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Apple AirPods 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds: Why Samsung Still Wins

On paper, the new Apple AirPods and Samsung Galaxy Buds have quite a lot in common. They both have barely-there dimensions, sport white casings and offer wireless charging.

But there are also some key differences. Made specifically for the Apple faithful, the AirPods 2 have doubled down on what made the originals great, adding voice-activated Siri and faster connection and transfer speeds between iOS devices. Meanwhile, Samsung has imbued the Galaxy Buds with several cool features, like an adjustable equalizer and an estimated 6 hours of battery life.

Which one of these lightweight, truly wireless earbuds are best in class? To find out, let's compare the AirPods 2 to Samsung's Galaxy Buds.

AirPods vs. Galaxy Buds: Specs Compared


Apple AirPods 2
Samsung Galaxy Buds
Price
$199$129
Colors
WhiteWhite, Black, Yellow
What's in the Box
Wireless charging case and Lightning cableCharging case, USB Type-C cable, eartips, wings
Battery Life (Estimated)
5 hours, 24 hours (charging case)6 hours, 7 hours (charging case)
Size
0.7 x 0.7 x 1.6 inches0.7 x 0.9 x 0.8 inches
Weight (earbuds, Charging Case)
0.14 ounces, 1.4 ounces0.2 ounces, 1.4 ounces

Samsung Galaxy BudsView Deal

Design

I wouldn't blame you if you confused the 2nd Gen AirPods with 1st gen version of Apple's earbuds. The 0.14-ounce, 0.7 x 0.7 x 1.6-inch buds have the same dimensions as their predecessor and are made from the same glossy white plastic. They even have the same silver chrome cap at the end of the stem. And just like the OG AirPods, the new ones come in only one color and lack a rating for sweat and water resistance.

Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods

The Galaxy Buds build upon the design of the Gear IconX and refine it. Samsung uses pearlescent plastics of the matte and glossy variety to draw the eye. And unlike Apple, Samsung isn't afraid to play with color, offering the 0.2-ounce, 0.7 x 0.9 x 0.8-inch buds in two additional colors: a cheery yellow and an austere black to match the Galaxy S10's color schemes.

Galaxy Buds

Galaxy Buds

The Galaxy Buds also have an IPX2 rating, which isn't the greatest but offers some water and sweat resistance.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds

Comfort

Not too big, not too small, the Galaxy Buds are just right. When I place them in my ears, the buds create a tight, fairly secure seal that doesn't exert any painful or uncomfortable pressure on my ears, even after wearing them for 2 hours. It should be noted that while the seal is somewhat secure, one did fall out while I was sweating to death on the elliptical.

Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods

The AirPods are so light that you can barely feel them in your ears. It makes for an immensely comfortable wearing experience. But the AirPods are so small that they can't create a tight-enough seal (at least in my ears they don't), so I'm always worried about them falling out. The AirPods haven't fallen out at the gym (yet), but I always feel like they're teetering on the edge.

Galaxy Buds

Galaxy Buds

That lack of a seal also allows way too much ambient noise to creep into my listening experience. But the AirPods are über-comfortable, giving them an edge.

Winner: Apple AirPods

Controls

With all these tap-based controls on both earbuds, sometimes I feel like I'm using Morse code. But with the AirPods, you're tapping the stems, which doesn't push the Pods any farther into your ear canal. That sometimes happens with the Galaxy Buds, though not often enough to be truly bothersome. However, due to the superslim surface area of the AirPods, I sometimes found myself missing the stem of Apple's earbuds.

Galaxy Buds

Galaxy Buds

When it comes to actual functionality, the Galaxy Buds are the clear winners. Depending on the number of taps delivered, you can play/pause your music, answer/end a call, cue up the digital assistant and skip tracks. You can also configure a long tap with one of three features: Voice Command, Quick Ambient Sound and Volume Down.

Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods

With the AirPods, you can assign only one of four features (Siri, Play/Pause, Next Track and Previous Track) to each stem at a time. And if you're not using an iPhone or other iOS device, that means you'll be touching your connected device a lot more often than you'd like.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds

Special Features and App

The most noticeable feature of the new AirPods is hands-free Siri. Instead of tapping the stems to summon Apple's digital assistant, all you need do is say "Hey Siri." I was really impressed that the dual microphones heard me mumble the phrase on a noisy New York City street during prime rush hour.

Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods

Other notable features are made possible via Apple's new H1 chip, which enables faster pairing to both Android and iOS as well as speedier switching between devices. Combined with the dual mics and sensors, the H1 chip improves the audio on calls, eliminating background noise while focusing on your voice. And of course, you've got the old standbys of near instant pairing and Find My AirPods.

Galaxy Buds

Galaxy Buds

Not to be outdone, the Galaxy Buds also offer instantaneous pairing with Samsung smartphones like the new Galaxy S10. But the biggest features come by way of the companion Galaxy Wearables app. When launched on your Android smartphone, you can access the equalizer, which offers five different presets (Bass boost, Soft, Dynamic, Clear and Treble boost), so you can tune your music to your specific listening tastes.

