Launched alongside the Galaxy S21 series smartphones at the recent Samsung Unpacked 2021 event earlier this year, the Galaxy Buds Pro are their latest generation wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation and a slew of unique features that make them ideal for what Samsung calls the ‘next normal’.
They’ve just been released in Malaysia and we got our hands on a review sample. We take a closer look at here in our Galaxy Buds Pro review.
What’s in the Box
The Galaxy Buds Pro comes in a compact cardboard box that comes with the essentials including a charging cable and optional ear tips to offer a better fit. You get the following gear in the box:
1 x Galaxy Buds Pro with Charging Case
2 x Ear tips in small and large sizes (medium ones preinstalled)
1 x USB-C to USB-A charging cable
1 x Quick start guide
Galaxy Buds Pro Design
The Galaxy Buds Pro are Samsung’s latest generation wireless earbuds that were launched at the same time as the new Galaxy S21 series phones.
The casing of the Buds Pro has similar dimensions to the one used in the Galaxy Buds Live with a squarish case resembling a lady’s make-up compact. The hinge is weighed just enough to allow for one-handed opening with the base of your palm acting as a lever and using your thumb and forefinger to prise the case open.
Just below the rear hinge is a USB-C charging port for wired charging. Alternatively, you can also charge it wirelessly via any of Samsung’s phones using their Wireless PowerShare mode or a compatible wireless charging pad.
Our test unit came in a matte shade of Phantom Black that repels fingerprints wonderfully while looking stylish indeed. This colour scheme also extends to the earbuds themselves which are mostly black save for a slightly reflective touch panel. In Malaysia, you can also opt to buy it in Phantom Violet and Phantom White.
The design of the earbuds for the Galaxy Buds Pro harkens back to the Galaxy Buds Plus with silicone ear tips and a prominent housing that perches outside the ear canal. The ear bud housing is both compact and sophisticated, holding a 120mAh battery, an 11mm woofer and a 6.5mm tweeter along with two external and one inward facing microphone.
Unlike the unorthodox bean-shaped earbuds in the recent Buds Live, the Buds Pro uses silicone ear tips to offer a more secure fit though this time around, Samsung features more refined, oval-shaped ear tips that stick in the ear better while offering more comfort for extended usage.
Of note here is that the earbuds are rated for IPX7 water resistance though there’s no dust resistance. This means it’s able to handily survive a splash or two of rain but it is not waterproof nor are you able to use it in the shower. It will, however, handily survive a trip to the gym and liberal amounts of sweat.
Galaxy Buds Pro Specifications
The Galaxy Buds Pro all universally come with the same specifications across the globe and only differ in terms of colour choices available by region. In Malaysia, the Galaxy Buds Pro comes in Phantom Black, Phantom Silver and Phantom White. Here’s what hardware it has under the hood.
|Speaker||11mm woofer and 6.5mm tweeter per earbud|
|Mic||Main microphone + sub microphone + inner microphone|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0 w/ HFP/A2DP/AVRCP, Scalable, AAC, SBC & USB-C (charging)|
|Battery||5 hours (earbud) + 18 hours (total including charging case) ANC ON / 8 hours (earbud) + 28 hours (total including charging case) ANC OFF | 120mAh (earbud) 500mAh (charging case)|
|Charging time||30 minutes play time / 3 minutes charging | 85 minutes play time / 10 minutes charging|
|Size/Weight||20.5 x 19.5 x 20.8mm/6.3g [earbud] | 50 x 50.2 x 27.8mm / 44.8g [case]|
Setting up the Galaxy Buds Pro
Getting the Galaxy Buds Pro up and running out of the box is as easy as it gets. We took it out and gave it a quick 10-minute charge beforehand and it was able to seamlessly pair with our Galaxy S21 Ultra in seconds. It was also able to pair up via Bluetooth to our Windows laptop.
The Galaxy Buds Pro offers a similar control scheme to many other wireless earbuds for the sake of familiarity. For either earbud, a single tap on the control surface lets you play or pause a track. Double tapping plays the next track or to take a call. A triple touch plays the previous track but if you do this three seconds after a track starts playing, it will rewind back to the beginning of the current track.
While it works straight out of the box, you’re able to maximise its capabilities and control its finer nuances with the Galaxy Wearable app that’s usually preinstalled on all Samsung phones of recent vintage.
Via the Galaxy Wearable app, you’re able to select if you want to turn on its Active Noise cancellation or its Ambient sound mode. Alternatively to maximise battery life, you can opt to leave either one off.
The Galaxy Wearable app also allows you to tweak your equaliser settings with half a dozen predefined presets that include normal, Bass boost, Soft, Dynamic, Clear and Treble boost.
You are also able to customise what the tap and hold control does on either earbud from several presets. You’re able to swap from ANC or Ambient sound, reduce or increase volume and summon either Bixby or Spotify. Unfortunately, the basic tap controls can’t be customised.
