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Forget AirPods — here’s why I use Samsung earbuds with my iPhone

AirPods Pro 2 are the go-to flagship earbuds for an iPhone user; you get all the ecosystem benefits alongside brilliant sound quality and active noise cancellation (ANC). But what if you use your iPhone with a Windows laptop, or what if you have an Android phone as a secondary device? That’s where you’ll require a second pair of earbuds — unless you can find something that works well with the iPhone as well as Windows and Android. Surprisingly, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are one such product.

I’ve been using the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with my iPhone 13 Pro Max and Galaxy Z Fold 4. While there are obvious reasons for someone in the Galaxy ecosystem to purchase the flagship Samsung earbuds, they work shockingly well with an iPhone — even if there are a couple of caveats.

Open, pair, and play

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.
Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

Samsung removed the Galaxy Wearables app from the Apple App Store, and as a result, Samsung smartwatches after the Galaxy Watch 3 don’t have support for iPhones. You might think the same can be said about the Samsung earbuds, but the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are different.

Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 5, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro don’t require an app to pair and work. You can simply open the case and pair it to your iPhone. You can then play your favorite music or podcasts via any app you want on the iPhone. But you don’t get support to fine-tune the controls, and you miss out on some niche features (more on that below).

What works on Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with iPhone

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with iPhone 13 Pro Max on a table

When you pair and connect the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with your iPhone, no other setting is required to make full use of the earbuds. While the earbuds support 24-bit audio, it is limited to Galaxy smartphones. That said, the normal 16-bit audio isn’t bad at all. In fact, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are a terrific pair of earbuds.

The Buds 2 Pro feature dual drivers tuned by AKG, which make them very well-rounded The highs are clear with a good amount of bass thrown in. You get great instrument separation with excellent vocals.

Active noise cancellation is one of the best in a non-stem-design pair of earbuds under $200. In my experience, the Buds 2 Pro’s ANC is closer to the Pixel Buds Pro. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro were my partner on my commutes and travel — spanning cabs, busses, and airplanes. The Buds 2 Pro really shine when quieting the buzzing of an airplane. However, that’s not to say that it feels like I’m in a vacuum. Instead, the silicon tips create a good seal (in my ear, at least), and the software does the rest.

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with iPhone 13 Pro Max

What made my experience more enjoyable was the ability to have a conversation with the earbuds still in their place and without me touching them. How? There is a “voice detect feature” that recognizes when you are talking to someone and turns on the transparency mode, so you can hear the other person clearly. And it’s not like it’s there for the sake of it. The voice detection worked nine out of 10 times within seconds for me, and when it works, it’s very effective.

Samsung promises up to five hours of continuous playback with ANC turned on, and 18 hours of battery life with the case. In my four-hour flight, I had no battery anxiety and was able to watch Modern Love season 1 (oh, that first episode is so wholesome). You can get better battery life on other earbuds, but the sound, ANC performance, and voice detection feature combined to give me a brilliant experience with these. And remember — this is all possible using the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with an iPhone; no Samsung phone required.

Where the iPhone experience stumbles

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro on the iPhone 13 Pro Max

The Galaxy Wearable app acts as a catalyst to provide more features, but the Buds 2 Pro and its unavailability on the App Store means you lose out on some features when paired with an iPhone.

First, you can’t reassign touch controls on the earbuds. This is the most basic feature that I expect to have from each manufacturer, regardless of the device I use the earbuds with. But surprisingly, I haven’t encountered any problems with not being able to edit controls. On the right earbud, you get to play/pause music with a single tap, double tap to go to the next song, and triple tap for the previous song. You can touch the left earbuds to switch between ANC and transparency mode.

Second, you can’t edit the voice detect feature duration. By default, it is set to 10 seconds, which, again, turned out to be enough for me. Third, you don’t get equalizer controls, which according to our Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review, “made the sound quality worse.”

Fourth, you miss out on the Samsung extras, like, the “Find my earbuds” feature that plays a little tone through the buds to help you find one or both earbuds if they go missing. It is the only feature in this section that I’d like to have on my iPhone for the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. I haven’t felt the need for it, but it would be nice to have it if I ever lose my earbuds.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro 2.
Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

More Samsung-exclusive features include 24-bit audio, which only works with select streaming services. There’s also the Samsung Seamless Codec that can’t be licensed by anyone.

All in all, I don’t think you are missing out on much without the Galaxy Wearable app. Obviously, it would be good to fine-tune your earbuds to the controls you like. That is the one big caveat; everything else is just a minor annoyance. What you already have on the earbuds works just fine, and you won’t feel any friction.

Not an AirPods replacement, but close

Apple AirPods Pro 2 inside their charging case.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

So, does all of that mean you should buy the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro over a pair of AirPods? No. While the sound, ANC, and voice detection are top-notch on the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, if you are in the Apple ecosystem, you should still opt for the AirPods Pro 2 for seamless connectivity between all the Apple devices.

However, if you have an iPhone but a Windows laptop, or you use both the iPhone and an Android phone — especially a Samsung smartphone — the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro make for a better buy at $20 less than the $200 AirPods 2 Pro currently on Amazon.

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are an excellent pair of earbuds. I’ve really enjoyed my time using them with my iPhone 13 Pro Max. And if you are like me and use a wide range of devices, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are for you.

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Prakhar Khanna
Prakhar writes news, reviews and features for Digital Trends. He is an independent tech journalist who has been a part of the…
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