The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro – potentially the industry’s worst-kept secret – have finally been announced at the Samsung Unpacked event.
The true wireless earbuds, which were leaked on multiple occasions over the past few weeks, are available starting on January 14 at Samsung’s website for $199.99 / AU$349 (around £150) before rolling out to retailers on January 15.
The highlights of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are their improved active noise cancellation of up to 20db to better match up against the Apple AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3, and new IPX7 water resistance rating – the highest of any earbud Samsung has released so far.
Other neat features include 360 Audio featuring Dolby Head Tracking technology that keep the sound in front of you even when you turn your head and Game Mode that reduces the latency of the earbuds while playing mobile games like Fortnite.
The battery life, according to Samsung’s estimates, is around 8 hours per charge with noise cancellation turned off, and 5 hours with it on. The petite charging case that ships with the earbuds holds another 20 or 13 hours depending if you’re using active noise cancelling or not, and Samsung says that with quick charging, you can get an hour of playback after only five minutes of charging.
Last but not least, inside you’ve got Bixby as the helpful (sometimes) assistant that can answer texts and answer questions on the go.
So far, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are shaping up to be excellent alternatives to the AirPods Pro and great companions for the new Samsung Galaxy S21. Here’s everything you need to know before you buy a pair.
Cut to the chase
- What are they? The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, a pair of true wireless earbuds
- When will they be released? January 14, 2021
- How much will they cost? $199 / AU$349 (around £150)
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro photos
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro release date
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro will launch alongside the Galaxy S21 smartphone on January 14, 2021 on Samsung’s website. That said, you’ll see them at every retailer starting on January 15.
What’s strange about the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro’s release date is that it comes just five short months after the South Korean company launched the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live and less than a year after the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus.
Samsung’s putting out earbuds at a neck-breaking pace, and the Galaxy Buds Pro are just the latest stop on the journey.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro price
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro will set you back $199 / AU$349 (around £150). That’s pricey but it makes sense that they’d cost a little more than their predecessors, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, which cost $169.99 / £179 / AU£319 at launch.
It also makes sense that Samsung would try to undercut the Apple AirPods Pro ($249 / £249 / AU$399), as its buds are often a little cheaper than its biggest rival.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro design
Thanks to a series of leaked renders and videos, we know a fair amount about the design of the rumored Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro.
A 360-degree video of the new buds was posted to Voice by reputable leaker Evan Blass (who gave us our first look at the Galaxy Buds Pro via some leaked renders), letting us see the buds from every angle:
Based on the video and previously leaked renders, the Galaxy Buds Pro will look more like the Galaxy Buds Plus, rather than the bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live that launched a few months ago.
Saying that, Samsung has retained the square-ish charging case from its previous wireless earbuds, as well as doing away with ear fins to hold them in place in your ears.
Large grilles on the outer housings of the earbuds appear to contain external microphones, which alongside silicone eartips, lend credence to the rumors that the Galaxy Buds Pro will come with active noise cancellation.
Overall, they look rather sleek with shiny rounded housings, and we’ve so far seen the Galaxy Buds Pro in three different colors: black, silver, and a rather attractive violet shade.
According to tipster Ishan Argawal (via 91Mobiles), the rumored wireless earbuds will boast an IPX7 water-resistance rating, which means they should survive a short immersion in water – but more importantly, it means they should be suitable for working out, easily able to withstand sweat or rain.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro features
The Samsung Galaxy Buds are said to come with AKG-tuned audio, a longer battery life than their predecessors, support for Bluetooth 5.1, USB-C charging, and active noise cancellation.
While the previous Galaxy Buds Live did offer noise cancellation, their semi-open design meant that the tech wasn’t particularly effective. It looks like the Galaxy Buds Pro come with silicone ear tips, which should provide a far better seal and hopefully, better noise cancellation. According to SamMobile, the Ambient Mode feature will also be improved, which allows environmental noise to passthrough the buds, so you can be aware of your surroundings.
The inclusion of active noise cancellation could make the Galaxy Buds Pro real competition for the AirPods Pro – and rumors of a 3D audio feature to rival Apple’s Spatial Audio will only heat up that rivalry.
The feature was discovered amongst a list of specs, which was first spotted by a Reddit user in a pre-release APK and then reported by XDA Developers.
With spatial audio support, you’ll be able to watch Dolby Atmos films with their full immersive surround sound quality – making the Galaxy Buds Pro a much more competitive pair of earbuds compared to their predecessors.
That 3D audio feature is said to come with head-tracking, which means the audio should stay ‘locked’ to your phone, even as you move your head around. Apple’s Spatial Audio feature works in a similar way, using gyroscopes and accelerometers built into the AirPods Pro and the AirPods Max to ensure that your film’s audio always sounds as though it’s coming from the source of the action onscreen.
That being said, previously you could enable Dolby Atmos audio through a Samsung Galaxy phone’s settings in the past to improve sound quality, but this is the first time we’ll see spatial audio support with head tracking.
The only other caveat here is that, from the looks of things, you’ll need to have a phone that supports Android 11 to get the spatial audio support, which rules out some older devices from seeing the feature.
Other features spotted within the APK include voice/conversation detection, a Bixby voice wake-up sensor, and left/right hearing adjustment in addition to new ways to control the active noise-cancellation levels.
As for the audio specs? According to Argawal, the Galaxy Buds Pro will come with 11mm bass drivers and 6.5mm tweeters with coaxial dual speakers, so they should be able to deliver powerful low frequencies.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: what we want to see
Samsung has released a number of wireless earbuds over the past few years, with varying levels of success – the company certainly hasn’t achieved the popularity of the Apple AirPods, though each model has improved upon the last.
With that in mind, there are a few things we’d like to see from the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro – things that we think are crucial if the company wants to blow its competitors out the water.
Improved noise cancellation
The first Samsung wireless earbuds to come with noise cancellation were the Galaxy Buds Live – however, their semi-open design meant that they weren’t particularly effective at blocking out environmental noise.
Hopefully the inclusion of silicone eartips will go some way to improving the noise cancellation with the Galaxy Buds Pro. That said, the technology is improving all the time, and Samsung will need to do more than providing a great seal to compete with its rivals.
For example, the ability to adjust the level of noise cancellation via an app would give users the flexibility to decide just how much of their surroundings they want to hear. We’d also like to see adaptive noise cancellation, which adjusts automatically to suit your surroundings.
Finally, we’d like to see a decent transparency mode as with the AirPods Pro, which would let you tap into your surroundings when needed.
Longer battery life
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus offered a long battery life contained within the buds themselves (11 hours), but were let down by the charging case, which offered a further 11 hours.
That 11-hour battery life is pretty long for earbuds – but for the charging case, it’s not a huge amount of battery. For comparison, the Apple AirPods contain 5 hours in the buds themselves, with an additional 20 provided by the charging case, for 25 hours in total. It’s nice to see the Buds Plus with a larger internal battery, but a shame the charging case didn’t get something more substantial.
We’d like to see Samsung bump that battery life up to a combined 25 hours at the very least – though as models like the Lypertek Tevi have proven, far longer-lasting buds are possible.
Better water resistance
Neither the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live nor the Galaxy Buds Plus had comprehensive water resistance, which is a real shame if you want to workout with your wireless earbuds.
We’d like to see Samsung give the Galaxy Buds Pro a water resistance rating of at least IPX4, so they can withstand a little sweat or rain without the risk of breaking – and based on the rumored specs, it looks like this wish could become a reality.
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