Samsung Galaxy Buds + review: finally lost the thread

Wireless earbuds are plentiful, but which are the best? Samsung hopes that you will opt for the Galaxy Buds + that costs 169 euros. In this Samsung Galaxy Buds + review you can read our experiences and comparison with competing earbuds.

Samsung Galaxy Buds +

€ 169
Freq. range
20Hz – 20kHz
Bluetooth 5.0
6.3 grams per earplug, 40 grams of charging box
Black, white or blue
Voice assistant, adaptive modes
Website 8 Score 80 Score: 80

  • Pros
  • Sound and call quality
  • Compact, versatile charging box
  • Fit
  • Battery life
  • Negatives
  • Connects to only one device at a time
  • Limited water resistant
  • No ANC function

Last year, Samsung also released the Galaxy Buds with the Galaxy S10 smartphones, a set of wireless earphones for Android devices and the iPhone. Those Buds were good, so you can read in our review. The biggest disadvantage was the disappointing sound and call quality. Samsung promises that the new Galaxy Buds + will sound and telephone better and have a much longer battery life. Last week I tested the Bluetooth earbuds in the Netherlands and during my flights to and from Barcelona. How much better are they than the previous generation and – more importantly – are they worth the suggested retail price of 169 euros?

Design and charging box

Place the Galaxy Buds + next to the Buds from last year and you will see that Samsung has stayed close to home. From the outside, the Buds and Buds + are strikingly similar. The earbuds are practically the same size, have the same design and come in an equally large storage box with built-in battery. The box is nice and compact and light and fits perfectly in your jacket or trouser pocket.

The differences are subtle. Both the Buds + and the box shine a little more and you have a choice of other colors. In addition to the standard colors of white and black, there is also a “Sky Blue” version, which I prefer to call “Baby Blue” after my test.

Design Buds +
© Samsung

That Samsung has hardly worked on the design is not bad at all. Just like its predecessor, the earbuds are very comfortable to wear, thanks to the low weight, the in-ear fit and the interchangeable caps with optional “hook”. I can wear the earplugs for hours on end without any problems and regularly forget that I have them on. The Buds + stay firmly in my ears while cycling, running and sprinting for the train. I can’t say that about the AirPods, which fall (almost) out of my ears faster because of their uniform fit.

The biggest disadvantage of the Galaxy Buds + is that they have limited resistance to water and sweat. The IPX2 certification means that the earplugs can withstand a few drops of moisture, but may break due to a lot of sweat or rain. Many competing earplugs are not bothered by their IPX4 certification.

App for Android and iOS

You can use the Samsung Galaxy Buds + with an Android smartphone, iOS device or other device that supports Bluetooth. The Buds + support bluetooth 5.0 and I have experienced no connection problems last week in combination with a Huawei P30 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Buds +
© Samsung

Samsung’s free Galaxy Wearable app (Android) or Galaxy Buds Plus app (iOS) gives you more control over the operation of the earbuds. After connecting, you can indicate in this app what the Buds + do with a single, double, triple or long tap on the touch sensitive ear cups. The app also includes an equalizer, settings for notifications for your earbuds, and three settings for ambient noise. That function is off by default. Once enabled in the app you can assign the feature to an earcup. When you activate ambient noise, you hear the sounds around you amplified and over your music. Handy if you sit on a bike and want to hear the traffic in addition to your music, just to mention an example. The ambient sound mode sounds more realistic than on the previous Buds, but can still get used to it. It pays to play with the three positions.

It is a pity that you can only connect Buds + to one device at a time. I myself have not been bothered by this, but anyone who fervently switches between two devices (laptop and smartphone for example) has to reconnect the earbuds.

Samsung Galaxy Buds +
Buds +
Buds +

Sound quality

As mentioned earlier, the sound quality is the biggest downside of last year’s Galaxy Buds. It is therefore logical that Samsung paid attention to this during the development of the Buds +. The result: each earbud has its own woofer and tweeter, so a dual driver design. In concrete terms, this means that not all tones come from the same speaker, which generally improves sound quality. That is also the case with the Galaxy Buds +. The earbuds sound remarkably realistic and clear, without exaggerated bass. Instruments are easy to hear and there seems to be more focus on voices as standard. This is useful, for example, if you use the earbuds to watch movies or listen to podcasts. All in all, the sound quality is a lot better than the Galaxy Buds and comparable to the AirPods (2019). Wireless earbuds that cost tens of euros more offer even better sound. In view of the price difference, we find that not a problem, but know that for the best sound you have to dig deeper into the pouch.

The fact that the Buds + does not produce the best sound is also partly due to the lack of good audio codecs. Both LDAC and aptX Low Latency must be missed. These codecs enable better sound quality than the SBC and AAC codecs that do support the Galaxy Buds +. If you have a modern Samsung smartphone, the earbuds also work with “Scalable Audio” for (slightly) better sound.

No noise reduction

The biggest disadvantage of the Samsung Galaxy Buds + is the lack of active noise cancellation (ANC). I don’t blame Samsung, because this feature is (still) reserved for more expensive wireless earbuds such as the AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3. They largely filter out ambient sounds via special microphones and software, something that the Buds + cannot. And you notice that, especially if you are used to ANC earplugs. Although the Buds + physically close your ears to a large extent, ambient sounds are still coming in muffled. From the train commander and people talking on the bus to the buzz in the office garden: you can hear these kinds of sounds in the background, unless you put the music uncomfortably loud. Those who like to listen in silence are therefore better off with a set of ANC earbuds. If you don’t mind some ambient noise, you won’t miss the lack of ANC.

Box of Buds +

In addition to listening to music, you can also make and receive calls with wireless earbuds. Of course that also applies to the Galaxy Buds +. Compared to the previous Buds, the new earphones have an extra microphone and that was desperately needed. The bell quality of the Buds is in fact bad: windy, tinny and twisted at the same time. With the Buds + it is considerably better to (video) call, although my conversation partners find me to sound less lively and clear than when I call with the phone to my ear. More expensive earbuds such as the AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3 also perform better in this area than Samsung’s Galaxy Buds +.

Battery life and charging

The Buds + make up for more expensive competitors in terms of sound and call quality, but Samsung has a major asset in mind. The earbuds distinguish themselves with a battery life of over ten hours of consecutive listening. That is much longer than all other wireless earbuds, including the Galaxy Buds, AirPods (Pro) and Sony WF-1000XM3. They last four to six hours before you have to put them in the charging box. That is long enough on most days, but the Buds + will last longer for hours. This is especially useful during longer flights by plane, train or car. Moreover, the longer battery life means that the earbuds need to charge less often, so that you in turn have to place the charging box less often on the charger.

That charging box charges the Buds + fully once. The total battery time of the earbuds is therefore twenty (twice ten) hours. In my opinion, Samsung has found a good balance between the size of the charging box and the size of the battery in that box.

You charge the box via a USB-C cable or wireless Qi charger. The latter is not obvious in this price segment, so Samsung deserves a compliment for this. The previous Buds can also charge wirelessly, and the AirPods (2019) and AirPods Pro too. Sony’s WF-1000XM3 cannot be charged wirelessly.

Conclusion: buy Samsung Galaxy Buds +?

Samsung delivers a solid set of wireless earbuds with the Galaxy Buds +. They hardly stand out, wear comfortably and sound “just fine”, even when calling. A big plus is the battery life of ten hours, where competing ear plugs fail after four to six hours. The compact charging box of the Galaxy Buds + can charge the earbuds again. It’s nice that the Buds + works with all your devices. However, the earbuds are not perfect. They are only water-resistant to a limited extent, do not support all audio codecs and lack an ANC function to filter out ambient noise. Given the competitive sale price of 169 euros, we find the disadvantages to oversee. Anyone who thinks differently can better save for a more expensive set such as the AirPods Pro (iOS users) or Sony WF-1000XM3 or Anker Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro (Android owners). Remember that these earbuds in turn have a shorter battery life.


Recent Articles

Related Stories