I tried the new wireless earbuds Samsung launched to challenge Apple's AirPods — and found 3 things I loved about them and 2 ways they fall short


samsung earbuds sound by AKG

  • Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus offer clear sound, a comfortable fit, and convenient integration with Spotify at an affordable price.
  • But they do lack some features found on alternatives from Apple and Amazon that are similarly priced.
  • For example, they don’t support the ability to launch voice commands hands-free, like Apple’s second-generation AirPods and Amazon’s Echo Buds. 
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The wireless earbuds space has become increasingly crowded in the years since Apple launched its original AirPods in 2016, and Samsung just added another competitor into the mix.

The $150 Galaxy Buds Plus, which the South Korean electronics maker launched on February 14, are an updated version of last year’s model that come with longer battery life, an additional microphone for clearer calls, improved audio, and a new shortcut for launching Spotify.

Taken together, the changes that Samsung has introduced in its Galaxy Buds sequel makes them a much more formidable opponent to Apple’s AirPods, especially at their price. For $150, which is $9 cheaper than the standard AirPods and $100 less expensive than the Pros, the Galaxy Buds Plus offer crisp, clear sound, useful features like a on-tap shortcut to Spotify, and a comfortable fit. But they do lack in certain areas compared to AirPods and other alternatives.

After spending a couple of days with the Galaxy Buds Plus, here are the best and worst things I’ve discovered about using them.

SEE ALSO: 5 reasons to buy the older Galaxy S10 instead of Samsung’s brand-new Galaxy S20

The Galaxy Buds Plus’ Spotify integration is fast, easy, and convenient.

After setting up and pairing the Galaxy Buds Plus with an Android phone, you’ll be able to program the earbuds to launch Spotify with a quick press. Just briefly press and hold one of the buds after placing them in your ears and the headphones will begin playing whatever you were most recently listening to on Spotify.

It’s a useful and convenient feature that makes the overall experience feel a bit faster and smoother than having to manually launch the Spotify app on your phone to get started.

Although the Galaxy Buds Plus are compatible with the iPhone, it’s unfortunately not possible to launch Spotify with just a tap when using Apple’s smartphone. You also can’t receive notifications through the earbuds if you’re using them with an iPhone. 

The Galaxy Buds Plus’ accompanying app, which is called Galaxy Wearable for Android devices and Galaxy Buds+ for the iPhone, comes with several options for customizing the actions that occur when pressing and holding the earbuds. Such choices include launching a voice command, turning the volume down, launching Spotify, and switching on the Galaxy Buds Plus’ ambient sound mode — which lets you hear noise from your surroundings while listening to music. 

The sound quality is solid for the price, but not quite as good as the cheaper Echo Buds.

For $150, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus offer clear and crisp sound that’s suitable enough for casual listening. Compared to last year’s earbuds, the new Galaxy Buds have a two-way dynamic speaker with a woofer and tweeter, improvements that Samsung added to boost the earbuds’ audio capabilities.

But I still preferred the $130 Echo Buds when it came to overall sound quality. Amazon’s earbuds generally provide more depth and weight when listening to music, making Samsung’s earbuds sound somewhat shallow in comparison. You can customize how Samsung’s earbuds sound in the Galaxy Buds Plus companion app, but I generally felt like they sounded best on “normal” mode anyhow. 

The AirPods Pro unsurprisingly sounded richer and more full-bodied than the Galaxy Buds Plus too, but they’re also $100 more expensive. 

The Galaxy Buds Plus don’t offer active noise cancellation, but they do seal your ear enough to adequately block out some noise from your surroundings. In this regard, they’re much better than Apple’s standard $160 AirPods, which don’t provide any seal. Still, Amazon’s Echo Buds go one step further than the Galaxy Buds Plus by offering active noise reduction. 

Samsung says its new Galaxy Buds can provide 11 hours of playback and an additional 11 hours of battery life from its charging case. That’s far higher than the battery life of the standard AirPods and Echo Buds, both of which provide five hours of playback.

I haven’t had the opportunity to use the new Galaxy Buds Plus for 11 consecutive hours, but if Samsung’s claims hold up then that would mean its new earbuds should come in handy during long flights. Otherwise, the earbuds offer roughly 22 hours of battery life total considering they get an additional 11 hours from the charging case, which roughly puts them on par with AirPods and Echo Buds. After using the earbuds for roughly three days, the case had 55% of its battery left. 

They’re also comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time.

The Galaxy Buds Plus may not sound as punchy as the Echo Buds or AirPods Pro, but they’re certainly comfortable. I wore them for a decent portion of the work day and didn’t experience any discomfort, and the Galaxy Buds Plus also remained secure in my ear while running on the treadmill. I generally don’t have an issue with AirPods falling out either, but the Galaxy Buds winged eartips makes them feel a little more snug. 


Although I enjoyed the Galaxy Buds Plus’ fit and found the Spotify integration to be useful, it’s worth noting that they’re lacking a few features found on similarly priced rivals from Amazon and Apple.

One of my favorite features of Apple’s AirPods has always been their ability to detect when one headphone has been removed from the ear and pause music accordingly. Even Apple’s original $160 AirPods have this capability, as do Amazon’s less expensive $130 Echo Buds.

But Samsung’s earbuds can only pause music after you remove both earbuds from your ears, a seemingly trivial distinction that actually makes a big difference in daily use. It’s much more convenient to pop one earbud out of your ear to say hello to a friend you ran into on the subway than it is to take out both earbuds and scramble not to drop them mid-conversation, for example.

The Galaxy Buds Plus also don’t have hands-free support for voice commands as rivals like the AirPods and Echo Buds do. With Samsung’s earbuds, you must press and hold one of the earbuds while wearing them to trigger either the Google Assistant or Samsung’s Bixby virtual helper. 

The touch controls can also sometimes feel too sensitive, and I found myself accidentally triggering Spotify when trying to remove the buds from my ear.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather have the touch controls on the Galaxy Buds feel too sensitive than not responsive enough. In most cases, they behave just as I expect them to when tapping or holding them. But on multiple occasions, I did notice that music would unexpectedly start playing again whenever I would touch one of the earbuds to remove it from my ear. 

If you don’t want to use the Galaxy Buds’ touch controls, you can also lock the touchpad in the app to avoid such occurrences. 

Overall, the Galaxy Buds Plus are a solid option for Android users looking for an affordable pair of wireless headphones.

The Galaxy Buds Plus offer decent sound and a comfortable fit that’s capable of blocking out some outside noise at a price that’s more affordable than some competitors. They may be lacking in some areas — they can’t pause music when one bud is removed from the ear, and the sound quality isn’t as good as the Echo Buds. But they also have some advantages over Amazon’s Buds, like a more portable case and support for USB-C and wireless charging.

In short, the qualities I loved most about the Galaxy Buds Plus are their:

  • Comfortable fit
  • Easy Spotify integration
  • Solid sound quality

But I felt like they fell short of rivals like Amazon and Apple because:

  • They’re missing features like the ability to remove one earbud to automatically pause and hands-free voice commands
  • The touch controls can sometimes feel a little too sensitive