Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review: Excellent sound in a comfier design

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro offer excellent sound quality, good battery life, and good ANC and Ambient modes. But they lean heavily into Samsung's ecosystem, which them only suitable for one particular crowd.

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I knew when I opened the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro from their packaging that they’d be good. I’ve been using the standard Galaxy Buds 2 as my go-to pair of wireless earbuds since August of 2021, and they’ve never failed me with their great sound quality, reliable battery life, and excellent noise cancellation. The Buds 2 Pro take all of those features and improve them, so I was pretty confident they’d at least meet my expectations.

Fortunately, they’ve surpassed them. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, Samsung’s new high-end earbuds priced at $229.99, master virtually all of the fundamentals you look for in a modern pair of wireless buds. You get great sound quality, long battery life, terrific ANC, a solid transparency mode, and wireless charging. There’s a great deal to like here.

Samsung has come a long way from the days when it would ship lackluster first-party earbuds to pair with its Galaxy phones. The first few generations of Galaxy Buds weren’t necessarily bad, but unimpressive by almost every metric. These last few generations, however, have gotten better and better, and the Buds 2 Pro are by far the best yet.

The only significant downside is their tight integration with Samsung devices. The earbuds are specifically designed to work better when your phone, tablet, or laptop has a Samsung logo on it. Of course, you can still use the Buds 2 Pro with other Android phones or even iPhones, but the experience won’t be as great. Regardless, these are some of my favorite earbuds to date – here’s why.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
Fantastic earbuds... for Samsung users
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are some of my favorite earbuds I've ever tested. They're comfortable, sound great, and offer nice perks like ANC and wireless charging. But they lean heavily into Samsung's ecosystem, so they're only really suitable if your world revolves around other Galaxy devices.
Design and comfort
Sound quality
Smart features
Battery life
Excellent sound quality
Comfortable design
Solid ANC and smart Ambient mode
Good battery life
Too heavy on Samsung ecosystem lock-in
No multi-device support outside of Samsung world
Did I mention you need a Samsung phone for 24-bit/48kHz audio?
Where to Buy
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro AKG

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro design

Comfier than ever

The standard Galaxy Buds 2 never had any issue staying in my ears, whether I’m taking a light walk or sweating through a workout. The Buds 2 Pro – somehow, some way – make that experience even better. The buds have a more comfortable design which Samsung says is 15 percent lighter than the previous Buds Pro, and their shape sits perfectly in my ears. I usually stick with whatever silicon tips come pre-installed on the earbuds I use, and I found the Buds 2 Pro’s tips fit just fine. If that’s not the case for you, there are some extra sizes inside the packaging.

A big reason I like the Buds 2 Pro is the matte finish. The standard Buds 2, like many other wireless earbuds, offered a glossy finish that leaves fingerprints and scratches behind with everyday use. That’s simply not the case here. Speaking of which, the case for the Buds 2 Pro is also matte and looks far cleaner after weeks of use over something like an AirPods case.

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are IPX7 waterproof so you don’t have to worry about sweat. There’s also an extra vent on each bud to reduce pressure when using active noise cancellation. Compared to the Buds 2, I didn’t notice a huge difference in pressure changes, but they’re definitely more comfortable with ANC enabled over other earbuds I’ve tried.

Touch controls are still here, with the Buds 2 Pro supporting all sorts of taps and swipes to make things like playback and volume easy to reach. A long press can also trigger the Google Assistant or Bixby (it’s set to Bixby out of the box, by the way). I never had any issues with responsiveness from these controls, even when they were covered in sweat. I will say, though, I wish they had the ability to detect when I take them out of my ears to pause my music. It’s a really nice convenience to have, so I’m not sure why that’s absent here.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with Z Fold 4

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro sound quality

Simply superb – as long as you have a Samsung phone

Sound quality is surprisingly great on the Buds 2 Pro. I say surprisingly because you’d think these buds sported a Sony or Bose logo based on how they sound.

The Buds 2 Pro have two-way speakers with a 10mm woofer and 5.3mm tweeter that, together, offer a well-balanced sound stage with crisp highs and deep bass. Compared to the Buds 2, the Pro earbuds have slightly less bass, but that’s far from a downside considering just how good these buds sound. (There’s EQ settings you can flick on if you want that super-punchy bass many are fans of.)

