Are the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 a better buy than the Buds Pro?

Packing a punch

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2

$150 at Amazon

Pros

  • Bold sound
  • Effective ANC
  • Very comfortable fit
  • Good battery life
  • Nice color options

Cons

  • IPX2 rating isn’t very durable
  • Microphones are so-so
  • Finicky controls

Samsung trimmed down the original Galaxy Buds to make the Galaxy Buds 2, and it makes a real difference in fit and comfort. It also added solid audio performance to round out an effective package anyone can enjoy. You shouldn’t use these for tough workouts, but you will like that you get more features in spite of the smaller frame.

Cover more ground

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

$159 at Amazon

Pros

  • Bolder sound
  • Solid ANC performance
  • Dynamic ambient mode
  • 360 audio ability
  • Significant water resistance

Cons

  • Fit requires more fidgeting
  • Proprietary ear tips
  • Slightly lower battery life

Samsung pulled out all the stops to make the Galaxy Buds Pro as premium as they can be, and when you put them on, you do feel like you’re getting something extra. Dynamic active noise cancelation and an ambient mode complements the excellent audio quality you get every time you put them on.

The Galaxy Buds Pro were never meant for every person looking for earbuds. You either liked them and wanted the extra features, or you didn’t. That really was the choice presented to you, and the only alternatives with a Samsung logo were the Galaxy Buds Live and Galaxy Buds+ — at least until now. The Galaxy Buds 2 have entered the fray and they offer a really compelling alternative.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Making a tough call

From the outside, with their respective cases closed, you’d think these two pairs of earbuds were carbon copies. However, lift the lids and it’s quickly obvious that the Galaxy Buds 2 are smaller. Samsung says they’re actually 10% smaller than the Galaxy Buds+, though the number probably isn’t all that different when comparing them to the Buds Pro. That comes with consequences over how they fit, leading to further impacts over how they sound.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
DurabilityIPX2IPX7
Bud battery life7.5 hours8 hours
Charging case battery life20 hours (29 without ANC)18 hours (28 without ANC)
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.2Bluetooth 5.1
Digital assistant supportBixby, Google Assistant, SiriBixby, Google Assistant, Siri
Supported audio codecsSBC, AAC, ScalableSBC, AAC, Scalable
Speaker size11.5mm drivers13mm drivers
Active noise cancelationYesYes

One thing that still separates them is that the Galaxy Buds Pro were made for you to get active. Strong water and sweat resistance makes them fit right in at the gym or on a run, which is not necessarily the case with the Galaxy Buds 2. An IPX2 rating just isn’t good enough for anything rigorous, so if breaking a sweat is part of your criteria, this battle may already be over. A modest IP rating isn’t unusual, especially considering some of the best wireless earbuds aren’t all that rugged, but it’s a clear distinction here.

Battery life is very much an even race because you can expect up 7.5 and eight hours for the Galaxy Buds 2 and Galaxy Buds Pro, respectively, when you leave active noise cancelation (ANC) on. Whether you leave it on or off, you get comparable battery life in either case. Volume levels are a big determining factor, and there are some similarities there, too. Output is similar, given the drivers each pair has, so if you’re nudging just above default volume levels, you should be fine hitting the stated battery life figures. Either way, the Galaxy Buds Pro’s battery life is only slightly lower than the Galaxy Buds 2, so it won’t make much of a difference in real-world usage.

As I mentioned, the cases have the same design, and that means the same exact features. You get the same USB-C port, same wireless charging support, same fast charging options.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Making the same case

Samsung equipped the Galaxy Buds 2 with better drivers and woofers, likely inspired by the ones it placed in the Galaxy Buds Pro. The result is a much closer gap than you might otherwise expect between what’s supposed to be an entry-level pair of buds with one that has “Pro” in its name. You do get slightly better balance with the Pro, particularly with the mids, listening on the Buds Pro. It’s the one corner Samsung cut with the audio on the Galaxy Buds 2. You may catch a little more sibilance and a tad less clarity compared to the Buds Pro, which have an excellent soundstage.

Except the Buds 2 are easier to wear, given their smaller size. And when a pair of earbuds are easier to wear, it’s easier to get a tighter seal to keep bass from leaking out. The Galaxy Buds Pro have a thicker base that makes contact with the inner ear, and while still comfortable, they tend to require more adjustment as you continue wearing them. When you do get the right fit, however, they are among the best pairs you can wear right now.

Samsung equipped the Galaxy Buds 2 with better drivers and woofers, likely inspired by those it placed in the Galaxy Buds Pro.

The onboard ANC and Ambient Sound modes also play a big role. The Galaxy Buds Pro have better microphones, leading to a better overall ability to block out unwanted noise. It doesn’t make a huge difference because the Galaxy Buds 2 do a pretty good job, for the most part. The Buds Pro have two levels of ANC to the one level for the Buds 2. Ambient Sound has ancillary features attached to it in the Buds Pro, whereas the Buds 2 just offer it as a straight up option. Again, considering the “Pro” moniker, it’s hardly a surprise there’s some space between these two earbuds that way.

Where there is no space is in the Galaxy Wearable app. For confounding reasons, Samsung doesn’t think a fully customizable EQ is necessary, even though so many other brands already do it. The six EQ presets are fine, but they don’t change with every iteration, so unless the earbuds pack something different inside, the sound quality becomes somewhat predictable.

Hardware discrepancies do have an impact, as noted by the microphones. The Galaxy Buds 2 aren’t as good on phone calls as the Buds Pro are, and the reason is simply because of how the mics pick up your voice relative to background noise. In quieter confines, it doesn’t matter, but when out in a public place, the differences are noticeable. It is fixable, if Samsung works some software magic and issues a firmware update to improve on that, but we’ll have to wait and see.

In either case, Samsung has yet to master touch controls. They are finicky with both pairs, and while they share almost all the same settings and controls, there is no real advantage from one pair to another. Single touches are generally fine, whereas multi-touches tend to mess up.

When we look at color, both have neutral choices that aren’t as flashy as past models. The Galaxy Buds 2 lean toward more fashion-forward variants with white, graphite, olive and lavender, while the Galaxy Buds Pro stick to phantom black, phantom silver and phantom violet.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Which should you choose?

Usually, manufacturers price distinctive products further away from each other, but that’s not really the case for these two. The price difference isn’t huge between them, and while that makes the Galaxy Buds Pro look like a better deal, the Galaxy Buds 2 may actually be the ideal purchase when you consider how well they fit. Comfort comes at a price, and between these two, the more comfortable pair cost less.

Unless you want the extra features and durability the Buds Pro offer, you are getting a fairly similar experience with the Buds 2, otherwise. Maybe not quite up to the same level on audio quality, and certainly not with phone calls, but a solid pair of earbuds, nonetheless. And if prices go down them in the coming months, they start getting closer to a real bargain.

Latest sequel

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2

Fitting in everywhere

$150 at Amazon $150 at Best Buy $150 at B&H

Samsung takes its latest entry-level true wireless earbuds up a notch by focusing on a solid combo of performance and comfort.

Consummate pro

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Tougher sound

$159 at Amazon $170 at Best Buy $170 at B&H

Samsung takes its best true wireless earbuds to the next level by adding new features that set them apart from past versions.

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