Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Review: Forget AirPods, Get These Instead!
If you’re lucky, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 will already be selling in your country by the time you read this review. For us here in Singapore, it’s 1st September at the time of publication and we’ll be able to buy these tomorrow.
So, let’s talk design. The case is exactly the same as the one that comes with the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and Buds Live. In fact, if you have sleeves or protectors for those, you can use them with the Buds 2 case as well. Pretty smart move on Samsung’s part; using existing moulds would definitely bring down the price of manufacturing these cases.
Anyway, no matter what colourway you choose, the exterior of the case will always be this glossy white plastic. It’s okay, not my favourite, I still prefer the matte black finish of the Buds Pro case. You get the same LED indicator on the front and a USB-C charging port on the rear. There’s wireless charging in this, which is very nice.
Open up the case and you’ll see the colour you picked. For this one, I picked the lavender colour, which I thought looked the nicest out of all the options. There’s also graphite, olive and white, but yeah. The lavender colour is also a slightly darker colour than it looks in the press images, but it’s really grown on me, I like it a lot.
These operate on touch controls as per usual, one tap for play pause, two taps for next track, three taps for previous track and touch and hold is set to ANC or ambient sound toggle by default. Samsung offers a very peculiar method of customisation, allowing you to turn off which taps you don’t want, which is interesting. Anyway, you can customise touch and hold as well, but because I’m using the Labs feature where I can double-tap the edge of the earbud to control volume, I left it on ANC and ambient sound toggle. The Labs feature, by the way, is pretty finicky, so I don't recommend using it if you get easily frustrated by false touches. I did find myself accidentally skipping tracks back and forth by trying to lower or raise the volume.
That being said, you'll definitely want to download the Samsung Wearables app, because it really does give you access to a lot of features. You get so much stuff here, EQ settings, earbud fit test, seamless switching for compatible devices, find my earbuds and all that. Pretty comprehensive offering from Samsung, so I’m very happy here.
There’s also Bluetooth 5.2, which is great. There's also multipoint connectivity, in a sense. You can swap connections between Samsung devices easily, between the watch, phone and perhaps even a tablet if you have one. As for codec support, there’s the usual SBC, AAC and of course, Samsung’s own proprietary Samsung Scalable Codec. This is a pretty important thing to note, because SSC is the main reason why you would want to use these with a Samsung phone. You get better sound quality and lower latency, and it’s just an all-around better experience.
Battery life is pretty good, Samsung claims five hours with ANC on and 7.5 hours with ANC off in the earbuds, with a total of 20 hours or 29 hours respectively with the case. I got around four hours and 35 minutes, with ANC turned on, so it's pretty accurate.
There’s wireless charging like I mentioned earlier, as well as fast charging. Five minutes of charge gives you an hour of playtime, which is always handy. If you have a phone that supports reverse wireless charging, you can always just plop the case down on the wireless charging coil.
There’s an IPX2 water resistance rating here, which is super low. You could probably run with them and they should hold up to sweat, but I’d recommend keeping them away from rain or the pool or whatever.
ANC-wise, they’re pretty decent. Not as good as the Buds Pro of course, but it does effectively get rid of car noise and the likes thanks to the passive noise isolation afforded by the good seal. The ambient sound feature, though, isn’t great. It’s pretty artificial and I still found myself straining to hear what people were saying, so I just took the earbuds out anyway.
Microphone quality’s pretty good. It’s still clear that I’m speaking through earbuds, but soft wind noise from my fan and computer fans are pretty much non-existent when I’m taking calls at my desk, and even outside, my voice comes across clearly enough even with a mask on.
Sound quality, though, is really good. Samsung’s offerings always tend to be on the balanced side, and it’s no different here. The Buds 2 utilise a two-way driver design with a woofer and tweeter in each side, and they offer a clear, well-balanced sound that works well with a wide range of genres. My one quibble is that there isn’t much sub-bass extension here, but overall, you do get the bass thump and a pretty detailed midrange.
The soundstage is okay, not too cramped, but it’s not very wide either. Layering is a bit of a miss too; too much compression I think, and there’s not much air in between instruments. But again, for S$248 or US$150, it’s really not too bad.
People with a Samsung phone who are looking to get new earbuds that have ANC at a decent price will definitely be considering this I think. It’s a very good option in its price point, and weighing in at just 5 grams per earbud, the comfort really is there.
Content by Cheryl Tan
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