At Samsung’s virtual Unpacked event on Wednesday, the company unveiled the Galaxy Buds2, a long-awaited update to the original Galaxy Buds that includes active noise cancellation, a different design, and better water resistance.
The $150 Galaxy Buds2 are available for preorder now, with a release date of August 27. They come in four colors: graphite, white, olive, and lavender, as well as a case that supports Qi wireless charging.
I’ve had a chance to listen to a pair of Galaxy Buds2 for about a day, and I’ll write a comprehensive review once I’ve had more time with them. But, thus far, I’ve loved what I’ve heard, especially considering the pricing range.
The Galaxy Buds2 has two drivers in each earpiece (my pre-brief papers didn’t include driver details, but early leaks indicated a 6.5mm tweeter and an 11mm woofer), and they add active noise cancellation, which Samsung claims can cut out up to 98 percent of background noise.
The ANC on the Galaxy Buds2 is more successful with lower-end sounds than high-pitched ones, similar to noise-canceling on most earbuds; for example, the buds performed a good job of blocking out the low rumble of my office fan, but I could still hear the clickity-clack of my mechanical keyboard.
It’s also worth mentioning that ANC on the Buds2 is an on-or-off option, as opposed to the two-step option found on the Galaxy Buds Pro.
In addition to active noise cancellation, the Galaxy Buds2 has a three-step ambient sound option that lets in ambient sounds, comparable to Apple’s Airpods Pro’s “transparent” mode. Touch and hold one of the earphones (you may decide whether only one or both earbuds respond to that motion, or assign another function altogether) or use the Samsung Wear app to switch between ANC and ambient noise mode.
However, the Buds2 lacks the Galaxy Buds Pro’s innovative “voice detect” feature, which automatically activates the mode when you start chatting.
The Galaxy Buds2 includes support for Bluetooth 5.2, the most recent (and LE Audio-ready) Bluetooth protocol, as well as SBS, AAC, and Samsung’s Scalable codec. Although the Scaleable codec may transmit lossless music over Bluetooth, two other lossless Bluetooth codecs—aptX Qualcomm’s Adaptive and Sony’s LDAC—are (unsurprisingly) not supported.
The Galaxy Buds2 has a more rounded, glossy appearance than its predecessor, and its water resistance has been increased to IPX7, meaning the earbuds can be submerged in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. The older Galaxy Buds (as well as the Buds Plus and Buds Live) have an IPX2 classification, which means they can withstand water splashed at a 15-degree angle or less.
The Galaxy Buds2 comes with three sets of ear tips—small, medium, and large—and a new “Earbud fit test” on the Samsung Wear app runs a quick test to ensure that the ear tips are properly fitted.
The Galaxy Buds2 will last up to five hours with noise cancellation turned on, or up to 7.5 hours with it turned off, according to Samsung. The charging case (which can be charged by Qi wireless charging or with the accompanying USB-C to USB-A connection) extends the battery life to 20 or 29 hours, depending on the model.
I can’t provide an accurate assessment of the Galaxy Buds2 audio quality because I’ve only had them for a few hours, but so far, so good.
I’ve been loving Vlado Perlemuter’s Nimbus Records recording of Ravel’s solo piano compositions, as well as the surprisingly deep bass on Telarc’s version of George Geshwin’s “An American in Paris” conducted by Erich Kunzel. From the Buds2, Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” sounded crisp, punchy, and spacious, while Taylor Swift’s “Ready for It?” on Reputation was delivered with the deep, textured, and synthetic snarl that starts the song. So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a $150 pair of earphones.
Still, I have a lot of Galaxy Buds2 testing ahead of me, so stay tuned for my entire review.