Galaxy Buds First Look: Samsung’s $130 AirPod Rivals Have One Really Cool Feature

Samsung’s $130 Galaxy Buds aren’t the company’s first alternatives to Apple’s $159 AirPods, but these totally wire-free, Bluetooth earphones have a few features the best-selling AirPods don’t.

Samsung beat Apple to the punch

The Galaxy Buds’ wireless charging case, which juices up the earbuds when you’re not wearing them, can be wirelessly charged itself. Samsung’s last-gen Bluetooth buds, the Gear IconX, came in a similarly-shaped oval charging case, but the case itself needed to be charged via USB-C cable.

Now you can place the case on a wireless charging stand, or on the back of a newly unveiled Galaxy S10, to charge it back up (and it, in turn, will charge up the earbuds).

Samsung says one 15-minute quick-charge will give the Galaxy Buds an extra 1.7 hours of battery life. The earphones give listeners 5 hours of talk time and 6 hours of music, on average. The case offers an additional 7 hours of battery life before needing to be charged.

Apple is reportedly working on a similar wireless charging feature for the upcoming AirPods 2 case, which would make even more sense if the company is finally ready to release its long-awaited AirPower wireless charging mat.

I tried the wireless charging feature by using the Galaxy S10’s new Wireless PowerShare feature. To activate the feature, I swiped down on the S10 homescreen for the shortcut tray and tapped on Wireless PowerShare.

I flipped the device over and placed the Galaxy Buds case on top of it. The case’s red charging light immediately flashed. Samsung is making the Galaxy Buds a must-have accessory for people who buy its phones, just as Apple has done with AirPods.

Improved sound, flashier colors

Samsung partnered with AKG to refine the sound of the Galaxy Buds, which should deliver improved quality compared to the Gear IconX. (I didn’t get a chance to listen to any music on the Galaxy Buds, so I’ll put this to the test in our full review of the earbuds.)

Samsung says the new earbuds now have dual microphones and improved ambient noise controls, which would be useful for phone calls. The Gear IconX offered an adjustable ambient noise feature, too, but it needed some work. Specifically, a Voice Focus feature that amplified voices while wearing the earbuds made every voice sound like it was playing over a P.A. system.

The Galaxy Buds come in three shades: neon yellow, black and white. Surprisingly, they’re not designed to match the S10. While they’re slightly more compact than the Gear IconX, it’s the new colors that really set these refreshed buds apart from the competition. The look reminds me of the brash colors Mobvoi chose for its wireless TicPods Free, which are cheaper than the Galaxy Buds but share the AirPods’ long stem.

Samsung is offering Galaxy Buds for free with Galaxy S10 preorders for a limited time. After the promotion ends, the new earphones will cost $129.99.

Credit: Tom's Guide

Caitlin is a Senior editor for Gizmodo. She has also worked on Tom's Guide, Macworld, PCWorld and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. When she's not testing out the latest devices, you can find her running around the streets of Los Angeles, putting in morning miles or searching for the best tacos.