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Samsung Galaxy Buds Live vs Galaxy Buds Plus: Which buds are right for you?

(Image credit: Samsung)

Since the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus debuted earlier this year, it’s become a top contender in the truly wireless earbuds space –– especially as an AirPods Pro competitor. Not only are the Plus comfortable and durable, they delivered great audio thanks to AKG. The buds also last 7 hours on a charge and can be charged wirelessly via a compatible Galaxy smartphone or an awaiting Qi charger. But the Galaxy Buds Plus time as the earbuds du jour may be numbered as Samsung is launching yet another pair of earbuds dubbed the Galaxy Buds Live. 

Samsung is touting the Live as its most ergonomic pair of buds yet. And with an estimated 8-hours of battery life, they’re also some of the longest-lasting buds on the market. AKG is back to collaborate with Samsung, bringing its carefully-tuned drivers to the mix. And most importantly, Live is finally bringing active noise cancelling to the mix, finally answering consumer requests. 

But which pair of Samsung Galaxy Buds are right for you? Read on to find out. 

Price and configurations

The Buds Plus are available for $139 on Amazon and are available in black, red, white and light blue. And if you’re into that sort of thing, Samsung also has a limited-edition BTS version in black and purple (Psst, I’m into that sort of thing). 

The Buds Live will be available for $169 starting August 6. Mimicking the colors on the Samsung Galaxy Note 20, Note 20 Ultra and Galaxy Tab S7 tablets, the buds will be available in Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black and Mystic White. 

Design

Beans, beans they’re good for your ears? Yes, it’s been revealed that the Live buds will be shaped like some of your favorite legumes. The design, while polarizing is purposeful as Samsung says these will be its most comfortable and ergonomic earbuds in their lineup. The buds will have a glossy finish in the exterior while the part that sits in your ear canal will have a matte finish with an air vent to keep your ears cool. 

(Image credit: Samsung)

The Buds Plus have a rounded triangular shape with the top and inner portions of the bud made out of matte plastic. I like the pearlescent finish on the top portion of the bud, especially on the Cloud Blue version of the buds. The Buds Plus are plenty comfortable and fit securely even in my small ears. Both sets of earbuds are rated IPX2 for some water resistance.

Features

The Buds Live are introducing some interesting features, the most important of which is active noise cancelling. Bringing ANC to the mix really raises the stakes for the likes of Apple and Sony. I’m eager to see how the Buds hold up. Another cool feature is strictly for the gamers. When Game Mode is enabled, Buds Live reduces audio latency when gaming. That means when you hear every footstep in Fortnite, which can mean the difference between victory or humiliating kill shot. 

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Laptop Magazine)

Instead of ANC, the Galaxy Buds Plus rely on the passive noise isolation provided by a tight seal. And for the most part, Samsung’s right, the seal does keep most of the noise out. However, there are those moments where you need to let that pesky outside noise into your soundscape. For those moments, you have Ambient Aware, which allows you to hear important sounds like oncoming traffic while still listening to your music. The Buds Plus also features Spotify integration for Android devices, which allows you to use the touch panel to manage playback and delivers instant access with a single long press.

Audio

(Image credit: Samsung)

Thanks to Samsung’s acquisition of world-renowned audio company AKG, both sets of buds are equipped with AKG-tuned drivers. And if the Buds Live are anything like the Buds Plus, you can expect crisp detail, relatively warm audio and reserved, but rich bass. Of course, the soundstage can be slightly adjusted with the presets. We’re expecting the same bright highs, dynamic mids and sharp detail from the Buds Live. 

Battery life and Bluetooth

(Image credit: Samsung)

When it comes to battery life, you’ll be hard pressed to outdo Samsung. When they debuted, the Buds Plus were the longest-lasting earbuds in the land with 11 hours of battery life. And it seems they’ll retain that title as the Buds Live only have an estimated battery life of 6 hours with ANC and the always-on mic enabled, 6.5 hours with ANC off and the mic off and 8 hours with everything off. 

Bottom line

They’re slick, quirky and finally have active noise cancelling. The $169 Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are an exciting entry into Samsung’s expanding truly wireless earbuds empire. While a bit polarizing, the bean-shaped buds are designed to be the company’s most comfortable yet. And the Game Mode is a cool feature for the mobile gaming fanatics. But the most exciting thing here is the active noise cancelling as it finally brings Samsung into step with Apple. It does however, come at the cost of battery life. 

But that doesn’t mean the Buds Plus have gone the way of the dodo. On the contrary, the Buds Plus are still incredibly comfortable, stylish and durable. Thanks to the AKG drivers, the audio is nice and balanced and it’s got 11 hours of battery life complete with wireless charging capability. The only thing it doesn’t have is active noise cancelling and in my experience the passive noise cancelling works pretty darned well. And at $139, it’s still a really affordable option to the AirPods Pro. 

But no matter which pair of buds you choose, you can’t deny that Samsung is elevating the game when it comes to truly wireless earbuds.