Samsung was on a pretty good stretch when it came to its earbuds going into launching the Galaxy Buds Pro. The Galaxy Buds+ represented the beginning of the current streak, whereas going "Pro" has put the company firmly in a camp that aims to compete with the best in the business. Both are worthy of your ears, but how do they stack up together?
Source: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central
At first glance, you would think these two pairs of earbuds are very alike. They are true wireless earbuds, of course, and there is a resemblance when looking at them straight up, but there's a lot that differs both in appearance and performance. The Pro represent a shift forward in usability and perspective, and that doesn't really all show up on paper.
|Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro||Samsung Galaxy Buds+|
|Bud battery life||Up to 8 hours||11 hours|
|Charging case battery life||18 hours (28 without ANC)||22 hours|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.1||Bluetooth 5.0|
|Digital assistant support||Bixby, Google Assistant, Siri||Bixby, Google Assistant, Siri|
|Supported audio codecs||SBC, AAC||SBC, AAC|
|Speaker size||13 mm drivers||dual 6 mm drivers|
|Active noise cancelation||Yes||No|
It's obvious by the water-resistance ratings that Samsung made a big splash — literally. By raising the protection to IPX7, the Galaxy Buds Pro can stay submerged down to one meter for 30 minutes. They're definitely not swimming earbuds, but they'll certainly withstand a sweaty run or workout. That's a big distinction, since the Buds+ were made to be refined, not rugged. It's a big move to take the Pro in that direction because it also puts them ahead of major competitors who are nowhere near that level of protection.
The battery life differences are noteworthy, but you don't get the context behind it on paper. For example, the Galaxy Buds Pro have built-in active noise cancelation (ANC) that works dynamically with the ambient mode. It will also react based on whether you're talking or not. You can set the ANC to high or low, and there's more where that came from. Couple that with a more powerful tweeter and woofer inside to boost the audio, and you have the makings of a battery drainer.
That's why the Buds Pro barely last five hours with ANC on (it's eight hours with it off). Raise the volume and that number slips further down. In contrast, the Galaxy Buds+ are efficient because they don't do all that. There is no ANC, nor dynamic features that sap extra juice. You do get an ambient mode, equalizer and more from the Galaxy Wearable app, but not a great deal more. That's perfectly fine when you only need them to do the basics well, and for a longer period per charge.
Source: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central
To achieve everything Samsung set out to do with the Buds Pro, it had to tweak the design in such a way that had consequences in fit and comfort. One thing that made the Buds+ so comfortable was the way they could just nestle in to the inner ear and feel almost feather-like. The Pro version are super lightweight, yet have a fatter frame that protrudes further inward, leaving less wiggle room. Once they slip out of place, you feel it, much like we did when chewing gum or talking a lot on a phone call.
In fairness to Samsung, it's not easy to squeeze in dual drivers with ANC and a battery large enough to at least stay on for a while. Not to mention all the other stuff going on relative to the microphones. It's just that the company preceded these earbuds with the Galaxy Buds Live, the bean-shaped design that just sit in your ear.
Part of the rationale in going this design route had to do with bolstering the sound as much as possible. While not dramatic, it is obvious the Buds Pro have deeper bass and greater detail in the mids and highs than the Buds+. When Samsung had launched those earbuds, they were the first to have dual drivers, and the audio boost was obvious because of it. The Buds Pro simply take that same concept and run with it, albeit not quite as far. The reason why is because the seal is so vitally important to pull in the best of the bass. It's just harder to do when the earbuds are more likely to slide while in your ear.
Where the two truly differ is in the dynamic and circumstantial elements.
As usual, the Galaxy Wearable app has six EQ presets to tailor the sound a little, though customization is still sorely lacking. With either pair here, you have no way to adjust the sound exactly the way you'd want. On the bright side, phone call quality is fantastic on the Buds Pro, with a clarity that fooled callers into thinking there was no headset at all. That doesn't make the Buds+ a slouch in that regard. They were the earbuds where Samsung turned the corner in the right direction on call quality.
Where the two truly differ is in the dynamic and circumstantial elements. For instance, turn on "Voice detect" in the app and every time you talk while listening to audio, it will significantly lower the volume to make it easier to hear yourself and the other person. After 10 seconds of silence, the volume returns to its previous level.
ANC, which the Buds+ don't have at all, is easily the best Samsung has managed on any earbuds, though it's not fair to compare the Buds Pro to the Buds Live that way because of the design differences. Ambient sound has four different settings to let you pump in more background noise when you need it. While the Buds+ have ambient mode, it's not that dynamic.
The 360 audio feature shouldn't be overlooked, either. It uses Dolby Head Tracking technology, but in basic terms, it means the Buds Pro can do spatial sound for content coded in 5.1 and 7.1 surround. It's a neat feature when watching a movie or show, and is something the Buds+ likely won't have, even if Samsung releases a firmware update in the future.
Neither has an inherent advantage when it comes to the onboard touch controls. Samsung wisely includes an option in the app to turn touches off for the Buds Pro, which is good because they can be finicky.
Not surprisingly, there is a variance in colors. The Galaxy Buds Pro come in phantom black, phantom silver and phantom violet. The Galaxy Buds+ come in black, white, blue, pink, red, and deep blue.
Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central
It really comes down to whether or not you want the additional features. Samsung tried to avoid being iterative with the Galaxy Buds Pro by adding features it hadn't used before. The combination largely works, and puts these earbuds in the same playing field as some of the elite earbuds in the industry. For their part, the Galaxy Buds+ still perform admirably well, and are now a bargain compared to their counterparts in this matchup.
They do lack things like ANC and 360 audio, but make up for it with considerably better battery life. And they still sound good, though the Buds Pro are objectively better. If you're looking for the best Samsung has to offer right now, you won't go wrong with those.
The next step
Good sound and more
Samsung takes its best true wireless earbuds to the next level by adding new features that set them apart from past versions.
Stick to the basics
Keeping it real
They may not be as new, but they're far from old, which is why the Galaxy Buds+ still hold their own as solid earbuds.
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