Samsung back with the newest generation of their wireless earbuds and these things are smaller and better than ever. I took the shiny (literally) new Galaxy Buds Live for a test.
The first thing you’ll notice is how compact the new Buds are. They sit inside of a small battery charging case that matches the color of the buds you choose. They are available in Mystic Black, Mystic White or Mystic Bronze.
If I’m being totally honest, which I am, my first thought when seeing the new Buds was “these look really uncomfortable.” They’re basically plastic beans and I wondered how they’d feel in my ears. There is only a small rubber ring on the back and the rest is all plastic. To my surprise, they’re super comfortable. They’re so light but still snug enough that they don’t feel like they’re going to fall out. I was surprised how much I forgot they were there and even after wearing them for 30 minutes they still felt good.
The tiny little charging case is pretty slick. Not only does it charge the Buds when you put them inside but it also has wireless charging built-in. This means you can charge the case by setting it on a wireless charging pad. You can also charge the Buds case by using the Powershare feature on newer Samsung devices and placing the Buds case on the back of your phone. Cool, huh? I also really like the slick notification that popped up on my Samsung Galaxy S20 when I opened the Buds case, showing the battery level of the Buds but also the battery level of the case.
The Buds Live also work with iOS devices although Samsung admits that some features might only be available on Android. I did not have an opportunity to test the Buds Live on iOS.
Let’s talk sound. The Buds Live promise impressive sound with technology from AKG, a company that Samsung purchased a few years ago. In my limited testing I thought the sound was impressive. As tiny as these headphones are I actually noticed a decent amount of bass. There’s no way you’ll get the same bass from these as you might get from a full set of Beats over the ear headphones but for ear buds, I was happy. The Active Noise Cancellation seemed to help clear out the background noise. I did attempt to cut the lawn while listening to the Buds Live and I could easily still hear the drone of the lawnmower. So, it might help with airplane noise but won’t block everything out.
There are multiple microphones built into the Buds Live that are used for that noise cancellation but also for making phone calls. I tested it out on various phone calls and Zoom meetings and it worked great. I had no complaints and everyone said I sounded like I was on a normal phone call.
The charging case is nice for juicing up the Buds Live but even without it Samsung claims you can get 8 hours of listening on a single charge. Better yet, 5 mins in the case and Samsung says you’ll get 1 hour of play time. When bringing the case with you Samsung says you can get a total of 29 hours of play time before you’ll need to charge the case and the Buds back up. This is assuming you have noise cancellation and “voice wake-up” turned off. Those features reduce the battery life.
There are a few features that I didn’t find useful. First and foremost, the Buds have touch sensitivity on the outside of them. People love this, I get it. For me, it drives me crazy. Every single time I put the Buds in or out of my ears I found myself accidentally playing or pausing my music. Finally, I just went into the settings and turned the touch buttons off. You can also re-assign those touch buttons to do something else. Also, the voice wake-up feature can summon Bixby. What’s Bixby? That’s Samsung’s voice activated assistant. It’s Samsung’s answer to Siri and Google Assistant. For me, I use Google and have no plans to switch to Bixby. I wish Samsung would let you change this to use Google but so far, that’s not the case.
Bottom line, I really enjoyed using the Buds Live. They are easily the best wireless ear buds you’ll find under $200 and possibly among the best you’ll find at all. They sound great, look good and the battery life will keep you going all day long. There are a few features that I won’t use by that wouldn’t stop me from using or recommending these ear buds. The shiny bronze color that I tested seems a little over the top so I’d recommend the black or white unless you want to be noticed. $170 for the Galaxy Buds Live.