MORE: Best Headphones - Top Earbuds and Headphones

There's also the Ambient Sound feature, which allows listeners to toggle how much outside noise gets filtered into the Galaxy Buds. You can also configure what launches when performing a long press, including changing the volume, launching the digital assistant or activating the quick version of Ambient Sound. And in case one or both buds go missing, there's Find My Earbuds, which plays an ear-piercing tone that will help you track them down.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds

Audio

No matter what genre I was listening to, the Galaxy Buds tended to deliver the best performance. thanks to a wider soundstage and more precise highs. When I listened to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," I got punchy percussion and good balance between the electric guitar and Kurt Cobain's gritty vocals. The sound of the drums and cymbals on the AirPods was a little recessed, and there were times when I lost the guitar in the vocals.

Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods

When I switched to Tony Matterhorn's "Dutty Wine," I got somewhat boomy bass from the AirPods, which took away from the violins but not the lower register of the keyboard or Matterhorn's baritone. The Galaxy Buds gave a cleaner result as the bass didn't sound as diffused and the violin sounded clearer against the energetic vocal.

Listening to Jadakiss' "By My Side," I heard clean synths and full bass from the Galaxy Buds. I could even hear the piano throughout despite everything going on with the very busy track. The rapper's trademark laugh and Ne-Yo smooth tenor took center stage. Oddly enough, I heard crackling at the start of the song with the AirPods. It was drowned out by the instrumental and vocals, but it was definitely noticeable. Aside from the crackling, the bass was a little crowded against the synth, which buried the piano until the solo.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds

Call Quality

Apple's onto something with its H1 chip. My mom couldn't tell that I was walking down a busy NYC street when I called her. Heck, she didn't even know that I was taking to her via a pair of wireless headphones. And despite the hustle and bustle of the street, I had no problem hearing her, either. In fact, the Pods were so clear, I could tell I was talking to her via the Bluetooth in her car.

MORE: I Spent More Than $200 on Headphones: You Should Too

Samsung is going to have to go back to the lab on the call quality, as the Galaxy Buds did not pass the mom test. She immediately commented on how muffled my voice sounded. It was the same on my end, as she sounded like she was talking through a pillow or down a long hallway.

Winner: Apple AirPods

Charging Case

The Galaxy Buds' pill-shaped carrier looks rather unassuming, but the 1.4-ounce, 2.8 x 1.5 x 1-inch case hides one of the Buds' biggest features –– wireless charging. While wireless charging is a cool trick in itself, Samsung kicks it up a notch. When it's time to replenish the Buds' power, you just pop it in the case, flip over your Galaxy S10 and place the case on top. From there, you just let your smartphone charge your earbuds with the S10's Wireless PowerShare feature.

Galaxy Buds

Galaxy Buds

If your phone doesn't have enough juice, you can recharge the Galaxy Buds the old-fashioned way, via USB Type-C. My single gripe is that the case holds only 7 hours of charge, which is low for this class of truly wireless buds.

At 1.4-ounces, 1.4 x 0.8 x 2.1-inches, the AirPods' wireless charging case is one of the smaller ones on the market. Despite is small size, the AirPods case is big on charging power, able to deliver up to 24 hours of battery life to the Pods over multiple charges.

And as the name states, the case can be charged wirelessly. Just place it on a Qi-compatible charging pad like Mophie or Anker and you're good to go. (Forget about AirPower — Apple has canceled its long-awaited wireless charging pad.) Don't have a Qi-charger around? The AirPods' case also has a Lightning port.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds

Battery Life

Just like the OG AirPods, Apple's new version has an estimated 5 hours of battery life. During my testing, which involved making calls, listening to music and watching video, the buds needed to be recharged after 4 hours and 49 minutes. The charging case can deliver 3 hours of listening time and 2 hours of talk time after 15 minutes of being in their case.

Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods

Samsung estimates that the Galaxy Buds will get approximately 6 hours of battery life, making one of the longest-lasting pairs of truly wireless buds available. I managed to eke out 5 hours and 46 minutes. The quick charge feature gives you only 1.7 hours of play time after 15 minutes of charging.

Winner: Apple AirPods

Price

At $129.99, the Galaxy Buds might be the most affordable wireless buds on the market. And if you were lucky enough to be in the first wave to purchase Galaxy S10, you got a free pair. To date, Samsung has yet to disclose whether it will sell replacement buds or cases.

The new AirPods with the optional wireless charging case are a bit pricey at $199. That’s $40 more than the 1st gen pods. However, you can get the old price ($159) if you swap the wireless case for the standard one. If you want to buy the wireless charging case solo, it'll cost you $79, while replacement buds are priced at $69 each. Curious about the other ways they differ? Check out our AirPods 2 vs AirPods comparison for the complete rundown.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds

Overall Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds

When it comes to design, audio quality and features, the Samsung Galaxy Buds are the best overall. They're somewhat durable, have an estimated 6 hours of battery life, and offer a host of features such as Ambient Sound and wireless charging via a Galaxy S10. And they have great audio.

If you're an iPhone owner, the new AirPods can't be beat, thanks to hands-free Siri, faster connection times and improved talk quality. Plus, with the wireless charger, you no longer have to be tethered to a Lightning cable. But if you're looking for a feature-rich, affordable pair of premium buds, the Samsung Galaxy Buds are the way to go.  


Apple AirPods
Samsung Galaxy Buds
Design (15)
10
13
Comfirt (10)
9
8
Controls (5)
3
4
Special Features and Apps (15)
10
13
Audio (25)
15
20
Charging Case (10)
9
6
Battery Life (15)
13
11
Call Quality (5)
5
3
Total
74
78

Credit: Tom's Guide