Since it was released, the AirPods Pro have remained some of the best wireless earbuds on the market. The combination of improved audio and ergonomics, along with impressive active noise cancellation and unbeatable iOS integration, earned Apple’s charms a perfect score from Tom’s Guide.
It was only a matter of time before Samsung stepped up to take on its mobile rival, and the company did just that with the Galaxy Buds Live. These gems pack a long battery life, wide sound, and several cool features in what can best be described as a polarizing design. Greeted with mostly positive reviews and curious glances (the jelly-shaped shape is certainly eye-catching), Samsung’s flagship gems offer a lot for a relatively affordable price.
If you want practically perfect ANC earphones that work seamlessly with your iPhone, iPad, or MacBook Pro, the AirPods Pro is ideal, while Android fans can enjoy Galaxy Buds Live̵
AirPods Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Live: specifications compared
|AirPods Pro||Samsung Galaxy Buds Live|
|Price||$ 249.00||$ 169.00|
|Colors||white||Black, bronze, white|
|Battery life (nominal)||4.5 hours, 24 hours (with charging case)||6 hours (ANC on), 6.5 hours (ANC off), 8 hours (ANC and Bixby off), 21 hours (with charging case) and 29 hours (with charging case and all functions off)|
|Dimensions and weight||1.22 x 0.86 x 0.94 inches, 0.19 oz||0.58 x 0.96 x 0.52 inches, 0.19 oz|
|Durability||IPX4 (water and sweat resistance)||IPX2 (water and sweat resistance)|
|Special features||Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency Mode, Adaptive EQ, Customizable Fit, Audio Sharing, Announcements with Siri, “Hey Siri” Voice Assist, Wireless Charging, Spatial Audio, Auto Switch||Active noise cancellation, EQ, Bixby voice activation, Spotify integration, Samsung scalable codec, music sharing, game mode, wireless charging|
AirPods Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Live: price and value
It’s no secret that AirPods Pro isn’t cheap, selling for $ 249 and only available in one color: white. Meanwhile, Samsung has launched the Galaxy Buds Live at a more competitive price of $ 169 and in multiple colors, including Mystic Bronze, Mystic White, and Mystic Black.
Each model offers many features to secure your greenbacks. However, the Galaxy Buds Live offers more value for money, backed by a powerful spec sheet and stellar sound that enhances the listening experience in multiple ways, from gaming to wireless music streaming.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
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AirPods Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Live: design
When it comes to design, AirPods Pro and Galaxy Buds Live are … unique. They have particular shapes (compared to the traditional earphone mold), are decently built and have an acquired taste when it comes to style.
Apple has made some noticeable changes (including black microphone vents and shorter stems) to differentiate the AirPods Pro from its predecessors. This version comes with IPX4 certification for sweat and water resistance, so you can use them to train. It’s also great to see Apple taking a greener manufacturing approach by using eco-friendly materials to create the buds. I’m still not convinced by the unflattering stem design, but many Apple fans seem to find it innovative.
Samsung gets a lot of credit for thinking outside the box and giving the Galaxy Buds Live a jewel-like aesthetic, even if the full design looks silly. The exterior has a nice sheen factor that makes the buds shine when exposed to sunlight. The details are minimal with a motion sensor, chrome metal connectors, and two vents for the tiny microphones (one on each side). The buds have an IPX2 rating, which is a weaker form of water and sweat resistance.
The charging cases for these two models are similar in that they are both constructed from a block of plastic that is easily scratched and scratched. While Apple’s case has a slim, rectangular shape, Samsung’s case stays in theme, similar to a small square jewelry box. The only great thing is that both are lightweight and offer excellent portability; the AirPods Pro case is 1.61 ounces and the Galaxy Buds Live is 1.48 ounces. Removing and storing both sets of gems from the case is also straightforward, although the Galaxy Buds Live case does a better job with the presentation, as Samsung’s gems are well displayed on the docking system.
