Soon after nationwide Covid-19 lockdown was lifted in India in June, several mobile and hardware companies are flooding the market with true wireless stereo (TWS) earphones, as there is pent up demand among consumers. Most of the software professionals are now being asked from home till January 2021 and for a meeting, there is a need for good wireless portable earbuds.
While most of them look like a cheap knock-off of Apple AirPods, there are some premium alternatives, but costs much lesser than the original. One such product is the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ and is priced Rs 13,990 (MRP), but can be grabbed for around Rs 10,450 on major e-commerce stores and even on retail chains.
I have been using the Galaxy Buds+ for more than two weeks and here’re my thoughts about Samsung’s flagship earphones.
Design and build quality:
Though the Galaxy Buds+ looks identical to the predecessor, it still comes off unique among the rival brands. It comes inside the visually appealing carry-cum-charger case, which resembles a pebble and the black model is best among the four shades (others include purple, white, and blue) available in the stores.
It is glossy and compact, which slips into the pocket with ease. And, with the flat base, it sits perfectly on the table and can get charged wirelessly on when kept on the back of any of the Samsung phones or any Qi-compatible wireless charging mat. Also, it has an LED indicator to show battery level- red means low, and green indicates full.
Inside, the two Galaxy Buds+ earphones sit on the charger plugs. They sport a unique ergonomic design with a silicone wingtip, which assists in fitting into the ear perfectly and stay put even during heavy workouts. The company is offering two extra pairs-one plain rings without wings and another with wings– in addition to one medium pair of wings pre-fitted with earbuds. There is also three pairs of earbud tips in varying sizes.
Just to test how strongly, it can fit on the ear, I performed Yoga for close to an hour and did more than 10 asanas including sitting and standing poses. Never once, it fell off my ears. Kudos to the Samsung design team.
It comes with IPX2 certification, meaning the earbuds can sustain sweat from heavy workouts, but required to be dried with a cloth.
Also, each earbud weighs just 6.3g and never feels heavy and sometimes, you forget they are on the ears while doing workouts. [Note: The case with earbuds weighs 39.6g)
It boasts three mics- two outside and one inside-so that the user’s voice is picked up perfectly without any distortion of surrounding noise when on call. Also, it has sensitive sensors on the curved triangular touchpad and another below, just beside the charging contact (more on these will be discussed in the next segment below).
User-interface and performance:
For better user experience, Samsung recommends users install the Galaxy Buds app. It supports Apple devices ( with iOS 10 and later versions) and Android tablets and mobiles (v5.0 and later).
Once installed, it is easy for the phone to pair the earbuds. Just open the case and it instantly pops up on the Bluetooth devices list and connect.
Once done, it will smooth sailing going forward. Every time you pop out the Galaxy Buds+ from the case, on to the ears, it would have already paired with the main companion phone and you can start using it on the go.
The sensors are ultra-sensitive and the response time is quick. A single tap on the touchpad on the top will answer a phone call or pause the music playlist. A double-tap will take you to the next track and triple tap, it takes you to the previous song. There is also a long-press option, and this can be customised for three functions– one trigger Google Assistant on Android/ Siri on iOS device, two ambient sound (it allow you hear your own voice more clearly while you’re on the phone call) and third option — volume down (left) and volume up (right).
Also, the Galaxy Buds+’s tip (see in the image below also can be used to control volume. You just have to tap on either left or right earbuds’ tip repeatedly to tone down or increase the volume, respectively. And, have to say, they work perfectly without any fuss.
Also, the sensor beside the charging contact is mainly detected that the earbud is on the ear or out and based on this, it automatically pauses the music. Another interesting thing about this device is that it will just stops playing music only on the one, which is off the ears, while the other continues to play. The sensors are very responsive on the Galaxy Buds and are the best I have reviewed this year.
With Bluetooth 5.0 support, the Galaxy Buds+’s connection with the companion phone remains strong well beyond the prescribed 10 meters (around 32 feet) range. I was able to listen to the music walking all around the house, while I kept the phone in my bedroom. But, have to say, if there is too many walls, there will be little distortion but not overwhelming.
