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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live: Which earbud should you get?

At the January Galaxy Unpacked event, Samsung unveiled its latest line of Galaxy Smartphones. Announced alongside the phones were the new Galaxy Buds Pro wireless earbuds.

They are the third pair of wireless headphones that Samsung has brought to market in less than a year, and the Pro designation places them as the most premium option. The previous earbuds – Galaxy Buds Live – were the first to include noise cancellation, a feature the Buds Pro keeps, as well as adding some more functionality.

If you were to choose between the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs the Galaxy Buds Live, which wireless earbud would be the best choice? Here’s how they stack up.

Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live – Price

The Galaxy Buds Live were Samsung’s most expensive earbuds yet at £179/$169.99. The Galaxy Buds Pro are more expensive at £219/€229.

That’s a fairly big increase on the previous model. However, given the tweaks to the Buds Pro’s design, you could be getting a headphone that performs better in some respects.

Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live — Design

The Galaxy Buds Live took a novel approach to headphone design. They looked like a kidney bean, the shape intended to offer better ergonomics so that they sit in the ear more comfortably with the need for intrusive ear-tips.

We are aware that there are some who feel uncomfortable sticking things into the ear, and for those who feel that way then the Buds Live fit neatly into an ear and stayed put, even during exercise. The problem is that the seal the design offers isn’t airtight, and that led to outside noise impacting on the quality of the audio.

The Galaxy Buds Pro have drifted back towards a more traditional design. That should make for a fit that’s as good as the Live, but also offer better noise-isolation so external sounds don’t intrude on your listening experience.

Like all Samsung earbuds, the Buds Pro come in a range of colours (phantom violet, white and black), but that’s not as many (or as glossy) as the Buds Live’s options (white, blue, rose gold, red and black).

We’d give the points to the Buds Pro on this one. The tweaks to the design should offer better noise-isolation than the Buds Live was capable of.

Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live — Features

A quick run-through of the Galaxy Buds Live’s features includes active noise cancellation, 21-hour battery life, Bixby integration, IPX2 water resistance, Fast Switching between devices and a Game Mode for a smoother performance.

The Galaxy Buds Pro matches the Live with regards to having ANC and battery life (five hours in the earbuds, 13 in the case). Samsung calls the noise cancellation on the earbud “Intelligent ANC”, and it should be able to reduced more sounds than the Buds Live were able. Samsung claims it can remove up to 99% of noise, and it’s adaptable, with high and low levels for more control over what sounds are let in.

We’ve not tested the the Galaxy Buds Pro’s ANC performance, and as such we not in a position to compare to the Buds Live. We didn’t find the noise cancellation to be terribly effective on the Live, the open design letting in more noise than the ANC could deal with. Here’s hoping the Buds Pro exceed them with a more effective performance. The new earbuds also match the Live with its transparency mode (Ambient Sound Mode), to pass through sounds so the listener is aware of what’s around them.

The IP rating has been vastly improved, jumping from the Live’s IPX2 to IPX7. That means the headphones are fully waterproof, which means sweat and water shouldn’t be a problem making them an even better fit for exercise.

A feature the previous headphones did not have was the Voice Pickup feature. This looks to work in a similar fashion to the Speak-to-Chat function on Sony’s WH-1000XM4 headphones, with the earbuds reacting your voice by turning on Ambient Sound Mode and reducing the volume/pausing so you can hear what the other person is saying. A timescale can be set for when the conversation is over and playback resumes (5, 10 or 15 seconds).

There’s enough in the feature spec to make the Galaxy Buds Pro a better specified headphone than the Buds Live. We’ll be in a better position to know how good once we’ve received a review sample, but from our expert opinion the Buds Pro look like a substantial boost in a few key areas specs-wise.

Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live — Sound

We don’t know anything about how the Galaxy Buds Pro sound for now. It has been noted that the headphones are aiming for a richer sound through their 11mm woofer and 6.5mm tweeter. While the Galaxy Buds Live featured improved sound over previous Samsung earbuds, we did feel there was more work for Samsung to do. The Live lacked detail and dynamism compared to similarly-priced earbuds, though bass was decent and high frequencies had a crisp tone. Given we’ve not handed Samsung’s wireless earbuds a recommended grade, if this aspect is improved that could well change.

Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live — Early Verdict

From what we’ve seen, the Galaxy Buds Pro look to be a healthy improvement of the Galaxy Buds Live in nearly every area. The asking price is relatively little over the Buds Live, it’s better stocked in terms of features, and the design looks like it’ll help the headphone achieve a stronger noise cancelling performance. We’ll have to wait until we start testing to know for sure.

Still, the Galaxy Buds Pro are looking like a reasonable boost over the Buds Live, and may be the first Samsung true wireless to earn a solid recommendation from us. We’ll be looking forward to putting the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro through their paces ahead of their release date.

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