Samsung launched in August of this year the new foldable smartphones Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3. They did not arrive alone, the Galaxy Buds 2 headphones were also announced. Although we would not have expected them, they received function for active background noise cancellation (ANC). It thus comes closer both in terms of design and specifications to the Galaxy Buds Pro, the flagship wireless in-ear headphones offered by Samsung. I've been testing them for more than a week, and now it's time to share with you details about the audio experience they provide.
We have a box with a minimalist design, white. The unboxing experience is very nice and simple. Here we find 3 pairs of plugs for these headphones (sizes S, M and L), the manual and the USB-C to USB-A cable for power. Once out of the box, they are ready for pairing.
Before talking about the appearance of the headphones, we note that for this model Samsung has chosen to offer only white carrying cases. Thus, although the Galaxy Buds 2 arrive in four color shades, they all have white power boxes. The interior is different though, and I got the black ones. I first noticed that both the headphones and the case have a glossy and quite slippery finish. However, it does not collect fingerprints, and arriving on white, scratches will be harder to detect. I do recommend a case if you purchase these though.
We also get IPX2 certification here, but only for the headphones, not for the power box. This means that they withstand a little sweat produced during sports training or in the case of a light rain. However, there is a good chance that it won't survive complete submersion in water.
However, I think that Samsung has finally succeeded in perfecting the design of the Buds range. Each helmet weighs only 5 grams, and together with the carrying case we reach 51.2 grams. They almost "screw" into the ear, very well, penetrating quite deep into the ear canal.
This creates a "plug", and the passive noise cancellation is really felt. Samsung experimented a lot with the design of its range of headphones and finally came up with something original. However, I do not say that they are suitable for everyone, there are also users who prefer the "classic" in-ear, AirPods-style look.
Inside the Galaxy Buds 2 headphones we find a 2-way assembly consisting of an 11 mm woofer and a 6.5 mm tweeter. Also added here are three microphones (two on the outside and one on the inside) used for active background noise cancellation. It connects to devices via Bluetooth 5.2 and supports AAC and SBC Bluetooth profiles. They also have an accelerometer, gyroscope, and proximity sensor, and the control is based on tactile gestures.
We have active background noise cancellation, but also an Ambient Sound mode that lets important voices and sounds come through. We note that in terms of sound, we have the same tweeters and woofers found in the top variant, Galaxy Buds Pro. As the first difference between these models, we note the lack of the 360 Audio function in the case of the Galaxy Buds 2. This function present on the Pro version makes the sound spatial and "moves" it according to the position and movements of the head.
As you can see, the Buds 2 has the necessary hardware, including an accelerometer and gyroscope, but I think Samsung didn't add it just to not cannibalize sales of the Buds Pro version. It could still arrive in the future following a software update. We also have AKG technology on board, and the headphones also support Dolby Atmos for a unique playback experience.
The carrying case has a 472 mAh battery, and each earbud has a 61 mAh unit. As for continuous playback, we get between 4 and 5 hours of autonomy with ANC on. Without ANC though, we get somewhere between 7 and 8 hours of autonomy. However, these values may differ depending on the volume. However, in the case of calls we get around 3 hours of autonomy per charge. The carrying case can power the headphones about 4 times and takes the autonomy to 20 hours (with ANC activated) and even 29 hours (without ANC).
Here we also receive wireless power through which we can charge the headphones even on the terrace, by means of a phone that benefits from the function for reverse wireless power. By the way, the case has two LEDs, one on the inside and the other on the outside. They determine by lighting up in green or red the power status of the headphones as well as of the transport box. Charging takes around an hour - an hour and a half per wire.
We've also reached the most important section of this review. I remind you that I am an average user when it comes to headphones, although I use them every day for 1-2 hours of playback. However, I spent more time with the Galaxy Buds 2 because I was impressed with the comfort they offered. Thus, I used them a few times while working, practically forgetting to take them out of my ears.
Galaxy Buds 2 deliver a strong volume, sometimes even too strong considering how well they "anchor" in the ear. This also provides pretty good passive noise cancellation, and many times you won't need ANC. We have no distortion at maximum volume, and calls are heard very well, including outside in case of stronger wind. As for the bass, it is not very pronounced, but I felt it was "balanced". The high and low sounds are also well demarcated and have a particular clarity.
Active noise cancellation also does a great job, especially if you're on the bus, subway or other noisy places. You probably noticed that we have the "Ambient Sound" mode here. This is a mod, similar to Transparency, but more advanced. The headphones can recognize the sounds in the surroundings and filter them so that only the important ones like horns or the sounds of police or emergency vehicles pass through.
Software and control
I tested the Galaxy Buds 2 with a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra smartphone. With connecting them to the smartphone we also have an animation that appears every time we connect them, but this only happens in the case of Samsung smartphones. Also, we don't necessarily need the Galaxy Wearable app in this case as most functions are available in the Bluetooth area once connected, One UI recognizing the product.
I still installed the Galaxy Wearable application, as more advanced functions are available here and it is the way we can update the headphones. It can be installed both from Google Play and from the App Store if you want to use the headphones with non-Samsung devices. Here we find the Noise Controls area where we can choose between three modes: Off, Active Noise Canceling (ANC) and Ambient Sound customizable on 3 levels.
A little further down we have the not very customizable control related settings. Control is based on tactile touches. We can press short to pause playback or answer calls, double press to go to the next song and triple to go to the previous one. However, the long-press control on the headphones is configurable, individually, for each headset. Thus, we can even choose to change the headphone volume by long pressing the right or left headphone, access Spotify, Bixby or transition between ANC/Ambient Sound modes.
I also used the headset on my laptop and iPad while attending a Zoom conference over the weekend, and everything worked exactly as it should. The sound was clear, there were no dropouts or other issues and I was heard well. There's even an app in the Microsoft Store for Windows to control the headset's functions.
Returning to the Galaxy Wearable smartphone application, we have an equalizer with several preset modes (Normal, Bass boost, Soft, Dynamic, Clear, Treble Boost), but also the Seamless earbud connection function. The latter allows the headphones to be connected to used Samsung devices. Thus, if we have both a phone and a Samsung tablet, they will automatically connect to the device used.
We also have the "Labs" option in the application, where we find a mode for gaming that offers low latency. At the same time, the headphones can be found if we lose them through the "Find My Earbuds" option.
Galaxy Buds 2 managed to impress me primarily due to the comfort offered. I never felt like it was possible for them to fall out of my ears or accidentally lose them. It also delivers a powerful, balanced sound in the bass and manages to delineate vocals, highs and mids well. The ANC works well and the battery life is more than enough in most usage scenarios. I would recommend them primarily to athletes, as they are comfortable and hard to accidentally lose, at the gym or running.
In addition to so many white balls, we also have some less pleasant parts related to touch control. It's not necessarily the most responsive and offers far too few customization options. For example, here we have the possibility to select only the virtual assistant Bixby, without Google Assistant. Last but not least, the 360 Audio feature is missing, although I think it could have been successfully integrated here as well.
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