Samsung not only had four new phones to show at its February Unpacked event. The tech giant also showed the successor of Galaxy Buds, the Galaxy Buds +, and we have been able to test them thoroughly these days.
The first change? Well, at $ 149.99 , they cost $ 20 more than the originals, but they improved a number of important features.
Speech recognition? Yes.
Battery duration? Yes Yes Yes.
Design, on the other hand, is an area where Samsung has decided not to touch anything. The Galaxy Buds + are only slightly heavier than the originals, partly because of some of the novelties.
Let's start with the basics. The AirPods Pro occupies the first place in the list of the best wireless headphones of CNN Underscored, and although the Galaxy Buds + will not be crowned as the new queen or king, they are also not off the list.
We have used the Buds + for almost a week, and there is a lot we like, even if they do not reach the number 1 spot.
The design of the Galaxy Buds + has not changed much. They are sold in white, black and blue. We've been testing the targets and, interestingly, there is a different tone in the triangular touch panels on both headphones. We like this accent, reminiscent of last year's Note 10+.
The touch panel seems a bit more sensitive than the original Galaxy Buds. A single tap resumes playback or pause, a double tap skips to the next track and a triple tap restarts the track. They are the traditional controls, and you can customize them in the complementary application for Android or iOS. There is even an experimental mode in the application that allows you to activate the volume controls. You can touch the sides of the Buds + to increase or decrease the volume. By default, the left one drops and the right one increases the volume. It is useful, but there were some occasions when a jump or a playback pause was activated.
It is an improvement over other systems but it might be wise for Samsung to improve touch sensitivity, or at least make it an option for those times when it is too high.
On the side that points towards the ear, you will find the physical hearing aid, which is pre-wrapped in a gel tip.
There are two additional sizes of built-in tips. The Galaxy Buds + offer a perfect fit. We couldn't make them fall, even when we were jumping, running, jogging, or making our way through a train. Even fighting turbulence in an airplane.
And that tight fit means two things. From a design and aspect point of view, the Buds + do not protrude from your ears. And they also do a good job offering passive noise cancellation. Although there is no active noise cancellation in the Buds +, Samsung offers a “ambient sound” or “transparent” mode: low, medium and high.
In general, they are comfortable. And that's good considering that Samsung promises a battery life of 11 hours, almost twice the battery life of the original Galaxy Buds.
When the Galaxy Buds + are not in your ears, they will have their home in the case.
It fulfills a double function, since it also charges the Buds +, similar to other wireless headphones. It is a relatively compact housing that is on par with AirPods Pro, but smaller than Powerbeats Pro or Sony WF-100XM3. Charge with a USB Type-C cable (a cable is included in the box) or wirelessly through the Qi standard.
And yes, it works with the Wireless PowerShare on the back of your Samsung device. We tested this on Unpacked with the new Galaxy S20 family, and we have been using it personally with a Galaxy Z Flip. The case also provides an additional 11 hours of use, so they have a total of 22 hours.
Well balanced sound with powerful bass
The biggest change with Galaxy Buds + is the addition of two speakers and three microphones in each headset. The speaker configuration is a woofer and dynamic tweeter. Simply put, the result is much better audio that has a wider range of sound, but remains balanced. In addition, it has a great impact with the bass.
And it is well balanced on a variety of tracks that encompasses many genres. Rihanna's "Work" is a good example, with clear rhythms at the beginning and their voices that cover low and high pitched tones at the top. It is clear at all times and the bass does not lose rhythm.
A more pop song like "What A Man Gotta Do" by the Jonas Brothers, begins with a clean strumming of the guitar. The Buds + do a good job of allowing you to clearly hear the voices of each of the three brothers. It is a very instrumental light pop, but you can hear the separation of each channel.
In addition, a song like "Into the Unknown" by Disney's "Frozen 2" combines well with the voice of Idina Menzel. The same goes for "American Land", "Night" and "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen.
The sound is strong and allows you to choose customizations in the form of an equalizer. Of course, these are in the complementary application for Android or iOS. You can choose between normal, bass boost, smooth, dynamic, clear and treble boost. Unfortunately, there is no way to make your own adjustments.
And with any listening mode, you have the option of adding ambient noise. While it's not as good as the transparency mode in AirPods Pro, it's a good option, especially when crossing busy city streets. You can also adjust between low, medium and high. With ambient sound turned off, it's like a passive noise cancellation experience, and listening at high volumes can offer an experience similar to ANC (active noise cancellation).
Almost 12 hours of enhanced listening and recording
Samsung says the Galaxy Buds + should last 11 hours, but we get to use them even longer, between 11:30 and 11:45. It is safe to say very good autonomy. And that is with an iOS and Android device connected, since we mainly tested the Galaxy Buds + with a Galaxy Z Flip, iPhone 11 Pro Max and Galaxy S10 +.
The connection was simple in all three, and thanks to the pairing of multiple devices, you don't have to configure them every time.
The battery is really impressive. They easily endure a long distance flight. A quick three-minute charge in the case provides 60 minutes of listening time. We noticed that the Environmental mode had an impact on the total battery life. However, you should never have a problem with the autonomy of the Buds +. It is outstanding.
And on the side of voice recognition, the addition of a microphone improves the quality of the call. Your interlocutor can listen to you better than in the previous version. We tried this in some different situations, some with a lot of wind and some without any, In all it worked very well.
In just one year, Samsung has managed to offer significant improvements in the Galaxy Buds with the Galaxy Buds +. In no way does this make the original terrible. They still sound good and offer about six hours of listening time.
But there is a clear reason for the "+" in these latest models.
The battery life of 11 hours in an almost identical design is excellent. And it's nice to hear music on them. Unfortunately, there is no real active noise cancellation and Ambient mode will probably leave you wanting more, but for Samsung users, the Galaxy Buds + are an excellent pair of wireless headphones for $ 149.99.
Note: The prices above reflect the price at the time of publication of the article.