Samsung may not be the first company that comes to mind when you think of audio gear, but in recent years, the company has been growing its line of earbud offerings so that it has quality first-party accessories to go along with its smartphones. The Galaxy Buds Live stand out as the best Samsung earbuds you can buy right now, but if those aren’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other options worth considering. Let’s check them out!
Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
Source: Joe Maring / Android Central
As of right now, the best Samsung earbuds you can buy in 2020 are the Galaxy Buds Live. These are the latest earbuds from Samsung, and they also happen to be the most ambitious we’ve ever seen from the company.
We can’t discuss the Buds Live without talking about that design, so let’s start there. The Galaxy Buds Live have an unmistakable bean shape, and while it may look offputting at first glance, the design is actually kind of amazing. The Buds Live rest in the outer part of your ear rather than forming a seal deep inside of it, giving it a one-size-fits-all form factor. It’s incredibly comfortable, surprisingly secure, and a great choice for people that have a hard time wearing more traditional earbuds.
Audio quality is top-notch on the Buds Live thanks to powerful 12mm drivers, call quality is very good, and you can get up to 29 hours of total battery life depending on how you use them. Active noise-canceling is also here, though its performance is a bit weak. It works well for blocking out low-frequency sounds (such as a running dishwasher), but it doesn’t come anywhere close to the ANC offered by earbuds from Sony and Apple.
- Bean shape is amazing
- Excellent audio quality
- Microphones sound good for phone calls
- Up to 29-hour battery life
- Hands-free Bixby
- ANC performance is pretty weak
Come for the bean design, stay for everything else. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are the earbuds to get.
Best Runner-up: Samsung Galaxy Buds+
Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central
The Galaxy Buds Live are the earbuds you should get if you want the absolute best that Samsung has to offer. However, if your budget is a bit tighter or you just don’t like the radical design, the Galaxy Buds+ are a fantastic pickup.
The bean shape may be missing, but the Buds+ are still comfy to wear. They feel good and offer great security, and thanks to the passive seal they naturally form in your ear, you get much better passive sound isolation than you do with the Buds Live. Audio quality is good, as is microphone performance for phone calls, and you’ll get up to 11 hours of continuous music playback with total battery life of 22 hours when you factor in the charging case. Just like the Buds Live, the Buds+ also have USB-C and Qi wireless charging.
Even if money isn’t an object for you, it may be worth looking at the Buds+ anyway. While we’re big fans of the Buds Live design, you may not be. If you try them out and find that they aren’t a good fit for your ears, the Buds+ offer a very similar experience (and save you a few bucks in the process).
- Great sound quality
- Comfy and secure fit
- Up to 11 hours of continuous use
- Sleek, compact case
- USB-C and Qi wireless charging
- Glossy case finish doesn’t look amazing
- No noise-canceling
Not a fan of the Buds Live design? The Galaxy Buds+ deliver a very similar experience in a more traditional package.
Best Affordable Earbuds: Samsung Galaxy Buds
Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central
If you like what Samsung’s offering with the Galaxy Buds+ but want to save even more cash, a perfect alternative comes in the form of the original Galaxy Buds. While not as technically impressive, you’re getting about 80% of the experience for considerably less money.
The design of the Galaxy Buds is mostly identical, save for how the charging case has a matte finish instead of a glossy one. We actually prefer this design, as the matte plastic hardly picks up fingerprints whereas the Buds+ charging case can quickly turn into a fingerprint magnet.
Sound quality is mostly the same, albeit slightly less impressive to those with trained ears. The biggest downgrade is battery life, with the Galaxy Buds only offering up to six hours of continuous use and a total battery package of 13 hours when you factor in the charging case. That’s considerably less battery life compared to the Buds+ or Buds Live, and definitely the biggest roadblock with the Galaxy Buds.
Even with that being the case, these still earn a solid recommendation. The Galaxy Buds are substantially cheaper compared to the Buds+, so if money is a big factor for you, this could be a much better purchase.
