosystem.
Assuming a more affordable price, we’d also expect the Galaxy Buds 2 to go without some of the more advanced features Samsung introduced on its more recent earbuds. Active noise cancellation (ANC) therefore seems unlikely, as neither the original Galaxy Buds nor the Galaxy Buds Plus had it, and the Galaxy Buds 2 product code indicates it's a continuation of these earbuds.
And we’d be extremely surprised if Samsung included its 360 Audio system. On the Galaxy Buds Pro this adds a 3D surround sound effect to compatible video content, similar to Apple’s spatial audio — very cool, but likely to stay reserved for Samsung’s premium headphones.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 design
So far the Galaxy Buds 2's reported color options are black, white, green and purple, though that's all we really know on the design front.
Hopefully Samsung will continue moving on from the Galaxy Buds Live’s weird bean shape and make the Galaxy Buds 2 a little rounder and more compact than the original Galaxy Buds. Copying all of the Galaxy Buds Pro’s features might be unrealistic, but this new pair of buds could much more easily take cues from its design improvements.
Replaceable in-ear tips seem like a given, as this is a Samsung earbud staple. It might also give the Galaxy Buds 2 an advantage over the AirPods 3 on passive noise isolation, as it hasn’t been confirmed yet whether Apple’s buds will use replaceable tips or keep the looser, semi-open design of the current AirPods.
What we want from the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
Drawing up a wishlist for the Galaxy Buds 2 is a little tricky, as by contemporary standards the original Galaxy Buds leaves lots of room for upgrades. But at the same time, the new version can’t stuff itself so full of high-end tech that the price becomes unpalatable. Here are some design traits and features we think would make for both effective and realistic improvements.
Longer battery life: We got a little under 6 hours normal usage from the original Galaxy Buds, which by today’s standard is decent yet nothing special. Assuming the Galaxy Buds 2 won’t stretch to becoming a pair of ANC earbuds, 7 or 8 hours should be the target baseline for battery life.
Water resistance: The Galaxy Buds’ weak IPX2 rating leaves much to be desired on the waterproofing front. If cost is a factor, the Galaxy Buds 2 doesn’t need to be completely immune to submersion, but improved water resistance at the least would be a big help. An IPX4 rating or higher would ensure sweat-proofing and protection from heavy rain.
Sleeker design: The Galaxy Buds Pro is Samsung’s best-looking and most comfortable pair of earbuds yet. We’d love to see the Galaxy Buds 2 adopt a similarly sleek design, even if it’s just a refinement of the rounded Galaxy Buds.
Improved call quality: Phone calls have typically been a weak spot on Samsung’s earbuds, even on the Galaxy Buds Pro. Even on a cut-price pair like the Galaxy Buds 2, Samsung should address this with improved microphone performance that won’t make the user sound so choppy and distorted when speaking.
Wide non-Samsung compatibility: Although we don’t know what kind of special features Samsung has in mind for the Galaxy Buds 2, we hope they don’t all need a recent Galaxy smartphone to function. This was a disappointing issue with the Galaxy Buds Pro: all the coolest toys, including automatic switching and 360 Audio, would only work when the buds were paired to a Galaxy device running Samsung’s One UI 3.1 software. Hopefully the Galaxy Buds 2 will be more platform-agnostic.
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