I listened to a lot of different music with these earbuds, and every song sounded rich and full of life. The Electric Prune’s “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night” offers a great example of just how wide the soundstage is on the Buds 2 Pro. The roaring drumroll sounds like it’s coming from way off to the left and right of your head, and vocals were clear and well detailed. Logic’s “Vinyl Days” offers a similar experience, with excellent detail from the backbeat and the intricacies of the orchestra sample used in the introduction.

Other songs like Morgan Wallen’s “Thought You Should Know,” Spoon’s “The Underdog,” and The Rolling Stone’s “Living in a Ghost Town” are other examples of this. The Buds 2 Pro regularly impress me with how wide and rich they sound.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro earbuds on phone

The buds are tuned by AKG, a longtime partner of Samsung. That’s partially responsible for their great sound quality, but there’s another reason they sound so good: the inclusion of 24-bit, 48kHz audio over Bluetooth. Typically, audio is processed down to 16-bit by the time it reaches your ears, but Samsung found a way to maintain 24-bit perofmrnace to maximize quality. Using its new Seamless Codec (SSC), the company says you can achieve lossless, hi-fi audio that’s nearly on par with CD quality.

I wouldn’t go as far to say that’s the case with the Buds 2 Pro. They sound awesome, sure, but there’s only so much Bluetooth can do, even with a proprietary codec. That’s the other thing: if you want 24-bit, 48kHz audio quality, you’ll need a Samsung phone with at least 1.5GB of RAM running Android 8.0 and One UI 4.0 or later. All other phones like the Pixel, OnePlus, and iPhone will be stuck with standard audio quality.

Granted, the dip in quality isn’t very steep. I connected the Buds 2 Pro to my Pixel 7 Pro and din’t notice any significant difference, although the kids did sound a tad murkier. That might be my mind playing tricks on me, or it’s the lack of hi-fi audio. Either way, you’ll want a Samsung phone with the Buds 2 Pro if you want to get the most out of them.

The Buds 2 Pro also come with 360-degree spatial audio, but I honestly didn’t use it very much because I don’t like it on any set of earbuds I use (including Apple’s AirPods). Just give me the damn song as it was originally mixed and mastered.

Microphone quality is passable. I used the Buds 2 Pro to make a couple of phone calls and I was never told I sounded bad, but in comparison to other earbuds on the market, they’re a bit watery and distorted. Still, they’re good enough for a voice or video call.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro earbuds

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro ANC, Ambient mode, and Neck stretches

Samsung’s buds get smarter

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s active noise cancellation (ANC) is solid. I don’t think it’s the best you can get (that honor still goes to Sony’s WF-1000XM4s or the new Bose QuietComfort IIs) but it certainly gets the job done. In any coffee shop you visit, the ANC is more than enough to drown out background noise. It’s even enough to cancel out wind that’s blowing on me as I walk down the Ocean City boardwalk.

The transparency mode (a.k.a. Ambient Mode) on these buds gets smarter with voice activation. You can begin speaking to someone while ANC is on, and it’ll detect that you’re trying to have a conversation and flick on transparency mode, while also lowering the volume of whatever you’re listening to. It’s a handy feature to have if you’re someone who lives with their earbuds on. In addition, I found the transparency mode to be decent, but not as good as other earbuds.

There’s also a nifty new feature called “Neck stretch reminders,” and it does what you’d expect: it can alert you if you’ve been looking down for too long at your phone or laptop. This will help to avoid straining your neck and forming improper posture. The feature worked really well: I was alerted after 10 minutes of staring at my phone to stretch my neck, and it triggered at times when I thought I wasn’t craning too far down but definitely was. I’ll be curious to see if this feature makes its way to other earbuds in the future.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro earbuds in case

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro software features

Another example of Samsung lock-in

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are great earbuds, but they’re primarily geared toward those who already have other Galaxy devices like phones and tablets. Samsung’s Easy Pair setup process, which brings up a prompt on your phone to connect to the buds when you open the case, is exclusive to Samsung devices. Multi-device pairing, allowing you to effortlessly switch between the gadgets you carry every day without having to re-pair the buds, only works with Galaxy-branded devices that are logged into your Samsung account. And if you misplace your Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, you’ll have to use the Samsung SmartThings app to locate them.

