Samsung Galaxy Buds+ REVIEW
Samsung Galaxy Buds+ REVIEW
Looking for an alternative to the much-hyped Apple AirPods? PAT PILCHER has a close listen to Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds+.
The original Galaxy Buds were an alternative to Apple’s much-hyped AirPods for much less money. Now, Samsung has pushed out the Galaxy Buds+. They’re a tad more expensive and have a similar design, but there are more than a few improvements.
They look almost identical to last year’s model. This time around, they’re available in blue, white and black. Looks-wise, the Galaxy Bud+ earpieces are acorn sized and glossy. They also come with three sets of silicone ear-tips which ensures a snug fit.
On each earpiece, there’s a rounded shiny touch panel. Tapping once plays/pauses music, tapping twice answers and ends calls/skips to the next track. Tapping three times skips backwards. With the Galaxy wearables app, you can customise what touching and holding the panel does. By default, the touch/hold gesture fires up your phone’s assistant. It can also activate Ambient Sound, or adjust the volume levels. It took me a while to remember and get used to which gesture does what.
The Galaxy Buds+ slip into a lozenge-shaped charging case. There is an LED indicator on its front for showing its battery level. You can charge the case using the bundled USB-C cable, or you can plunk it onto a wireless charger.
Set up was so simple that even a complete idiot can get it right (it worked for me!) Opening the charging case puts the Buds+ into pairing mode. You could pair them with your phone, but you’d miss out on the functionality of the Galaxy Wearables app. With it, you can customise touchpad gestures, use equaliser pre-sets and ambient mode.
The Galaxy Buds+ are IPX2 rated, which means they’re protected from dripping water, but not submersion. Unless you plan on swimming with them or using them in the shower, they’re an ideal work out companion.
Because they look a lot like last year’s model but cost a tad more, I was curious to know what got improved.
The most significant upgrade is battery life. Samsung says the Galaxy Buds+ can run for a whopping 11 hours before needing their charging case. Few other wireless buds can match that. In practice, I found that battery mileage did vary. It depended on how loud I had them, and what features I used. That said, 11 hours is a long time, and most of us will rarely need buds bunged into their apple and pears for that long.
Eleven hours of use and a compact design makes them great travel companions. A key consideration is that their charging case only has one extra charge. Other brands can get 2 to 3 full charges. That said, fast charging works, so you’ll get a whopping three hours of use from 10-minutes of charging.
Their real litmus test is their audio. To this end, Samsung equipped the Galaxy Buds+ with a dual driver arrangement. One driver acts as a tweeter while the other is the woofer. What impresses with this arrangement is how Samsung kept the earpieces so compact. As well as dual drivers, each earpiece houses batteries, antennas/radio, and so forth.
The dual drivers gave audio more thump and extra crispness compared to the originals. Audio improvements are present but subtle. The Galaxy Buds+ don’t sound too shabby at all. That said, they haven’t got the same sparkle as Sony’s WF 1000XM3’s. That’s most likely due to audio processing differences.
A nifty trick is that the Buds+ can play a sound if you activate the “find my buds” feature, so they’re easy to find. Nice.
On the comfort front, they’re lightweight and you could wear them for extended periods and almost forget they’re even in your noggin.
Another improvement is phone call clarity. The Buds+ have a three-mic setup. An inner mic comes with two external beam-forming mics. This arrangement reduces background noise in calls. With the exception of wind noise (I was testing them in Wellington!), their call clarity was excellent.
iPhone users can rejoice too. The original Galaxy Buds wouldn’t play nice with iOS gear. Now iPhone users (iOS10 or higher), can download an IOS Samsung Galaxy Buds+ app and they’re good to go.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s also Spotify integration for Android users. It’s handy but isn’t available for iOS users. Samsung has also added a small measure of “surprise and delight” in the form of the wearable apps ‘Labs’ tab. It contains beta capabilities Samsung are trialling.
They’re well-featured and sound good. Because of this, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds+ are worth a look. Their battery is hard to beat. The audio they crank out is an improvement over the originals at a very reasonable price.