- Samsung’s new $US150 Galaxy Buds Plus offer several features not found on Apple’s standard $US159 AirPods, like additional ear tips, an equaliser for adjusting sound, and a fit that forms a tighter seal and blocks out noise more easily.
- But Apple’s AirPods do have some advantages over Samsung’s new earbuds. They can, for example, trigger Siri hands-free, whereas summoning a voice assistant with Samsung’s earbuds requires touch controls.
- They both offer similar performance when it comes to sound quality.
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Samsung is challenging Apple’s AirPods yet again with the Galaxy Buds Plus, the successor to the wireless earbuds that the Android phone giant launched last year.
The new Galaxy Buds, which Samsung debuted earlier this month alongside the Galaxy S20, come with a few improvements – such as an extra microphone for clearer calls, a new shortcut for launching Spotify, and longer battery life.
Apple and Samsung both offer advantages and disadvantages compared to the other when it comes to their wireless earbuds. Samsung’s earbuds are better at blocking out noise than Apple’s standard, similarly-priced AirPods, for example, but lack the ability to issue voice commands hands-free.
Here’s a closer look at how Samsung’s $US150 Galaxy Buds Plus compare to Apple’s $US159 AirPods – including the features found on Samsung’s cheaper buds that Apple’s standard AirPods lack.
They come with multiple ear tips for a better fit, and in different colours.
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus come with three ear tips and wing tips, and are also available in three colour choices: black, white, and blue.
Apple’s standard AirPods, by comparison, don’t come with any ear tips for an adjustable fit and only come in white. The pricier AirPods Pro, however, do come with ear tips in three sizes.
The Galaxy Buds Plus have a shortcut for launching Spotify.
Apple’s AirPods have a few touch controls – you can, for example, double tap on the standard AirPods to answer a call, play a song, or skip forward. But there’s no shortcut for launching specific music apps like Spotify, as there is on the Galaxy Buds Plus. Once the Galaxy Buds Plus are paired with an Android smartphone, you can program either the left or right earbud to launch Spotify after a long press.
Samsung’s earbuds are better at blocking out noise since they form a tighter seal in your ear.
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus fit more snugly in the ear, providing a tighter seal than Apple’s regular AirPods, which which rest on the ear canal. This means you’ll hear less of the world around you, and more of what you’re listening to. (The Galaxy Buds don’t have active noise cancellation like Apple’s $US249 AirPods Pro, though.)
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus also have a feature called Ambient Aware, which lets you filter in sounds from the environment around you while listening, unlike AirPods. The AirPods Pro do have a transparency mode for allowing outside noise to pass through – but cost $US100 more.
You can also customise the sound with Galaxy Buds Plus, unlike AirPods.
Samsung’s companion app for the Galaxy Buds Plus also comes with an equaliser for tweaking the earbuds’ sound, with filters for boosting the bass, adding a softer tone, and bumping up the treble among other options. (However, I often found that the Galaxy Buds Plus sounded best without these filters.)
When it comes to overall audio quality, the Galaxy Buds Plus and Apple’s original AirPods sounded very similar. The pricier AirPods Pro felt richer and more full-bodied, but that’s to be expected of a more premium pair of headphones.
Samsung’s earbuds are said to offer longer uninterrupted playback than AirPods.
Samsung claims that its Galaxy Buds Plus can provide 11 hours of playback, while the buds’ charging case can hold 11 hours of charge without having to be plugged in. That means the Galaxy Buds should last for 22 hours total if they live up to Samsung’s claims.
Apple claims its AirPods offer similar overall battery life, but with one crucial difference: Apple says AirPods offer up to five hours of listening time, but more than 24 hours of battery life overall when they’re recharged in their case.
While I wasn’t able to verify the 11 hours of playback on the Galaxy Buds quite yet, if both the AirPods and Galaxy Buds Plus live up to their claims, the Galaxy Buds Plus should offer more than double the playback time of Apple’s AirPods before you need to recharge them. But AirPods should outlast the Galaxy Buds by roughly two hours when it comes to overall battery life provided through the charging case.
Samsung may have Apple beat when it comes to customisation and fit, but there are a few important areas in which AirPods excel as well.
There are some places the Galaxy Buds Plus don’t quite measure up Apple’s AirPods.
The Galaxy Buds Plus can’t automatically pause music when one earbud is removed from the ear the way that AirPods can. Instead, you must remove both earbuds to pause music playback.
And there isn’t any option to access voice assistants like the Google Assistant or Samsung’s Bixby hands-free, whereas you can trigger Apple’s digital helper just by saying the “Hey Siri” wake phrase on second-generation AirPods and AirPods Pro.
Still, the Galaxy Buds generally offer every feature you’d want from a pair of wireless earbuds, and at a cheaper price than Apple’s AirPods. They may be lacking a few capabilities that make AirPods so appealing to iPhone owners, but they offer crisp sound and more flexibility when it comes to comfort and customisation.
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