It wasn’t until last year that Samsung became a real contender in the True Wireless Stereo (TWS) earbuds market. It has been making these for years but 2021’s Galaxy Buds Pro marked a decisive shift for the company. With 2022’s Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, it has refined the earbuds, making them more comfortable to wear and offering better sound quality. They also have much better active noise cancellation (ANC).
Last year, I was among the users who complained about the fit being less than ideal. I managed to get a tight seal but the buds weren’t comfortable for long stretches. So when I received the Buds 2 Pro for review, I was curious about the fit. To me, the fit is about 60% of the game with TWS earbuds.
Wearing them all day long
The Buds 2 Pro, which launched alongside the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4, have a fantastic design. They are 15% smaller than their predecessors according to Samsung. They have been given—on both the buds and the case—a matte finish that feels nice, even though it can scratch easily. At just 5.5g per earbud, this year’s Buds 2 Pro are nicer to hold and a lot grippier.
The rubberised plastic case comes in a rounded compact square shape that’s easily pocketable. It has magnets to keep the lid closed and a solid build quality. It may take a few tries to fit the earbuds into their cut-outs but you shouldn’t have any problems thereafter.
The Buds 2 Pro are water- and sweat- resistant, with an IPX7 rating. They will be good for all kinds of activities—walking, jogging, running, or just sitting at a desk all day long—provided you find the ideal fit. It didn’t take me long to find a fit that was comfortable for long periods but I did have two minor issues. First, for some reason, I just couldn’t pass the Fit Test on the companion app. Second, the earbuds felt extremely light; for large stretches of time, I didn’t even feel they were there. This is both a boon and a bane.
The one downside of creating smaller earbuds is that you cannot cram in a larger battery. There were times when the earbuds would drain before I could take them out. Samsung rates the battery life at five hours with ANC on and eight hours with it off. I managed similar results during my testing phase.
The case (charges via USB-C and wirelessly) provides three additional charges. It also has a quick charge feature. With it, you will get an hour’s use with a five-minute charge. You will get two hours of use with a quick 10-minute charge.
The Bora Purple colour I got to try was a standout. People on the Metro and at cafés loved it!
Listening to music
The Buds 2 Pro come with dual drivers and tuning by AKG, a Samsung subsidiary. While streaming audio from Spotify and YouTube sounds marvellous, what you notice almost immediately about the buds is the nearly next-level instrument separation. Whether it was Take Five by Dave Brubeck, a song by Red Baraat, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lady Gaga or Billie Eilish, the buds gave a full, lively sound that wasn’t too bass-heavy and focused instead on the mid-range and a wider soundstage. It may not have the bass-y kick of some of the other buds in the market but the clarity and distortion-free sound was incredible. Even more so was the separation between the vocals and the instruments.
No noise pollution
Forty per cent—yes, that’s the kind of improvement Samsung claims to have achieved in noise cancelling (“Intelligent ANC”) technology. If you have come from the Buds Pro or other, older buds, you will definitely hear a significant difference. The ANC levels adapt automatically to the surrounding environment. I also really liked the smarter transparency mode. The buds will switch automatically from ANC to transparency mode as soon as you speak, thanks to Samsung’s “intelligent voice detection” (in true wireless earphones, transparency mode lets outside sound in, so you can hear what’s going on around you). The Buds 2 Pro will reject noise quite well when on a call but your sound might be a little muffled compared to other buds. I tried calls with a number of people and none of them had complaints.
Ecosystem play, exclusive features
Much like Apple’s AirPods, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are geared towards ecosystem play. So, many of the features are exclusive to Galaxy smartphone users. If you own a Galaxy S-series smartphone or one of the latest foldable smartphones from the company, you can take advantage of seamless codec, spatial audio, high-bitrate audio, and other such features.
Top of the list is the support for 24-bit high-resolution audio. To experience this, you will need a Galaxy device rocking the company’s One UI 4.0 and a music streaming service like Amazon Music. Spatial audio, or “360 Audio”, as Samsung terms it, is similar to Apple’s spatial audio format.
“Feel the immersive, realistic sound coming at you from every direction,” the website reads. This makes for a more immersive watching experience, as you are now front and centre of the individual sound source. Whether this is a gimmick or not is yet to be seen.
Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist