Samsung Galaxy Buds+

General Information

Samsung Galaxy Buds+

About

Samsung has been making truly wireless earbuds for a while now, Icon X being their first, released back in 2018. They kept on releasing improved versions of earbuds along with their Galaxy S series flagship smartphones every year. Icon X’s successor, just called Buds was successful with its small form factor. Samsung Galaxy Buds+ debuted alongside Samsung S20 series smartphones. Samsung, kept the same design and updated everything that matters internally, adding an additional driver to improve sound quality, added bigger battery and added two more mics for better voice calls. Buds+ is priced at 149$ or 11,999 INR, which is slightly more than last year model.

Latest reviews

FYLegend

1000+ Head-Fier
Great for mobile but not for PC
Pros: - Lean, detailed tuning close to Harman target
- Great connectivity and integration with Samsung devices
- Decent passive noise isolation
- Good touch controls (under ideal conditions)
Cons: - Average to small soundstage
- Low bitpool using SBC codec - distorts with Windows 10
- Edge-tap volume controls can be easily accidentally triggered
- Case battery drains fast
- Itchy eartips
The Galaxy Buds+ represented the best that Samsung had to offer earlier this year. After using these since March, here are my final impressions.

Design 8/10
These look ok but are nothing to write home about considering the original Galaxy Buds already set a standard for design. The buds seem durable but the charging case feels a tad cheap, creaking a bit when the hinge is pushed around.

Comfort - 6/10
Decent fit but my ears sometimes get rather itchy which is something I don't notice often with other TWS or IEMs. Large tips have the most reliable seal while medium tips are more comfortable, but my right ear seems more loose with them. Standard-type IEM tips don't fit in the charging case, while wide-bore tips with a larger flange work just fine. I also find the large wings/fins to be a tad irritating and don't help too much with letting them stay in place. Although these earbuds fit ok, I have deducted points for comfort due to the amount of irritation when wearing them.

Isolation - 7.5/10
I've seen many reports hyping the passive noise isolation as being very good, but I would say only when compared to most TWS. It is more or less average relative to typical wired IEMs I used back in the day. The old skytrain noise and announcements are stillloud with these.

Connectivity and Controls 8/10
With my Galaxy Note 9, connectivity is very good. I rarely suffer from "death grip" issues that plague some of the cheaper Bluetooth chips out there. Where they do suffer in performance is in busy areas. While waiting for the bus one day, the audio started dropping out the moment an electronic trolley bus passed by.

They also support independent earbud usage and have mostly symmetrical touch controls. This means you can use both the left and right bud to switch your tracks forward and back. The compromise is this occupies the double- and triple-taps on both sides, while holds are programmable to be either volume, ambient mode or smart assistant. The Buds+ also allow for an edge-tap for volume which means I can still have volume control with the other two features. It takes some time getting used to but works surprisingly well. However, I have also noticed it can easily be triggered by mistake due to any abrupt motion around my ears. I'd turn this feature off if you plan on using the buds for dancing or running. For the most part, the basic touch controls work well, unless you have long hair. If your hair is partly covering the earbuds, it sometimes struggles to recognize double-taps and end sup pausing the music instead. Hair also causes a crackling/rustling sound in ambient mode, and it seems worse on the left bud than the right bud.

Gaming mode does decrease latency and is comparable with Bluetooth on Windows 10, but on my Note 9 in-game performance suffers. The audio will also stretch/distort to keep up with the games. Even turning it off, it still happens occasionally, which may be reflecting how the Buds+ scalable codec is handling latency by altering bitrates. Newer devices might fare better.

Call quality is pretty good but when using Zoom on my PC, the other end thought my voice was a tad faint. For whatever reason, I also found connectivity to be slightly worse on my laptop than my phone.

Ambient Mode 7/10
Ambient sound started out decent but in my opinion it has changed for the worse in subsequent updates. I can generally converse people alright, but I do wish the sound was a bit more full in the mids and clearer in lower ambient sound settings. One gripe I've always had is that the audio feed is not constant - the more exposed to loud sounds, the more the ambient feed drops. For example, when playing the piano the volume can become so faint after a few minutes I must re-insert the buds/restart ambient mode to get the original volume back. In response to wind noise complaints, Samsung also added a wind reduction algorithm to the audio feed, but now it missing more of the lower frequencies and the high frequencies are boosted. It also pans left and right when exposed to louder sounds, making them unusable for some purposes - I feel especially unsafe walking outdoors with cars passing by because of this unpredictable panning.

