The Samsung Galaxy Buds is another excellent pair of true wireless earbuds to accompany the popular Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphone line. Whether you’re a casual listener or a true wireless fanboy, the Galaxy Buds are an excellent choice with a few forgivable foibles.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Buds vs. Apple’s new AirPods (2019)

Editor’s note: this review was updated on November 18, 2019, to contextualize how the Samsung Galaxy Buds compare to the true wireless market as a whole and address the Apple AirPods Pro release.

Who are the Samsung Galaxy Buds for?

A picture of the Samsung Galaxy Buds earbuds being worn by a woman against a blacked out background.

The earbuds are compact and discreet.

Seeing as the Galaxy Buds were a freebie for those who pre-ordered the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+, they are explicitly for Samsung Galaxy S10 owners. However, that doesn’t preclude the earbuds from being used with other Android devices or iPhones. As a matter of fact, these true wireless earbuds are compatible with the AAC Bluetooth codec, minimizing perceptible lag when used with iPhones.

Out of the box

Listeners receive the IPX2 water-resistant earbuds, three pairs of silicone ear and wing tips, a 252mAh charging case, and a USB-C charging cable. The included wing tips allow for a secure fit while the malleable silicone remains comfortable for all-day listening. What’s more, the various ear tips are equally as comfortable but may not fit every listener’s ear. If you’re unable to get a good seal with the included options, try looking at third-party tips.

What are the Galaxy Buds like?

A picture of the Samsung Galaxy Buds case, which is closed, on top of a Samsung Galaxy S10e in Flamingo Pink.

The Samsung Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10, and Galaxy S10+ are able to wirelessly charge the Galaxy Buds.

Much like the Jaybird Vista, the Galaxy Buds sport an all-plastic design. The edgeless shape of the earbuds creates a whimsical look and rounded triangular touch panels grant enough real estate to make commands without frequent mistakes. A marked difference between the Galaxy Buds and the Gear IconX is the lack of onboard storage.

Samsung integrated a dual-microphone array, which operates by alternating between the microphones to attenuate background noise and clearly relay your voice. In practice, this worked well. Unfortunately, the earbuds still struggle outside if there are high winds but can combat background chatter if you’re in a coffee shop.

The dual-microphone array adapts to your surroundings, effectively lessening background noise.

The charging case is a plain, oblong plastic piece that opens hamburger style. Its interior has just enough room to house the necessary inlets for charging the earbuds. On the outside is a single LED indicator, which glows red, green, or yellow to notify listeners of its battery level while the back houses a USB-C input for charging. However, if you misplace the cable or don’t feel like using, you can place it atop your Samsung Galaxy S10 variant just make sure the Wireless PowerShare option is activated from the notification tray beforehand.

Using the Galaxy Wearable app

A picture of the Samsung Galaxy Buds earbuds in the case, which is open, with part of a Google Pixel 3 in the bottom left corner of the image.

The compact charging case provides an additional seven hours of playback.

Touch panels facilitate call and playback controls, virtual assistant access, and Ambient Sound mode activation. Just like the Sony WF-1000XM3, the Galaxy Buds let you hear your surroundings, keeping you safe. By using the Galaxy Wearable app, you can customize the left and right ear panels’ playback controls. For instance, our review unit is set up so holding the left earbud initiates Ambient Sound mode and holding the right earbud accesses Google Assistant, not Bixby.

From the app, you may set your preferred EQ option: bass boost, soft, dynamic, clear, or treble boost. Below that is a menu where you can choose which notifications are read aloud to you from the earbuds. Then there’s Ambient Sound mode. Rather than temporarily activating it from the earbuds, you can permanently activate it from the app. It lets you adjust how much amplification external noise receives and whether or not voices should be amplified.

Then there are the usual features, like “Find my earbuds” and the option to check for and install software updates. It’s a comprehensive app that I actually found myself using. Granted, it was mainly to toggle Ambient Sound on for running.

Good for workouts

Speaking of running, these are a fine pair of earbuds for general athletes. While it’s disappointing that they received just an IPX2 certification, it should be enough to sustain arduous workouts. Just keep them out of the water. I really enjoyed using these in the gym; the provided wing tips worked wonders. I only wish that volume controls were also included like with the RHA TrueConnect.

How good is the Samsung Galaxy Buds’ battery life?

One of the biggest improvements made to the Samsung Galaxy Buds from the Gear IconX is the improved battery life. Our objective testing yielded 6.53 hours of playback on a single charge from the 58mAh earbuds. The 252mAh charging case provides an additional seven hours of playback and 15 minutes in the case affords up to 1.7 hours of playback according to Samsung. Once the case and earbuds are both depleted, charging the devices is easy via the included USB-C cable.

Connection strength

Angled image of the Samsung Galaxy Buds earbuds in front of a Samsung Galaxy S9 in Lilac.

Compatible Samsung devices with Android 7.0 or later can use the Scalable Codec with the Galaxy Buds.

Unlike many true wireless earbuds, these maintain a stable connection thanks to the Bluetooth 5.0 firmware, but they lack aptX support which is a bummer for non-Samsung Android users. On the flip side, AAC is supported to the main benefit of iPhone users.

After using these for a few weeks (software version: R170XXU0ASC4), it’s apparent that connection stability still has a ways to go with the Galaxy Buds. While it remains reliable in closed environments, taking the earbuds outside welcomes a host of stutters and hiccups. There have been a handful of times when I’ve completely unpaired and repaired the Samsung Galaxy Buds with my galaxy S10e because the issue persisted spanning the length of a few songs.

Samsung does, however, implement its proprietary Scalable Codec. This is compatible with limited Samsung devices operating on Android 7.0 or later. Much like aptX Adaptive, this codec is constantly optimizing bitrate to negotiate between stable connectivity and sound quality.

