Samsung Galaxy Buds Fe Review – Is it Worth it?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Fe start price $99, making them less than half the price of the original Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and considerably cheaper than the regular Samsung Galaxy Buds.

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Design and Comfort

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE Design

The design of the Galaxy Buds Fe is very familiar, with Samsung sticking to the Galaxy Buds 2 pro. They’re once again chunky, resembling pebbles that you stash in your ears. Each earbud has a subtle wing tip, adding to a reassuring fit.

Despite their barely-there presence, they stay snugly lodged in your ears with a quick twist, exhibiting no movement even under substantial pressure. The fit is so firm that I found them comfortable to have in my ears for several hours at a time, and the inclusion of different sizes of silicon tips ensures a customizable fit.

As for color options, you have choices of black or white, and it would be nice if Samsung introduced more vibrant options, especially for the Fan Edition. However, one noticeable area where Samsung seems to have economized is in water resistance.

While many true wireless earbuds are quite splash-resistant, they are only rated as IPX2. This means they can barely handle some sweat and might leak a bit if you’re at the gym. I was a bit concerned about their performance in the rain, but, touch wood, they held up well – possibly aided by my ear flaps offering some protection.

App and Touch Controls

Samsung Wearable App Features of Galaxy Buds FE

I’ve tested the Galaxy Buds Fe on Android smartphones, specifically the Pixel 8 and the Pixel 8 Pro, not on the Galaxy Phones. Consequently, I had to download the Galaxy Wearables app, and the Bluetooth pairing with these phones was quick and easy.

The app itself is quite good, offering the main features you’d anticipate. For example, you can quickly toggle on the ENC or switch to transparent mode. You can also enable or disable touch controls, and within the app, you can deactivate individual actions. However, there’s limited customization beyond that.

The only controls you can configure are touch and hold, allowing you to switch between modes, activate the voice assistant, or adjust the volume. While I appreciate the option to control volume through touch, it’s unfortunate that sacrificing it is necessary to toggle the ENC between noise cancelling and transparency mode. Despite this, my only significant gripe with the touch controls is that they all work flawlessly.

A quick tap pauses or plays your music, a double tap skips forward a track, and a triple tap skips back a track. It’s all very intuitive, with minimal audio feedback and no accidental activations during fumbling. You can customize these controls in the app, where you’ll find additional features, including an earbud fit test, notifications for messaging apps, accessibility options, firmware updates, a Find My Earbuds feature, and a user manual.

If you happen to misplace the earbuds and walk away, the app can detect the unexpected Bluetooth disconnection, providing a handy heads-up reminder. This feature is particularly useful for those forgetful moments, like leaving them behind in the gym or, more likely in my case, at the local pub.

Audio Quality

Audio Quality of Samsung Galaxy Buds Fe 2023

The audio quality is where Samsung has made biggest sacrifices with these Fan Edition Galaxy buds compared to the original Galaxy Buds. While the sound quality isn’t inherently bad, there are limitations worth noting.

Firstly, the only supported audio codecs are AAC, SBC, and Samsung’s SSC. Notably absent are higher-quality codecs like aptX HD or LDAC, and there’s no support for 24-bit audio.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Fe Equalizer

In the Galaxy Wearables app, under earbud settings, you’ll find an equalizer. Personally, I find the Dynamic setting appealing as it adds dimension to the music, making it less flat and enhancing the highs. However, the bass on the Galaxy Buds Fe is somewhat lacking, even with the bass boost activated, it tends to be on the weaker side.

Despite this, unless you’re a dedicated bass enthusiast or a meticulous audiophile, you’ll likely find the output quite satisfactory, especially considering their $99 price point.

Active Noise Cancellation

One area where Samsung certainly did not cut costs is in the realm of noise cancellation. The Galaxy Buds Fe feature a triple-microphone setup on each bud, akin to the sophisticated setup found on the premium Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.

I found this configuration to work exceptionally well on the Galaxy Buds Fe. I could comfortably listen to an audiobook or a podcast even while navigating a bustling High Street or being in a room filled with energetic children. The need to crank up the volume to drown out external noise was minimal.

Additionally, these buds proved effective for travel, whether on a tube or a train. The key is ensuring you have the proper size of silicone tips and that they are securely twisted into your ears to form a proper seal. The robust noise cancellation capabilities make them a reliable choice for various noisy environments.

Mic Call Quality

It boasts a triple-microphone setup, and proves to be advantageous not only for music but also for call quality. The three microphones collaborate effectively to capture every word with clarity, ensuring that your voice comes through distinctly during calls.

Moreover, these smartly designed microphones excel at suppressing background chatter and other ambient noise, allowing your voice to remain crystal clear to the listener. This functionality is particularly impressive, even in situations with simulated extreme background noise, demonstrating the Galaxy Buds FE’s commitment to delivering a superior call experience.

Battery Life and Charging

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE Case and Charging

The battery life of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Fe is amazingly robust, providing approximately six full hours of audio playback on a single charge, even with the noise cancellation turned on. This outperforms the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro by about an hour, and if you opt to disable noise cancellation, you can extend usage by an additional hour or two. Admittedly, I tend to keep the noise cancellation turned on most of the time, so this result is certainly respectable, if not the absolute best at this price point.

When it’s time for a recharge, the compact and extremely cute case comes into play. Its diminutive size allows it to fit practically anywhere, and its negligible weight is a plus. However, its construction is somewhat plasticky. Due to its small size, the case can fully charge the buds approximately two times before needing a recharge itself.

With noise cancellation active, you can expect around 20 hours of total audio playback. When the case is depleted, recharging is facilitated through a Type-C USB connection, but the wireless charging support is not available.

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