Audio quality
Audio quality is great through my Note 9. The tuning is definitely on the brighter side and is quite detailed. Since the software update in April, the treble is less fatiguing and the bass a bit punchier. Soundstage is a tad small/intimate though instrument separation is excellent so they don't sound congested by any means. Overall, these closely follow Harman Target and sound rather bright, if you want something with deeper bass and warmer midrange I'd suggest looking elsewhere. Overall I don't find them sibilant and fatiguing, but I can definitely see people will consider it as such.

I've also noticed a slight but noticeable channel imbalance with more sub-bass and treble to the left. I've encountered this issue on several TWS and may reflect poor QC. That said, it's not as severe as some other products and RTINGS.COM had measurements seem to show a slight deviation in these areas as I have noticed, it might just be that my ears are more sensitive in these areas.

However, the sound quality suffers on my Windows 10 laptop with Bluetooth 5.0. Although it is still usable for general purposes, the audio has a tendency to show compression artifacts in certain situations. It seems like the Buds+ defaults to a low bitrate with SBC codec (bitpool is 37 instead of the Windows default 53), causing the highs to distort on some tracks. It is especially noticeable for orchestral music with strings/violins. Although some users have reported no issues with Windows 10 (which could be related to drivers and maybe some devices that do support AAC)., the fact that it occurs on my phone with SBC as well as my laptop prevents me from fully recommending this product all across the board.

Audio quality (Mobile) - 8.7/10
Audio quality (PC) - 5/10

Battery Life 6.5/10
The battery of the buds themselves have great battery life as promised, getting around 8-10 hours with higher volumes, but the charging case drains fairly quickly under heavy use. Sometimes within the first day using the buds intermittently for a total of 6-7 hours, the case gets depleted. I have also noticed one earbud sometimes drains much faster than the other, especially after the case becomes depleted. On the positive side, these are one of only a few TWS I've tried which properly power off even after the case is depleted. I suspect they depend on something covering the touch or proximity sensors rather than the charging contact pins.

The case supports USB Type-C charging as well as Qi wireless charging. One quirk I noticed is that in hot conditions, the earbuds sometimes don't charge wirelessly. This appears to be a safety precaution, along with some user reports of the buds powering off in direct sunlight, but is irritating nonetheless. For comparison, Sabbat E12 Ultra is able to charge wirelessly in the same conditions, but the earbuds get extremely warm.

UPDATE 2021 - The battery holds up poorly over periods of inactive use. When I left these for about 2 weeks, the right earbud would be completely depleted as would the case. The LED indicator will display green as if both buds are fully charged, but repositioning it will cause it to turn red, and the buds will start to charge VERY slowly. This issue may be down to not using the buds often.

Conclusion
Overall, these are a great TWS for mobile due to their lean and detailed sound and good connectivity. As long as your device supports either Samsung Scalable or AAC codec and can access the Galaxy Gear app, you should be good to go. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend these for devices that only support SBC (such as many Windows 10 and older Android devices), due to the lower than average default bitrate.

Mobile rating: 8.5/10
PC rating: 6/10
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mRaaghava

New Head-Fier
Pros: Small and compact
Impressive sound quality
Very good call quality and connectivity
Stellar battery life
Cons: Slightly more bass can be appreciated
Narrow soundstage
Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Review – All Rounder.

About


Samsung has been making truly wireless earbuds for a while now, Icon X being their first, released back in 2018. They kept on releasing improved versions of earbuds along with their Galaxy S series flagship smartphones every year. Icon X’s successor, just called Buds was successful with its small form factor. Samsung Galaxy Buds+ debuted alongside Samsung S20 series smartphones. Samsung, kept the same design and updated everything that matters internally, adding an additional driver to improve sound quality, added bigger battery and added two more mics for better voice calls. Buds+ is priced at 149$ or 11,999 INR, which is slightly more than last year model.

Design, Fit & Connectivity

Galaxy Buds+ come in a small box, consisting of charging/carrying case along with the earbuds, additional ear tips and wings, USB-C cable and the usual manuals. The charging/carrying case is nicely built, small, compact and made of glossy plastic. It is prone to get smudged very easily though. Earbuds also have the same glossy black finish as the case and are small enough to fit snugly and sit flush in your ears, so much so that one can forget wearing them. Fit is superb, doesn’t protrude too much out of ears. They have a touchpad on their faceplate, which is quite intuitive.
Connectivity is very good. Pairing these with any phone is breeze. It is recommended to download Samsung Galaxy Wearable App in non-Samsung smartphones though. It allows various customizations in sound and touchpad options. As with many TWS, just opening the case itself allows the earbuds to pair with smartphone automatically. Wireless connectivity and range are very good too and I noticed slight disturbances at around 15m distance from my phone.

