Apple's AirPods vs Samsung Galaxy Buds+ head-to-head

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2020
Samsung has launched its second attempt at taking on Apple's AirPods, with updates to battery life and speakers giving the Galaxy Buds+ a better chance against its main rival and the noise-canceling AirPods Pro, but does it do enough to warrant your attention?

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus earphones


On Tuesday, Samsung used its Unpacked event to launch a number of new flagship smartphones, including the Galaxy S20 range and the foldable Galaxy Z Flip. Alongside its major announcements was one for the second generation of its wireless earphones, the Galaxy Buds , which offer a few improvements on the original version it launched one year ago.

Just as last time, it enters a slowly crowding wireless earbud marketplace, with Apple's AirPods being one of the dominant products at the top of the tree. This time, the Galaxy Buds+ has two rivals to deal with: AirPods and the AirPods Pro.

By the Numbers

Just examining the core specifications of the Galaxy Buds+, it's plain to see that for $20 more on top of the 2019 attempt, there are a few improvements worth looking at. For $149 instead of $129, you get an extra five hours of usage, a faster quick-charge time, theoretically better audio output, and an extra outer microphone.

Galaxy BudsGalaxy Buds+AirPodsAirPods Pro
Price$129$149$159$249
Battery Life6 hours11 hours5 hours4.5 hours (ANC on)
Charge time15 min=100 min playback3 min= 1 hr playback15 min= 3 hr playback5 min= 1 hr playback
Speaker1 way dynamic2 way dynamicSingle driverSingle driver
ConnectivityBluetooth 5 single deviceBluetooth 5 multi-deviceH1 (iCloud sync,
Audio Sharing)
Bluetooth 5
H1 (iCloud sync,
Audio Sharing)
Bluetooth 5
Microphones1 outer/ 1 inner2 outer/ 1 inner2 outer beamforming2 outer beamforming
1 inner
Noise IsolationYesYesNoYes
Ambient awareYesYesNoYes (transparency mode)
On earpiece controlPlay, pause, skip, volumePlay, pause, skip, volume, spotifyPlay, pause, skip, or siri
(Double tap preset)
Play, pause. Skip, siri
(Multi gesture control)
Water resistanceIPX2IPX2Not ratedIPX4
ColorBlack, white, yellow, silverBlack, white, blue, redWhiteWhite

Audio Quality

The Galaxy Buds+ are packing "two-way dynamic" speakers made in partnership with AKG, which Samsung says improves sound quality. The system includes a tweeter for a richer treble along with a woofer for bass sounds. With the added use of changeable ear tips, that should allow for sufficient noise isolation for most users.

While the originals were able to isolate sound too, as well as the AirPods Pro, the original AirPods doesn't have this option. The Galaxy Buds+ are also the only product in the group to use two speakers, so the others have to instead offer superior audio processing and other qualities to make up for the shortfall.

Noise Cancellation and Ambient Audio

The only product in the four to include active noise cancellation is the AirPods Pro, as it is the main reason to buy the model over the normal AirPods.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus case


The Galaxy Buds+ still do not have active noise cancellation, instead relying on their noise isolation capabilities. Generally this isn't enough to work as noise cancellation on its own, as it isn't making noises to cut out what is being overheard from the outside world.

Samsung did include Ambient Sound, which is similar to the AirPods Pro Transparency Mode, in allowing some background noise to filter through with music or podcast playback.

Connectivity and Control

All of the products have support for Bluetooth 5.0, with the Galaxy Buds having single-device support and the Plus offering multi-device support. By contrast, the AirPods group use the H1 chip with iCloud Sync and Audio Sharing, with Apple's self-designed wireless chip believed to offer better connectivity than standard Bluetooth connections.

While the AirPods are natively controlled in iOS, Samsung has upped its game to try and garner support from iPhone users by offering an iOS app for the Galaxy Buds+. In the first generation it was available only for Android, so bringing it to iOS for the Plus model is a sign it wants to expand its potential audience.

However, the native connectivity inherent in iOS for the AirPods collection probably gives Apple's hardware an edge for iPhone users in general.

