Nowadays, wireless headphones are all the rage. With the elimination of the headphone jack from almost every high-end smartphone in recent history, it’s hard to find one that still works with with your older 3.5mm cans unless you use an adapter. Because of this, it’s much more convenient to just buy a new pair of buds or over-ear units that connect wirelessly. The problem is, most of the time, you’re paying quite the premium to have this privilege.
AirPods Pro and Powerbeats Pro both cost $250. The Sony WF-1000XM3 buds cost $200. The Jabra Elite 75t buds are $180. Then there’s a bunch of other buds thrown in the mix from a variety of retailers, yet there still isn’t a great way to buy a new pair of truly wireless headphones without having to reach further into your piggy bank.
But there is one pair of earbuds that anyone looking to save as much money as possible should be paying attention to, and that’s the Samsung Galaxy Buds. No, I’m not talking about the recently updated Galaxy Buds Plus. I’m talking about the original pair that came out last year in tandem with the Galaxy S10.
Samsung still sells these buds on their website for $129. The Buds Plus are an extra $20 at $149, and at that point, it makes more sense to buy the updated model if these are the headphones you decide to purchase. But in this article, I’m gonna detail the original Buds for one specific reason: Best Buy has them for a really cheap price.
Granted, these aren’t “new” Galaxy Buds. You have to go through the company’s Geek Squad certified refurbished store to get the deal, which means you’ll be getting a used pair of headphones. That being said, they’ve been refurbished by Best Buy themselves to act like they’re fresh out of their original packaging, and best of all, they’ve retailed for $55 which is insane.
I recently got my hands on a unit of these refurbished Galaxy Buds, and I have to say, I’ve been seriously impressed, especially when it comes to value proposition. Undoubtedly, we’re gonna get a ton of new wireless earbuds in 2020, but Samsung’s flagship buds that came out last year are still worth of remaining relevant, if only because they can be had for so cheap.
Take the design. The Galaxy Buds look almost identical to the Buds Plus, so you don’t have to worry about any FOMO relating to looks. Admittedly, I prefer the design of the original Buds to the Buds Plus because the case the former headphones ship in has a matte finish, whereas the latter buds include a glossy case that’s much more welcoming to scratches. Plus, the black color scheme is clean and minimal, while the silver and new blue color the Buds Plus ship in tend to stick out.
The fit in your ears each Galaxy Bud has is also well crafted. I’m using the pre-installed wingtips and a size up for the eartips, and they fit beautifully in my ears. I don’t feel like they’ll be sliding out any time soon which is an issue with some buds I’ve tested. Also, this is gonna sound weird, but when I’m chewing, they never slowly-but-surely make their way to the edges of my ear canals. You have no idea how thankful I am they don’t do this.
The buds are stored in the matte-finish case that charges them over special pins. The hinge that connects the top of the case to its base feels durable and satisfying when opening and closing, although it’s kind of tricky to open with one hand. It isn’t impossible, but it’s certainly no one-handed operation like AirPods.
One of the biggest downsides to the Galaxy Buds, according to some reviewers, was sound quality. I think they sound fine. The mids are definitely there, and I get treated to some nice highs and lows with certain types of music like hip hop. Switching over the classic folk or rock music, though, and you’ll immediately notice the lack of bass these buds have.
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a terrible lack of bass. However, I would’ve liked to have seen something a bit more since most music can sound pretty bland with these earbuds.
That being said, this is a small sacrifice to make if you spend $65 to buy them. I can’t really see anyone complaining about the sound quality if they get them for so cheap. They sound way better than any other $65 pair of wireless headphones you can buy and they’re good enough for casual listening while on the subway, jogging, or making phone calls.
Plus, you get a great feature set. Samsung includes its ambient sound feature which amplifies the sounds around you using the Buds’ microphones so you can hear what’s going on without having to take your headphones out. I have the feature programmed to a long-press of the right earbud, and it works great. You also have access to the Google Assistant, an EQ, and more thanks to the Galaxy Wear app.
Unfortunately, battery life isn’t the best. It’s slightly better than something like AirPods where you can get around six hours of usage on a full charge, while the case can get you another six to seven hours of playback. Again, I can’t really complain since these things go for $65 nowadays, but when they launched, I can definitely tell why people were mad at the endurance factor.
When it comes time to charge, this is where things go from alright to excellent. Whereas you have to spend around $200 to get a pair of earbuds that can charge wirelessly, the Galaxy Buds launched at $129 and had the ability built-in. Now that you can find the Buds for cheaper, that’s an even better perk. Of course, you also get USB-C charging with the supplied cable.
If you’re reading this before you bought a pair of Galaxy Buds, you’re probably wondering whether you should get these ones or the Plus variant for a few extra bucks. That all depends on whether you care about these three areas: noise cancellation, call quality, and battery life.
The Galaxy Buds Plus improve the standard Buds in all three of these departments. Sound isolation with the original Buds is fine, but the Buds Plus come with proper active noise cancellation for an even better seal. Then there are the improved microphones which have a pretty significant impact on call quality. Finally, batter life has nearly doubled from a combined 13 hours of usage to 22 hours with the Buds Plus.
Sound quality is also a bit better gen-over-gen, but I skipped that part because it isn’t significant enough to count.
Personally, I still think the original Galaxy Buds offer a great value for the money, especially when buying refurbished for this cheap. At any price higher than $100, I’d steer you toward the improved Galaxy Buds Plus since it won’t cost much more to get Samsung’s cream of the crop. But if you’re tight on cash, want a good pair of wireless headphones, and need something that’s capable of remaining relevant, the O.G. Buds are the way to go.
So yeah, buy the Galaxy Buds in 2020. They’re not the best headphones, but they are for $65. You should definitely buy them if you don’t feel like spending all of your money.
Samsung Galaxy Buds
Nice build quality
Decent feature list
Good sound quality
Amazing value for discounted price
Battery life could be better
While sound quality's good, there's little to no bass