Call Quality

Call quality is excellent. Voices of both caller and receiver are crystal clear and there’s no haziness whatsoever. Windy conditions may cause some disturbances in caller’s voice though. Other than that call quality is excellent and Samsung did a great job with two additional microphones they have put in Buds+.

Sound Quality

Buds+ has got neutral bass, just the right amount of bass. But it won’t satisfy any bass head. I would have preferred a little more bass though. Bass is there but few may feel a little more would have been better. Mids really shine here with being clean, natural, and sweet. Mids aren’t recessed or pushed forward. Detail retrieval is pretty good. Instrument separation and imaging are pretty good. Soundstage is okay, with decent depth and width. Treble has good extension and good details. Samsung provided few EQ options to alter the sound of Buds+, even though they provide only subtle improvements, opting for Dynamic mode made the Buds+ sound better slightly, with slightly better soundstage and bass. In normal mode it just sounded flat.
Overall sound quality is very neutral across the spectrum and very clean.
Ambient sound allows you to hear outside voices more clearly by recording outside voice and playing back to you and it works good and sometimes it feels quite artificial. Due to its design, Buds+ seal ear and provide decent isolation. Active noise isolation would have been better, but the passive isolation they provide is decent.

Battery Life

Stellar. That’s how I want to describe Buds+ battery life. They last a good 11 hours on a single charge and a fully charged case can fully charge the earbuds thrice.

Comparison

RHA TrueConnect


Buds+ comes in an even smaller case than the TrueConnect and has a very pocket able design. Battery life is leaps and bounds better than the TrueConnect, with Buds+ surviving a handsome 11 hours on a single charge, whereas TrueConnect could only muster half of it in mixed usage and worse in continuous music playback. Sound-wise these sounds balanced compared to the warm and fun tuned TrueConnect. Buds+ has got cleaner mids, slightly crispier treble than the TrueConnect. But TrueConnect pulls ahead in the bass section with its bass being punchier than Buds+. Buds+ has less bass in quantity. Call quality and connectivity is lot better in Buds+ as i could hear clear voices at the other end and connectivity is better with no latency whatsoever, whereas TrueConnect only managed to give me muffled voices during calls and ordinary connectivity. At the end, choosing between these two just boil down to preferences. Buds+ is for those who are after balanced and clean sound signature, better call quality and connectivity and RHA TrueConnect is for those who prefer warm, fun sound, bass prominent and with good performance all over the spectrum. But it fails in the other prominent aspects of a TWS: calls and stable connectivity.

Verdict

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ is very good truly wireless earbud to buy. It performs very good in all categories: sound quality, battery life, call quality and wireless connectivity all in a small, compact and pocketable form. What else is needed in truly wireless earbuds at its price range? Though I wish it has more bass or sound stage, I am pretty much impressed with its sound quality. Though it sounds slightly better with Samsung’s than with other smartphones, I recommend it. It is worth its full retail price and a no-brainer at the price Samsung is asking for it during S20 pre-order period. In certain markets it’s free and in others they are providing it for a meager price. Whatever price you pay, they are totally worth it being an all-rounder and serving purpose of a truly wireless earbud spectacularly.

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psikey
psikey
Got some coming tomorrow. Already have the original Buds so will be interesting to compare. Only for use when I'm biking/exercising as obvously won't come near my SE846/K10U IEM's , but I'm already impressed with the originals fed via my S10+.

Got originals free with my S10+ and bought these new/sealed for £95 delivered (wouldn't pay full price).
psikey
psikey
So arrived and they are a bit nicer sounding than the original plus you get the longer 11hr battery.

A nice update but not an essential reason to upgrade over the originals unless you need more battery life.

Best BT Buds I've heard out of a Samsung phone. My BTR5 with quality IEM's obviously far better sound but these are highly practical when exercising/cycling.
mRaaghava
mRaaghava
Yes. They are practical. I think they are very good in what they are expected to do. Very good SQ? Check. Very good call quality? Check. Very good connectivity? Check. Stellar battery life? Check. What else is needed in a TWS at the price this comes or the preorder price? Yes, a BTR5 + Any IEM will sound better, but it wont be as convenient as these.

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