Both ecosystems deal with controlling the personal audio accessories via a series of taps, allowing them to retain a sleek and unspoiled external appearance.

Power

As mentioned earlier, Samsung has improved the onboard battery life in the Galaxy Buds+ from 6 hours to 11 hours, which means it outpaces both the AirPods at 5 hours and the AirPods Pro at 4.5 hours with ANC enabled.




In all instances, you can extend the listening time using the supplied battery case. For the AirPods, this reaches 18 hours in total, rising to 24 hours for the AirPods Pro and the Galaxy Buds+, again up from the extra seven hours the Galaxy Buds case provides.

This puts the Galaxy Buds+ in a situation where it can comfortably outlast the AirPods collective on usage life, but over the course of a day, it's at the same level as the AirPods Pro. All it means is you charge it up fewer times.

For fast recharging, Samsung's edged out the opponents with the Galaxy Buds+, with three minutes of charging equating to an hour of playback. The AirPods offers 3 hours after 15 minutes of charge, and the AirPods Pro get to 1 hour after five minutes.

Price and Other Considerations

Samsung is continuing to include IPX2 water resistance in the Galaxy Buds+, which gives it some protection against rain or water drips. The AirPods Pro are far more durable with an IPX4 rating, but this may not necessarily be a major selling point.

One thing certainly in Samsung's favor is its selection of colors, offering black, white, blue, and red Galaxy Buds+, whereas Apple offers white only.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus colors


And lastly, the big one: Price. The Galaxy Buds+ will cost $149, which is $10 below the AirPods, and a full $100 under what Apple charges for the AirPods Pro.

In Summary

At this point, it's hard to tell whether Samsung has done the right thing with the Galaxy Buds+. The lack of noise cancellation and relying on noise isolation may not win it any fans from the AirPods Pro crowd.

However, the inclusion of an iOS app to manage the earphones does help to temper the ecosystem bonus of the AirPods for iPhone users, perhaps making them a compelling alternative to Apple's version.

When the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ ship, AppleInsider will be evaluating them for real-world performance.

Where to buy

The Samsung Galaxy Buds+ can be ordered today for $149 from Samsung directly, as well as Amazon and B&H Photo.

Meanwhile, Apple AirPods 2 are currently on sale from $139, with retailers accepting backorders for the $249 AirPods Pro, which are shipped on a first come, first served basis.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    It might have been worth noting that AKG is owned by Samsung.
    (I hope this thread is not deleted.)
    leavingthebigg
  • Reply 2 of 15
    It doesn't matter what reviews say.

    It'll always be a knockoff of Apple's concept/design, and the person buying/wearing them knows it.
    edited February 2020 lkruppArloTimetravelerbloggerblogleavingthebiggwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 15
    It doesn't matter what reviews say.

    It'll always be a knockoff of Apple's concept/design, and the person buying/wearing them knows it.
    You are so right ... Sammy copied 2016 already what Apple introduced 2 years later ... yes, please give us more of that
  • Reply 4 of 15
    Testing is subjective to personal preference. 
    If you want to know how any of these sound, you’re going to need to do your own testing. 

    These things were just announced, I doubt that Samsung would send Appleinsider an evaluation pair since it would be the wrong forum to attract buyers over an Android site. 

    dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 15
    I like the buds better than the AirPods but the AirPod Pros are pretty damn solid...those are my everyday goto
  • Reply 6 of 15
    Samsung Earbuds looks like one of those pairs I can get off of Amazon for 25 pounds (around 30 dollars).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 15
    It doesn't matter what reviews say.

    It'll always be a knockoff of Apple's concept/design, and the person buying/wearing them knows it.
    Yes, Samsung even created a book on copying Apple
    https://bgr.com/2012/08/08/apple-samsung-patent-lawsuit-internal-report-copy-iphone/

    One thing I do not like about Samsung's earbuds is they look like they've got cotton balls stuck in their ears
    edited February 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 15
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,216member
    It doesn't matter what reviews say.