You can definitely make a lot of this work on other Android phones. The Galaxy Wearable and SmartThings apps are available on the Play Store and work the same as they do on Samsung phones, but they won’t get you multi-device support or the 24-bit/48kHz hi-fi audio quality I mentioned earlier. We’ve made it to the days where it’s best to buy the earbuds that correspond with the smartphone you carry on a daily basis, and the Buds 2 Pro couldn’t be a stronger example of that.

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro battery life

Generally solid

I found battery life on the Buds 2 Pro to be generally good. Samsung says the buds last up to five hours with ANC on and eight hours with it off, as well as an extra 18-28 hours with the case depending on whether you use ANC. I had noise canceling enabled for 95 percent of the time, so I usually got five to six hours of usage before they died and had to be recharged. The case was usually good for another 20 hours of usage.

There’s a USB-C port for wired charging, and Samsung supplies wireless charging which is a must-have for earbuds nowadays. They typically juice up pretty quickly – I was able to drain both the buds and case completely, plugged them in, and in about an hour they were ready to rock.

How do the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro compare?

In a vacuum, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are solid, but how do they fair when compared to other popular earbuds on the market? Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular alternatives.

  • Apple AirPods Pro (2nd-generation): Compared to Apple’s latest AirPods Pro, the Buds 2 Pro offer a much wider soundstage and better detail in music. AirPods tend to get a little muddy in the mids and lows thanks to their focus on bass levels, and it sort of brings the whole experience down. Spatial Audio on AirPods is much better than it is on the Galaxy Buds, and so is transparency mode. The Buds 2 Pro take the win in terms of design since they’re a lot comfier to wear for long periods of time, and they have a matte finish that won’t scratch as easily. Of course, these buds couldn’t be any more different when it comes to the platforms they’re geared toward, but if they were hypothetically good for both Android and iOS users, I’d have to pick the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro as my preferred pair.
  • Google Pixel Buds Pro: Both the Pixel Buds Pro and Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have great sound quality, but I’ll give the edge to Samsung because the hi-fi codec makes music a little nicer to listen to. Battery life is better on the Pixel Buds by a couple of hours, and they have slightly stronger ANC. The Pixel Buds are also better suited for all Android users since features like Fast Pair, multi-device, and their highest-quality audio streaming are available on whatever Android phone you connect them to. I like the design of the Buds 2 Pro a bit more since they’re not as big or bulky as the Pixel Buds Pro. If I had to pick one, I’d probably go with the Pixel Buds, unless I had a Samsung phone.
  • Sony LinkBuds S: Sony’s LinkBuds S are priced lower than the Buds 2 Pro at $199.95, and they definitely put up a solid fight. Sound quality is about on par for the most part, albeit the soundstage doesn’t feel as wide. They fit nicely in my ears and are comfortable to wear for long periods without slipping out, and they’re matte just like the Buds 2 Pro. Battery life, ANC, and transparency are roughly on par with Samsung’s earbuds, but I’ll give the Galaxy Buds an edge in endurance since they seem to last a couple extra hours on a full charge. Plus, they come with wireless charging. The LinkBuds S work the same on Android and iOS thanks to Sony’s Headphones app, and there’s multi-point connectivity that works with any Bluetooth device you have. If you use a mix of different devices, I recommend the LinkBuds over the Buds 2 Pro.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

Should you buy the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro?

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are indisputably some of the best earbuds you can get, but that’s only true if you can maximize their value. At $229.99, there are cheaper alternatives on the market, including some that sound better or work better cross-platform (as I just discussed).

If you want to pick these buds up, it’s best to have a phone with a Samsung logo on it. That way, you’ll get lossless audio quality and a seamless setup process. While it’s not a terrible idea to pair them with a non-Samsung phone, the experience certainly won’t be as good, and at that point you’re better off shopping for something else.

At the end of the day, these re some of my favorite earbuds I’ve ever tested. I love how comfortable they are, how good they sound, and how great the extra features are. If they weren’t so reliant on Samsung’s phones and custom software to work, I’d recommend them to everyone that had an Android phone. But it’s best to buddy them with other Galaxy devices, and if you’re in that world, the Buds 2 Pro are a no-brainer.