Apple's AirPods fail to earn Consumer Reports recommendation, beaten by Samsung's Galaxy B...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 27
In its latest head-to-head headphone review, Consumer Reports pitted Apple's AirPods against Samsung's Galaxy Buds to find the cheaper Samsung model sounds better, lasts longer and is an all-around top performer.




The comparison, published on Tuesday, reached many of the same conclusions as AppleInsider's Galaxy Buds review from March, albeit applied to the -- slightly -- tweaked second-generation AirPods.

In short, Samsung's entry into the "smart earbud" category beats Apple's wireless headphones in the sound department, battery life, control options and, for Samsung smartphone owners, ease-of-use. Galaxy Buds also apes niceties pioneered by Apple, including an open-to-pair case mechanism compatible with certain Galaxy phone models.

Just as AirPods revert to limited functionality when paired to an Android device, Samsung's buds don't play nice with iPhone. That said, Consumer Reports believes the Samsung model is more functional on iOS than AirPods are when paired to an Android device.

Curiously, the report goes one step beyond crowning Samsung a victory, and denies AirPods a coveted "recommended" rating. According to Consumer Reports' Thomas Germain, Apple's product "didn't score well enough" in the publication's tests to warrant a recommendation, despite plaudits for iOS integration and a streamlined user experience.

Consumer Reports does note AirPods turned in a "decent" performance reproducing music and movies, and will "sound perfectly acceptable" to some users. AirPods' phone call audio and carrying case were also given the thumbs-up.

"The AirPods don't sound terrible -- far from it. But when you listen back-to-back with the Samsung Galaxy Buds, the difference is undeniable. You don't have to be an audio snob to hear it," Germain writes.

Consumer Reports has a somewhat controversial history when it comes to grading Apple's latest releases, with some alleging the publication trades on the tech giant's name to drive readership. In 2016, for example, the reviewers failed to recommend MacBook Pro for the first time, a decision later reversed after discussions with Apple and a software update. A quick dismissal of HomePod in 2018 again stoked claims of bias.

Following the HomePod kerfuffle, AppleInsider was granted an inside look at the publication's facilities and testing methodologies. At the time, Consumer Reports reviewers and editors denied undue prejudice against Apple, saying their results are objective and based entirely on analytical and data-driven methodology.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 85
    They still haven’t figured out how to deal with Apple as a special case in the wider tech market. 
    lolliverandrewj5790watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 85
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,193member
    People still give a shit about consumer reports? Really? Not a single human being I know consults them for anything. Not even "recommended"? Fucking laughable. They're an insanely well designed product and work incredibly well. 

    I see a few hundred people wearing Airpods a day. Insanely popular. Galaxy Buds? Pretty much zero. 
    radarthekatStrangeDayslolliverracerhomie3anantksundaramfotoformatjeffharrisravnorodomrazorpitMacQc
  • Reply 3 of 85
    arlorarlor Posts: 514member
    slurpy said:
    People still give a shit about consumer reports? Really? Not a single human being I know consults them for anything. Not even "recommended"? Fucking laughable. They're an insanely well designed product and work incredibly well. 

    I see a few hundred people wearing Airpods a day. Insanely popular. Galaxy Buds? Pretty much zero. 
    I don't usually examine people's choice of earphones, but Consumer Reports has more than 6 million subscribers. That's quite substantial for a publication nowadays. The New Yorks Times has about 4 million. 
    Carnagebigtdsbigpics
  • Reply 4 of 85
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,726member
    so out of curiosity, has anyone here directly compared the sound quality of AirPods vs. the Galaxy Buds? I haven't used either. I've seen reports on the sound quality of AirPods ranging from 'incredible' to 'about the same as the headphones that come with an iphone.' but personally can't comment one way or the other.

    Unlike other things, it's virtually impossible to do a truly blinded test with these, and despite their claims to the contrary, CU does have its biases, just as people on AI tend to.


  • Reply 5 of 85
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,148moderator
    First, it wasn’t until Apple showed the way.  Par for the course on that one.

    Second, sound quality is subjective, but okay, Samsung makes good hardware.

    Third, if they’re saying the Samsung product serves the Android market better and AirPods serve the iOS market better, what’s the point?  
    roundaboutnowStrangeDaysmuthuk_vanalingamPickUrPoisonanantksundaramAndy.HardwakeMacQcFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 85
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,784member
    Applause to Samsung 

    But wouldn’t be without m’Airpods. 

    flyingdprazorpitkuraiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 85
    The AirPods have been available since 2016.

    The timing of the review and the type of conclusions they choose as relevant are certainly telling me more about Consumer Reports than they are about Apple's product.

    It seems they have a history of this. Which raises the question for why anyone could rely on their reviews or pay for a subscription

    StrangeDayslolliverradarthekatjeffharriswatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 85
    ChicaChica Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    First, it wasn’t until Apple showed the way.  Par for the course on that one.

    Second, sound quality is subjective, but okay, Samsung makes good hardware.

    Third, if they’re saying the Samsung product serves the Android market better and AirPods serve the iOS market better, what’s the point?  
    Or was it Samsung that showed the way with gear icon X, wireless buds and a charging case. Came out before the first gen AirPods. 

