Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds 3 and Buds 3 Pro are like AirPods with AI smarts

Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 Pro and Galaxy Buds 3, in their cases with lids open.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Thanks to what were clearly very accurate leaks, we already knew that Samsung was planning to release a new generation of Galaxy Buds wireless earbuds with a strong resemblance to Apple’s iconic AirPods Gen 3 and AirPods Pro. What we didn’t know at the time was just how closely Samsung had stuck to Apple’s formula.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Apple should be feeling very flattered indeed. The new Galaxy Buds are as close as it gets to Apple’s designs, right down to the price: $180 for the Galaxy Buds 3 and $250 for the Galaxy Buds 3 Pro (one dollar more expensive than Apple’s pricing). The two models are available for preorder today and will be in stores starting July 24.

The Galaxy Buds 3 and Buds 3 Pro got their official unveiling today at the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event in Paris. Along with the new earbuds, Samsung showed off its new Galaxy Z Fold 6 and Galaxy Z Flip 6 smartphones. We got a look at the new earbuds at a private event in Toronto.

The biggest change to Samsung’s Galaxy Buds in their third generation is the shape, as they abandon the previous stemless design for one that hews closely to Apple’s AirPods. Samsung says new shape is the result of “a variety of collected statistical data.”

The Buds 3 are the equivalent of the AirPods Gen 3, with a semi-open design that doesn’t seal the ear canal, while the Buds 3 Pro are closer to the AirPods Pro with USB-C, as they sport silicone eartips that sit up against your ear canal’s opening. The portions of these earbuds that sit in the ear bear a striking resemblance to their respective AirPods model, but Samsung has at least found a way to differentiate the stems: they’re trapezoidal, and not round.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 Pro, in case with lid open and blade LEDs lit.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The Galaxy Buds 3 Pro further differentiate themselves with a “blade” LED strip that runs the length of the stem. Why? Supposedly, the LEDs will help you locate the buds when you use the Samsung Find feature on a Galaxy phone.

Samsung’s controls will be instantly familiar to AirPods Pro users. Pinching gestures on the stems cover all of the major functions, while volume is controlled by a vertical swiping gesture.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 Pro, in case with lid closed.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The charging cases also are ripped straight from Apple’s catalog, with rounded corners on a familiar rectangular shape, a flip-top lid, a USB-C port on the bottom, and wireless charging built in. About the only unique elements are the transparent plastic used for the lid, and the colors: both models will come in silver (seen in these photos), and white.

So those are all of the ways that the Galaxy Buds 3 and 3 Pro are like Apple’s earbuds. However, under those AirPods-like outer shells, Samsung has found a number of ways to potentially improve on Apple’s formula.

It starts with water and dust resistance: With an IP57 rating that makes them effectively waterproof anddust proof, these new earbuds aren’t just an improvement over Apple (IPX4), they’re an improvement over every previous model of Galaxy Buds.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 Pro, in front of case.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The Galaxy Buds 3 Pro use two drivers (a 10.5mm dynamic driver combined with a 6.1mm planar driver) powered by two discrete amplifiers. PSB Speakers took a similar approach with its M4U TWM wireless earbuds, and the results were impressive. Samsung says the driver combo has a frequency response of up to 40kHz, which officially puts the earbuds in hi-res audio territory.

Both the Buds 3 and Buds 3 Pro are compatible with digital audio up to 24-bit/96kHz, but unfortunately, the only way this works is via the Samsung Seamless Codec (previously named Samsung Scalable Codec) — an exclusive feature of Samsung’s smartphones. Also, both models can transmit your voice at a very high-quality 16kHz, but again, only with a compatible Samsung phone.

Simon Cohen wearing Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 Pro.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The Buds 3 Pro is further enhanced with active noise cancellation (ANC) and transparency modes. The Buds 3 also get ANC — an unusual feature for semi-open earbuds (the AirPods Gen 3 don’t cancel noise) — but they lack the transparency option. Presumably the semi-open shape lets in plenty of external sound when ANC is off.

