Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

We’re no strangers to watching Samsung and Apple duke it out. Over the years, the two powerful companies have fought over just about everything: patents, features, who makes the best smartphone –– it was bound to spill over into truly wireless headphones. In one corner, you’ve got the long-standing best wireless earbuds: the AirPods Pro

Sporting a lightweight, comfortable and somewhat polarizing design with a splash of water resistance for good measure, Apple’s wireless earbuds bring a lot to the table. Music lovers get near-instant pairing with iDevices, surprisingly good active noise-cancelling headphones with great sound. Using proprietary Apple tech, several microphones and some sensors, it’s so effortless to use a pair of AirPods Pro that, at times, it seems like magic.

But let’s not underestimate the challenger. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro offer an equally impressive pedigree and build upon it. Drawing from past models, the Buds Pro have an evolved design that’s compact and comfortable. 

Plus, they bear the distinction of being the most water-resistant wireless earbuds the company has made to date. Thanks to a series of mics and sensors, listeners can expect fairly powerful adjustable active noise cancellation. And when it’s time to let the outside world in, the Ambient Sound mode offers four levels to play with. In terms of audio, the two-way speaker delivers strong, clear audio for such a small pair of buds. Throw in an app with plenty of customizable features, plus lightning-fast pairing capabilities, and you’ve got a worthy opponent. 

But which pair of buds will reign supreme? Read on to find out.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro: specs

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Samsung Galaxy Buds ProAirPods Pro
ColorsPhantom Black, Phantom Silver, Phantom PurpleWhite
Battery Life5 hours ANC, 8 hours ANC disabled4.5 hours ANC
Size and Weight0.8 x 0.8 x 0.8 inches, 0.2 ounces0.8 x 0.8 x 0.7 inches, 0.2 ounces

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro: pricing

Normally, I wouldn’t say $199 is the value option for a pair of truly wireless earbuds, but when you’re talking about premium brands, sub-$200 is an accomplishment. Thus, we should give the Galaxy Buds their flowers as they’re priced at $199. Apple continues to charge a pretty penny for the AirPods Pro at a hefty $249. Luckily, you can usually find a sale or two nowadays to knock the price down into a more budget-friendly range. 

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro: design

After the bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live, Samsung found a way to tone down the polarizing look. The company took some design elements from the Buds Live and the original Galaxy Buds and came up with a more graceful design. And Samsung definitely made sure to add some functional refinements like a windshield. 

The earbuds are available in three Phantom-themed colors: black, silver and violet. And with an IPX7 rating, these are Samsung’s most water-resistant buds ever –– you can drop them in a meter of water for 30 minutes and they’d work for your next jam session. The buds are made of T Post-Consumer Materials (PCM) while the case is made of 20% of the material, adding some much-appreciated sustainability. PCM cuts down on CO2 emissions while the buds are being made, which is good for the fight against climate change. 

(Image credit: Future)

Even though you’ll see those telltale white stems protruding from many an ear, it doesn’t mean that the AirPods Pro design is any less divisive. Sure, the stems have gotten shorter and the head has gotten thicker, but now instead of a never-ending “There’s Something About Mary” joke, the AirPods Pros resemble two tiny hairdryers. But to each their own. The company continues to serve up the same bone-white as the previous AirPods. Perhaps one day Apple will start playing with color, but today isn’t that day. 

The AirPods Pro have a rated water resistance of IPX4. 

The Galaxy Buds Pro weigh 0.2 ounces and measure 0.8 x 0.8 x 0.8 inches, which is just a tad bigger than the AirPods Pro (0.2 ounces, 0.8 x 0.8 x 0.7 inches). However, the Buds Pro charging case is much smaller at 1.6 ounces, 2 x 2 x 1.1 inches compared to the 1.6-ounce, 2.4 x 1.7 x 0.9-inch AirPods Pro’s case.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro: comfort 

This is a hard one. The AirPods Pro and the Galaxy Buds Pro are both really comfortable to wear over long periods of time. And I’ve never felt that either are one sudden head jerk away from jettisoning a bud into the great beyond. I really appreciate that Apple devised a fit test to help music lovers determine which of the bundled eartips will create the most secure, comfortable fit. Also, after years of complaints, Apple finally gave us eartips!

