Samsung Galaxy Buds2 review - Powerful in-ear headphones with ANC
Samsung's Galaxy Buds2 (SM-R177) have been improved all around compared to their predecessors, which we reviewed in detail in a Comparison test. The design is now more oriented towards those of the Galaxy Buds Pro instead of the Galaxy Buds Plus.
Despite an unchanged MSRP of 149 Euros (~$169), no compromises have to be made in the features of the True Wireless Headphones (TWS). The batteries are even enlarged and Active Noise Canceling (ANC) is supported. Samsung now relies on a two-way system for the sound output, a comparatively large 11-millimeter (~0.4 in) driver and increased the number of microphones to six.
|dynamic, two-way speaker, 11 mm
|Battery power (earphones)
|Battery power (charging case)
|Weight (per earphone)
|Weight (charging case)
|Accelerometer, position sensor, reverberation sensor, proximity sensor, and touch sensor
|Included in delivery
|Headphones, charging case, silicone ear pads (S, M, L), USB cable, quick start guide
Case and ergonomics - Galaxy Buds2 with comfortable fit
The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 are made of plastic, lightweight and have no sharp edges. During setup, an acoustic test already checks whether the earphones fit properly or if another attachment has to be selected to ensure the best possible audio experience.
The charging case is quite compact and magnetically locks the earphones in the desired position. The case's flip-lock also closes securely and can still be opened easily.
The attachments are included in three sizes, of which the middle one is pre-installed. The in-ears convince with a pleasant wearing feel, are hardly noticeable and yet offer a firm hold in the ear.
Features and operation - ANC and ambient sound for the Galaxy Buds 2
The pairing process starts automatically when the charging case is opened for the first time. Samsung smartphones then directly recognize the new Galaxy Buds2 and suggest pairing. Alternatively, the pairing process can be started manually by holding both sensor surfaces.
Users of other smartphones should download the Samsung Wearable app (Android) beforehand. After pairing, the app recommends installing the appropriate plug-in (Android only), and then you are ready to go. For Apple devices, the Samsung Galaxy Buds app is available, but it did not support Galaxy Buds2 at the time of testing. However, this is already the case in the app for Windows. It is similar to the Android app, but sorted a bit differently.
Among other things, the app can be used to initiate the acoustic test and install updates. The ANC can be turned on or off via the app, but there are no settings. However, the ambient mode is divided into three levels. With the stronger variant, these are even amplified. If the low ambient sound setting is selected, ambient noises are slightly muffled. The latter setting is more practical outdoors on windy days.
The app can also be used to configure the two touch sensors separately from each other, activate experimental functions or search for the earphones. The search function is an acoustic function where the earphones start to chirp and get a bit louder over time.
Sound - Good sound, but weaknesses in telephony
The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 show a strong improvement in media playback compared to the predecessors and offer a precise and balanced sound, which we would not have expected in this price range. However, a slight hiss creeps in during quiet passages and low tones lack power, even though the low frequency range is served quite well. The sound output can also be adjusted to the user's preferences via the equalizer.
The active noise cancellation presents itself as very effective and clearly muffles low ambient noises, but does not completely eliminate them when they are louder, such as in an airplane. However, refrigerators, fans and air conditioners are completely filtered out. Due to the passive shielding, voices are also perceived as muffled.
When it comes to voice quality in telephony, the Galaxy Buds2 perform rather weakly. In quiet environments, its wearer already sounds somewhat hollow and tinny. Voices from the surroundings are also clearly audible from the microphones. If there are more than one, the TWS headset's algorithms try to counteract, but this does not benefit the user's voice because it is then reproduced very cramped and choppy. It is a bit better in traffic, but there are also dropouts in the transmission from time to time.
Verdict - Good headphones, but not flawless
The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 are much improved in almost all areas. The sound is more balanced, the runtimes are good and easily reach the promised five hours in the test, and the integrated ANC does a good job.
The app support for Android and Windows is also practical; only Apple users are still left out in the cold.
Samsung offers a good overall package with the Galaxy Buds2, only the telephony features are not convincing.
The Galaxy Buds2 have to put up with the most criticism in terms of telephony. The voice quality is still decent in quiet environments, but the TWS headphones' performance drops significantly as soon as it gets a bit louder.
The price of the Buds2 seems quite reasonable, but the Galaxy Buds Pro (RRP: 229 Euros, ~$259) are meanwhile cheaper, offer a better sound and are certified according to IPX7. Also the Huawei FreeBuds Pro are now also cheaper. For sports junkies, the Amazfit PowerBuds Pro are an exciting alternative.