There are wireless earphones and headphones with wires and headbands, and then there are truly wireless earphones. Once considered a concept that belonged in science-fiction, true wireless earphones are now reality, and as more brands are getting into this product segment, prices are dropping as well. It's now possible to buy a pair of truly wireless earbuds for less than Rs. 5,000, and even the higher-end segment continues to see big launches from more established brands.
If you're willing to put a bit of money into your purchase but don't want to go past the four-figure mark, you do have a few big-name options. One of these is the new Samsung Galaxy Buds, a new pair of truly wireless earbuds that is priced at Rs. 9,990 in India. The successor to the Gear IconXwhich was launched last year, the Samsung Galaxy Buds are more affordable and also take a different approach to the feature set. We're reviewing them today to find out everything there is to know about the Samsung Galaxy Buds.
Samsung Galaxy Buds design and specifications
The earbuds of truly wireless earphones are usually quite large, because of the need for individual batteries and Bluetooth chips in each one, along with controls, if any. Despite that, the Samsung Galaxy Buds are smaller and lighter than many of the recent pairs of truly wireless earphones we've used.
These earbuds have plastic casings with stems extending into the wearer's ears for an in-canal fit and noise-isolating seal. There are microphones on each earbud for use on voice calls and to enable the ambient sound mode. The Samsung Galaxy Buds were comfortable for us to wear throughout the day.
The sales package includes the Samsung Galaxy Buds, charging cradle, a USB Type-C cable to charge the cradle, an instruction manual, and additional rubber eartips and wings. While the wings might help you with a more secure fit, we personally preferred to go without them, since this was more comfortable. The wings might be useful while running, but in our experience, the earbuds were light enough to stay in place without them in most usage conditions.
The inside of each earbud has two charging contact points and a proximity sensor to detect when they've been removed from and put into your ears. Removing them from the ears also pauses the music, which is a good way to quickly stop playback when you need to listen to your surroundings or talk to someone. There is no power switch; we simply had to put the earbuds back into the charging cradle to switch them off. This would of course also then start topping up the batteries in each earbud, which was convenient.
The Galaxy Buds both have their own 58mAh batteries, and the charging cradle has an extra 252mAh for charging the earbuds. Interestingly, you can also charge the cradle wirelessly with compatible devices that support reverse wireless charging or any regular wireless charger. We tested this with the Samsung Galaxy S10+ (Review), and it worked as advertised.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds ran for about five hours on a full charge, and the cradle can charge the earbuds completely twice over. Assuming you start out with a fully charged pair of earbuds and cradle, you can get around 15 hours of usage without having to plug in to a power source. However, this does involve putting your earbuds away for about 30-45 minutes every five hours to get them back up to full charge.
The outer casings of the earbuds are touch-sensitive and can be used to control certain functions while the Galaxy Buds are in use. These include answering calls, playing and pausing music, skipping tracks, adjusting the volume, and triggering Bixby on a compatible device, among other things. The long-press gesture can be customised through the Galaxy Wearable app to adjust the volume, control Bixby, or trigger the ambient sound mode which lowers the volume of the music and activates the microphones to let you hear your surroundings. These controls are quite intuitive and easy to learn, and we quickly found ourselves using them all the time rather than reaching for our smartphone every few minutes.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds support Bluetooth 5 with various profiles including A2DP, AVRCP, and HFP, but lack support for the aptX codec. SBC and AAC are supported, ensuring near-universal connectivity with most smartphones and computers, as well as Samsung's proprietary Scalable codec, which is said to be on par with AptX.
When used with the Samsung Galaxy S10+ (Review), the Galaxy Buds used the Scalable codec by default, and we've tested them with this as well. However, there's no easily available information about which devices use this codec, and if you're using the Galaxy Buds with a device that doesn't support Scalable, you'll be relying on SBC or AAC.
Bluetooth 5 does ensure a stable connection though, and we didn't experience any connectivity issues during our testing of the Galaxy Buds with the Galaxy S10+.