Samsung Galaxy Buds2 review

The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 supply 360 sound without slipping from your ears.

Samsung Galaxy Buds2 in case
(Image: © Sam Hopes)

Live Science Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 earbuds are a solid effort from tech giant Samsung, offering a secure and comfy fit and a fuss-free premium sound quality experience. They very occasionally need adjusting, and it’s worth noting that iOS users can’t access the Samsung Galaxy Buds app, which limits the experience and touch controls.

Pros

  • +

    Three ear tip options

  • +

    Noise cancellation ANC technology

  • +

    High-quality sound

Cons

  • -

    Less secure than ear hook earbuds

  • -

    The app isn’t compatible with Apple iOS

  • -

    Requires max volume in loud places

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The wireless Samsung Galaxy Buds2 slot deftly into your ears and connect seamlessly to your Bluetooth device, which means you can eliminate the pre-workout fuss and get down to training instead. 

We tested these earphones in various settings, including sprints and yoga, and found they rarely needed adjusting — a novelty when opting for earbuds over headphones or buds with ear hooks. That’s why they join our lineup of the best running headphones (opens in new tab) to buy. 

Specs

Smart enabled/compatibility: Android and Samsung Galaxy. Apple users can connect via Bluetooth but can’t access the app

Waterproof: Yes, IPX7 - sweat and water resistant 

Battery life: 5 hours of playtime, 15 more with a fully charged case 

Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-canceling: Yes, ANC-enabled

Two-way speakers and three microphones with built-in voice controls allow you to take calls on the move and up the ante on music quality, filtering out unwanted external noise as you move, and noise-cancellation (ANC) further pumps up the immersive music experience. 

Customize your Buds2 by syncing them with the Galaxy Wearable app from the Play Store or Galaxy Store — if you’re an Android (5.0 and above) or Samsung Galaxy user — benefiting from features like Spotify integration, ambient sound, touch controls, equalizer sound controls, and more. However, iOS Apple users sadly can’t access these or the iOS Buds compatible app, limiting them to preset touchpad controls, music streaming, and making calls. 

It’s disappointing, yet understandable. If you carry an iPhone, the iOS app is available for Galaxy Buds Live or Galaxy Buds+. We have an iPhone 10, so our review is limited to the features we could access and test. 

Learn how to run properly (opens in new tab), check out competitive running headphones deals (opens in new tab), and read on for our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 below.

Price and release date

The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 MSRP is $149.99/£139, available from Samsung (opens in new tab) and some third-party retailers, like Amazon. You can also grab a discount on these for a limited time. 

Announced for release in August 2021 alongside the Galaxy Watch 4 (which they’re also compatible with), they outdate their predecessors — the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro — by less than a year. Samsung wanted to combine comfort, easy connectivity, and better controls to improve the immersive experience, two out of three we can confirm they’ve nailed. 

Set-up and design

The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 come in a compact case not dissimilar to the Apple AirPods and are ready to pair instantly with your phone via Bluetooth. Simply charge the buds, fit them inside your ears, then press the touch pads for three seconds. This puts them in pair mode, ready to connect with your phone or compatible watch. It was this simple, and we were connected within seconds. 

Two microphones located on the outer buds can detect ambient noise and need to remain visible at all times, so Samsung provides comprehensive instructions on how to fit your buds for the optimal experience. If you use a Samsung or Android device, you can access the Ear Fit Test via the Galaxy Wearable app, which will take you through set-up in more detail. 

You also have three flexible silicon ear tips in small, medium, and large to choose from to help you find a more secure fit and improve noise-cancellation, which we cover more on below. 

The Buds2 join an extensive existing lineup and are the more affordable option available, promising improved controls and sound feedback alongside ANC noise-cancellation. 

Samsung announced a low protrusion design with this model, helping to minimize external noise disruption like wind and improve the quality of sound. Two microphones also detect ambient noise and ANC capability further cancels noise to lock you into your playlist. According to Samsung, this reduces your background noise by up to 98%, backed by UL Verification. 

Keen swimmers might not benefit though, the Buds2 can be submerged for up to 30 minutes and down to one meter of water only. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds2 image of the headphones out of the case

(Image credit: Sam Hopes)

Controls

Unable to access the app, we’ve been limited in testing controls and personalizing our sound, but the tech-backed 360 audio sound can be modified by Android users using six equalizer settings to help you find a pitch that works for your ears. 

In-app, you have full autonomy over music streaming, notification settings, Spotify integration, touchpad controls, equalizer sound controls, and features like ‘find my earbuds.’ 

