Samsung Galaxy Buds2 review: These in-ear headphones pack a punch

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Samsung just changed the game for budget-priced true wireless earbuds with its $150 Galaxy Buds2. Now equipped with active noise cancellation, the Buds2 are sleek, light, tough, and comfortable, and they pack a delightful (if somewhat juiced) sonic punch. Samsung’s ambient noise mode allows the outside world in when you need it, while a new fit test ensures you’re using the right set of eartips. Even better, Samsung phone users can tee up losslessly encoded tunes thanks to Samsung’s proprietary Bluetooth codec.

Feature-packed though they are, the Galaxy Buds2 cut a few key corners compared to the pricier Galaxy Buds Pro, nixing spatial audio and two-step ANC, while some of the Galaxy Buds2’s best features require a complementary Samsung Galaxy device. And while iPhone users can still enjoy the Buds2’s audio and noise cancellation, they’ll have to do so without the Samsung mobile app that controls the earphone’s settings and functions.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best noise-cancelling headphones, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.

Design

Available in graphite, white, olive, and lavender flavors, the Galaxy Buds2 eschew the two-tone design of the original Galaxy Buds for a smoother, unibody look, while the charging case is now more of a square pill box than its predecessor’s rounded, rectangular shape. Weighing in at 0.2 ounces each, the Buds2 feel pleasingly light (Samsung says they’re the lightest earbuds it’s ever made) but not insubstantial. The Buds2 made for a comfy fit, with the rounded, elongated ends tucking securely into the fold of my ears.

Three sets of eartips come in the box: large, medium, and small. In a first for Samsung, you can now test the fit for the various earbuds using the aptly named earbud fit test in the Galaxy Wearable app.

earbud fit test Ben Patterson/IDG

Samsung’s Earbud Fit Test will warn you if you picked the wrong eartips for your Galaxy Buds2, or if they’re not fitting snugly in your ears.

Like Apple’s similar test for its AirPods Pro, the earbud fit test plays a brief series of tones and scores you on how snugly the buds are fitting into your ear canals. I took the test with the medium eartips and got a passing grade, but when I purposely put the earbuds in my ears too loosely, I got a “Poor Fit” warning.

There are three microphones in each bud: two that detect ambient noise to bolster the active noise cancellation, and a third mic for voice pickup. The buds also pack in a tweeter and a woofer (I’ve asked Samsung for more details on the size and configuration of the drivers). I’ll describe the real-world performance of the Buds2’s ANC and sound quality in a bit.

As with Samsung’s pricier Galaxy Buds Pro, the Galaxy Buds2 are designed to meet IPX7 standards for water resistance, which means the earphones can be submerged in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes (you can read all about IP codes at this link). That’s a major upgrade from the original Galaxy Buds, which were designed for IPX2 standards and thus can only resist water hitting them at an angle of 15 degrees or less.

samsung galaxy buds2 right earbud Ben Patterson/IDG

The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 are now rated IPX7 for water resistance, which means they can be submerged in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes.

Controls and playback

You can play and pause tunes or answer or reject calls by tapping on one of the earbuds. To skip to the next track, you double-tap a bud, or you can triple-tap to go back to the previous track.



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