Samsung is also promoting the use of AI on its latest Galaxy devices, including the new Galaxy Buds. On the earbuds, this means new features like Interpreter, which can deliver translated versions of your voice to a Galaxy phone’s speaker and translated versions of your companion’s voice to the Galaxy 3 series earbuds.

I got a very short one-minute demo of Interpreter at my briefing. While the translations themselves appeared accurate and quick enough (we were doing English/Spanish), at times the system would repeatedly translate the same phrase. Samsung claims it will be especially useful for students who need real-time translation of a lecture.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 Pro, in front of case.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The earbuds also get Bixby-powered hands-free voice commands — a series of two-word commands that can be used to control music playback. Both ANC and EQ functions are adaptive to your environment.

The Galaxy Buds 3 Pro also get a handy voice-sensing function that will automatically switch to transparency mode and drop the volume of your music when you begin speaking. That same monitoring feature will look for specific sounds in your environment and react accordingly: construction sounds will trigger an increase in ANC, while siren sounds will do the opposite.

Battery life looks similar to prior Galaxy Buds and to the AirPods: Samsung says the Galaxy Bud 3 get 5 hour per charge and 24 hours total when you include their charging case, and that’s with ANC on. When it’s off, the numbers go up to 6 and 30 hour respectively. For the Buds 3 Pro, it’s 6/30 ANC on and 7/30, ANC off.

Finally, Samsung says the Galaxy Buds 3 and 3 Pro will be Auracast compatible and will get 360 Audio with head tracking and object-rendering support — a move that is an expansion of the company’s existing support for these technologies in its TVs.

Simon Cohen
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
Sennheiser’s new sports earbuds send heart rate, temperature to popular fitness apps
Sennheiser Momentum Sport.

Sennheiser's latest wireless earbuds aren't just built to withstand the physical rigors of a tough workout -- they're also designed to help you track and optimize it. The Momentum Sport are the company's first wireless earbuds to integrate heart rate and body temperature sensors, and they're compatible with some of the most popular fitness apps, including Apple Health, Garmin Connect, Strava, Peleton, and Polar.

Sennheiser debuted the Momentum Sport at CES 2024 and says they'll be available April 9 for $330 in three different colors: Polar Black, Burned Olive, and Metallic Graphite.

Read more
JBL’s $200 Live 3 earbuds get the Tour Pro 2’s touchscreen charging case
JBL Live Flex 3 in silver.

JBL's smart, touchscreen-equipped charging case is coming to the company's latest generation of Live wireless earbuds. JBL says that the $250 Tour Pro 2 -- the wireless earbuds that debuted the smart charging case in 2023 -- rapidly sold out after they went on sale, proof, perhaps, that there's an untapped need that the touchscreen case meets.

The Live 3 were announced at CES 2024 alongside JBL's new Bluetooth speakers, wireless headphones, and party speakers and will sell for $200 when they're released in summer 2024. Like previous JBL Live wireless earbuds, the Live 3 come in three versions, but JBL has changed the naming convention to match its Tune family of wireless earbuds. The new models are the Live Flex 3, the Live Beam 3, and the Live Buds 3. Each comes in a choice of two colors: black and silver.

Read more
Apple lets AirPods Pro owners upgrade to USB-C
Apple AirPods Pro Second Gen charging case with USB-C.

Apple now sells the USB-C version of its AirPods Pro Gen 2 charging case on its own, which is good news for anyone who wants to switch to USB-C charging for their existing second-gen AirPods Pro. However, the switch from lightning to USB-C will come with a hefty premium: Apple is asking $99 for the , as noted by the Verge, or half the price that's currently advertised on Amazon for a new, complete set of AirPods Pro second-gen with USB-C.

Apple AirPods Pro second-gen charging case with USB-C (left) and the second-gen charging case with Lightning. Caleb Denison / Digital Trends

Read more