What do the Samsung Galaxy Buds sound like?

The dynamic drivers are tuned by AKG and reproduce a superb, neutral-leaning sound signature for a more accurate representation of your music than most consumer earbuds. Bass and midrange frequency loudness are comparable with a slight bump at the 1kHz mark to aid in vocal reproduction. Isolation performance is above par as these are able to passively insulate the listener from her surroundings if the right ear tips are used.

Samsung Galaxy Buds microphone chart, voice.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds microphone effectively transmits the human voice thanks to its dual-microphone array.

Since the point of the integrated microphone arrangement is to record the human voice and clearly relay it, rather than record music, we decided to narrow down the microphone frequency response chart to the bounds of the human voice. This one performs well but can’t combat problem sounds. For instance, plosives and fricatives [f, s, th, sh, z, sh] will come through a little louder than other consonants and vowels. In all fairness, this is something that nearly all microphones struggle with even professional ones.

Samsung Galaxy Buds microphone demo:

Editor’s note: media playback for the following section was through the Samsung Galaxy S10e, which is compatible with Samsung’s Scalable Codec.

Lows, mids, and highs

A picture of the Samsung Galaxy Buds earbuds next to part of a Samsung Galaxy S10e in Flamingo pink. The image is a close-up.

The proprietary wing tips are comfortable and conform to the outer ear without causing pain.

The Punch Brothers’ twangy ballad Jumbo, sounds excellent through the Samsung Galaxy Buds. I was nonplussed by the excellent instrumental separation between the mandolin, banjo, and cello. Once the shock wore off, I was able to fully revel in being pleasantly surprised by the earbuds’ ability to adroitly separate the various fundamental frequencies.


The song begins with each band member playing his respective part: violin, guitar, bass, mandolin, and banjo. Five seconds in, the first guitar slide occurs simultaneously with a banjo strum. At this moment, both sounds remain audible without any egregious masking.

During one of the choruses at 2:37, Chris Thile sings, “Here comes Jumbo, American as gumbo,” which is heavily underscored by aggressive bass picking and strumming of the guitar and banjo. It’s this moment that the song is most at risk of turning into an unclear din, but the Samsung Galaxy Buds handle this moment well, too. Granted, there is some frequency distortion that occurs, mainly to the bass: its harmonic resonance is nearly unidentifiable.

Generally speaking though, these do a fantastic job at reproducing complex compositions but may not provide the exaggerated low-end that we’ve grown accustomed to from most all-purpose earbuds.

How do the Samsung Galaxy Buds compare to other true wireless earbuds?

An image of the Master & Dynamic MW07 Go true wireless earbuds on a black leather surface with an out of focus Chrome Industries messenger bag in the background.

The Master & Dynamic MW07 Go earphones make for a great everyday and workout companion.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds have seen significant price cuts since their release, making them just over $100 as of November 18, 2019. If you want a premium pair of true wireless earbuds for for less than the competition, the Galaxy Buds are the earphones to get. However, if you want to save even more money, there are other fantastic choices like the Creative Outlier Air. We’re quick to recommend these earbuds because they’re feature-packed and perform consistently well by every measure. Battery life is superb for cheap total wireless earbuds (7.78 hours) as is sound quality, contingent on you enjoying bass-heavy sound.

If you want something with a more polished aesthetic, consider the Master & Dynamic MW07 Go. These fashionable earbuds are small and pack a mighty accurate sound signature, boding well for every genre of music. Plus, battery life is remarkable and supplies just over nine hours of playtime on a single charge.

Which is better, the Samsung Galaxy Buds or Apple AirPods Pro?

A photo of the AirPods Pro earbuds in the wireless charging case next to an iPhone and digital camera.

Apple includes wireless charging capabilities by default with its AirPods Pro noise canceling true wireless earbuds.

Due to the fact that they can isolate you from the outside world, have better battery life, and better audio quality: the Samsung Galaxy Buds are absolutely better for most than the Apple AirPods (2019). However, the advent of the Apple AirPods Pro makes the Samsung Galaxy Buds a harder sell.

Related: Apple AirPods Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM3

The AirPods Pro noise cancelling true wireless earbuds feature a completely rethought design that includes dedicated nozzles for proper isolation. What’s more, the included Apple wireless charging case is compatible with Qi wireless charging mats. The Apple AirPods Pro are hands-down the better earphones for iPhone users, but they’re also more than twice as expensive than the Samsung Galaxy Buds.

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Buds?

A picture of the Samsung Galaxy Buds earbuds in the case on top of a Samsung Galaxy S10e in Flamingo Pink.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds are the perfect companion to the Samsung Galaxy S10 phones.

Yes, these true wireless earbuds are still an excellent choice for Android users, specifically for Samsung Galaxy S10 owners. The earbuds are remarkably comfortable to wear for hours at a time even with glasses. While the lack of aptX support is a glaring oversight, it makes sense from a Samsung perspective as the company likely aims to push its proprietary Scalable Codec, which works wonders with a Galaxy S10 device.

If you happened to be an early bird, who snagged a pair of free Samsung Galaxy Buds with your purchase, congrats on your excellent true wireless earbuds. Perhaps you’re someone who’s debating the earbuds with a non-Samsung device, though; if that’s the case, the earbuds are still a good deal with solid battery life.

Next: Best true wireless earbuds under $100

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Samsung Galaxy Buds
Pair Samsung Galaxy Buds with your phone or tablet and go. Listen and chat during the day, then wirelessly recharge for 15 minutes to get up to 1. 7 more hours of play time. Tuned by AKG, Galaxy Buds deliver clear calls, your favorite podcasts and the music you love while keeping you aware of your surroundings when walking, working or working out.