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- Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro outperform the AirPods Pro in almost every way.
- But the right choice comes down to whether you’re an Android or iOS user.
- AirPods Pro are best for iPhone users, while Android owners will get more out of the Galaxy Buds Pro.
Both models feature premium sound, noise cancellation, good battery life, and wireless charging cases. They’re ideal alternatives for larger headphones, like over-ear models, that aren’t nearly as portable.
While both sets of wireless earbuds are specifically designed for their respective mobile platforms, they can be used with any Bluetooth phone, tablet, or computer.
That said, neither of these earbuds offer their full functionality if you use them outside the ecosystem they were designed for. You’ll lose the ability to control certain key features, like noise cancellation, built-in controls, and voice assistants. That’s because, unsurprisingly, neither Apple nor Samsung have made the necessary apps for finer controls on their rival platforms.
As a result, iPhone users shouldn’t really consider the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, and likewise, Android users shouldn’t buy the Apple AirPods Pro. Still, it’s worth comparing these flagship earbuds to see how headphones from two of the biggest names in tech stack up. Here’s how the AirPods Pro and Galaxy Buds Pro compare across several key categories.
|Apple AirPods Pro||Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro|
|Drivers:||Custom high-excursion Apple driver||11mm woofer, 6.5mm tweeter|
|Connectivity:||Bluetooth 5.0||Bluetooth 5.0|
|Codecs:||AAC||SBC, AAC, Samsung proprietary Scalable|
|Battery life:||Four and a half hours with noise cancellation on, five with noise cancellation and Transparency mode off, 24 hours total with wireless charging case included||Five hours for earbuds, 13 hours for the charging case, 18 hours total including battery from charging case|
|Charging:||Five-minute quick charge for an hour of playback; Qi wireless charging support; Lightning cable||Three-minute quick-charge for 30 minutes of music playback, two hours for full earbud charge; wireless charging support; USB-C charging|
|App:||Built-in settings in iOS||Galaxy Wear for Android|
Design and comfort
The stem design of the white AirPods Pro is now iconic and immediately recognizable. Even with their stem, the AirPods Pro are incredibly compact and lightweight.
They’re also supremely comfortable, even for users who don’t typically like the in-ear fit the AirPods Pro employ. Instead of fitting like a pair of earplugs, like many in-ear earphones, the AirPods Pro rest comfortably and securely in your ear canal’s opening.
Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro have a more discreet design that few would recognize, and they’re available in silver, black, and violet colors. They’re equally compact as the AirPods Pro, and they’re barely visible when you’re wearing them.
The Galaxy Buds Pro are almost as comfortable as the AirPods Pro, except they feel more like earplugs with a deeper fit and a bit more pressure. As a result, they’re very secure in your ear.
There’s no competition here – Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro sound noticeably better than the AirPods Pro. It’s not that the AirPods Pro sound bad, it’s just that Samsung really demonstrates what’s possible at the $200 price point.
The Galaxy Buds Pro have a rich, full, clear, and dynamic sound that makes the AirPods Pro seem thin and flat by comparison. I enjoy my music far more with the Galaxy Buds Pro than I do with AirPods Pro.
I tried all the different ear tips that come included with the AirPods Pro to make sure it wasn’t a fit issue, and I ensured that I had a good fit using the built-in Ear Tip Test in the iOS settings.
Apple doesn’t include an equalizer for the AirPods Pro, but it does implement its own Adaptive EQ feature that “automatically tunes music to the shape of your ear for a rich, consistent listening experience.” Consistent it is, rich it is not. Unfortunately, there’s no option to disable Adaptive EQ to see if it could make any difference. Spotify has its own built-in equalizer settings, but no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the AirPods Pro to sound any better.
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro also outdo the AirPods Pro with their noise-cancelling performance. Again, it’s not that the AirPods Pro have poor noise cancellation, it’s just that Samsung shows that it’s possible to get better performance at $200.
To be sure, the AirPods Pro work just fine in an office/home office environment, where low hums and minor ambient sound are well muffled. Once you bring them to a noisier environment, however, like on a plane or outside in a city, the Galaxy Buds Pro show the AirPods Pro how it’s done.