Aesthetics and style are integral to the design, but the real deciding factor in this category lies in the fit. And as much as you hate the silhouette of the AirPods Pro, these porcelain buds offer far better comfort than their curved counterpart. Apples Ear Tip Fit Test and the inclusion of earphones are a winning combination, offering users a comfortable and secure fit while on the move. You can also show off your buds for more than two hours and not worry about fatigue.
It’s common to wonder how well the Galaxy Buds Live fit since they don’t have earphones or a traditional audio port. Well, the buds are light and comfortable at just 0.2 ounces and can be worn for about 2 hours before experiencing some discomfort. Those with smaller ears can hear the buds pierce the tragus area like my wife did. There are ovular caps that go over the speaker to provide a more secure fit, but they weren’t as reliable as Apple’s earbuds, as I felt some looseness when walking.
Winner: AirPods Pro
AirPods Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Live: Checks
Programming the touch controls on a pair of wireless earbuds is difficult, which is why Apple took the opposite route and introduced a new pinch gesture system located at the bottom of each stem. Record multiple presses to start playing and handling calls. To the surprise of many, it works very well and is very accurate; the clicking sound that is heard when force sensors are pressed offers the guarantee of confirming the desired commands. Ear sensing works well too, which means you can automatically pause music when you remove the earbuds or resume playback when you put them back in. If only AirPods Pro allowed more customization of controls.
Samsung does a noteworthy job of programming numerous touch controls into its tiny earphones. You can set each gem to accept multiple touch gestures (one to three), along with long press gestures to enable ANC, voice command, or volume. Personally, I found that performing slide gestures worked more effectively, although that doesn’t detract from the precision of the gems’ touch. It’s also great that Samsung has included Spotify integration, allowing you to pull up a playlist right on the gems. Ear detection is also available, although it suffers from latency and only pauses the music when the buds are removed; you will need to tap the sensor to resume playback.
Both models have digital assistant support, but AirPods Pro is more reliable for hands-free help. If you haven’t used “Hey Siri” yet, do so because the feature is amazing and highly responsive to commands. Speech recognition is also great, as Apple’s in-ear monitors detect every syllable and vowel you speak. The only problem I have is that Apple doesn’t make it easy to use AirPods Pro on Android devices, and you have to use third-party apps like Assistant Trigger to access Google Assistant.
Samsung continues to push its Bixby voice assistant, which is programmed on the Galaxy Buds Live and acts as Samsung’s answer to “Hey Siri”. That’s fine and responds quickly to sentences, but the AI bot feels like a work in progress. There have been times when I’ve had to repeat the phrase “Hi Bixby” to turn it on. Also, Google Assistant and Siri were a bit buggy. While working, the microphones offered decent voice recognition for executing commands, although the Google bot sometimes misinterpreted certain words. Also, I noticed that Siri would occasionally pause before asking a question.
Winner: AirPods Pro
AirPods Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Live: audio quality
The AirPods Pro and Galaxy Buds Live sound great compared to most budget wireless earbuds and hold up well against popular models like the Jabra Elite Active 75t, especially the Galaxy Buds Live.
Samsung has stuffed the 12mm drivers into its brilliant IEMs, adding Harman Kardon’s signature curved sound into the mix for lively forward bass performance. Records like Jay-Z’s “The Takeover” thumped hard with thrilling reverbs that intensified my listening. Most striking was the well-balanced low end, as the monstrous bass line dominated the soundscape without distorting the vicious diss rhymes of the rapper or iconic Jim Morrison champion. That same energy was missing from the AirPods Pro, as the bassline was reduced by one level; you have to listen at full volume to get some oomph from the drums. On the plus side, I liked the clarity the Apple Buds produced compared to the impressive production.