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy Buds Pro are really comfortable, especially for my ridiculously small ears. They just popped right in there with the default medium eartips. I actually wore those for a little over four hours with no discomfort. Then I remembered the small eartips. I feel like I could live in these things. But it’d be nice if Samsung could find a way to add its own fit app.

Winner: AirPods Pro

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro: controls

Both the AirPods Pro and the Galaxy Buds Pro have touch controls, but the difference is how you interact with them. With the AirPods Pro, it’s all about the stems. Instead of tapping a touch sensor, you control the AirPods Pro by squeezing a "force sensor" on their stems. It saves you from pushing the eartip further into your ear canal, which is always a good thing. 

The functionality works rather well; a quick squeeze initiates play/pause or allows you to answer a call. A double and triple squeeze skips tracks forward and backward, respectively, while a long squeeze switches between noise-cancelling and transparency modes. If you go into the Settings menu, you can set a long press to activate Siri on either bud. 

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy Buds Pro utilize tap controls. However, thanks to the sensitivity in the tiny touch panels, you don’t have to tap too hard to get things done. It’s a straightforward operation with one tap for play or pause, two to skip a track or go forward, three to skip backward. Long pressing on either bud is to switch between ANC modes.

However, this can be adjusted in the app to either launch Spotify, the digital assistant, or volume down on the left earbud and volume up on the right. And in case you need to pair to another device, long-pressing on each bud simultaneously starts the process. 

Something that neither of these buds have is a way to control the volume. The less I have to touch my phone when I’m in transit, the better. 

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro: apps

Samsung already crammed a bunch of functionality into the Galaxy Buds Pro. But in order to get the most out of the earbuds, the company allows listeners to tap into even more features by way of the Samsung Wearables app. When paired to the app, you can adjust the noise cancelling controls between ANC on, Off and Ambient Sound. If you have ANC enabled, you can toggle between high and low. And if you’re using Ambient Sound, there are four levels (low, medium, high and extra high) to choose from.

(Image credit: Future)

The Voice Detect feature automatically switches the earbuds to Ambient Sound when your voice is detected; you can set how much time passes after you finish speaking before it switches back to ANC. 

You can also program the buds to read notifications for alarms, emails, incoming calls and messages. You can also adjust the sound balance between your left and right ears and access Bixby. The app is also where you’ll access Gaming mode. There’s also a Find My Earbuds feature which will work regardless of whether your buds are disconnected to Bluetooth or offline. The app also offers tips and a user manual in case you need some pointers. 

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung also added an equalizer with six presets (Normal, Bass Boost, Soft, Dynamic, Clear and Treble Boost). Of the six choices available, I prefer Dynamic as it provides the most robust sound. 

The AirPods Pro’s customization options aren’t as deep, but that doesn’t mean they’re not as compelling. You can change your earbuds name, toggle the noise control, and program the long-press functionality. You also have the option to run the fit test, change the automatic ear detection functionality, and decide whether or not the buds pair to your device automatically. The settings menu is also where you’ll find the Spatial Audio settings. And if you need an equalizer, you’ll find it under the Apple Music setting with 24 presets to play with. 

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro: Active Noise Cancellation

Samsung finally gave the people what they wanted –– real active noise cancellation. When I popped the Buds Pro in and set the ANC to High, I heard near silence, which is more than I could say for the Buds Live. The Buds Pro blocked out my LG television with the volume set to 10, which is good, but short of the AirPods Pro (13). I appreciate that I didn’t hear any white noise when the music was off because that noise can ultimately insinuate its way into your tunes with adverse effects. 

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

When I took both earbuds on my daily walk, the AirPods Pro’s ANC blocked out slightly more noise than the Galaxy Buds Pro with no music playing. But neither could keep out the noise of the J train traveling overhead. 

