In this article, I’ am comparing the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro vs Pixel Buds. For Samsung, we’ve got a model that refines and improves upon the previous Galaxy Buds Pro. On the other hand, Google is launching their first pair of ANC earbuds. We know that both could be contenders for the title of the best earbuds available on Android. We’ll be comparing all the Design, ANC, Audio Quality, Battery life, features and price side by side to answer the question. Which earbuds should you actually buy?
Read Also: Google Pixel Buds A-Series Review
Galaxy Buds 2 Pro vs Pixel Buds Pro Unboxing
Inside the box for Samsung, we have the earbuds themselves, a USB-C charging cable, and some extra ear tips. Finally, there’s the usual paperwork.
As for Google, the contents are quite similar, with one major exception: there’s no charging cable. This is the first time I’ve seen a company do this, and I’m sure it’s going to annoy some people. However, personally, I think this is an excellent move. There are far too many unnecessary accessories that come with tech products these days, and extra USB cables are a major contributor to this. This means that aside from the earbuds and the case, the box contains only spare ear tips and the usual paperwork.
Design and Comfort
Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
As for the earbuds design, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are a smaller, lighter, and more refined version of the original Buds Pro. This, for me, constitutes their single most significant upgrade. The new sleek and minimal all-matte finish not only looks and feels more premium, but it’s the reduced size and improved ergonomics that I truly appreciate. They fit much more securely in the ears, and comfort has improved significantly. Reflecting on the original galaxy Buds Pro had a weakness in this area, and the second generation brings about a substantial enhancement in comfort and fit.
Pixel Buds Pro
On the other hand, the Pixel Buds Pro also boast an all-matte finish, and their two-tone design is a bit more striking compared to the understated approach of the Galaxy Buds. However, the Pixel Buds take a somewhat opposite direction with the design change, resulting in larger and bulkier pros. This, unfortunately, causes the Pixel Buds A-Series to lose out on the super lightweight and comfortable form factor present in the Pixel Buds. The shape of the Pixel Buds Pro is somewhat unconventional too, and when I place them in my ears, they never quite seem to settle into the correct position. They are comfortable to a degree, but the fit doesn’t feel particularly secure, especially for those with smaller ears who might struggle with them. Of course, individual experiences vary based on ear shape.
In conclusion, Samsung wins in terms of earbud design, offering a lighter feel, improved airflow, and enhanced ergonomics that lead to a more comfortable fit. They are easier to position correctly, and the secure fit increases their likelihood of staying in place during exercise. Additionally, the Galaxy Buds are a better option for workouts due to their higher IPX7 water resistance rating, allowing for submersion underwater. In contrast, the Pixel Buds only provide splash resistance with an IPX4 rating. Interestingly, the Pixel Buds’ case holds an IPX2 rating as well, although it’s not substantial. It’s worth noting that earbud cases are often overlooked when it comes to protection.
Galaxy Buds 2 Pro vs Pixel Buds Pro Connectivity
The Galaxy Buds offer the latest Bluetooth 5.3, with low-energy support reportedly coming later in the year. On the other hand, Google has opted to equip the Pixel Buds with Bluetooth 5, despite conflicting reports elsewhere online. In terms of real-world connection stability or range, there isn’t a significant difference between them, but it is peculiar to receive an older version that misses out on the efficiency of the latest specification.
Regarding codecs, both provide SBC and AAC support, but Samsung goes a step further by offering their proprietary Scalable codec. While this codec can offer a higher bit rate, it’s important to note that it falls short of LDAC. However, the Scalable codec is exclusive to Samsung devices.
When it comes to latency, neither of these earbuds excels. For the Galaxy Buds, movies were somewhat passable, but gaming exhibited a noticeable lag, especially on non-Samsung Android devices. Gaming with the Pixel Buds was even worse, with a considerable delay. Even YouTube videos on Android experienced a slight delay if you pay close attention. On iOS devices, the performance was somewhat better but still not ideal.
However, there are some positive aspects. The Pixel Buds offer the Fast Pair feature, automatically initiating a connection prompt when you open the case’s lid near any Android phone. On the other hand, this feature with the Galaxy Buds is limited to Samsung devices only. Nevertheless, both earbuds exhibit great connectivity within their respective ecosystems. They allow near-instant switching between devices without needing to enter pairing mode first. With the Galaxy Buds, you just need to take an extra step to ensure that seamless connection is enabled.
Google takes this a step further by providing multi-point connectivity. This means you can be connected to two devices simultaneously. This is particularly useful if you’re working on your computer and receive a call on your phone. You can answer the call and later return to your computer’s music seamlessly through the earbuds. Switching the audio source for music is also quite rapid. It’s a feature that Samsung unfortunately lacks.