Most important of all, the app also lets you push firmware updates to the Galaxy Buds Pro with the latest one offering enhanced performance for both ANC and Ambient sound modes.
Galaxy Buds Pro features
The Galaxy Buds Pro comes with a massive array of features that go beyond mere gimmickry.
The feature with the most practical use in day to day life is their vaunted new Voice Detect mode that worked like a charm.
This innovative new mode is able to tell if you’re having a conversation with someone else and then automatically reduces your ambient audio volume as well as cutting out active noise cancellation for the duration of the conversation. After you’re done, the earbud turns it back on in a few seconds. The end result is that you don’t have to take the Galaxy Buds Pro out of your ears in case for social interactions.
In every single instance, it was smart enough to temporarily dial down the volume such as when i was in a queue to order food from a popular establishment that specialises in fried chicken and also when i had a quick conversation with a clerk when getting groceries. With older earbuds, I often had to remove them and pause the music just to get these simple interactions done but Intelligent Audio solves all these problems in one fell swoop.
The provided Active Noise Cancellation is one of the better ones that we’ve tested with the ability to null out a good deal of background noise. When tested, it was able to mute out most of the background noise from a buzzing table fan and dehumidifier in our home office. Outdoors in the street, it was able to mute out a good deal of traffic noise. It wasn’t able to deal with the impromptu release of firecrackers by an overenthusiastic neighbour and the sound of a car outside hammering their horn but that’s a fair shake.
With Ambient Sound up, I was able to hear a good deal of external sound including PA announcements in a supermarket and more crucial audio like the sound of oncoming traffic.
Perhaps the only quibble here is that in terms of virtual assistants, the Galaxy Buds Pro only offers access to Samsung’s own Bixby. There’s a silver lining to this of course as Bixby has deep hardware access to Samsung’s own phones so you’re able to verbally control them such as controlling volume and even opening apps including non Samsung apps too on demand. Non-Samsung phones still get access to Google Assistant.
Galaxy Buds Pro performance
Where many competing wireless earbuds typically have a single driver handling bass, mids and highs, Samsung’s approach of using dedicated woofer and a tweeter along with AKG’s expert tuning delivers immense dividends. While the 11mm woofer and 6.5mm tweeter are smaller than a single dedicated driver seen in competing devices, they’re able to offer more detail across the range.
I put the Galaxy Buds Pro through our usual wringer of test tracks and they’re among the best that they’ve ever issued from their foundries and can easily tackle anything in their price range and even beyond by quite a comfortable margin.
The Galaxy Buds Pro was able to tackle all manner of tracks from subtle ones like Vaughan William’s ‘The Lark Ascending’ all the way to contemporary tracks like the eponymous live version of Hotel California. Bass was deliciously rumbly and deep while subtle details were retained even with ANC dialled in which typically affects the highs in hardware of lesser caliber.
The classic test track for sound staging – Pink Floyd’s ‘Time’ was rendered due justice with good left, center and right separation though fore and rear staging was rather modest.
Battery life for the Galaxy Buds Pro are average at best with about 5 hours of usage with ANC on and 8 usage with ANC hours off with a total of up 28 hours of usage inclusive of the charging case assuming you keep ANC off.
Of particular note is that the Galaxy Buds Pro remained comfortable for its entire five hour duration of usage with ANC on before needing a recharge. It also remained exceptionally secure as well and even repeated head shaking, jumping and a series of push ups did not dislodge them from my ears. There are no concerns about them falling out and they’ll stick in your ear through any workout.
Where the Galaxy Buds Pro gets the edge is its microphone quality with great voice quality across both sides. It’s also especially useful for content creators as it can act as a wireless mic when filming in Pro Video mode.
Galaxy Buds Pro Verdict
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro exemplify the brand’s goal of creating gear to navigate and thrive in the next normal. A rich feature set with active noise cancellation, Ambient sound and intelligent audio combined with an outstanding performance to price ratio make this one of the best wireless earbuds you can get.
If you need a pair of buds for daily use, the navigate your work and social video calls and help get work done in a noisy environment, the Galaxy Buds Pro won’t let you down. You can also opt for the older Buds Plus if budget and ANC is a major concern with the Buds Live offering a fair middle ground if you’re looking for both ANC and a unique design.
Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia. Available for purchase online at Samsung Malaysia’s official e-store here with every purchase getting a free Strap Cover worth RM99 while stocks last or until 28th February 2021.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro is an impressive advancement in features, capabilities and comfort over its predecessors. The price point is still cheaper than many competing wireless earbuds from specialist manufacturers while still offering effective active noise cancellation, a competent Ambient audio mode and an innovative Voice Detect mode.
Useful Intelligent ANC
Water resistant IPX7 design
Great audio quality
Outstanding microphone quality
Works best with Samsung phones
Average battery life
No dust resistance