Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are the company’s take on Apple AirPods, and they’re really good. There’s a reason why Samsung continues to play in this market. Apple’s AirPods have become incredibly successful since its launch in 2017. While they work with Android phones, the target audience has mostly been for Apple products, since they pair so easily with them.
The Galaxy Buds are super easy to pair with a Galaxy phone. You just open the case and, as long as it’s near your Samsung phone, you’ll get a prompt to pair them right up. It’s similar to the pairing process with AirPods, which is just as easy. The Galaxy Buds work with iPhones, but you need to pair them manually with Bluetooth instead of using the fast pairing option, and you lose some features made just for Samsung users.
The Galaxy Buds sound really good. While I’ve never complained about the quality from my AirPods, I thought the Galaxy Buds sounded more balanced, since they are better at blocking out external noise and have controls that let you change the equalizer to highlight bass or treble in the music you’re listening to. I also like that the buds are soft, so they didn’t hurt my ears after wearing them for a while, as AirPods sometimes do. They’re more snug, too, so I didn’t worry as much about them falling out as I do with AirPods.
Like AirPods, they have a small clamshell case that quickly charges each bud individually. The case also protects the pods from getting junk in them, which means you can just quickly toss it into your backpack or pocket without worrying about lint getting in the buds. If you lose the case, say in a cushion, you can use a Find My Galaxy Buds feature inside the Samsung Wear app, which rings the case.
Phone calls sounded good, too. I called my editor while I walked down the hall and he said I sounded clear. I could hear him from his desk phone just fine, too. But the signal did drop off after I walked about 20 feet from the Galaxy S10 they were paired to.
I liked that I could tap the side to activate Google Assistant and ask it anything, from the weather to placing a phone call to my colleague. AirPods only work with Siri, which does both of those things but isn’t generally as smart as Google Assistant, which I was also use to play music from third-party services like Spotify.
The Galaxy Buds also have an ambient noise feature, which means you can tap one of the buds to lower the music volume, allowing you to temporarily hear your surroundings more. This worked OK. The music got really soft, but I found it was just as easy to pause the song entirely.
Samsung has tried to compete with its own version AirPods for several years now, but its latest attempt is its best yet and is the best option I’ve found for Android users. Plus, they look a lot less silly than AirPods, which makes them a fine alternative even for people who own iPhones. They are cheaper than AirPods, sound just as good and include some features that AirPods don't have such as wireless charging. CNBC's Todd Haselton puts them to the test.
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Are Apple's AirPods Better Than Samsung's Galaxy Buds?