Review: Galaxy Buds Pro are fantastic, but only Samsung users can enjoy all features

Newshub reviews the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro.
Photo credit: Newshub.

It's great news for customers that the market for in-ear headphones or earbuds is becoming increasingly crowded: it means more options and more competitive prices.

Samsung's latest are the Galaxy Buds Pro, which are being hailed as the Korean company's best in-ear headphones yet.

But how do they stack up against rival products from the likes of Apple, Oppo, Sennheiser and Huawei?

I've been using the Galaxy Buds Pro for the past week or so and here are my thoughts.

The good

In terms of pure sound quality, Samsung's buds deliver the goods. Designed with AKG, each bud has an 11mm woofer and 6.5mm tweeter, meaning you get nice, balanced audio.

Overall, I like the sound of the expensive Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 the best out of all earbuds I've tried yet. But I rate the Galaxy Buds Pro over any of Apple's earbuds released so far.

They sound great, especially considering their reasonable price.

The active noise-cancelling (ANC) Samsung's latest earbuds offer is good - it'll definitely dull most sounds around you, especially something like a plane or bus hum. However, I did find the ANC worked better for me with the Apple AirPods Pro and Huawei's FreeBuds Pro.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro in-ear.
Photo credit: Newshub.

I used the Galaxy Buds Pro to have a few phone conversations and they were nice and clear both ways - including when I was outside on a fairly windy day. The calls sound way better than if holding the phone up to my head, plus there's the hands-free convenience.

There's a fair bit of tech gone into these to really try and ensure they amplify wanted voice sounds and minimise all other sounds, which pays off.

One thing I'm always after with my earbuds is how comfortable they are in different situations, but especially in bed. These fit in my ear really well and never seem to get uncomfortable, or fall out on my pillow before I've gone to sleep.

The charging case is also a nice, rounded shape that doesn't feel too big or awkward in my jeans pocket.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro charging case.
Photo credit: Newshub.

There are a bunch of new features in these latest Samsung earbuds - although some of them sadly only work with specific devices. More on that later.

Among the most exciting new features is 360-degree spatial audio technology with head-tracking, and multipoint pairing, so you can connect to two Samsung devices at once and have the Buds dynamically switch between them.

There's also a voice detect function that will switch from ANC to transparency mode if you speak - really handy.

Using the SmartThings app, you can find the earbuds if you lose them - or if your child or pet decides to lose them for you.

You also get IPX7 water protection, so using these in the rain or during an intensely sweaty workout shouldn't be an issue. That's a higher rating than many of its competitors - but I personally still don't feel comfortable testing it by going for a swim with them in.

With the battery, you get a fairly standard five hours per charge with ANC on, and then an extra 13 when using the case before you need to plug that in.

The bad

As is increasingly the way with Samsung - as it is with Apple - the Galaxy Buds work best when used with other devices from the same manufacturer.

If you own a Samsung phone and/or tablet, you'll get the best out of these buds. And those in turn generally work better when in conjunction with a Samsung watch, TV, soundbar… maybe fridge, somehow.

That 'ecosystem' thing is a double-edged sword. It's awesome if you do have those other products and want them to work great together, but not awesome if you don't.

If you don't have other Samsung products, you're missing out on some of the features of the Galaxy Buds Pro and as such will likely want to look at an alternative that offers all its features for any brand it's used with.

Even if you do have Samsung products, to get everything from the Buds you need a phone from the latest S21 range or a Tab of the S7 variant, and you need it running the latest Android skin, OneUI 3.1. Anything older and you're missing out.

One of the features I find most interesting is multi-audio track recording - so if you're recording a video with an S21 phone, it will record audio with the phone's mic as one track and from the Buds Pro as another.

This is a pretty niche feature and is the sort of thing that sort of mimics a professional video recording set-up, but not at a professional level. It's this sort of feature that people like me find interesting, but maybe about 20 people in New Zealand will actually ever use - and yet it's still tech that costs to develop and as such will push the end price up a bit, perhaps unnecessarily.

There's also a setup process with the Galaxy Buds that you don't have to go through with competitors, including accepting a bunch of privacy terms and conditions that I didn't read.

Other than that, there are other earbuds on the market with better sound quality and better noise-cancelling, but not much better and generally with a higher price.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review
Photo credit: Newshub.

The verdict

If you have one of the most recent Samsung phones or tablets, you'll be hard-pressed to find a set of in-ear headphones that's a better match than the Galaxy Buds Pro.

They have some great new features, deliver great sound quality and are nice and comfy.

If you have any other sort of device, these are still great earbuds - but you'll be missing out on some of their most exciting features.

Some retailers were offering a set of these free with a purchase of a new Galaxy S21 phone and customers who took advantage of that got a fantastic deal, in my opinion.

Newshub was supplied a set of Galaxy Buds Pro for this review.