Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: First look
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Galaxy Buds Pro release date and price
As it was announced at the Samsung Galaxy S21 Unpacked event, the Galaxy Buds Pro will be made available in select markets on January 15 for the price of $200, which is $50 less than Apple's AirPods Pro.
Galaxy Buds Pro design and color options
While Samsung's previous bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live were objectively cool and personally fit my ears really well, their in-ear fit wasn't optimal for some users, which could be why Samsung has decided to go back to a safer design for the Buds Pro.
The Buds Pro earbuds are actually similar in design to last year's Galaxy Buds Plus and sport traditional rubber eartips, which should provide the best in-ear seal for most users. Out the box they will come with small, medium and large eartips to choose from. The outer top part of the earbuds is made out of glossy plastic, while the rest is matte plastic.
The case of the Galaxy Buds Pro itself is mostly identical to the Galaxy Buds Live case, which is not a bad thing at all. It features smooth, rounded corners and again glossy plastic on the outside and matte on the inside. It opens just like a wedding ring case and features an LED light, which is to indicate pairing and charging.
Speaking of the design, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro will be coming in three color variants, to match the new Galaxy S21:
- Phantom Violet
- Phantom Silver
- Phantom Black
For anyone who's interested in reducing their environmental footprint, Samsung notes that the Galaxy Buds Pro are made out of 20% environmentally conscious post-consumer materials.
Galaxy Buds Pro touch gestures
As with previous Galaxy Buds, the outer side of each earbud is touch-sensitive, allowing for the following touch gestures:
- Tap to play and pause.
- Double tap to play the next song or answer / end a call.
- Triple tap to play the previous song.
- Touch and hold (1 second) to perform a customizable action or reject an incoming call.
- Touch and hold both earbuds (3 seconds) to enter Bluetooth pairing mode.
Galaxy Buds Pro in-ear fit and sound quality
The Galaxy Buds Pro's sound comes from the 11 millimeter woofer and 6.5 millimeter tweeter in each earbud, which are responsible for the bass and treble respectively.
As previously mentioned, the Buds Pro's more traditional design (than the Buds Live) should help them fit better in most people's ears, regardless of ear shape and size.
As for sound quality, Samsung promises "the most comprehensive sound" in the line of Galaxy Buds earphones yet, with detailed, overall balanced and full sound.
Galaxy Buds Pro noise cancelling and other features
The Buds Pro feature Active Noise Cancelling (ANC), which can be set to either "High" or "Low", depending on how strong you want it. Samsung says that on "High", the Galaxy Buds Pro are able to cancel out up to 99% of external background noise.
Alternatively to ANC, the Buds Pro can be set to Ambient Sound. You'll be able to adjust it between four levels, with the highest one boosting nearby voices by +20 decibels, so you can hear people that are talking near you loud and clear even while your music is playing. In addition, the Buds Pro can detect when you're conversing with someone and switch from ANC to Ambient Sound automatically. This feature is called "Voice detect" and will be an option in the Galaxy Wearable app.
Here are the other notable Galaxy Buds Pro features:
- Bixby voice wake-up lets you interact with Samsung's voice assistant via voice commands, hands-free. Like all voice assistants, you can ask for the weather, news, request a translation, or to hear some music, via commands such as "Hi Bixby, play my music." Note that Bixby voice wake-up is only available on Samsung devices running One UI 3.1 or higher and can be turned on or off via the Galaxy Wearable app.
- Auto Switch will connect your Buds with another Galaxy device on the fly, when it detects that you've switched devices. For example – you're watching something on your phone but switch to your Galaxy Tab. With Auto Switch on, the Buds will switch to your tablet too, so you won't need to do it manually.
- 360 Audio uses Dolby Head Tracking technology to create a multi-dimensional sound effect when watching movies. The idea is that the sounds will feel as if coming to you from different directions, essentially attempting to simulate a physical surround sound home theatre system that you're in the center of.
- Multi Mic Recording will allow you to make voice and other sound recordings with both your Galaxy Buds Pro and Galaxy smartphone in tandem, which may be especially appealing to YouTubers, such as vloggers.
- Game Mode will reduce the latency between your phone and Buds Pro, so that you can hear what's happening in your game immediately and be able to react as quickly as possible.
- Swift Pair eases the pairing process between your Buds Pro and your Windows 10 PC, so you can easily use them while working and video conferencing on your computer.
All in all, the Buds Pro should satisfy anyone's needs with the amount of features they're packing. Of course, you also have an equalizer in the Galaxy Wearable app, so you can customize the sound to your liking – be it by boosting (or reducing) the bass, or making your music "sparkle" by increasing the highs.
Galaxy Buds Pro device support
As with previous Galaxy Buds earphones, the Buds Pro will be able to Bluetooth pair and work with both Android phones and iPhones, in addition to tablets and PCs.
However, in order to enjoy all of the Buds Pro features, you'll want to be using a Galaxy smartphone or tablet. Bixby voice wake-up, for example, will only be available on Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets.
But music playback, calls, ANC and touch controls will work on any phone or tablet just fine.
Galaxy Buds Pro microphone
For when you're video conferencing or on a phone call, the Galaxy Buds Pro use a Voice Pickup Unit and three microphones to optimize voice clarity – two outer mics and one that's just behind the eartip. According to Samsung, the microphones can separate out unwanted sounds, while allowing your voice to stand out loud and clear.
For filtering out wind noise, which is often a problem when on a call outside, the Buds Pro also sport a chamber-like Wind Shield module.
Galaxy Buds Pro water resistance
Samsung calls the Buds Pro the company's "most water resistant earbuds yet", and that bold statement is backed up by their IPX7 rating, which signifies that the earbuds have been tested to survive submersion in fresh water for up to 30 minutes, 1 meter.
And while it's best to be careful and avoid potential damage regardless of IP ratings, the Buds Pro should be just fine if used in the rain, or if accidentally splashed with a bit of water. But do note that Samsung doesn't advise using them at the beach or in pools. Also note that the charging case itself is not water resistant and sports no IP rating, just the earbuds.
Galaxy Buds Pro battery life and charging
The battery capacity of the Galaxy Buds Pro charging case is 472mAh, while each earbud's additional, independent battery capacity is 61mAh. According to Samsung, this equates to a total of:
- 5 hours of playback with just the earbuds (ANC on)
- 8 hours of playback with just the earbuds (ANC off)
- 18 hours of playback with the earbuds + case (ANC on)
- 28 hours of playback with the earbuds + case (ANC off)
- 4 hours of talk time with just the earbuds (ANC on)
- 5 hours of talk time with just the earbuds (ANC off)
- 14.5 hours of talk time with the earbuds + case (ANC on)
- 17.5 hours of talk time with the earbuds + case (ANC off)
It's also noteworthy that a 5-minute quick-charge of the Buds Pro should give them enough juice for up to an hour of playback, which is convenient.
As for how the Buds Pro actually charge – as usual, all you need to do is place them in their case. The case itself charges via its USB Type-C port. The Buds Pro come with a charging cable, but without a charging brick, so you'll need to either use a spare or buy one. The case of the Buds Pro is additionally Qi-certified for wireless charging.