Galaxy Buds: Price, Features, Specs, Reviews for Samsung's AirPods Rival
While Apple has seemed to be in no great rush to release the AirPods 2, Samsung has seized the opportunity to release its own pair of wireless earbuds. At least for now, the Galaxy Buds could have Apple playing catch up.
Samsung unveiled its new ear set as a complement to its trio of Galaxy S10 devices that launched at its February Unpacked event. From the get-go, it was clear that Samsung capitalized on features that Apple has yet to bring to the AirPods, for example by introducing wireless charging and integrated voice assistant support.
“The Galaxy Buds are smarter, more efficient, and better sounding than ever,” said Samsung Senior Marketing Executive Elina Vives during Unpacked. “They’re the first companion to your S10 whether you’re working or working out.”
The Galaxy Buds aren’t Samsung’s first foray into the earbuds business. The company announced a new version of its Gear IconX buds, marketed as a workout tool, in August 2017. But the Galaxy Buds are a big step forward, offering a number of capabilities that Apple consumers can’t yet enjoy.
Samsung might have a bonafide AirPods killer on its hands.
Galaxy Buds: Price and Release Date
The Galaxy Buds went on sale March 8 for $129. Users who preordered any of the S10 models got a pair for free, but that promotion is no longer on the table now that they’ve hit stores.
Galaxy Buds: What’s in the Box
Consumers should expect the following parts if they choose to pick up a pair of Galaxy Buds:
- The ear buds
- Different sized wingtips
- Various sized eartips
- The wireless charging case
- USB Cable
- And the quick start guide
Galaxy Buds: Features
The buds’ most iconic feature is their wireless charging case. The small, oval container snaps the Galaxy Buds into place using tiny magnets and can be placed on any Qi wireless charging mat to juice up. The S10’s Wireless PowerShare lets users turn their smartphone into an extra wireless charger so that they can still charge Galaxy Buds on the go.
Users can also command Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant, using a few simple phrases. Saying “Play my morning playlist,” for example, will automatically prompt music to begin playing without having to touch the ear set or smartphone.
The Galaxy Buds are retrofitted with audio technology by AKG Acoustics, a headphone and microphone maker that was acquired by Samsung in 2016. The company says it specializes in sound isolation and rich music experience.
For users that are out-and-about often, the Galaxy Buds uses its adaptive dual microphones to dampen background noise and enhance their output. The ear set will also switch between its inner and outer mics depending on how noisy your surroundings are.
Finally, they come in three different colors: black, white, and yellow.
Galaxy Buds: Specs
The Galaxy Buds come crammed with all of the following specs:
- A 58 mAh battery for each bud that Samsung says last up to six hours
- A 252 mAh battery inside the charging case that can provide multiple charges before it needs to be juiced up
- An accelerometer, proximity sensors, and touch detectors.
- Bluetooth 5.0
Galaxy Buds: Reviews
Reviews of the Galaxy Buds all pit them side-by-side against Apple’s AirPods and, for the most part, the Buds come out on top thanks to their superior specs and technology (though that should come as no surprise given the AirPods’ 2016 release).
The Verge’s Vlad Savov called the Galaxy Buds “imperfectly acceptable” and says they suffer from low volume, wishy-washy bluetooth connection, and a lackluster microphone.
“These are easily Samsung’s best true wireless earphones,” he wrote. “But they suffer from a few too many engineering missteps to be considered a serious contender [to the AirPods].”
Vanessa Hand Orellana and Lexy Savvides from CNET came to the opposite conclusion, saying they preferred the Galaxy Buds’ new features and color options to Apple’s AirPods, which now seem plain.
“The Galaxy Buds are the clear winners,” they said. “They have more features and offer greater customization at a cheaper price than the AirPods.”
TechRadar’s Olivia Tambini and John McCann even went as far as to say iPhone users should consider getting the Galaxy Buds over AirPods, even if they miss out some of their capabilities.
“You may miss out on these additional features but the high sound quality, comfortable fit, and attractive design means that these buds could be a smart purchase, even for the iOS crowd,” they write.
Finally, Sherri Smith from Tom’s Guide officially declared Samsung’s set as the new king of earbuds.
“With their new wireless-charging capabilities, long battery life and ease of use, the Samsung Galaxy Buds are the truly wireless headphones to beat,” she said.
Samsung made a splash by offering the Galaxy Buds for free with pre-orders of its S10 smartphones. That promotion almost certainly guarantees them millions of new users from the get-go. Watch out AirPods, there’s another pair of buds in town.