Samsung has finally revealed the Galaxy Buds Pro – it's smartest wireless earbuds yet. They're set set to go head-to-head with Apple AirPods Pro when they hit stores this month, alongside the new Samsung Galaxy S21 phone. Read on as we break down the spec of the Buds Pro and reveal the price, on sale date and more...
Having been leaked all over the web for months, the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro was not a huge surprise. The company’s latest true wireless earbuds have been announced during Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event, shortly after being spotted in this 17-minute long hands-on video.
The Buds Pro are Samsung's fourth Galaxy earbuds. The original Galaxy Buds scored just two stars in our review, while the Buds Plus and Buds Live brought only marginal improvements, notching up three stars apiece. Can the Buds Pro finally nail it? We'll be testing them shortly.
Here's all all the official details of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro...
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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: release date
Samsung officially unveiled the Galaxy Buds Pro wireless earbuds at its January 14th Galaxy Unpacked event. Just as predicted, the Buds Pro will be available to buy from 29th January 2021.
So, the leakers were spot on. Prior to the event, tech tipster Evan Blass shared details of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and confirmed they would launch alongside a trio of Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphones (tick).
Meanwhile a tweet from reputable leaker Roland Quant tipped the buds (and the Galaxy S21 phones) to go on sale on 29th January in Europe (tick).
But it was an Indian Samsung experience store that let the cat out of the bag in a big way. A few weeks prior to the launch of the Buds Pro, it confirmed the new Galaxy S21 phones would launch on the 14th January and ship on the 29th.
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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Price
After much speculation, Samsung confirmed the official price of the Galaxy Buds Pro at its (virtual) Unpacked launch event on 14th January 2021.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro cost £219 and can be pre-ordered now, with shipping beginning on the 29th January. UK-based buyers can claim a free wireless charging pad worth £39.99 when the pre-order through Samsung's website.
The price turned out to be a tad more than the rumoured UK price of £199 but there's better news for US customers.
In the States, the Buds Pro costs just $199. Even better, the Buds Pro are available right now direct from Samsung's US website, and other major US retailers from 15th January. That's a two week head start on the UK.
Weeks before the official launch, tech tipster WalkingCat suggested the Galaxy Buds Pro with active noise cancellation would cost just $199. That prediction turned out to be on the money and, and means the buds are $80 cheaper than the new (and excellent) Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, and $50 less than Apple's AirPods Pro in the US.
In Australia, the Buds Pro cost AU$349 and can be claimed for free if you pre-order the Galaxy S21 Ultra before it launches.
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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Design
Samsung has ditched the kidney-bean design of the previous Galaxy Buds Live and returned to the traditional, rounder shape of the Galaxy Buds Plus.
The Buds Pro come in three finishes shared with the new Galaxy S21 5G phone: Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver and Phantom Black.
As predicted, the Pro Buds are fully waterproof. They're rated IPX7 – an upgrade from the IPX2-rated Buds Live and Galaxy Buds Plus – which is the difference between surviving water drips to being able to be completely submerged under a metre of water for 30 minutes.
Apple's AirPods Pro, meanwhile, are IPX4 'water resistant', rather than IPX7 waterproof. That's one-up to the Buds Pro, then.
The design of the Buds Pro was heavily leaked in the weeks prior to Samsung's official launch. Way back in December 2020, reputable leaker Evan Blass leaked a fancy 360-degree video that showed the buds twirling around before neatly slotting into their case. It confirmed the new, glossy finish.
There was also this 17-minute long hands-on video. An anonymous Facebook user even had the cheek to list (what appeared to be) a pair of Galaxy Buds Pro for sale before they'd officially launched.
Disappointed that Samsung hasn't stuck with the smaller, bean-shaped design of the Buds Live? There's every chance Samsung could launch the Galaxy Buds Live 2 later this year...
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Features
The biggest perk here is the new adjustable active noise cancelling (ANC) technology. The Buds Pro's predecessors, the Buds Live, also packed noise-cancelling but it wasn't as versatile or effective, according to Samsung.