Galaxy Buds 2 Pro vs Pixel Buds Pro Controls
Both earbuds utilize touch controls. For Samsung, these controls are fairly responsive, making it easy to locate the touch pad. They work quite well. However, Google takes the lead in this aspect by having, quite simply, the best touch controls I’ve encountered among any pair of earbuds I’ve tested. I’ve never come across earbuds with controls as responsive as these. They excel at distinguishing between various numbers of taps, and even functions like tap-and-hold respond incredibly quickly. This level of responsiveness is truly refreshing. Moreover, the Pixel Buds offer a swipe gesture for adjusting volume, which proves to be quite accurate. Having more gestures available on the earbuds grants greater control over your music without needing to reach for your phone.
Customization options are somewhat limited for both earbuds. You can only adjust the tap-and-hold function. By default, this summons the Google Assistant on the Pixel Buds, while on the Galaxy Buds, it triggers Bixby. Needless to say, the win is clearly with Google in this regard. Another advantage of the Pixel Buds is the hands-free Hey Google feature, which works on any Android phone. On the other hand, Hi Bixby is exclusive to Galaxy devices and the Galaxy Buds. The Pixel Buds also allow you to cycle through all three listening modes, whereas the Galaxy Buds only permit the selection of two. This limitation on the Galaxy Buds’ part is frustrating.
Samsung introduces an experimental feature called Edge Tap for volume control. However, akin to the original Buds Pro, hitting the right spot is nearly impossible, often resulting in unintentional track skips. Additionally, the Pixel Buds offer an auto-pause and play feature with wear detection, which proves to be quite handy. Interestingly, the Galaxy Buds do have in-ear detection, and they even boast a feature that directs your ringtone only through the earbuds when they’re in your ears. For incoming calls, if the earbuds aren’t in your ears, the call sound plays through your phone instead of the earbuds, which is a neat functionality. However, oddly enough, the music won’t pause when you remove just one earbud; it only pauses when both earbuds are removed. There’s also a noticeable delay in this process. Furthermore, the Galaxy Buds don’t resume playback automatically when you put them back in, which seems like an unusual decision.
Considering these factors, I had hoped for some improvements in Samsung’s 2nd generation Buds Pro, particularly in areas like the in-ear detection and automatic playback control.
Let’s delve further into the additional app features available on both sets of earbuds. To begin, they both offer an ear tip fit test, the ability to read your phone’s notifications, and a “find my earbuds” feature. However, there are distinctions between the two. The Galaxy Buds exclusively provide location tracking with Samsung phones, while the Pixel Buds extend this feature to any Android phone.
Samsung presents a couple of extra features, such as voice detect. This function automatically lowers your music volume and activates ambient sound mode when it detects that you’re speaking. This facilitates conversations. After 10 seconds of silence, it switches back and raises the volume. It’s akin to Sony’s speak to chat, although not quite as seamlessly implemented here. Sometimes there’s a delay in voice detection, and occasionally it’s overly sensitive. Customization options are also more limited.
The most peculiar feature, however, is the neck stretch reminders. Yes, these earbuds gauge your head position and prompt you to stretch if your head has been bent down for 10 minutes. If you’re that one individual who’s been eagerly anticipating this feature, please do introduce yourself in the comments—I have a few questions for you!
Of course, the central app feature revolves around noise control. Both sets of earbuds allow you to choose between turning off active noise cancellation or enabling transparency mode.
ANC and Transparency
Right from the start, I can assure you that both of these earbuds offer excellent noise-cancelling performance. This means that Samsung has finally produced an outstanding pair of ANC earbuds, and Google has done an impressive job with their first noise-cancelling earbuds. Overall, I believe the Pixel Buds Pro manage to block out slightly more sound. However, this is likely due to their better passive noise isolation rather than the actual ANC technology. It seems that Samsung excels in blocking out low-end frequencies, while the Pixel Buds perform better with mids and highs. Despite this, the overall reduction in noise appears to be greater with the Pixel Buds. Nevertheless, the difference is marginal enough that it shouldn’t be a deciding factor.
Moving on to the transparency or ambient mode, the Pixel Buds are quite good, offering a very natural sound. However, the sounds of your surroundings aren’t extremely distinct. In contrast, Galaxy Buds have consistently featured highly amplified ambient sound, and this holds true for the Buds 2 Pro. They provide a loud and ultra-amplified sound, though this comes with a noticeable hiss and can sound somewhat artificial. Samsung allows you to customize this by adjusting the amplification on either earbud and controlling the overall intensity. Unfortunately, these adjustments introduce a static noise to the ambient mode, so I find it better to keep these settings turned off.
Additionally, you can set the Galaxy Buds to automatically switch to ambient sound when you’re on a call, allowing you to hear your own voice. The Pixel Buds offer this feature as well, but you’d need to switch modes manually.