Access to touchpad controls allows you to tailor how you control your music or podcasts from the touchpads on the outer earbud. 

We could only pause, stop, and play from our preset touchpads, but there are additional commands available in the app like skipping songs, adjusting volume, voice commands, and enabling ambient sound. This will depend on what phone model you have and features also vary depending on the software version, so we recommend updating to 5.0+ as an Android user

Other commands include a double tap to answer a call and press-hold for two or more seconds on the earbuds to access a handy readout menu. You can also use Auto Switch; this enables you to move hands-free between Galaxy devices. If you wear a Galaxy Watch4, you can use Quick Buds Control, with an option to turn ANC on and off from your wrist. 

During testing, we found the touchpads quite fiddly; several times we would accidentally activate them while adjusting our earbuds, yet when trying to pause or play music, we had to tap several times to no avail. However, being able to tap an earbud was handier than grappling with our phone and will work much better for runners. 

Fit

The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 are 10% smaller and lighter than the Buds+ for a superior fit.

We opted for the smallest ear tips to suit our narrow ear canals, and they continue to sit surprisingly secure, once you get them into position. We noticed some slippage when we got sweaty, but considering we often wear ear-hook earphones, we were impressed with just how comfortable they were — and are — to wear. 

Unlike the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro earbuds (opens in new tab) we tested, these are far less chunky and sit more closely to your ears, this allowed us to swoop deftly through our downward dog during yoga (opens in new tab)without them wobbling loose, and we’d trust them with burpees as well. 

They’re also comfortable over long periods, so endurance athletes will find them bearable even after several hours of wear. 

Fit is key with these earphones, not just for comfort but because it enhances noise-cancellation. It takes a bit of wiggling around, but once they’re secure, they don’t budge, and you can block the noise out much easier. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds2 in case with lid open charging

(Image credit: Sam Hopes)

Sound quality

Let's face it, Samsung isn’t exactly known for poor quality. The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 are a testament to the brand’s consistent efforts to improve the user experience through new products.  

Our overused playlists were rejuvenated through these buds, especially guitar riffs. Crystal clear sound quality and all-consuming thumping bass put you straight into the zone when you think you’re just reaching your limits during intense exercise. 

Two outer mics and one inner mic work together to detect ambient noise using three adjustable ambient sound options and (as discussed) work together with ANC to help further immerse you.

Our experience of ANC and personalized sound control was limited by our device. If you’re an Android or Galaxy user, rest assured you have far more control over your buds, but we didn’t experience the full service during testing and couldn’t adjust ANC settings manually. 

Indoors, the Buds2 excelled and provided the immersive experience we were looking for, but we had to max the volume when exercising outdoors and struggled to block out much noise. 

We also found some imbalance between music and phone notification volumes which meant scaling up and down depending on what we were using our phone for, but this isn’t exactly a hardship.

Value for money

$149.99/£139 isn’t cheap but you won’t need to buy twice with the Samsung Galaxy Buds2, and Samsung (alongside Amazon) are offering decent discounts on the model. 

If you’re looking for noise-cancellation, high-quality sound, and lasting battery life, we can assure you these buds won’t let you down. But there are better options for Apple users. 

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 are worth the price tag if you’re an Android or Samsung Galaxy user. Access to your own Galaxy Wearable app will enhance what is already a sophisticated sound experience, allowing you to tailor your music to your ears and connect with other devices (although not all at once).

However, you just won’t get enough bang for your buck as an Apple user, and considering the price tag, you can find as much (if not even more) quality by investing in other earphones. However, if you’re not that fussed about features, these fit well and are suitable for most workout settings.

Alternatives

JBL REFLECT FLOW - True Wireless Earbuds

(Image credit: Amazon)

JBL Reflect Flow Pro

Equally well-fitting are the JBL Reflect Flow Pro (pictured above). These earbuds scored high with our Live Science tester, who found they worked for all exercise forms. They also use touch control, ANC technology, and voice assistant, but are on the pricey side, too. 

Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro

We loved the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro (opens in new tab) earbuds that pair with the Soundcore app to deliver intense customizable sound and multi-connection Bluetooth. They have four ear tips and wing options and come recommended by 20 Grammy-winning audio producers. 

Sam Hopes
Staff writer

Sam Hopes is a level III fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and resident fitness writer at Future PLC. Having trained to work with both the mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and aims to bring mental wellbeing to the forefront of fitness. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and how we can build more sustainable training methods. You’ll find her writing about the importance of habit-building, nutrition, sleep, recovery, and workouts.