To hammer home that point, Samsung is calling this version of the tech ‘Intelligent ANC’. Whereas the tech titan claimed the 2020-launched Buds Live could reduce background noise under 700Hz (e.g. trains and buses) by up to 97 per cent, the 2021-launched Buds Pro could block out up to 99 per cent of outside noise.
Much like the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, you can tweak the intensity of the noise-cancelling effect to suit your surroundings. There’s ‘high’ and ‘low’ levels of ANC, as well as four levels of Ambient Sound.
According to YouTube channel Digital Slang, which posted an in-depth hands-on with the buds, the ambient mode us up there with the best it has experienced, though we don't know how well-steeped Digital Slang is with current earbuds. And the noise cancellation? Less impressive. The feature compares unfavourably with that offered by the AirPods Pro, according to the hands-on review.
The improvements don't end there, though. You also get 360-degree audio (more on that below) and Voice Detect, which automatically engages Ambient Sound mode when you speak.
The tech sounds similar to the Speak 2 Chat function offered by Sony's (excellent) WH-1000XM4 noise-cancelling headphones. Like the Sony cans, the Galaxy Buds Pro can recognise when you stop speaking and crank the ANC back up, leaving you to enjoy your music in peace. The buds even skip back, so you won't miss a second of whatever you were listening to.
Samsung Galaxy fans can take advantage of the AirPods-like Auto Switch feature, which lets the buds simultaneously connect to multiple Galaxy devices and automatically switch to the one you’re using.
Last but not least, the Galaxy Buds Pro are part of Samsung's SmartThings Find system, which means you can track them down using Bluetooth signals.
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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Sound quality
We've yet to review the Galaxy Buds Pro so we can't vouch for them, but Samsung seems to have taken the trouble to up its audio game. Instead of a single driver, each bud features an 11mm woofer and a 6.5mm tweeter. In theory, this dual-driver design should give the Buds Pro extra oomph across the frequency range.
Interestingly, the Buds Pro were tipped to simulate surround sound using new "3D audio" technology (via GitHub user ThePBone). Indeed, screenshots of the Galaxy Buds Pro companion app promised "vivid, immersive sound coming from all directions".
Turns out those rumours were true. According to Samsung, the 360 Audio feature uses (motion-sensitive) Dolby Head Tracking technology to pinpoint the direction of sound as you move your head, in real time. It sounds a lot like Apple's spatial audio feature, which works on the same premise and creates the effect of being in a multiplex cinema.
Talking of movies, Samsung has also confirmed the Buds Pro support Dolby Atmos. As we predicted, you'll need to pair the buds with a Samsung device running Android 11. (Just one of the reasons why the Buds Pro launched alongside the new Galaxy S21 smartphone.)
As for calls, each buds features three onboard microphones – two outside, one inside – used for both active noise-cancelling and phone calls. Samsung says it's "Wind Shield" technology should allow you to make calls in the great outdoors without having to raise your voice.
As with most wireless earbuds, they connect to your devices via Bluetooth 5.0, though there's no support for aptX, which transmits music in 'CD-like' quality.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Battery life
Battery life is one of the major battlegrounds when it comes to wireless earbuds. Sadly, Samsung's new buds are going to break any records – you get 18 hours in total (which is OK but only OK), with a five-minute fast charge delivering one hour of playback time.
For comparison, you can get more than 24 hours of listening time out from the Apple AirPods Pro.
A five minute quick charge of the Galaxy Buds Pro gets you one hour's listening time. Pop them in the supplied case and you can charge them using any Qi wireless charging pad.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Name
The Galaxy Buds Pro were initially tipped to be named the Galaxy Buds Beyond. The rumour started back in October, when 9to5Google spotted that Samsung had registered a new trademark for 'Galaxy Buds Beyond'.
However, regulatory filings in the United States, South Korea and Indonesia quickly shut down those rumours. Samsung has now officially unveiled the Galaxy Buds Pro, and it's now thought 'Galaxy Buds Beyond' could be the moniker for the rumoured Galaxy Buds Live 2, although that's little more than speculation at the moment.
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