When it comes to phone calls, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are unquestionably the superior choice. My voice sounded clearer during the call, and the earbuds did a much better job of separating my voice from the background noise. This indicates that Samsung has finally produced a commendable pair of earbuds for phone calls as well.
Switching to the Pixel Buds Pro, you might notice that the background noise is indeed quieter with them. However, the intense effort to isolate my voice from this background noise results in my voice being muffled more compared to the Galaxy Buds. Consequently, my voice didn’t come across as clear during the call. These earbuds aren’t necessarily poor in this aspect, but it’s evident that the Buds 2 Pro perform better.
Lastly, let’s delve into the sound quality, where there is once again a clear winner: the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. The most noticeable distinction lies in their sharper and more detailed highs. This improved treble is likely attributed to their dual-driver design. With certain songs, the treble can verge on being somewhat harsh and sibilant. While a custom EQ to temper this would be appreciated, it’s still an enhancement over the harsher original Buds Pro.
On the other hand, the Pixel Buds offer a warmer and more relaxing tone. However, they lack the same level of clarity or detail in the high end. While they sound good and steer clear of piercing highs, the overall sound is less dynamic and thrilling compared to the Galaxy Buds. Thus, the Pixel Buds Pro would be the preferred choice for those who enjoy high-volume bass.
Samsung offers its usual six preset equalizer options, and the Dynamic setting stands out once again as the best choice. Currently, Google doesn’t provide any sound customization beyond their volume EQ feature, which can enhance bass and treble at lower volumes. However, they have announced that a five-band EQ is in the pipeline, potentially altering the earbuds’ sound significantly. Personally, I would appreciate the ability to increase the treble, which could potentially shift my overall opinion on the earbuds. Nevertheless, our evaluation is based on the present offerings, and Samsung has the edge when it comes to sound quality.
Additionally, there are a couple of exclusive sound features for Samsung devices with the Buds 2 Pro. The first is the returning 360-degree audio with head tracking. While I find this somewhat gimmicky, it can be a fun feature to experiment with. What Samsung is truly emphasizing is 24-bit audio, which could excite audiophiles. Technically, this offers more detailed sound, but its practical benefits are more limited than anticipated. You would need to use a 24-bit streaming service like Tidal to truly leverage this feature. Moreover, many people claim they can’t discern a difference between 16 and 24-bit sound anyway. Regardless, it’s an added feature that Samsung users can take advantage of, enhancing the optimal listening experience for the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, exclusively available to those with a Samsung phone.
Galaxy Buds 2 Pro vs Pixel Buds Pro: Case and Battery life
A major strength of both of these earbuds is their charging cases, which are small, compact, and feature a nice matte finish that feels great in the hand. Samsung wins for being slightly more travel-friendly and for providing easier access to the earbuds within the case. The Pixel Buds case has a handy physical pairing button at the rear and, best of all, a super satisfying magnetic lid that can easily be opened with one hand, emitting a lovely click as it snaps shut. Both cases support wireless charging, and you’ll get an hour of listening time from a five-minute fast charge.
|Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro||Google Pixel Buds Pro|
|8 Hours (29 h with case, ANC off)||11 Hours (31 h with ANC off)|
|5 Hours (18 h with case, ANC on)||7 Hours (20 h with case, ANC on)|
The Galaxy Buds only offer five hours on a single charge and 18 hours in total with the case. You get a more reasonable eight hours if you turn off ANC, but this is still low by today’s standards. On the other hand, the Pixel Buds offer 7 hours with ANC or 11 hours without, giving Google a definite edge when it comes to battery life.
Which One Should You Buy?
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are being launched at $229.99, while the Pixel Buds Pro will be priced at $199.99. Thus, Google offers the more budget-friendly option. Both of these models represent significant upgrades over their predecessors for various reasons, marking the best earbuds each company has developed so far. However, the choice depends on your specific priorities. If you value controls, battery life, and noise cancelling, the Pixel Buds Pro would be the preferable choice. Conversely, if comfort, phone call quality, and sound excellence are your main concerns, then the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro should be your top pick.
Certainly, if you own a Samsung phone, the decision should be straightforward. The enhanced connectivity alone makes the Buds 2 Pro experience feel remarkably seamless, even if features like 360-degree audio and 24-bit sound aren’t aspects you’d frequently utilize. With the Pixel Buds Pro, the phone you have matters less. What I can assert for both of these earbuds is that iPhone users might want to explore other options. The abundance of Android-exclusive features makes either of these less valuable for iPhone users, leading to missed customization opportunities and software updates.
From my personal perspective, I believe that the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro offer a superior all-around earbud experience, justifying the extra $30 over the Pixel Buds Pro. This applies even if you don’t possess a Samsung phone.