It’s been a tame mid-year launch cycle for Samsung. After an active very early year that saw the intro of buzzy items like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and also Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, Samsung exposed a plant of items at its August Unpacked occasion that are extremely comparable to the ones it went for the very same occasion in 2015. That consists of the follow up to 2021’s Galaxy Buds Pro, the $230 Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. They’re wonderful earbuds, however if you’ve got the last generation, you’re already enjoying most of what’s good here.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are Samsung’s best earbuds yet, with full sound, thorough noise cancellation, and a sleek, updated design. Despite new support for 24-bit audio, they’re not a substantial upgrade from 2021’s Galaxy Buds Pro, but they are a great pair of premium earbuds for anyone on Android rocking an older or lower-end set.
- Battery Life: 5 hours with ANC/8 hours without
- Noise Cancellation: Yes
- Mono Listening: Yes
- Bluetooth : 5.3
- IP rating: IPX7
- Supported codecs: SBC, AAC, Samsung Seamless
- Weight (earbuds): 5.5g
- Dimensions (earbuds): 19.9 x 21.6 x 18.7mm
- Charging: USB-C, wireless
- Driver size: 10mm driver + 5.3mm tweeter
- Price (MSRP): $230
- Full, satisfying sound
- Impressive ANC for earbuds
- Smaller and sleeker than last year’s with the same battery life
- 24-bit audio won’t benefit most listeners
- Multi-device support is limited on non-Samsung devices
- Battery life is just okay
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
Design, hardware, what’s in the box
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro look a lot like both the first-generation Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and the non-Pro Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. Like those buds, the Buds 2 Pro come in a square, clamshell charging case, but this time, both the buds themselves and their case are finished in a lovely satin texture that looks a lot classier than the mirror finish found on the outside of the first Buds Pro. I do wonder how well the finish will age, though, especially on the lighter colorways. The Buds 2 Pro come in Graphite, White, or Samsung’s new favorite, Bora Purple.
Left: Galaxy Buds Pro. Right: Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.
This generation is also considerably less bulbous than the last. Samsung says the Buds 2 Pro are 15 percent smaller than the first gen, and that feels true to me. I personally never found the Buds Pro’s size unwieldy, but the new, sleeker form factor means the Buds 2 Pro feel more secure in my ears and don’t stick out as far. Impressively, Samsung managed to accomplish this without decreasing battery capacity and by using drivers that are only slightly smaller. I think the Buds 2 Pro look much more modern and elegant than the last pair did—it’s a pretty big aesthetic upgrade year-over-year, as little as that might matter in earbuds.
In the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s box, you’ll find the earbuds, their charging case, two additional sets of silicone eartips, some quick-start and warranty literature, and a USB-C-to-C cable.
Audio out of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is what we have actually come to expect out of earbuds around this price. Bass is full and bouncy, sub-bass is rumbly and deep, and mids and highs are clear. Their default tuning isn’t super accurate—Samsung exaggerates the low end a little. But I personally prefer a little extra bass in my buds, so I’m not mad about it. I actually like Samsung’s Dynamic EQ preset, which boosts lows and highs without changing mids much. The Clear setting dampens sub-bass and boosts treble, if you’re after a more airy sound.
Noise cancellation is thorough here, too. Samsung says the Buds 2 Pro are using high signal-to-noise mics, which should mean they’re collecting clearer audio—helpful for more accurately isolating and countering the sound you want to keep out of your ears. In practice, I’d say the Buds 2 Pro’s ANC is better than average for earbuds. They all but mute low drones like HVAC, and do an admirable job limiting how much midrange sound makes it in, too. High-pitched and sudden sounds are still audible, but that’s a pitfall of ANC technology on the whole.
Possibly because of those upgraded mics, call quality is also very strong. The first-generation Galaxy Buds Pro were good at cutting out uniform background noise on calls, but they did so at the expense of making your own voice unusually quiet on the other end. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro do just as good a job at limiting background noise, but in my experience, don’t have the same voice volume problem. Listening to recordings from both, my voice sounds just a little more processed through the Buds 2 Pro, but I think it’s a fair trade for the added clarity.
Samsung’s really leaning on 24-bit audio playback as a differentiating factor in the Buds 2 Pro, enabled by the new Samsung Seamless codec. It’s true that the earbuds do support higher bit depth than the previous generation in some situations, but that’s not really as big a get as the company would like you to believe.
Left: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. Right: Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.
It’s technical and I’m grossly oversimplifying, but the practical benefit of 24-bit audio is that, compared with more common 16-bit audio, you’ll theoretically get less digital noise in your music playback.
Sound in real life can be at an unlimited number of volumes, but it’s impossible to fully recreate that variability digitally. An audio file’s bit depth is a measure of how many discrete “steps” it’s able to reproduce in relative volume—if a real-life sound doesn’t land squarely on one of these defined steps, it’ll fall on the nearest one, causing an imperceptibly minute inaccuracy.
Our ears can’t pick out a single instance of this happening, but enough microscopic rounding errors can culminate in audible noise. Higher bit depth playback means fewer of these errors—and so more realistic audio with less noise. And while a 16-bit file has about 65,000 steps to play with, a 24-bit file has more than four billion, so it certainly looks like an impressive upgrade on paper.
