At Samsung’s August Unpacked event, they unveiled their latest in what’s been a truckload true wireless earbuds over the past two years in the Galaxy Buds 2.
Sitting in the mid-range of the true wireless market, the Samsung’s aren’t going to bother the likes of Bose and Sony. These earbuds have their sights trained towards more affordable rivals, such as the Beats Studio Buds.
The Studio Buds are the first from Beats (and indeed their parent company Apple) to offer feature parity for both iOS and Android devices.
Features on both earbuds are similar, which makes this a tasty match-up. If you’re in the market for an affordable earbud with noise cancellation, which out of the Galaxy Buds 2 vs Beats Studio Buds is the headphone to go for?
Price and availability
The Galaxy Buds 2 have a price of… for a price of £139 / €149 / $149.
The Beats Studio Buds are priced at £129 in the UK, and $149 / €149 / CA$179 / AU$199 elsewhere.
In the UK the Beats are cheaper. In Europe and the US they have the same price. At the moment the Beats get the win, but it’s really by the slimmest of margins.
What’s the difference with the design?
The Galaxy Buds 2 nearly identical to the original, which isn’t a particular surprise in truth, but also doesn’t offer quite the upgrade we were thinking. It’s the same bulbous design as most of Samsung’s other earbuds, but the wing-tip/stabiliser the original had is gone.
It’s apparently the smallest and lightest earbuds Samsung has made yet, so comfort seems to be a big priority for these true wireless. Otherwise, all we can tell that’s different is that the Galaxy Buds 2 have a more glossy look than before.
The Studios Buds are slimmer and more ergonomic in shape. We wouldn’t necessarily say that equates to a better fit (we haven’t yet tried out the new Galaxy Buds) as we felt the Studio Buds fit was a bit fussy at times.
Nevertheless, once the right fit is achieved the noise isolation they offer is very good, providing a solid bedrock for noise cancellation to further eliminate surrounding noises. Comfort levels are also good over short and long periods so aren’t many issues we have with Studio Buds in this regard.
In terms of colour, the Galaxy Buds 2 are available green, white, black and purple variants (or Graphite, White, Olive and Lavender as Samsung labels them), and that gives them some personality. The Studio Buds are also available in a number of colours: black, white and a distinctive Beats Red colour, so both offer options to tailor the earbuds to what you want.
For the moment, we’re going to decline to say which one is better. We will say that the Studio Buds are the more stylish and distinctive of the two.
What’s the difference in the feature set?
Both have noise cancellation so they’re equal on that front. How do they compare? We can’t say yet, but the Studio Buds were reasonably good considering the price. Not all sounds were diminished but that’s expected at this level. Commutes were much smoother, vehicles passing by were less distracting and the general noise of the day was adequately reduced. It’s one of the better attempts at noise cancellation we’ve heard below £150.
Samsung claims their the noise cancellation solution blocks out 98% of background noise, which is something we’ll have to wait and hear to see if that’s the case.
Battery life is said to be about 20 hours with ANC and 28 hours without it. That’s better than the Studio Buds, which offer 15 hours with ANC and only 24 with it off. You’re getting more stamina with Galaxy Buds 2.
You get fast-charging with the Studio Buds but not wireless charging with the case. The Galaxy Buds 2 have both fast-charging and wireless charging functionality.
Call quality in the Studio Buds is decent, clear enough for voices to be heard without picking up too much background noise. Samsung says the Galaxy Buds 2 pack three three microphones that use machine-learning to optimise the clarity of calls. To be honest, we always hear this type of rhetoric around improved call quality so we will take this with a pinch of salt.
Both support auto-switching, so you can cycle through your respective iOS and Galaxy devices. The Galaxy Buds 2 also support a PC app that effectively brings over the feature of the mobile app does (tweaking settings, modes) to PCs. The Studio Buds also feature fast-pairing with both iOS and Android devices, so that adds some versatility and degree of openness we don’t often associate with Apple or Beats.
Water resistance is in the Studio Buds favour, with an IPX4 rating comparing to the Galaxy Buds IPX2. That makes the Beats better suited to withstanding workouts or a splash of rain.
From the specification made available for the Galaxy Buds 2, there’s not a huge difference between the two offerings. Battery life would appear to be an advantage for the Samsung, but the Studio Buds work well with either Android or iOS devices and that widens their appeal over the Galaxy-centric Buds 2. Call this showdown a draw for the time being.
Is there any difference in the sound?
We can’t yet comment on how the Galaxy Buds 2 sound just yet, but they are being tuned by AKG, with Samsung claiming the dynamic two-way speaker in the earbuds “deliver crisp, clear high notes and a deep bass”. As always, we’ll have to wait and see.
The Beats Studio Buds we of course know more about. If you’re someone who still knows Beats for their bass-heavy tuning then these earbuds will be something of a surprise. Clarity is good and they’re well-balanced across the frequency range, too, with good detail in the mid-range and solid basslines.
They’re punchier and more dynamic than we were expecting them to be, and in terms of tonality, they’re more than able to handle various musical genres without coming unstuck. Factor in their Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos support and there’s plenty of range to what the Studio Buds can do. if Samsung can top this performance then we’d be quite impressed.
Without knowing much about the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 beyond the details provided, there’s no conclusion we can come to about them just yet. But in the Beats Studio Buds they’re up against a talented rival, so if they can beat those earbuds that will only enhance Samsung’s upward trend in the true wireless market.
It won’t be easy, though. Fast pairing for both Android and iOS is a trump card the Galaxy Buds 2 don’t boast. ANC is pretty solid, as is call quality, while the audio performance is among the better ones among the cheaper true wireless and is an area where Samsung had a tendency to drop the ball. We’ll be updating this versus as soon as we get a better impression of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2′ talents.