Back in August, Samsung rolled out several new smartphones, along with a new pair of Galaxy Buds that are shaped like kidney beans and a new Active smartwatch – and after a month of using this kit, I have mixed opinions about its value and functionality.
As I was testing these new Samsung products, several reviews came out critical of the new Galaxy Buds Live’s kidney shape. I don’t agree, as the shape fits to the concha of your ear – the hollow between the ear canal and the cartilage at the back of your ear – allowing for a better ear fit, and if fitted properly initially, you actually don’t feel as if you have buds in your ears.
I am confident that the open fit is the result of some in-depth CAD modelling and sound booth testing that revealed that the new shape actually fits better and delivers a superior sound experience than prior buds from Samsung.
We also have to remember that the audio teams at Samsung have access to R&D intelligence for Harman, the audio company that manufactures some of the best sound brands in the world.
Another thing that is really good about these buds is that they automatically sense and connect to a Samsung smartphone in seconds, with an alert appearing on the screen to tell you how much battery life you have left in the charging case and buds. Pairing is as simple as either opening the case for the first time, or pressing and holding both earbuds for three seconds for each subsequent pairing.
Battery life is good, and the batteries can be replaced by an authorised service centre.
A small silicone wing, of which there are two sizes in the box, is designed to stop the buds falling out.
At $319 the new buds have active noise cancellation (ANC). They are small – and so is the square pillow-shaped charging case which easily fit into the pockets of a pair of shorts or trousers.
Water resistance: none (IPX2)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, SBC, AAC, SSC
Battery life: 8 hours (up to 28 hours with case)
Earbud dimensions: 16.5 x 27.3 x 14.9mm
Earbud weight: 5.6g each
Driver size: 12mm
Charging case dimensions: 50.0 x 50.2 x 27.8mm
Charging case weight: 42.2g
Case charging: USB-C, Qi wireless charging
Connectivity and controls
The Samsung Galaxy Buds are well designed, compact, and deliver very clear sound especially when talking on a mobile.
The unique fit and shape works, and the buds are so light that you don’t feel them in your ears after a short while.
Significantly superior to the Apple AirPods, as you don’t look like a dork with two white speakers hanging out of your ears.
Cons: no noise isolation, and the active noise cancelling could be a tad better.