Let’s be honest, these wireless earbuds are unlikely to do battle against each other for your cash. They’re both made with their respective smartphones in mind, the AirPods Pro 2 with the iPhone and Galaxy Buds Pro 2 with Galaxy series.
But we can at least compare them and see what directions they’ve gone, where they converge and what it could mean for the future for these type of true wireless earphones.
Price and availability
The AirPod Pro 2 have an RRP of $249 / £249 / €299 / CA$329 / AUS$399. Pre-orders start on September 9th with general availability on September 23rd.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro 2 are slightly less expensive with an RRP of $229 / £219 / €229 / CA$289 / AU$349.
The Galaxy Buds Pro 2 are cheaper but not by a huge amount. That would normally get the win but both Samsung and Apple have their own ecosystem or products, so the choice is defined by more than just the price of the earbuds.
The AirPods Pro 2 adopt a similar look to the original with a new XS ear-tip size to help create a better fit and seal for smaller ears. Apple has also stuck with the force sensor stem for playback and accepting calls, including a capacitive touch sensor to adjust volume without having to fetch the mobile device out.
The Galaxy Pro 2 differ in that they don’t have a stem or force sensor for operation, choosing the route of touch controls. The water resistance is stronger at IPX7 compared to the AirPods Pro 2’s IPX4, safeguarding them better against sweat, dust and water.
In terms of weight, the AirPods Pro 2 are lighter: 5.3g compared to 5.5g; and with regards to colour, the AirPods Pro 2 are still just available in white, while the Galaxy earbuds come in black, white and purple.
There’s not much in it, but the stronger water resistance may make the difference for some.
Battery life for the AirPods Pro 2 has been extended over the original with six hours per bud and 30 hours in total. That’s better than the Galaxy Buds Pro 2 which has 5 and 23 hours in total with the case included.
The new H2 chip offers, in Apple’s words, more advanced computational audio processing for improvements in audio and noise cancellation – the latter has double the power than the previous Pro model had. The enhanced Adaptive Transparency can react in real-time to sudden spikes to reduce high decibel sounds for a more comfortable experience.
Samsung doesn’t detail what chip it uses, as far as we can tell, but it boasts noise cancellation/transparency mode too, and comes with a voice detection feature that automatically switches to transparency when the wearer starts talking. That’s not a feature Apple has announced for the AirPods Pro 2.
There’s 3D sound with Personalised Spatial Audio with head tracking that adapts the performance specifically to your ears. The Galaxy Buds Pro 2 also feature spatial audio with their Intelligent 360 Audio mode with Enhanced Head Tracking.
Both sport Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity with AAC support, although Samsung has its Seamless Codec for higher-quality audio. Apple mentioned higher bandwidth audio support over Bluetooth, but did not detail what exactly it was.
Both charging cases have wireless charging support, but the Apple model offers more functionality with its lanyard loop to keep the buds nearby and a built-in speaker that plays tones to help find the case.
Find My feature are included on both, and those with a U1-enabled iPhone can now locate the case with guided directions. For the Samsung, the buds ‘chirp’ to locate them and another means of locating them is through The SmartThings app to get a mapped location of where they last were.
Of course, without a review sample at hand we can’t yet judge on the audio quality of the AirPods Pro 2. The new model has a custom low distortion driver and amplifier to produce a clearer, more detailed sound quality across the frequency range and a richer bass performance.
We have tested Samsung’s recent earphones and found them to be the best the South Korean company has produced yet. With the assistance of AKG, the Galaxy Buds Pro 2 convey more detail and dynamism through their dual-driver set-up, with bass fairly well managed and balanced with the frequency range. We’ll have a clearer idea of how each one compares once we get a review sample of the AirPods Pro 2.
This is a versus in the sense we’re comparing two products, but in terms of which one to buy, your decision will likely have been made up by which ecosystem you’re in. The AirPods Pro 2 work best in an iOS ecosystem; the Galaxy Buds Pro 2 realise their potential with Galaxy products. Both Apple and Samsung have ensured that you don’t get as good a performance if you’re not using their products.
In that sense, these earphones are very much accessories to an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy device than wireless earbuds that can perform as well with other products. They’re at the premium end of the market so they’re not cheap either. We haven’t reviewed the AirPods Pro 2 so we’ll have a better idea of how they work.