Apple’s AirPods 2 are the most popular true wireless headphones on the market, but are they really the best? That depends on what you’re looking for in a pair of wireless earbuds.
With hard plastic eartips and long white stems, Apple’s latest AirPods boast the same looks the company’s earbuds have sported since they launched. (In fact, besides now offering wireless charging, little has changed between AirPods and AirPods 2.)
While their eye-catching looks have caught on for some, many (we included) still think they look odd protruding from people’s ears, and the lack of silicone eartips or any kind of earfin means that they don’t stay super snug in your ears.
Samsung, on the other hand, offers a smaller, more ergonomic in-ear design with its Galaxy Buds. The headphones fit snugly inside your ears and even come with silicone earfins to make sure they don’t come out during strenuous exercise.
It’s also worth noting that the Galaxy Buds come with silicone eartips, which means you’ll get better passive noise isolation and comfort.
In this category, there is no competition, the Galaxy Buds are way better-looking and more comfortable.
Winner: Galaxy Buds
Perhaps the thing we love most about the Apple AirPods is their charging case. A small, rounded case with a flip-top lid, the case boasts 19 hours of reserve battery, and can even be upgraded to include wireless charging. We love the way this case feels in our pocket, and the addition of wireless charging on the latest model (for $40 extra) is a welcome one.
The Galaxy Buds case doesn’t boast the same 19 hours of charging time that is offered by the AirPods, but the small pillbox-style case does come with wireless charging at no extra cost. With just seven hours of battery life in the case, you might want to make sure you have a charging mat (or new Galaxy phone) readily available.
Apple’s AirPods will let you listen to your favorite music for five hours between stints in their charging case, which is still fairly good in the world of true wireless headphones. In addition to quick pairing and very low video latency, they are also some of the loudest true wireless headphones out there. Thick bass and bright highs are joined together by a relatively flat midrange, with a sound signature that lacks the transparency you might expect from over-ear headphones in this price range, but that is easily satisfactory from compact headphones.
But even though the AirPods aren’t a slouch, the Galaxy Buds slightly outperform the AirPods in virtually every way when it comes to the listening experience. First, they offer an hour more listening time, for a total of six hours between charges, and second, they have those comfortable silicone eartips to seal out the outside world. That means everything comes through cleaner and tighter when listening, and that you’re less likely to be annoyed by the sounds around you.
Another thing we consider when it comes to listening experience is just how life-proof the headphones are. In this case, we have a clear winner. The Galaxy Buds boast an IPX2 rating, which means they are water-resistant (though not fit for the pool). The AirPods, on the other hand, boast no such waterproofing.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the Samsung Wear app lets you pick between five different equalization settings, so you can tailor the sound of the headphones for your ears and musical tastes — Apple’s AirPods offer no EQ adjustments.
Winner: Galaxy Buds
While there is a lot to like about both pairs of true wireless headphones, there is no question in our minds that the Samsung Galaxy Buds, which retail for just $125 compared to $159 for Apple’s AirPods (or $200 with the added wireless charging case), are the better value.
With an awesome listening experience and an actual IP rating, the Galaxy Buds beat out Apple’s true wireless headphones in many meaningful ways besides price — making them our winner in this head-to-head contest.
Winner: Galaxy Buds
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