Samsung's AirPods-rivalling wireless earbuds go big on AI – but can they compete sonically?

Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 Pro and Buds 3
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Samsung is going big on AI. Want proof? The South Korean giant recently announced a host of tantalising new products, including its new Galaxy Z Flip 6 and Galaxy Z Fold smartphones, not to mention new smartwatches and its much-awaited fitness tracking Samsung Ring, all of which harness the powers of artificial intelligence to varying degrees. 

The company's new generation of wireless earbuds are no different. Samsung has unveiled two new pairs of noise-cancelling wireless earbuds – the Galaxy Buds 3 and the Galaxy Buds 3 Pro, both of which incorporate AI capabilities, brand new designs and some major internal tweaks in the hopes of giving Samsung a chance in this most competitive of spaces.

The Galaxy Buds 3 Pro are the company's new flagship ANC model, and the first thing you'll notice about them is how little they resemble the outgoing model. Samsung has ditched the circular bean shape of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro in favour of a slimmer, AirPods-like stem design, with on-unit "Blade Lights" LEDs which indicate key vitals such as battery life and connectivity status, and even flash if you've lost them in a gloomy or low-lit environment. The cheaper Galaxy Buds 3 offer an "open" design, although they're open in the sense that they don't have tips which go that deep into the ear canal rather than being out-of-ear clip models in the same vein as the Huawei FreeClip or the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 Pro in the case

The AirPods-esque Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 Pro come with fancy "Blade Lights" which display key vitals such as battery life and connectivity status.  (Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The flagship Galaxy 3 Pro feature a two-way driver design, with a single 10.5mm dynamic driver complemented by a 6.1mm planar tweeter (each powered by its own amplifier) for a more balanced, comprehensive sonic performance, whereas the more affordable Buds 3 use a one-way configuration with a single 11mm dynamic driver. Both pairs also offer support for hi-res audio streaming over Bluetooth up to 24-bit/96kHz via Samsung's new SSC UHQ codec (a step up from the previous codec that supported up to 24-bit/48kHz), although this is only compatible with specific top-tier Galaxy smartphones and devices.

As hinted at above, both pairs go big on features, especially the Galaxy 3 Pro. The flagship buds offer intelligent sound optimisation which automatically adjusts noise cancelling levels depending on your environment and your particular needs at the time, while both models offer an impressive-looking interpreter function that uses AI to convert foreign languages in real time. Both offer noise cancelling, but you'll only get access to the Ambient Sound mode with the 3 Pro. 

The Galaxy Buds 3 offer five hours of playback from the earbuds with ANC on, while the 3 Pro go one further and offer six hours, figures which are boosted by an additional 22 hours with the charging case. 

You'll also get 360 Audio immersive listening and Auracast capabilities with both sets of earbuds. Both are equipped with on-ear touch controls and both offer an IP57 rating which offers solid protection against dust and moisture ingress.

If you want to know what we thought of the Galaxy Buds 3 Pro at first glance, our hands-on review will give you the lowdown. Although we didn't get a chance to hear the new contenders for ourselves – that, sadly, will have to wait until the full review. 

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 Pro are available now priced at £219, whereas the Galaxy Buds 3 will set you back £159 (further prices pending). Both pairs will come in a choice of either a silver or a white finish.


Read our Samsung Galaxy 3 Pro hands-on review  

And our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 hands-on review 

These are the best wireless earbuds around 

Harry McKerrell
Staff writer

Harry McKerrell is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. During his time at the publication, he has written countless news stories alongside features, advice and reviews of products ranging from floorstanding speakers and music streamers to over-ear headphones, wireless earbuds and portable DACs. He has covered launches from hi-fi and consumer tech brands, and major industry events including IFA, High End Munich and, of course, the Bristol Hi-Fi Show. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practising the piano or trying to pet strangers' dogs.