TWS true wireless earphones - under $150
FOUR STARS - If you got the Samsung Galaxy Buds free with your Samsung smartphone, you know how worthy of an addition they are. If you're still deciding on whether to buy the Samsung Galaxy Buds with another phone, it comes down to a specific question: can you run the Samsung Galaxy wearable app?
Samsung Galaxy Buds specs:
Bluetooth 5.0 with AAC-codec
IPX2 water proof
+-6 hours listening on a full charge
Charging case can charge earpieces fully 3 times
Comes with 3 sizes ear tips, 3 sizes ear fins and USB-C cable
The Samsung Galaxy Buds can be used with the Galaxy Wear app on Android, providing the earbuds of different sound presets and more functionality. There is no app for iOS. I've segmented the reviews in two parts: the basics that apply for all users, and the additions the app makes.
Design, charging and comfort
The Samsung Galaxy Buds has a clean design. The rounded charging case is compact and has a high-quality finish. With some imagination, you could say it feels like a little pebble in your hands. It requires a bit of force to open the lid, making sure your case won't open randomly.
Upon opening the lid, you'll see a light that indicates the charging status of the buds. Opening the small box is enough to make the earbuds connect, which is very convenient.
The Galaxy Buds are relatively small in size and will fit most ears nicely. Around the plastic inside, you can put different rubbers with a little fin, which secures the fit of the earbuds in your ear. You can swap them independently from the ear tips, of which there are three sizes in the box. The fins do require getting used to, and likely won't feel too comfortable at first. Still, it's possible to wear the Galaxy Buds quite a while without getting tiresome.
The battery life on the earpieces is good, with up to 6 hours of playing time, dependent on your volume. The charging case can recharge the earpieces fully two times before needing a recharge itself, and holds the battery a long time. If you only use these for commuting, you won't have to recharge the Galaxy Buds anytime soon.
Connectivity and controls
Connectivity on the Samsung Galaxy Buds is terrific, even when you're not using an Android phone. The earpieces establish a connection to your iPhone or Android device as soon as you open the charging case lid. The Bluetooth 5.0 connection keeps stable up to ten meters and even in areas crowded with wireless signals. What's great too, is that you can put either of the earpieces in the case and continue to listen to the other one.
On both iPhone and Android, a single tap plays or pauses music and a double-tap skips (right bud) or returns (left) a song. On iPhone, there is no way to change the volume on the earpieces. A long press activates the Siri voice assistant.
With the Galaxy Wear app on Android, the Samsung Galaxy Buds has a few great additions. With it, you can setup the long press to change the volume, activate the voice assistant or to hear your environments trough your earphones - so you don't have to take them out.
The app lets you setup how many percent of the environmental noise comes through your sound. The sound that is passed through to the microphones, feels a little metallic, but sounds way more complete and less artificial than on the competitively priced Jabra Elite 65t.
Even better, is that it's also possible to always let surrounding noise come through the music - great if you don't want the whole world around you blocked out if you listen to music. It doesn't work as effective as the half in-ear design of the Apple AirPods Sabbat X12 Pro or Tiso iX, but you may just hear the vehicle entering in your back.
There's also the option to let the earbuds read incoming push notifications for you. You can choose which apps should apply for that. Perhaps most importantly, however: changing the volume works terrific too. It goes in small, controllable steps, with soft audible feedback.
Calling and watching movies
Synchronization between audio and video works near flawless on Android smartphones, if your device supports Bluetooth 5.0. On the iPhone, there is a noticeable delay in sound foremost when you're watching movies in the YouTube-app. Games too, don't synchronize correctly. Amazon Prime and Disney+ fare better, happily.
The call quality is average. You may hear the person you're talking to with some beeps and crackles, and the same applies to the other end of the line. You may think you have a bad connection, even when that's not the case. Still, you will likely be audible enough to be heard fine.
Sound of the Samsung Galaxy Buds: Well-behaved
The Samsung Galaxy Buds is tuned by AKG, a long-time manufacturer of headphones and other audio products. The Buds follow the so-called Harman-curve, which is an approach to deliver a sound pleasing most 'mainstream' customers, without presenting an overbearing Beats-like bass. How does it fare?
The keyword of the Samsung Galaxy Buds is balance. It offers an harmonious sound, with the lows, mids, and highs all getting the same kind of attention. The Buds doesn't emphasize the highs and bass as much as competitors. It leaves a lot of room for the mids instead. Especially singer-songwriter, rock, and more acoustic genres benefit from this approach. Modern pop, dance and hiphop, less so.
