Galaxy Buds Pro

Cool factor 4/5
Usability 3½/5
Value for money 3½/5

Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds Pro have arrived and compete directly with Apple’s AirPods Pro with similar features. The Buds Pro have a higher durability rating (IPX7) than the AirPods Pro (IPX4).

We received the earbuds in the new eye-catching "phantom violet" shade. It comes in a square Qi wireless rechargeable case that provides eight hours of battery life and 20 hours of reserve power.

There are three silicone tip sizes in the box. The default tip sizes are comfortable, though I found they need frequent cleaning — I didn’t want to put them back in the case until they were wiped of clinging dust and hair.

I paired them on both the LG Velvet and Galaxy S21 Ultra for testing but disappointingly, the Galaxy Buds plug-in no longer offers support for the iPhone, like the Buds Live one did. They can be paired directly over Bluetooth on iOS and used as is, but key features are only accessible via the app.

The Galaxy Wearable app is where the magic happens. It is feature rich, and lets you customise the touch and hold functions on each bud, such as choosing a voice command, volume levels or controlling Spotify. Touches can also be blocked via a quick toggle.

The sound quality is excellent — crisp and not too bass heavy. There are equaliser presets to choose from. I found the earbuds comfortable for video meetings, but couldn’t use them for hours.

Notifications can be read out to you, and their intelligent active noise cancellation has an additional ambient sound setting if you want to be aware of what’s going on around you. With active noise cancellation turned on, battery life is reduced to five hours.

Samsung reserved exclusive features for Galaxy owners, such as 360 Audio, Bixby voice wake-up and gaming mode (minimised audio delay for vivid synchronised sound), available once paired on the S21 Ultra.

The Galaxy Buds Pro, which cost R3,999, are the best in-ear wireless earphones from Samsung to date, with excellent noise cancellation for working from home, but to experience all of their features you need to own a Galaxy device. For those who want regular wireless earphones (not in-ear), last year’s Buds Live are still a good choice, and the price has come down.

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