- Compact and lightweight design
- Matte finish for the charging case
- Very good sound quality
- Qi wireless charging
- Excellent price
- Weak battery life
- Disappointing call quality
Best Affordable Earbuds
True wireless for less
If you’re OK with shorter battery life and slightly lesser sound quality, the original Galaxy Buds are a great pickup.
Best Workout Buds: Samsung Gear IconX
Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central
Fitness buffs should look no further than the Gear IconX. Just like the Galaxy Buds Live and Buds+, the IconX are true wireless earbuds.
The Gear IconX offer up to five hours of battery life when streaming audio and four hours when on the phone. If you’re paired with an Android phone, you can download the Samsung Health app and the Gear IconX will be able to track speed, distance, and calories of your workouts. It’s like a fitness tracker and earbud in one package!
Sound quality is solid, there’s an IPX2 water resistance rating to keep the buds safe from sweat and rain, and they deliver a good fit in the ear. Most people are better off with the newer Buds Live or Buds+, but if you’re an avid runner, the built-in workout detection is a huge perk.
- Built-in fitness tracking
- IPX2 water resistance rating
- Good sound quality
- Lightweight and comfortable design
- Lackluster battery life compared to newer models
Best Workout Buds
Fitness tracking buds
The aging Gear IconX continue to be a compelling option, largely due to the built-in fitness tracking features.
Best for Tight Budgets: Samsung Type-C Earbuds
Creating and sticking to a tight budget is a highly commendable thing, but what’s a person to do if they’re trying to cut down on excess spending but still need earbuds? Enter the Samsung Type-C Earbuds. These aren’t the flashiest or most exciting buds we’ve ever seen, but for the price Samsung is asking, they’re pretty darn good.
These are wired earbuds, and they connect to your phone using USB-C. According to Samsung, the USB-C connection allows for separate left and right channels that are 10x better than traditional 3.5mm jack connections. Add that together with the high-quality DAC, and you end up with sound quality that’s much better than what you’d expect for earbuds this cheap.
Samsung’s braided cable design ensures the earbuds are durable and lightweight, and the in-line playback controls make it easy to adjust your volume or pause a song without having to dig out your phone.
- Fantastic price for tight budgets
- Connects via USB-C
- Good sound for the price
- In-line controls
- Not as convenient as wireless earbuds
Best for Tight Budgets
How low can you go?
For shoppers that need to spend as little money as possible, the Samsung Type-C Earbuds are a perfect solution.
Best Middle Ground: AKG Y100
While the Y100 earbuds aren’t Samsung branded, AKG is an audio brand that Samsung owns and often appears on Samsung’s own earbuds. As such, we think they can make the list.
Outside of the naming, the AKG Y100 are solid, all-around wireless earbuds at a great price. They have a simple, durable design available in multiple colors, good sound quality, and get up to eight hours of battery life. A 15-minute charge offers enough juice for one full hour of use.
There is an especially cool feature of the AKG Y100, which is their ability to be paired with two Bluetooth devices and intelligently switch between them based on what you’re using. This is something a lot of earbuds don’t come with, so we’re thrilled it’s included on the Y100.
- Available in a few fun colors
- Design is comfortable and durable
- Can be paired with two devices at once
- Up to eight hours of battery life
- Fast charging speeds
Best Middle Ground
Nice balance of features and price
Falling right in the middle of everything are the AKG Y100, offering solid features and design for not too much money.
As evidenced by the list, Samsung’s growing collection of earbuds is rather impressive. There really is something for everyone, but if we had to pick only one as our top choice, it would be the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live.
Samsung could have played it safe with the Buds Live, but it most certainly did not. The Buds Live are a huge departure from all past entries in the Buds family, and you know what? It paid off. These are earbuds that are insanely comfortable and look like nothing else, all while delivering fantastic sound quality and battery life.
The market for true wireless earbuds is getting pretty crowded these days, and with the Buds Live, Samsung managed to create something that’s wholly original and legitimately exciting. If you give the Buds Live a shot, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Joe Maring is Android Central’s Senior Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He’s been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012 and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. Have a tip? Reach out on Twitter @JoeMaring1 or send an email to email@example.com!
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