The Galaxy Buds+ supports the scalable Samsung codec, SBC (low-complexity SubBand Codec), AAC (Advanced Audio Coding), However, there is no aptX support.
Note: aptX is a technology that compresses and then decompresses audio as it travels from a source device like a phone.
Nevertheless, there was no discernible delay in audio sync with the video, while streaming content on the OTT (Over-The-Top) app on the phone. Same with playing games.
As far as the audio quality is concerned, it is the best in the class. Each of the Galaxy Buds+ comes with 2-way dynamic speakers with dedicated woofer and tweeter with boosted driver and is tuned by the AKG sound system. I had a good hearing experience and did not face any pressing issues all through the testing period. I listened to Carnatic, rock, hip-hop and other genres of the music and happy to note, it fared well to my expectations and the price it asks for.
Also, there is a special equalizer in the Galaxy Buds+ app, which offers customisation to enhance the hearing experience. It has Normal, Bass Boost, Soft, Dynamic, Clear, and Treble Boost.
Furthermore, there is an Ambient Sound feature, which allows users to let in ambient sound of the surrounding environment so that user can hear what’s happening around him or her without having to take off the earbuds when not listening to music or attending a call while working at the office or at home.
Whenever you receive a call, just tap on the touchpad of the Galaxy Buds+ to answer. This feature saves time to put on the earbuds when an urgent call comes.
As mentioned before, Galaxy Buds+ ship with three-microphones — two external and one internal microphone– and they actively work in tandem for clearer voice transmission. The company says that the two outer microphones focus on the user’s voice and simultaneously control the ambient surrounding noise.
During the testing, the audio on the Galaxy Buds+ during the phone call was clear to hear and on the other side, my voice was said to be crisp with no discernible distortions at all.
But, it is a bit disappointing that some features such as Spotify integration seen in Android Galaxy Buds+ app are missing in the Apple iOS platform.
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The Galaxy Buds app on the phone also offers an option– Find my Earbuds, which will produce beeping sound of a bird in volume to help you locate the Galaxy Buds. Please be advised, do not test this feature while placing them in your ears. It will be one painful experience you never want to feel again.
As advertised, the Galaxy Buds+ lived up to the hype. It was able to deliver more than 11 hours of battery life. On phone calls, it can last for more than 7.5 hours.
For instance, while doing Yoga listening to nature sounds, I noticed the battery drained just 9-percent in a little over an hour. However, the only qualm is that the charger can power up the earbuds from zero to 100 percent only once.
That means, in total, the Galaxy Buds+ can deliver 22 hours of playtime when charged together with the case.
However, the Galaxy Buds+ standalone battery life of 11 hours is still the best in the market, while most of the rival brands can’t even last 8 hours max.
Another notable aspect is that users can know how much battery life left on both the earbuds and the case so that they can plan when to charge them.
Each earbud comes with an 85mAh battery, while the charging-cum-holding case has a 270mAh battery. It comes with Type-C charging cable and takes a little over 1 hour 45 minutes to fully charge the case. And just three minutes of charging of earbuds can give you close to one hour of listening time.
As mentioned before, the charger case supports Qi wireless charging. You can either place it on charging mat or any reverse wireless charging phones including Samsung premium phones to power up the Galaxy Buds+ case.
Must read | Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review: Power-packed flagship phone
Final thoughts: Galaxy Buds+ review rating (4.0/5)
Over-all, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds+ ticks most of the attributes we expect in earphones, most importantly– the good audio quality and long battery. But, the only qualm is that Samsung should offer the same features as seen in Android (app v1.1.2.001), in the Apple iOS app as well.
Good sound quality while playing music
Clear voice transmission on phone calls
Unique and visually appealing design compared to rival brands
Long battery life and quick charging capability
Some features such as Spotify integration seen in Android Galaxy Buds+ app are missing in Apple iOS platform
Only one extra battery life-cycle extension on charging case
No aptX support
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