Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro early review: Most comfortable wireless earbuds yet?

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro early review: Most comfortable wireless earbuds yet?

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro in their case with a phone showing the app

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Earlier this week Samsung announced a handful of new devicesall slated to begin arriving on Aug. 26. There are new Galaxy ZFold 4 and Galaxy ZFlip 4 smartphones, the Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Proand Galaxy Buds 2 Pro wireless earbuds. Shortly after the event ended, I received a review sample of the Buds 2 Pro.

For the past 48 hours, I’ve been using them as much as I could, listening to music and watching a few YouTube videos on a Z Flip 4. Thus far, the Buds 2 Pro are delivering on the promise of high-end wireless earbuds, with one exception.


microphones 3 in each earbud
speaker Custom coaxial 2-way speaker
connectivity Bluetooth 5.3
Battery life w/ANC 5 hours listening, 18 hours total with case
Battery life w/ANC off 8 hours listening, 29 hours total with case
Features: Active noise cancellation, ambient mode, 360 audio, voice detection
Colors Bora Purple, Graphite, White
Water and sweat resistance IPX7
Price $229

Comfort is key

After 48 hours, I can say that the Buds 2 Pro just might be the most comfortable wireless earbuds I’ve worn yet. I was able to use the default medium-size ear tips that come installed on the earbuds. There are small and large tips included in the box, along with a USB-C to USB-C charging cable.

Comparing the Buds 2 Pro with the Pixel Buds Pro and AirPods Pro, Samsung’s earbuds have a unique shape to them. There’s the ear tip, then a small bump that fits nicely into my ear, with a larger area on the outside that houses the touchpad.

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I’ve been able to wear them for several hours nonstop without having to take a break because my ears are sore or feel uncomfortable. I also don’t feel as if the Buds 2 Pro are going to fall out of my ear. Maybe that’s because they feel much lighter than the Pixel Buds Pro. Each individual Buds 2 Pro earbud weighs 5.5 grams, while the Pixel Buds Pro earbuds weigh 6.2 grams each. It’s not a lot, but I can feel the difference (to be clear, I didn’t look up the weight until I started writing this, so it’s not a placebo effect).

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and a closed Galaxy Z Flip phone

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Sound quality and Pro features

The Buds 2 Pro have all of the staple features that now come with the Pro nomenclature for wireless earbuds. That means quick pairing, active noise cancellation (ANC) to block out background noise and some form of ambient or transparency mode that lets in background noise. All of those features work as expected, and are on par with the AirPods Pro or Pixel Buds Pro.

The ANC is strong enough to block out my very loud mechanical keyboard and office air conditioner when it’s running, while ambient mode lets all of that through while not drowning out the music I’m listening to.

The Buds 2 Pro, however, have a Voice Detect feature that turns on ambient mode and lowers the volume of whatever you’re listening to once it detects that you’re talking. The assumption is that you’re talking to someone, and adjusting the sound will make you better able to hear the person. After 10 seconds of the earbuds no longer detecting your voice, the sound settings revert to their previous state.

In a couple of quick tests, I found voice detection works well. It’s fast to respond when I start talking, and turns everything down low enough that I can hear someone across the room. You can customize the 10-second timeout to either 5 or 15 seconds, but not any longer than that. I wouldn’t mind a 20-second option.

Samsung also added 360 Audio to the Buds 2 Pro. It’s a feature that’s similar to Apple’s Spatial Audio that creates the effect of being surrounded by the music you’re listening to or the video you’re watching. Samsung’s 360 Audio is not as aggressive as Spatial Audio, but there have been times when I forgot 360 Audio was turned on and I’d turn my head and hear different instruments singled out.

Both Voice Detect and 360 Audio are features that you have to turn on in the Wear app — they aren’t enabled by default.

As for sound quality, Samsung added 24-bit Hi-Fi sound to the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, but you need to have an audio source or streaming service that also supports 24-bit Hi-Fi. I don’t have access to either, so all I can speak to is the standard audio experience. As with ANC and ambient mode, the sound quality of the Buds 2 Pro is in line with other high-end wireless earbuds.

Battery life thus far has been good, but I need more time in order to get a real feel for how long the earbuds last, and how often I have to charge the case itself. More on battery life in the coming weeks, but as of right now it’s not something I’m worried about.

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro case, closed

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Automatic switching doesn’t seem to work

Or at least, I can’t figure it out. Samsung promises that once you pair the Buds 2 Pro with a Samsung device, the rest of your Samsung devices will automatically switch to the Buds 2 Pro if they’re in use and you start playing audio or receive a call. The caveat here is that you have to be signed in to both devices with the same Samsung account.

I did the initial setup and pairing of the Buds 2 Pro with the new Galaxy Z Flip 4, using the one and only Samsung account I have. On a few occasions, I’ve been listening to music on the Z Flip 4, and then tried to start streaming music or watch a YouTube video on my personal Z Fold 3 and a review model Z Fold 4. Not once has the audio switched away from the Flip 4 to either Fold device.

This is similar to my experience with the feature in the past with Samsung’s wireless earbuds. Am I doing something wrong?

I’ve reached out to Samsung about the apparent lack of auto-switching and will provide an update.

You can use the Buds 2 Pro with non-Samsung devices by pairing them via the traditional Bluetooth method. You need to place both earbuds in the charging case, and then long-press on both touchpads until the status light starts flashing red, green, and blue.

The Buds 2 Pro don’t support multipoint connections like the Pixel Buds Pro do. That means the Buds 2 Pro can only stay connected to one device at a time. If you want to switch from, say, a MacBook Pro back to your Galaxy phone, you’ll need to unlock the phone, open the Settings app, go to Connections and then Bluetooth, and select the earbuds.

For anyone who has multiple devices made by multiple companies, it’s a cumbersome and inconvenient process. And that’s unfortunate.

To be fair, Apple’s AirPods Pro (and the rest of the AirPods lineup) work in a similar fashion when in use with non-Apple devices. However, automatic switching between Apple devices is seamless.

Bottom line… for now

Early impressions are important, but I won’t pass final judgment after a couple of days of testing. Instead, I plan on updating this hands-on/early review over the course of the next two weeks, leading up to the full launch on Aug. 26. I have a couple of flights before then, which will be a great test of battery life and how well active noise cancellation blocks out noise.

Plenty more to eat.