- Detailed sound rendering
- Excellent autonomy
We don’t like
- No multipoint
- Basses far too discreet
- Tactile areas too limited
- Half compatible with iOS
With the Galaxy Buds, Samsung is not revolutionizing True Wireless headphones. Let us say rather that it participates in the democratization of this type of accessory. After the IconX in 2016 and 2018, we are entitled to a Galaxy occurrence at a more attractive rate. And this is not at the expense of quality. Of course, everything is made of plastic, but the finish is exemplary and the comfort is great. The range, not good enough on the IconX, is very good here, ahead of the Jabra 65t, for example. On the audio side, the sound signature offered by AKG lacks bass, but the rendering remains detailed. There are also a few mistakes such as the lack of multipoint or lack of simultaneous functions on the touchpads, but for €149.99, Samsung offers good in-ear headphones that would give Apple AirPods a hard time if the Galaxy Wearable application were available on iOS.
The Buds are to the Galaxy S10 what the Airpods are to the iPhone, totally wireless headphones, designed for them, but which also work with any smarpthone or tablet under Android 5.0 at least.
Alongside the S10, S10 Plus and S10E, the Galaxy Buds have gone rather unnoticed. However, these in-ear headphones offer a beautiful presentation and show great promise with a sound worked by AKG.
So we got our hands on them for a test, taking public transport with them as our only companion for a good week. What about those “true wireless” I.V.s? Are they worth the €149.99 requested?
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Presented in a small oval box, the Buds are very small. You might be afraid of losing them, but Samsung has thought of everything and offers a search function in its companion application. It sends a sound powerful enough through the earphones to find them when you’re nearby.
To fit as many ears as possible, they come with three pairs of silicone ear tips and three sizes of ear bands, which are used to wedge the Buds into the ears. Lightweight, 5 grams per earphone, Samsung’s earphones are completely forgettable when in place. The insulation is flawless once we find the right nozzle.
We’ve been able to wear them for hours on end without any discomfort. To test them in all conditions, we undertook a few jogging sessions. At no time did they move from our ears. The haunting of any rider being to have to continually replace his headphones, this is an excellent point.
Samsung has delegated the sound design of the Galaxy Buds to AKG. Harman’s subsidiary has already been chosen to sign the headphones for the Galaxy S8, S9 and even S10. So it was interesting to see what this audiophile department had been able to do with the Buds.
The sound rendering is accurate with detailed sound and undamped highs. Unfortunately, the whole thing lacks a bit of bass. Samsung doesn’t leave the user without a solution and offers a simplified equalizer in its Galaxy Wearable application. Five positions are available to increase treble or bass. When the pot is turned towards the latter, detail is automatically lost, as this setting overwrites the treble. So we prefer to stay in dynamic mode, which we think is the right one. On the other hand, the volume can be pushed to the maximum without observing any distortion.
Not much to be ecstatic about, but not much to crucify the Buds either. The sound quality of Samsung’s earphones is correct for their price range.
On the issue of battery life, Samsung’s ads are not misleading. Given for 6 to 7 hours of listening time, the Buds hold up well with only one charge. Their active box allows to inject an additional charge and a half to reach a maximum of about 17 hours of autonomy outside any USB-C port, connector used to charge the Buds box. If the autonomy is satisfactory, we regret that Samsung does not offer two full charges with its box, as is the case with most of the Buds’ competitors.
Galaxy Buds can be used one by one, i.e. you don’t have to have both earphones in your ears for them to work. However, the sound remains in stereo and does not automatically switch to mono when one of them is removed. It’s a shame since they are equipped with proximity sensors that allow you to pause the audio when they are no longer in place. Samsung could have taken advantage of this technology to activate mono sound.
In addition, while they can be configured with multiple devices, the connection is not automatically made when you switch from your smartphone to your tablet, for example. Multipoint is missing from these headphones.
Finally, the Buds have no buttons. There is a tactile zone on each earpiece, which is non-directional. Thus, one press pauses the audio and a double quick press changes the track, by default. To modulate the volume, you have to go through the device to which they are connected, unless you set touch zones for the volume, in which case you can no longer pause or change tracks. There are critical interactions that cannot all be executed from the Buds.
Galaxy Buds simply work via Bluetooth. Nevertheless, it is recommended to install the Samsung Galaxy Wearable application. This offers more options for the headphones, such as surrounding sound (ideal for safe jogging), touchpad configuration, and headphone location. The equalizer is also contained in this application. The only negative point is that Galaxy Wearable is currently only compatible with Android, which is impossible to find on Apple’s AppStore, making the Buds hard to recommend for iPhone and iPad users.