    It'll always be a knockoff of Apple's concept/design, and the person buying/wearing them knows it.
    You are so right ... Sammy copied 2016 already what Apple introduced 2 years later ... yes, please give us more of that

    Welcome.. and what are you talking about?  If you are referring to the Gear IconX wireless buds from Samsung they were released 6mos prior to the original Airpods. If that isn't what you are talking about please elaborate? 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 15
    jcs2305 said:
    It doesn't matter what reviews say.

    It'll always be a knockoff of Apple's concept/design, and the person buying/wearing them knows it.
    You are so right ... Sammy copied 2016 already what Apple introduced 2 years later ... yes, please give us more of that

    Welcome.. and what are you talking about?  If you are referring to the Gear IconX wireless buds from Samsung they were released 6mos prior to the original Airpods. If that isn't what you are talking about please elaborate? 
    Although poorly worded, it seems JLC is replying to anantksundaram's comment with sarcasm.  They're mocking the knockoff claim... and rightfully so.  Seems some favor cognitive dissonance and "alternative" facts.  It's fairly common knowledge the IconX's predate the AirPods.  

    gatorguy
  • Reply 10 of 15
    It doesn't matter what reviews say.

    It'll always be a knockoff of Apple's concept/design, and the person buying/wearing them knows it.
    Yes, Samsung even created a book on copying Apple
    https://bgr.com/2012/08/08/apple-samsung-patent-lawsuit-internal-report-copy-iphone/

    One thing I do not like about Samsung's earbuds is they look like they've got cotton balls stuck in their ears
    Actually they probably look like a discolored,  massive blob of earwax when worn. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 15
    It appears that the reviewer did not actually listen to any of the earphones as none of the comments on audio quality are related to the actual audio quality. I guess that's ok if you just listen to phone calls. As there is nothing on the microphone quality it's not really a useful review even for Use as a phone earbud/ mic . Seems like a review that was written without actually having access to any of the products reviewed.
  • Reply 12 of 15
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,259administrator
    fulwild said:
    It appears that the reviewer did not actually listen to any of the earphones as none of the comments on audio quality are related to the actual audio quality. I guess that's ok if you just listen to phone calls. As there is nothing on the microphone quality it's not really a useful review even for Use as a phone earbud/ mic . Seems like a review that was written without actually having access to any of the products reviewed.
    This very clearly isn't a review, so I'm not sure what you're talking about. If it was, it would be clearly labeled as a "Review" in the headline and on the main page.

    Also, from the article: "When the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ ship, AppleInsider will be evaluating them for real-world performance."
    edited February 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 15
    I have Galaxy Icon X buds, Air Pods, and Air Pods Pro.

    On paper, Galaxy Icon X looked great.  Has more bass.  Has memory so can store songs directly earphones.

    In reality, the performance was crap.  Icon X periodically loses bluetooth connection with phone.  It is very difficulty to get songs onto the earphones.  When playing music from memory, the Icon will intermittently lose sync, so either left earbud and right earbud will stop playinging.  These issues occur quite often, maybe 2-3 times every week.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 15
    fulwild said:
    It appears that the reviewer did not actually listen to any of the earphones as none of the comments on audio quality are related to the actual audio quality. I guess that's ok if you just listen to phone calls. As there is nothing on the microphone quality it's not really a useful review even for Use as a phone earbud/ mic . Seems like a review that was written without actually having access to any of the products reviewed.
    This very clearly isn't a review, so I'm not sure what you're talking about. If it was, it would be clearly labeled as a "Review" in the headline and on the main page.

    Also, from the article: "When the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ ship, AppleInsider will be evaluating them for real-world performance."
    When you get them in, could you do the comparison across both ecosytems?  Use both headphones on an Android and an iPhone?  I think that would give a clearer picture of how they actually compare.  A lot of other comparisons only do half the job by only comparing the headphones in their own ecosystems.  
  • Reply 15 of 15
    AirPods are so ubiquitous now that on the rare occasion you see something different it really stands out. I work in a building with well over 4000 people, and for every 50 people I see wearing AirPods, I'll see just 1 with something else. Maybe that's just where I live, but I'm astounded by the number of AirPods I see in the wild - and the diversity of those wearing them. All other makers will just come across as Zunes in an iPod world, I think, regardless of how good or bad they are.
    watto_cobra
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