Earlier this week Samsung has announced a handful of new devicesall should start arriving on August 26th. There are new Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy ZFlip 4 smartphone, the Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Proand Galaxy Buds 2 Pro wireless headphones. Shortly after the event ended, I received a test sample of the Buds 2 Pro.
Over the past 48 hours, I’ve used them as much as possible, listening to music and watching a few YouTube videos on a Z Flip 4. So far, the Buds 2 Pro deliver on the promise of high-end wireless . headphones, with one exception.
|Microphones||3 in each earbud|
|Speaker||Custom 2-way coaxial speaker|
|Battery life with ANC||5 hours of playtime, 18 hours total with case|
|Battery life with ANC off||8 hours of playtime, 29 hours total with case|
|Characteristic:||Active noise cancellation, ambient mode, 360 audio, voice detection|
|Colors||Bora Purple, Graphite, White|
|Water and sweat resistance||IPX7|
Comfort is key
After 48 hours, I can say that the Buds 2 Pro are possibly the most comfortable wireless headphones I’ve ever worn. I was able to use the default medium-sized ear tips that come fitted to the headphones. 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 headphones have a unique shape. There’s the tip of the ear, then a small bump that fits my ear nicely, with a larger area on the outside that houses the touchpad.
Exam: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Lighter, brighter and friendlier
I was able to wear them for several hours at a stretch without having to take a break because my ears hurt or feel uncomfortable. I also don’t feel like the Buds 2 Pro are going to fall out of my ear. Maybe that’s because they feel a lot lighter than the Pixel Buds Pro. Each Buds 2 Pro buds weigh 5.5 grams, while the Pixel Buds Pro buds weigh 6.2 grams each. It’s not much, but I can feel the difference (to be clear, I didn’t look at the weight before I started writing this, so it’s not a placebo effect).
Pro sound quality and features
The Buds 2 Pro have all the basic features that now come with the Pro nomenclature for wireless headphones. That means fast pairing, active noise cancellation (ANC) to block out background noise, and some form of ambient or transparency mode that lets background noise through. All of these 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 noisy mechanical keyboard and office air conditioner when it’s running, while the ambient mode lets it all through without drowning out the music I’m listening to.
The Buds 2 Pro, however, have a voice detection feature that activates Ambient Mode and lowers the volume of whatever you’re listening to once it detects you’re speaking. The assumption is that you are talking to someone and adjusting the sound will allow you to hear the person better. After 10 seconds during which the headphones no longer detect your voice, the sound settings return to their previous state.
In a few quick tests, I found the voice detection to work well. It’s quick to respond when I start speaking and lowers the volume enough that I can hear someone across the room. You can customize the timeout from 10 seconds to 5 or 15 seconds, but not longer than that. I wouldn’t mind a 20 second option.
Samsung has also added 360 Audio to the Buds 2 Pro. It’s a feature 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 isn’t as aggressive as Spatial Audio, but there were times when I forgot 360 Audio was on and turned my head and heard different distinguished instruments.
Voice Detect and 360 Audio are features you need to enable in the Wear app – they aren’t enabled by default.
When it comes to sound quality, Samsung has added 24-bit Hi-Fi audio to the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, but you need an audio source or streaming service that also supports 24-bit Hi-Fi . I don’t have access to either, so I can only speak to the standard audio experience. As with ANC and Ambient Mode, the sound quality of the Buds 2 Pro is on par with other premium wireless earbuds.
So far the battery life has been good, but I need more time to get a real feel for how long the headphones last and how often I need to charge the case itself. same. More on battery life in the weeks to come, but right now that’s not something I’m concerned about.
Auto switch 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 are in use and you start playing audio or receiving a call . The caveat here is that you need 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. A few times I listened to music on the Z Flip 4 and then tried to start streaming music or watching a YouTube video on my personal Z Fold 3 and a Z Fold 4 review model. Not once did the audio change 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 headphones. Am I doing something wrong?
I have contacted Samsung regarding the apparent lack of automatic 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 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. This 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 to your Galaxy phone, you’ll need to unlock the phone, open the Settings app, go to Connections, then Bluetooth, and select Headphones.
For anyone with multiple devices made by multiple companies, this is a cumbersome and inconvenient process. And that’s a shame.
To be fair, Apple AirPods Pro (and the rest of the AirPods line) work the same when used with non-Apple devices. However, automatic switching between Apple devices is seamless.
First impressions are important, but I won’t make a final judgment after a few days of testing. Instead, I plan to update this hands-on/early review over the next two weeks, before the full launch on August 26th. I have a few flights before that which will be a great test of battery life and how well the active noise cancellation blocks noise.
Much more to come.
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