In instruments, tonality is the star of the show. Drums sound like drums, guitars have more texture than on many competitors. Detail retrieval is above average, and while the Buds doesn't deliver a huge soundstage, instruments can easy be placed. The imaging is impressive.
Upper-mids and highs (such as female vocals, cymbals, and violins) are presented well, but strangely, vocals and highs can sound a bit restricted. That is the case especially compared to other clear sounding competitors like the Jabra Elite 65t, UiiSii TWS60 and Aipower Wearbuds, which release vocals more in comparison. The Samsung can lack a bit of liveliness in these frequencies. As if singers hold in a bit.
The same carefulness applies to the bass of the Samsung Galaxy Buds. It is tight and quite quick to attack, but its role is mostly just functional. Don't expect deep rumbles from its sub-bass or massive slams from its mid-bass.
The sound of the Samsung Galaxy Buds is balanced and suitable for almost all scenarios. It can also sound a little dull however, with restricted vocals and a merely functional bass. Sometimes you may want it to behave a little less - sound more engaging instead.
With the Galaxy Wear app on Android, you get five extra sound presets in the equalizer. The Clear-preset puts emphasis on the upper-mids and highs, in favor of the lower mids. The Highs-boost-preset mostly just removes the bass. The Bass-boost-preset does it the other way around: highs fade away and the bass gets a little emphasis - unfortunately providing the Buds a more muddy sound. The soft-preset, is somewhere in between the bass-boost and regular sound signature.
The Dynamic-preset is where it's at. It attacks the well-behaved sound signature out of the box. It pushes the bass, lower-mids and highs more forward. The bass gets a slightly heavier thump - although thump may still be too big of a word, and drums and darker electronic tones take a more prominent role. Accompanied by the standard setting, it may be the setting you'll end up listening to time and time again.
Samsung Galaxy Buds vs Jabra Elite 65t
The Jabra Elite 65t has an app that works on every iPhone and Android smartphone, but it doesn't need the equalizers in it to sound good. The bass and lower mids have more emphasis on the Jabra, but the bass also is a bit muddy in comparison. The Jabra puts more emphasis on the highs, making especially female vocals sound more upfront and detailed. Tonality on instruments is better on the Samsung.
SAMSUNG GALAXY BUDS vs CREATIVE OUTLIER AIR/ GOLD
The Creative Outlier Air and Gold defeats the Samsung Galaxy Buds on battery life - they offer up to 10 and 14 hours of playtime on a single charge. Still, they are kept under 100 dollar. The Creatives sound more engaging and dynamic, with more power in the bass, lower-mids emphasis and a bigger soundstage. Even when the Samsung is in the Dynamic-preset. Tonality and details in the mids are better on the Galaxy Buds, however.
Samsung Galaxy Buds vs Mpow T5/ M5
The Mpow T5/ M5 is the current king of sub $50-earphones. It delivers a more dynamic sound, with a more prominent bass in all regards - texture, slam, and rumble. Lower mids, such as guitars and darker electronic tones, come trough with more detail as well. Soundstage and instrument placement are on a higher level, but highs roll off faster than on the Samsung, which has a more balanced and mid-centric sound. Samsung tonality's is also less coloured, way more accurate.
Samsung Galaxy Buds vs 1more Stylish TWS
The 1more Stylish TWS is another pair of affordable true wireless earphones that sounds a lot more dynamic than the Samsung Galaxy Buds. The 1more offers a much more emphasized, impactful bass and a less balanced sound. The soundstage on the Buds is slightly bigger than on the 1more, as is the amount of detail. The 1more can sound a little congested in more crowded songs, a problem that doesn't occur on the Samsung.
Verdict - without the app
The Samsung Galaxy Buds without the app is still a decent pair of TWS true wireless earphones, with good battery life, adequate comfort and balanced, friend-to-all sound quality. It's a solid offering, but it doesn't take the crown on any specific aspect.
Three STARS - worth considering
Verdict - with the app
With the app, the Samsung Galaxy Buds adds a great Dynamic-preset, giving you the option to switch between a more mid-centric balanced sound, and a more engaging sound. Changing the volume on the earpieces and the option to hear your surroundings while listening to music, are great additions too.
FOUR STARS - RECOMMENDED
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I received the Samsung Galaxy Buds from Samsung for testing and reviewing purposes. I test and review all audio products equally honest - read about it here.
Consider buying this earphone? I'd really appreciate it if you use the links in this article. It won't cost you extra, yet it will financially support me a bit in my ongoing quest for great affordable audio. <3
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