There are moments when it behooves you to pay attention to your surroundings. For those instances, the AirPods Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro offer Transparency Mode and Ambient Sound, respectively. Despite the different names, they do the same thing, allow the ambient noise of the world into the earbuds’ soundstage so you can hear traffic or hold a conversation in the office. 

I prefer Samsung’s approach as Ambient Sound offers four levels so you can choose just how much of that outside noise you want intruding on your jam session. 

Winner: AirPods Pro

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro: audio

Being really water-resistant, with lots of cool features and good active noise cancelling is great, but if your earbuds sound like trash, what’s the point? Luckily, neither the Galaxy Buds Pro nor the AirPods Pro have this problem. For my tests, I listened to tracks on Tidal on Hi-Fi quality or better. The AirPods Pro were set to Flat on the equalizer while the Galaxy Buds Pro were set to Normal.

(Image credit: Future)

I started with Ari Lennox’s “Chocolate Pomegranate” on the Galaxy Buds Pro. I was impressed with how crisp the percussion sounded, especially the jingle jangles on the tambourine. The synthesized instrumental was full, but still gave Lennox and her backup vocalists room to take center stage. The bass drum was a little boomy, but not distracting. When I listened to the track on the AirPods Pro, the bass was more forward and the synthesizer was more diffused than on the Galaxy Buds. However, the vocals were full and the percussion was sharp. 

Listening to Saweetie and Doja Cat delivering bars dedicated to the power of besties on “Best Friend.” I was immediately drawn to the two-string chord that provided the backbone on the track reproduced by the Galaxy Buds Pro. It held its own against the aggressive low-end. The soundstage was spacious enough that I could hear the twang of the strings despite the deep bass. Honestly, outside of the low-end, which was more refined, the AirPods Pro sounded almost exactly like the Buds Pro.

My last track was Louder Than Quiet’s very punk take on Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody.” The electric guitars were super gritty, which was a great juxtaposition against the vocalist’s smooth tenor. The drums were weighty and dank and were a treat to listen to. However, the guitars had a bit more definition on the AirPods Pro and gave a warmer presentation overall. It came the closest to making me feel like I was at a concert. 

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro: battery life

Samsung has the Galaxy Buds Pro rated for 5 hours of battery life with active noise cancellation enabled. I made it through 4 hours and 48 minutes of my workday before I got the low battery notification. With ANC disabled, the estimated battery life jumps to 8 hours. 

(Image credit: Future)

With the charging case, the Buds Pro can last up to 18 hours with ANC on or 28 hours with it off. When it’s time to recharge, the earbuds can get an hour of battery life from 5 minutes of charging. 

Apple rates the AirPods Pro's battery life at 4.5 hours. The earbuds lasted half a workday, tapping out at exactly 4 hours. Thankfully, you can get approximately an hour of listening time from just a five-minute charge. And you can expect to get five to six charges from the case before the whole shebang needs to be plugged in. I just wish the case used USB Type-C instead of Lightning.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Overall Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Samsung Galaxy Buds ProAirPods Pro
Battery Life109

It seems Samsung finally cracked the code to making a great pair of noise cancelling truly wireless earbuds. It’s been a long journey to get here, but it finally happened. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are small, comfortable and seriously water-resistant. 

The trio of mics assist in isolating unwanted noise while accentuating your voice. The ANC is powerful enough to actually put a damper on the outside world when necessary. Plus, the app offers a host of features including adjustable ANC and Ambient Sound along with an in-depth system to find lost earbuds. They sound great and are $50 cheaper than the AirPods Pro. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the AirPods Pro aren’t great; they absolutely are. These are still the buds that offer blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, seamless pairing. They’re durable and comfortable in their own right. The active noise cancelling technology is some of the best on the market, and yeah, the sound is great too. They’re a bit pricey at $249, but if you’re an Apple fan, these are the earbuds for you, just like the Samsung Galaxy Buds are the wireless earbuds of choice for Samsung users. 

Sherri L. Smith
Editor in Chief

Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.