Both sets of wireless earbuds deliver similar battery life, with the AirPods Pro edging out the Galaxy Buds Pro in the wireless charging case capacity.
The Galaxy Buds Pro themselves can play music for up to five hours with active noise cancellation enabled, and eight hours with noise cancellation off, per Samsung’s claim. The wireless charging case can hold up to 13 hours of charge, which sums up to a total of 18 hours of music playback. A quick three-minute charge in the case will give 30 minutes of battery life – something we tested and proved when the buds were accidentally left out of their case to discharge.
Apple claims the AirPods Pro can last four and a half hours with noise cancellation turned on, and five hours with it turned off. With a full charge on the buds and a full battery in the case, the AirPods Pro are capable of up to 24 hours of playback. A five-minute charge gives an extra hour of battery life to the buds themselves.
Apps, features, and controls
Apple offers minimalist options for the AirPods Pro in the built-in iOS settings, at least when compared with the Galaxy Buds Pro and the Galaxy Wear Android app.
AirPods Pro app
For the AirPods Pro, you get noise control that lets you choose between noise cancellation enabled or disabled, and a transparency mode that amplifies ambient noise for awareness and quick conversations.
You can customize whether pressing and holding the AirPods Pro stems activates Siri or toggles through the noise control settings. You also get Apple’s “Spatial Audio” feature, which is basically Apple’s version of surround sound. The built-in demo in the iOS settings is impressive, but it only works with compatible videos, and I’ve never encountered a video that supports Spatial Audio yet.
Galaxy Buds Pro app
For the Galaxy Buds Pro, you get significantly more control and options. Like the AirPods Pro, you get noise controls that enable/disable noise cancellation and toggle an Ambient Sound mode.
The Galaxy Buds Pro also have a Voice Detect feature that automatically enables Ambient Sound mode and pauses your music when you start talking. It works surprisingly well for engaging in quick conversations while you’re listening to music, and it’s nice that it’s automatic.
You can also manage what touching and holding the sensors on the buds do, whether it’s switching through noise controls, enabling Bixby (Samsung’s version of Siri), adjusting volume, or opening the Spotify app on your phone.
There’s also a built-in equalizer and an option for 360 audio, which is surround sound for video. Unlike Apple’s Spatial Audio, this feature isn’t dependent on whether a video supports 360 or not.
Multiple device connections
Both earbuds can connect to multiple devices simultaneously within their respective ecosystems. For example, you can listen to music or watch a video on your Mac and pick up a phone call on your iPhone, and the AirPods Pro connection will switch automatically. Likewise, the Galaxy Buds Pro automatically switch between other Samsung Galaxy products, but this feature doesn’t work with all Android devices.
It’s unfortunate that this feature is restricted to specific ecosystems, as some over-ear headphones can maintain multiple device connections across platforms with Multipoint Bluetooth technology. That said, there are a few wireless earbuds that don’t even come with automatic switching at all.
Another important feature is water resistance, which mostly applies for sweat during workouts, or rain. The Galaxy Buds Pro are rated at an IPX7 water resistance, while the AirPods Pro are rated at IPX4. Technically, IPX7 is better, but IPX4 shouldn’t pose a problem for rain splashes or sweat.
Which should you buy?
iPhone owners who value a compact design, wireless charging case, Siri capabilities, and support for connecting to other Apple devices with automatic switching, should go for the AirPods Pro.
But if you’re not in a rush, it might be worth waiting since Apple is expected to release new versions of the AirPods and AirPods Pro this year, according to Bloomberg.
Both models will reportedly come with a new Apple wireless chip, and the Pro earbuds are expected to feature a sleeker design. The entry-level AirPods will also get a slimmer look, longer battery life, and swappable ear tips, according to the report, but no noise cancellation.
It’s unclear exactly when the new AirPods Pro will launch, but the report says the cheaper version could debut in the first half of 2021.
For Android users, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are among the best wireless earbuds you can get. The best alternative in the $200 range is the Sony WF-1000XM3, but you’d be missing out on a wireless charging case, and the Sony case is rather large compared to the Galaxy Buds Pro’s.