Apple’s AirPods Pro is one of the best wireless earphones to buy, but Samsung has taken on the flag with a slightly more affordable Galaxy Buds Pro. Buds Pro has almost the same feature set as AirPods Pro, with active noise canceling and spatial audio support. I spent two weeks testing both of these earphone pairs and weighed their strengths and weaknesses.
AirPods Pro is a great pair of wireless earphones with ANC that works seamlessly with iOS and Apple devices. It supports spatial audio (also known as virtual surround sound) and has a longer battery life with ANC than the Galaxy Buds Pro. The sound quality is balanced, but there is no universal equalizer to change the sound in every app. AirPods Pro can be used on Android smartphones, but features such as spatial audio and quick switching will be lost. Read the AirPods Pro review.
David Carnoy / CNET
In terms of specs, the Galaxy Buds Pro is the best comparable Samsung earphone model to the AirPods Pro. They sound great with a strong bass response, but battery life isn’t as long as the AirPods Pro when ANC is active. Also, unlike previous Galaxy Buds, these don’t work well on the iPhone as they aren’t supported by the Galaxy Wearable iOS app at the time of writing. Read the Galaxy Buds Pro review.
AirPods Pro is small and feels light in your ears
Both are in-ear earphones, but the design is completely different. The AirPods Pro has a clickable stem that sticks out of your ears and is available in white only. The Galaxy Buds Pro comes in three colors (silver, black, and purple) and has a round design with a tap panel on the side that feels a bit heavier to the ear than the AirPods Pro.
Both pairs of earphones come with small, medium and large interchangeable tips. The fit depends on the shape and size of the ears, but the problem was that neither model fits neatly when exercising or moving around. I actually found the safest fit with a third party foam tip for the AirPods Pro-I’m using Comply’s, but many other brands are available. The Galaxy Bud Pro tips don’t come with the wingtip locks found on earlier models like the Galaxy Buds Plus. This helped to secure it to the ear. I haven’t found any third-party tips for the Galaxy Buds Pro yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing if it improves the fit.
Read more: 11 great AirPods Pro tips to try now
The Galaxy Buds Pro has an advantage in durability against water and sweat, and the IPX7 has a higher rating than the AirPods Pro’s IPX4. This means that you can submerge up to 3 feet (1 meter) of fresh water for up to 30 minutes. I haven’t swam or machined the Buds Pro yet, but it’s okay to water it. AirPods Pro can withstand sweat and light splashes, but swimming is not recommended.
AirPods Pro with third-party eartips.
Lexy Savvides / CNET Galaxy Buds Pro, better sound quality. AirPods Pro, better noise canceling
Both of these earphones sound good as long as you can fit them tightly. It’s definitely a matter of taste, but when it comes to sound quality, I prefer the Galaxy Bud Pro’s warmer sound profile and more pronounced bass response. You can also manually adjust the equalizer to a variety of presets, from bass boost to soft, with the Galaxy Wearable app. AirPods Pro has a more neutral sound profile that really helps you jump between calls, listen to music, and listen to podcasts. They have an adaptive equalizer that dynamically adjusts the sound for you.
Both are great at canceling ambient noise, but AirPods Pro is more effective at drowning out white noise like the sound of overhead fans and airplane engines. I could adjust the ANC level on the Galaxy Buds Pro to high or low, but I didn’t really hear the difference between the two settings. Also, if you’re using ANC with Buds Pro when you’re not listening to music, you’ll hear a very faint hiss noise.
Lexy Savvides / CNET
Both feature spatial audio (Samsung calls it 360 audio) for a simulated surround sound experience while listening to a movie or TV show. Again, both sound good, but if you have to make a choice, use the AirPods Pro because the effect sounds more natural. At the time of writing, 360 audio support is only supported on Samsung devices running OneUI 3.1, such as Samsung Galaxy S21 phones, but AirPods Pro spatial audio is available on all Apple devices running iOS 14 and above. I will.
However, the Galaxy Buds Pro has voice detection, a feature that the AirPods Pro doesn’t have. The Galaxy Buds Pro will automatically turn down the volume of the media when it detects that you are talking and will return to its original settings 10 seconds after you stop. It’s perfect if you want to be able to talk quickly without actively switching the buds to ambient sound mode (or removing them from your ears).
You can listen to a sample microphone in the video on this page to hear the difference between calls.
Currently playing: Watch this: Comparison of Galaxy Buds Pro and AirPods Pro
AirPods Pro: Most Reliable Battery Life
Samsung estimates the battery life of the Galaxy Buds Pro to be 5 hours with ANC turned on, but I never approached that number. With the ANC turned on, the maximum time I could wear them was about 4.5 hours, which was disappointing given the claims. Apple estimates up to 4.5 hours on the AirPods Pro’s ANC, but I regularly exceed that and managed to manage nearly five hours of total listening time. According to Samsung, Buds Pro can withstand up to 8 hours of listening time without ANC, but again, I couldn’t reach that number.
There is a small additional charge for each case, the AirPods Pro offers a total of 24 hours of juice, and the Galaxy Buds Pro adds 18 hours. In both cases, it can be charged wirelessly. Alternatively, you can connect Lightning from AirPods Pro or USB-C from Galaxy Buds Pro.
Read more: Apple AirPods Deals Now
Smart features are similar on both
This is the first generation Samsung earphone I tested, which is not compatible with the Galaxy Wearable iOS app. This means that you can connect to your iPhone ($ 900 on BoostMobile) via Bluetooth, activate ANC and use the default tap controls, but you can’t change the settings. AirPods Pro also acts as a regular Bluetooth earphone on Android, but provides the most seamless experience of customizing settings on iOS.
You can call Siri on AirPods Pro and Bixby on Galaxy Buds Pro using voice or touch controls. Each can read text messages and notifications, change the volume, and make calls with their own voice. There is no way to call the Google Assistant using voice on the Galaxy Buds Pro yet, but to activate the Google Assistant on the Galaxy Buds Pro, I assign it to press and hold the touch panel, but I can’t make a call with .. not that yet.
Each earphone can be used individually for calling and playing music, and if lost using the Find My app on the iPhone or the Smart Things app on the Galaxy device, you can find both on the map. Both offer fast switching between devices signed in to the same Apple ID or Samsung account.
Read more: Galaxy Buds Pro: 10 tips to help you master Samsung’s latest wireless earphones
Galaxy Buds Pro for Android, AirPods Pro for iPhone
Both earphone sets have their strengths, but the ultimate best earphone depends on the software ecosystem you’re using. Earlier models were compatible with the Galaxy Wearable app, so the comparison between previous Samsung and Apple earphones was platform-independent. On iOS, but this time your phone will be a big factor in your decision. I like the warm sound profile of the Galaxy Buds Pro, so I choose these to listen to music. But for multitasking between calls and music (and for more reliable battery performance), I choose the AirPods Pro.
Check out the latest news and the best reviews of smartphones and carriers from CNET mobile experts.
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