Samsung Galaxy Buds+ vs AirPods Pro, AirPods, Jabra Elite Active 75t
This comparison goes in-depth across categories like comfort, battery life, and sound quality, but if you're not interested in the details, here's a quick summary of our findings:
Samsung Galaxy Buds+
Samsung's true wireless earphones deliver very good sound and come at a great price. They have a secure fit and can last up to 11 hours on their own, making them ideal for travelers. However, they're not ideal for phone calls, and the touch controls can be fiddly. Still, the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ are among the top true wireless earbuds you can get today.
- Buy Galaxy Buds+ at Samsung ($149.99)
- Buy Galaxy Buds+ at Amazon (Click for latest price)
- Buy Galaxy Buds+ at BestBuy ($149.99)
Apple AirPods Pro
If you have an iPhone, these are among the best true wireless earbuds you can buy and among the few with active noise cancellation. They are comfortable and filter out background noises really well while also delivering clear, balanced sound. They fit perfectly into the Apple ecosystem and get along really well with Apple products. Their biggest downside is the price of $250. They have great combined battery life of over 24 hours, but on their own, they last only 4.5 hours which may not be enough to get you through a long trip.
Apple AirPods (2nd generation)
The classic AirPods are still worth considering in 2020 if you own an iPhone. They have good sound quality and come at a fair starting price. They're also the lightest pair on the list, and some people might find them more comfortable – especially those who aren't fans of in-ear headphones with rubber tips. Downsides include the lack of water resistance and that a wireless charging case will cost you extra.
- Buy AirPods at Apple ($199.99, with wireless charging)
- Buy AirPods at Amazon (Click for latest price)
- Buy AirPods at BestBuy ($139.99, no wireless charging)
Jabra Elite Active 75t
Among the four, these are the best true wireless earphones for exercising. That's not only due to their high water-resistance rating, but also because these earbuds grip your ear pretty well. They have the potential to sound great, but you may have to tweak the audio settings yourself to get the best possible experience. This pair has the best combined battery life – 28 hours in total. The Jabra Elite Active 75t is equally compatible with both iPhones and Android phones.
- Buy Jabra Elite Active 75t at BestBuy ($199.99)
Design and comfort
Most true wireless earbuds are designed in a similar fashion: they rest on your earlobe while a rubbery tip plugs into the ear canal. The tip of the earbud creates a seal around the canal, providing both better sound and secure grip. This is the design formula followed by the Galaxy Buds+, the Jabra Elite Active 75t, and the AirPods Pro. The Galaxy Buds+ go a step further by also featuring rubbery "wings" for additional grip strength. Since everyone's ears are shaped slightly differently, all three models come with rubber tips of different sizes.
The classic AirPods are different, however. They have an all-plastic housing and lack a rubber tip. Some of my colleagues find them more comfortable since they dislike the feeling of having something plugged into their ear. I, personally, prefer earbuds with in-ear design because the original AirPods tend to fall out of my ears. Still, the AirPods are the lightest buds in this comparison, so that's one reason why some people might favor them instead.
Personally, I feel like the Buds+ and the Active 75t have the most secure fit, but they might feel a bit like earplugs in your ears. The AirPods Pro don't have as much of an earplug feel and fit nicely in my ears as well. The original AirPods are more likely to fall off your ears if you're exercising, but they're fine for every-day use. In fact, the lightweight design makes the classic AirPods the most comfortable true wireless earphones for prolonged use (as long as they fit your ears well).
**More colors coming soon
The Jabra Elite Active 75t are the best water-resistant wireless earbuds on this list. They have an IP57 rating and can be safely used during exercise. The AirPods Pro are only splash resistant with an IPX4 rating. The Galaxy Buds+ have an even weaker, IPX2 rating, so they're only sweat resistant to some extent. The original AirPods don't have a water-resistance rating.
As expected, all four models come with carrying cases that charge them while not in use. The original AirPods have the most compact case by far. The cases for the Jabra Elite Active 75t and the AirPods Pro are roughly of the same size. The pill-shaped case of the Galaxy Buds+ feels the biggest, but it still fits in the small pocket of my jeans.
For this part of my testing, I had the AirPods and AirPods pro paired to an iPhone 11. The Jabra Elite Active 75t and the Galaxy Buds+ were paired to a Samsung Galaxy S10. All comments on music quality come after listening to high-quality tracks that I copied onto the phones from my computer.
The good news is that all four models sound very good, but there are differences in the ways they reproduce audio. In my opinion, the AirPods Pro have the most balanced sound while the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ tend to boost the lows and the highs a bit. They both sound fine, it's just a matter of what kind of sound signature you prefer and possibly what music you listen to.
The Jabra Elite Active 75t are a bit special. They can also sound really good, but out of the box, they sounded a bit harsh to my ears, with heavy bass and piercing highs. A quick adjustment of the equalizer in the Jabra Sound+ tuned the sound to my liking, but I feel like I don't have to do this on such an expensive pair of earphones. Oh, there's some kind of an automatic sound adjustment feature that matches the equalizer to your ears, but it kept crashing on me so I couldn't test it out.