    Apple did it first of course though. 
    Carnagebigtdsbigpicssingularity
  • Reply 9 of 85
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,677unconfirmed, member
    Would be the first time a knockoff beats Apple in customer satisfaction. Hard to believe considering the proprietary tech in Airpods. Shame on Apple if this was fair game.
  • Reply 10 of 85
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,497member
    OK, now I KNOW those folks are smoking something.
    StrangeDayslordjohnwhorfinzroger73watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 85
    Ah Consumer Reports.
    The Sears of periodicals. 
    I remembered them in the 80’s. 
    They recommended crap then too. 
    edited August 28 lollivermacplusplusanantksundaramflyingdpjeffharrisdoctwelvelordjohnwhorfinzroger73edredcornchip
  • Reply 12 of 85
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,787member
    Chica said:
    First, it wasn’t until Apple showed the way.  Par for the course on that one.

    Second, sound quality is subjective, but okay, Samsung makes good hardware.

    Third, if they’re saying the Samsung product serves the Android market better and AirPods serve the iOS market better, what’s the point?  
    Or was it Samsung that showed the way with gear icon X, wireless buds and a charging case. Came out before the first gen AirPods. 

    Apple did it first of course though. 
    Incorrect. Both products were released in December, 2016. Dunno date of iconX but AP came out December 13. 
    fastasleepAndy.Hardwakewatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 85
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,787member
    If they feel the iconX are better that’s one thing (odd since they say they’re less better on, you know, iOS)...but to say AirPods are not recommended means these people are clueless PC nerds, through and through. If you have an iPhone, iPad, Watch, Apple TV, or all of the above, you cannot go wrong with the APs or recommending APs. 
    anantksundaramradarthekatAndy.HardwakeMplsPlordjohnwhorfinwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 85
    Fortunately, the market speaks louder than CR. AirPods are visible everywhere. Don’t think I’ve ever seen Galaxy Buds.

    This is an honest question. Open to pair is nice but do the do the easy switching between devices like AirPods? 
    radarthekatlordjohnwhorfincornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 85
    I agree the Samsung vs Apple Pod Wars is subjective.  

    But,

    If you own an iOS device (and have the cash) you’re going to buy an AirPod... convenience is a major selling point.

    If you own an Android device you’re not going to buy an AirPod... it’s as simple as that.
    radarthekatAndy.HardwakeMacQcchemengin1FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 85
    First, it wasn’t until Apple showed the way.  Par for the course on that one.

    Second, sound quality is subjective, but okay, Samsung makes good hardware.
    Sound quality doesn’t need to be subjective, although there may be some element of that also in any review. I’m disappointed that they don’t appear to have backed up their findings with some frequency graphs. Simply talking about the bass line in “So What” is not a suitable metric.
    burnsideAndy.HardwakelordjohnwhorfinstevenozFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 17 of 85
    Well, I don't care.  They're an independent organization which can have their own opinion.

    The biggest issue from what I see are those "Trofessional Design Commentators" who judge the design without any knowledge & long-term experiences with the device.  Unfortunately, public opinion was on their side.

    I'd like to hear from any of those butterfly haters' true criticisms, instead of dropping words that everyone else repeats.  To be honest, I, as somewhat a supporter of the butterfly keyboard, knows more flaws than all of them did.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 85
    First, it wasn’t until Apple showed the way.  Par for the course on that one.

    Second, sound quality is subjective, but okay, Samsung makes good hardware.
    Sound quality doesn’t need to be subjective, although there may be some element of that also in any review. I’m disappointed that they don’t appear to have backed up their findings with some frequency graphs. Simply talking about the bass line in “So What” is not a suitable metric.
    The "magic" behind the quality are individuals, yes, acoustics tend to be subjective and no definite answer.  I think AirPods are optimized for average consumers than Audiophiles, which is also why the shape focus on comfort than silencing the noise.

    Speaking of the shape, yes, the shape exists for good reasons.  Yes, it doesn't fit every ears and rubber silence noise better and Apple can be the greatest evil of democracy, we know, but the shape exists for good reasons.

    But maybe I asked too much for media these days which their primary goal was to generate rage bait.
    edited August 28
  • Reply 19 of 85
    droodroo Posts: 26member
    Interesting that CR decided sound quality was more important than user experience for headphones but not for the homePod.
    CarnageentropysanantksundaramStrangeDaysandrewj5790dedgeckorazorpitRayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 85
    All of the Beats/Apple headphone offerings are relatively low quality from a sound perspective. Beats are for bassheads, Airpods for people who like the functionality and don't care about sound quality. Apple, who claims music is in their DNA, still only offer compressed low-quality audio on Apple Music and at best mediocre audio quality headphones, poor sound capabilities on Macs and iPhones etc. They have never been in the high resolution audio market and prefer to cater to the masses not anyone who is remotely close to being an audiophile. Probably a very accurate analysis by Consumer Reports. Before anyone says I'm an Apple haterl, lets just say I have an iPhone, iPad Pro, 2019 i9 Macbook Pro and the latest Apple watch. Love their products. However when it comes to music streaming/purchase I chose hires music on Quobuz, have Shure KSE 1500 electrostats and use an Astell & Kern SP1000 as the quality from Apple in terms of audio largely sucks.
    digital_guyjeffharrismobirdcornchipbigpicsAnotherBrick
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