After multiple leaks, the only thing left for Samsung’s new earbuds was an official reveal. During today’s Galaxy Unpacked event, the company debuted the latest entry in the Galaxy Buds line alongside its Galaxy S21 phones. The Galaxy Buds Pro ($200) are a pair of noise-cancelling earbuds with a new design that combines elements of the “open-type” Galaxy Buds Live and the company’s first two models — the Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Buds+. The result is what Samsung calls a “more ergonomic form factor,” one that offers better sound quality, reduces contact on your ear and looks “less protrusive.”
With the Galaxy Buds Pro, Samsung delivers useful active noise cancellation (ANC) for the first time. Sure, the Galaxy Buds Live is equipped with distraction-blocking tech, but the open design of those buds meant it didn’t really work like you need it to in order to make a real difference. Samsung claims the three microphone setup (two outside, one inside) can reduce up to 99 percent of background noise. What’s more, the ANC here has two levels: high and low. There are also four different levels for ambient sound, so you have some choice when it comes to how much of the outside world you let in. Lastly, Samsung has added voice detection to this Pro model. That feature will automatically switch between your selected ANC and ambient sound settings when you begin to speak. You can also select how quickly the earbuds return to the pre-conversation levels.
As always, Samsung is hyping call quality. The company has equipped the Galaxy Buds Pro with a Voice Pickup Unit (VPU) that separates unwanted sounds using the combination of those three mics and an accelerometer. One of the outer microphones is also setup with a high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), which should translate to your voice coming through clearer while background noise is kept to a minimum. Samsung’s Wind Shield tech includes a mesh-covered chamber that the company says filters out any interference wind, improving calls from the great outdoors. Of course, lots of headphone companies make lofty claims about call performance but ultimately don’t live up to expectations. So, we’ll have to wait and see how Samsung fares during a full review.
In terms of audio, the Galaxy Buds Pro pack in an 11mm woofer for deeper bass and a 6.5mm tweeter that Samsung says offers crisp treble with little distortion. The result is what the company calls “the most comprehensive sound in the Galaxy Buds line yet.” With a 360 Audio setting, Samsung employs Dolby Head Tracking on the Galaxy Buds Pro for “multi-dimensional sound” that mimics a surround sound setup. The feature allows you to “feel” the direction of the sound — something akin to Apple’s Spatial Audio on the AirPods Pro. 360 Audio is available on Galaxy phones and tablets and you can turn it off inside the Galaxy Wearable app at any time. Samsung also notes that “availability of the feature may vary by device and application.”
The Galaxy Buds Pro also offers multi-mic recording. You can use a connected Galaxy phone to capture ambient sound or record video while the earbuds capture vocals. This tools works with Samsung’s Camera app, which allows you to adjust audio input levels in real time.
For convenience, Galaxy Buds Pro will automatically switch between Galaxy devices. This means that if you’re watching a movie on your tablet and receive a call, the earbuds will jump over to your phone when you answer. As soon as the call is over, the buds will switch back to your tablet so you can continue the film. Samsung has also enabled a low-latency Game Mode and Microsoft Swift Pair connects the earbuds easily with a Windows 10 PC. Of course, hands-free access to Samsung’s voice assistant is just a “Hi Bixby” away.
If you’re looking for a workout companion, the Galaxy Buds Pro are IPX7 rated — the highest water resistance in the Galaxy Buds line so far. That number means you can fully submerge them in water (up to one meter) for up to 30 minutes with no lasting damage. And if you happen to misplace one or both of the earbuds while you’re out and about (or at home), SmartThings Find can help you locate either of them — even if they’re out of Bluetooth range.
Unlike the Galaxy Buds+, there’s no deep integration with iOS this time around. The Galaxy Buds Pro’s features won’t be available inside a companion app for those devices like they were on that previous model. You can still use the earbuds with your iPhone or iPad, but ANC and ambient sound settings you have active will be what carries over to those devices. To make any changes, you’ll need to jump back to the Galaxy Wearable app on a Samsung device.
In terms of battery life, Samsung is promising up to five hours with ANC and Bixby voice wake-up active. With both of those key features on, total time including the case is 18 hours. If you disable them, the company says you can expect up to eight hours on the earbuds and 28 hours total when you factor in the case. A five-minute quick-charge session will give you an hour of listening time if you get caught in a pinch. The case is equipped with wireless charging capabilities, including Samsung’s Power Share on compatible models.
The Galaxy Buds Pro are available today for $200 in three colors: black, silver and violet. In typical Samsung fashion, all three hues match the new S21 models. You can purchase the earbuds today directly from Samsung, but other retailers and wireless carriers will begin selling them tomorrow, January 15th.