And the original AirPods, they do sound fine overall. The sound is balanced and clear, but I'd call it a bit less exciting compared to what I heard from the other three pairs. A bit more bass and treble would have been nice. But if you're not a critical listener, these would suit your needs well.
Ambient sound and noise reduction
When it comes to ambient sound reduction and isolation, there's practically no contest here. The AirPods Pro are in a league of their own, being the only pair here to feature active noise cancellation. ANC does not block all sounds, but it drastically reduces the humming of washing machines, air conditioners, or motor vehicles. The Galaxy Buds+ and the Jabra 75t do have some passive sound isolation thanks to their rubber tips, but the result is nowhere near as dramatic. As for the AirPods, they don't even try to isolate any ambient noise and let most of it through, but that can be a good thing if you prefer to be more aware of your surroundings.
Speaking of which, the AirPods Pro, the Galaxy Buds+, and the Jabras all have a feature that lets ambient sound through so that you can be more aware of what's going on. It is called Transparency mode on the AirPods Pro and it is awesome – having it on feels almost like you're not wearing the earbuds.
Ambient Sound is an identical feature found on the Galaxy Buds+. It has three volume levels. The medium level gets very close to the way the world sounds without earphones, and the high level amplifies ambient sound which can be useful if you're listening to a lecture, for example. On the downside, because the buds seal the ears too well, talking with Ambient Sound enabled feels like your head is underwater. It's not pleasant.
HearThrough on the Jabra Elite Active 75t works well. It has six levels and the higher ones do amplify sound too. Also, there's less of that "underwater" sound I mentioned, so talking with HearThrough on doesn't feel so weird.
I tested the signal strength of all four models in my apartment and found out that all of them maintain a strong connection to the phone they're paired to. Every pair works fine even if the phone is in the room next door. The best range with a clear line of sight I got with the original AirPods and the AirPods Pro – about 12 meters (~39 feet). I got about 11 and 10 meters of range with the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ and the Jabra Elite Active 75t which is still excellent and more than enough for most people's needs.
Buttons and controls
All four models let you control music playback and access certain features with built-in buttons or touch-sensitive areas. If I had to pick a favorite, that would be the Jabras. The Elite Active 75t have clicky, easy-to-access physical buttons on the sides. You can toggle HearThrough on and off, control playback and volume, and even access Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant. The sound of the click is a bit annoying, but it's bearable.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds+ have touch-sensitive pads on the side. They work fine, but sometimes they fail to detect a tap, and tapping on them feels like I'm banging on my eardrums. Single, double, and triple taps can be used to play/pause, skip, or go back to the previous song. What holding does can be changed from within the Galaxy Wearable app. For example, I have my pair set up to toggle Ambient Sound on or off by holding on the left earbud, and holding on the right activates the Google Assistant. You can replace one of these actions with a "Launch Spotify" action. You can also replace both long-press shortcuts with volume up and volume down controls, but in that case, you'll lose access to the Ambient Sound, assistant, or Spotify shortcuts if you have them set up.
The AirPods Pro are pretty cool with their force-sensitive stems. Of course, you can play, pause, skip, or go back a track, but you can also toggle Transparency Mode on or off with a long squeeze. Siri can be accessed with a long press as well or by simply saying "Hey, Siri" (if you activate these options in Settings). You can only control volume from your phone or by asking Siri to change it for you. What breaks the experience for me is that squeezing the stem ruins the fit so I often have to readjust the earbud afterwards.
The AirPods are the most limited in terms of controls. They respond to double taps only, so if you have your left earbud set to pause/play a track and the right one to skip to the next song, there's no way to go back to the previous song. One of the double-tap shortcuts can be set to launch Siri, but you can also summon her by saying "Hey, Siri".
With true wireless earbuds, manufacturers usually list at least two battery life estimates. One states how many hours of continued listening it takes to drain the batteries inside the buds, while the other, greater estimate takes into account the extra charge contained in the carrying case.
Things can easily get confusing here if one doesn't read the fine print. For example, the Galaxy Buds+ last a whopping 11 hours on their own, nearly enough to last a flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles! Meanwhile, the AirPods Pro will only deliver 4.5 hours of listening time (to be fair, they'll be blocking engine noise much better). The Elite Active 75t and the AirPods last for 7.5 and 5 hours, respectively.
But seriously, how many people will have their earbuds on for more than a few hours at a time? The Jabras deliver the best combined battery life, and perhaps that's the figure most people should be looking at. The AirPods and AirPods Pro come second with "over 24 hours" of combined battery life, and the Galaxy Buds+ come last with their 22 hours of combined use. Still, even a 22-hour battery life is great and perfectly sufficient for most people.
It is also worth pointing out that batteries have a limited lifespan. The ones in the AirPods and AirPods Pro are likely to degrade more quickly because they require more frequent charges.
Finally, a reminder that the base, $159 model of classic AirPods comes with a case that doesn't support wireless charging. AirPods with support for both wired and wireless charging cost $40 extra. All other models come with cases supporting both wired and wireless charging.