But in practice, on the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, it just doesn’t matter much. Setting aside whether it’s even possible to hear the difference between 16- and 24-bit sound through earbuds you’ll probably be wearing in environments that are at least a little noisy, there just aren’t many practical ways to listen to 24-bit audio on a phone. In the streaming space, only a handful of niche apps like Tidal and Qobuz support it, and only on certain tracks—and the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro can only play it back when paired with a Samsung phone. For what it’s worth, listening to the same tracks in 24-bit on Qobuz and 16-bit on Spotify (in “Very high” quality), I couldn’t tell any difference.
Features and battery life
More transparently gimmicky is the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s new 360 audio mode. Like some other headsets, including the previous Galaxy Buds Pro, the Buds 2 Pro offer a setting that lets them sort of mimic surround sound audio in supported apps like Netflix, with audio channels manipulated to sound more like they’re coming from different physical locations around you. The effect is passable, but not something I’d buy one pair of earbuds over another for.
Lower left: Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. Upper right: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro.
But new for this generation is a setting that, when listening to audio from any app, lets the buds track the position of your head relative to your Samsung phone or tablet to create the illusion of sound emanating from that device—the earbud nearer the screen gets louder and the one farther away gets quieter. It’s fun to play with in a tech demo kind of way, but I can’t imagine using it regularly. Like 24-bit audio, this feature also requires the buds be paired with a Samsung phone.
Touch controls on the Buds 2 Pro are a bit more finicky than I’d like. The control scheme is pretty standard, but nailing the touch-sensitive area on each bud isn’t fool-proof—I often accidentally paused my music when I meant to double-tap to skip a track. I don’t know that I’ll get used to it with time, either, as I’ve had the same problem with my first-generation Galaxy Buds Pro for months.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have a setting that lets you control their volume by tapping on your ears (double-tap the right ear for volume up, left ear for down) that I absolutely love. Just like in the first generation, the option is inexplicably hidden behind a vaguely ominous-sounding Labs category in the Galaxy Wearable app. If you plan on picking a pair up, be sure to hunt it down. Being able to control playback, ANC, and volume without touching your phone makes for a much better earbud experience.
Also returning from the original Galaxy Buds Pro is Samsung’s voice detect feature. When it’s turned on, your earbuds will lower their volume and turn on transparency mode when they detect your voice. After you’ve been quiet for five, 10, or 15 seconds (your choice), they return to normal. It only triggers when you speak, though—people talking near you shouldn’t trip it accidentally. It works really well, and combined with the Buds 2 Pro’s very natural-sounding transparency mode, makes it easy to have quick interactions with people around you without having to fiddle with the buds in any way.
Samsung’s earbuds still don’t support Bluetooth multipoint like the Google Pixel Buds Pro. They do have a feature that lets them automatically swap between Samsung devices as needed, which can recreate the effect well enough if you’ve obtained plenty of Samsung gadgets in your life. Personally, I don’t, and it’s not a replacement for full multipoint connectivity. But Bluetooth multipoint still isn’t a common feature in earbuds, so it’s hard to fault the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro too much here.
Battery life is practically unchanged from the first-generation Galaxy Buds Pro. I’m ambivalent about that. It’s impressive that the new buds are noticeably smaller and lighter than the older pair while still managing to pack the same size batteries, but both pairs only last five hours on a charge with ANC on. That’s about average and will be enough for most people, but I wonder whether there were a better balance Samsung could’ve struck with size and battery life here. I’d have taken a pair of slightly bulkier Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with longer battery life, but there’s a good chance I’m in the minority there.
Should you buy them?
Yes—unless you currently have the last-generation Buds Pro. The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are great earbuds, and not just for people who have Samsung phones. While it’s true their flashier features like Samsung’s new 24-bit-audio-enabling proprietary codec and head-tracking 360-degree audio are exclusive to Samsung phones and tablets, the best things about the buds—their great (16-bit) audio and ANC, unobtrusive footprint, and handsome updated design—are universal.
If you’ve already got the first Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, though, the second generation will be a minor upgrade. Battery life is nearly identical, and audio quality is very similar. If you’re dead-set on getting 24-bit audio and you have both a Samsung phone and access to services (or local files) that can take advantage of it, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro might make sense for you. Just know the difference isn’t as dramatic as you might expect.
Buy them if
- $230 isn’t too much for a pair of high-quality earbuds that nail (the majority of) the basics
- You’re really into 24-bit audio and have a Samsung phone
Don’t buy them if
- You’re happy with your first-gen Galaxy Buds Pro
- You want earbuds with all-day battery life
Q: How do the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro compare to the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro?
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are the second generation of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, released in 2021. The basic feature set of each model is very similar: both have great audio and ANC, plus five hours of battery life between charges (with ANC on). The Buds 2 Pro offer a couple of new features when paired with a Samsung phone or tablet, including 24-bit audio playback for supported media and an optional mode that tracks the position of your head to make it audio like audio is emanating from the device you have the buds connected to. They’re also smaller and sleeker than the original Galaxy Buds Pro. If you already have those older Galaxy Buds Pro, though, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro won’t be much of an upgrade for you—the new features are very niche.
Q: How do the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro compare to the Google Pixel Buds Pro?
Compared to the $200 Google Pixel Buds Pro, the $230 Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro offer fuller sound with more low-end response, plus marginally better sound termination. The Buds 2 Pro also support 24-bit audio playback when paired with a Samsung phone; the Pixel Buds Pro don’t have a comparable feature. Google’s earbuds have better battery life (seven hours to the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s five), Bluetooth multipoint support, and also always-on Hey Google paying attention for hands-free Assistant accessibility.