- Ultra pocketable
- Solid noise cancellation for buds
- Comfortable to wear
- Poorly defined touch zones
- Only IPX2 water resistant
- Oddly priced compared to other Samsung earbuds
This year, Samsung has moved back to a more traditional silicon-tipped earbud design with the Galaxy Buds 2.
As decent wireless earbuds, they’re fine, but I’m still confused about Samsung’s current slate of earbuds. All of the company’s wireless earbuds are priced roughly the same, resulting in the better Galaxy Buds Pro costing only $10 more in Canada than the Galaxy Buds 2.
Still, if you want teeny tiny Galaxy Buds with silicon tips that work great with your Samsung smartphone, these are a solid option that likely won’t disappoint most folks. All Android users can access a lot of added features from the surprisingly robust Galaxy Wearable app — iOS users, on the other hand, get nothing.
How do they stack up to the competition?
Samsung has been making pretty solid earbuds since it released the Galaxy Buds+ in early 2020, and the Galaxy Buds 2 are no exception. They sound decent, fit comfortably and even look kind of cool — though the green earbuds Samsung sent me might not be my first choice in terms of colour.
Still, none of that explains why Samsung sells the Buds 2 for $189 in Canada, especially considering they only feature an IPX2 rating and average battery life. When you’re using the Buds 2 with active noise-cancelling (ANC), they only last for around five hours, though you can get an extra 15 hours of banked charge from the included case. This is likely enough for most people, but it would have been nice to see Samsung attempt to push the boundaries, especially when other earbuds with ANC have surpassed that battery life mark.
I’ll admit that the small size of the case drew me in at first, but realistically, once it’s in my pocket, it doesn’t feel that different from the Beats Studio Buds or even the OnePlus Buds Pro, which both provide a few more hours of battery life via their charging cases.
The earbuds themselves are tiny and sink into your ears even more than the Beats, making them comfortable to wear for hours. That said, the egg shape doesn’t help much when you’re trying to adjust their fit since the touch targets are easy to hit by mistake. On the flip side, there were times when I went to pause my music and my finger totally missed the touch target, since it’s not very defined. Samsung likely should have placed a small nub on each earbud to make them easier to use.
Two areas where the Buds 2 excel are noise-cancellation and microphone quality. While the mic isn’t perfect, it’s better than I expected from such tiny buds. With this in mind, the Galaxy Buds 2 might be a good choice for people who do a lot of video calls.
As for sound quality, I found the highs to be a little too sharp for my liking, but the mids and lows came across with more accuracy. Some songs that don’t pitch up as much sound great, but others seem to peak weirdly. Though it’s barely noticeable in isolation, the OnePlus Buds Pro I recently reviewed feature better balance and a broader soundscape, but worse noise cancellation.
I will say that for such a tiny pair of buds, I was impressed with their noise-cancellation, which did a much better job blocking out my keyboard and other sounds than other recent buds I’ve tested. The earbuds also get decently loud, and there’s no distortion even when cranked all the way up to about 90 percent volume.
If you’re on Android, you can tweak the EQ of the Galaxy Buds 2 a bit, but I just used the standard profile for the most part during my time testing the earbuds. However, while the ‘Dynamic’ option is a little much at times, it’s a fun twist that artificially made the music sound a little more spirited.
The last thing I’ll note is that since the Galaxy Buds 2 are so tiny, they need to be placed firmly into your ears to get the best sound. The Galaxy Wearable app offers a fit test, but if you just play music and squish them into your ears, you’ll know when they’re in the optimal position.
A tale of three earbuds
While a lot of this review has involved me comparing the Galaxy Buds 2 to the Beats Studio Buds and the OnePlus Buds Pro, the important comparison is to Samsung’s other earbuds, the Galaxy Buds Live and the Galaxy Buds Pro.Both of these Samsung buds are about the same price as the Buds 2 but offer better value. The Buds Pro feature slightly better battery life and an IPX7 waterproof rating. On the other hand, the Buds Live feature a more subtle look in your ears, and while I haven’t gone hands-on with them, both MobileSyrup’s Dean Daley and Patrick O’Rourke claim they’re the most comfortable earbuds around.
Still, during my time with the Galaxy Buds 2, I found it difficult to pinpoint any significant flaws. They sound great, they’re comfortable and their noise-cancellation works well. Sure, better touch targets and a slightly improved sound profile would help, but the inevitable price drop that’s almost certainly coming makes those shortcomings easier to swallow.
If you’re looking for a new pair of wireless earbuds, it’s never been a more difficult time to select what pair is right for you. Despite their obvious issues, the Galaxy Buds 2 are solid wireless earbuds that few people will end up being disappointed with.
The Galaxy Buds 2 are available for $189 on Samsung's website.
"If you’re looking for a new pair of wireless earbuds, it’s never been a more difficult time to select what pair is right for you."