Galaxy Buds Live also performed better with orchestral songs. Jazz classics like Ahmad Jamal’s “Dolphin Dance” sounded serene, demonstrating phenomenal dynamic range for hearing the loudest and quietest passages of the recording. While the AirPods Pro doesn’t match the sonic depth of the Galaxy Buds Live, it is still capable of reproducing exceptionally well. On the same record, I loved the sharpness of the opening piano keys and the constant presence of the hi-hat that Apple’s buds maintained throughout the track, even though some of the bass elements sounded muddy.
Excellent insulation is not something that can be expected from either model. It is practically non-existent on the Galaxy Buds Live and even Samsung’s buds lose sound at a high level. The AirPods Pro ensure a better fit and tighter seal when adjusted correctly, but environmental issues still find their way onto the stage. I could hear my wife’s phone calls while listening to music in the office, no matter what device I was using.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
AirPods Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Live: Active Noise Cancellation
This is what you really came for. So which pair of earbuds are considered the best noise canceling solution? The AirPods Pro. Hands down.
Apple’s algorithms and dual-microphone noise canceling system do an amazing job of minimizing external sounds. It’s not as loud as the Sony WF-1000xM3’s ANC, but it can silence around 80% of unwanted noise. You’ll be able to drown out overly loud coworkers, door buzzers, and slamming taxis. High-frequency noises like ambulance sirens or crying babies require something more powerful.
I he could cut Samsung some flexibility since this is the company’s first attempt at truly wireless space noise cancellation, but it’s not happening. The Galaxy Buds Live were designed to block out small background noises, and sadly, technology is struggling with that. It’s good enough to silence white noises (eg hissing AC, humming fan), but it seems completely absent when it comes to louder ambient sounds. If you are watching TV, the volume must be set to a low level for ANC to be considered effective. And if you’re outside, it’s impossible to ignore common distractions like a couple arguing on the opposite park bench or a dump truck.
Apple and Samsung have their own ambient listening modes, which work well for those who want to be more aware of their surroundings without interrupting the music. I found the AirPod Pro’s Transparency mode slightly better as it allowed clearer communication when chatting with others and made noises more audible when exercising outdoors; is a must for runners. Ambient listening is decent on the Galaxy Buds Live. However, the feature is more pronounced on the Galaxy Buds Plus.
Winner: AirPods Pro
AirPods Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Live: apps and special features
Since the launch of iOS 14, AirPods Pro has been blessed with more extras to expand functionality. Spatial audio, the latest introduced mode that creates three-dimensional sound for listeners, does a great job of providing a theater-like listening experience. Auto-switching is the other new feature and makes swapping audio sources a breeze as long as these iDevices are associated with the same iCloud account.
Having the H1 chip at the forefront of operation is undoubtedly the main feature of the AirPods Pro because it optimizes use in such creative ways. If you can’t access the hands-free “Hey Siri” feature, it means seamless connectivity with all Apple products or the ability to share audio from an iOS device to two pairs of AirPods or Beats headphones. While Apple doesn’t offer an adjustable equalizer like most other competitors, you can still tweak the sound on AirPods Pro by going through your iPhone’s settings (Settings -> Music -> EQ) and selecting from over 20 presets or doing the same. via Spotify. There are also a ton of hidden AirPods Pro tricks that are worth checking out.
The Galaxy Buds series has always been packed with features, thanks to the Samsung Galaxy Wear app. It gives you six EQ settings (Normal, Bass Boost, Soft, Dynamic, Clear, and Treble Boost) to fine-tune the sound, along with Spotify integration (Android only), as mentioned earlier. Each setting works well with the right content (eg Bass Boost for hip hop or Clear for podcasts), although you’ll probably want to stick with the default setting to enjoy the best overall sound.
The return is the Labs section, which gives access to experimental features that users can play with. It seems like every Galaxy Buds model has its own set of features, but Galaxy Buds Live has the most promising lot. There is a setting to relieve compression with ambient sound, as well as a game mode that reduces latency when playing video games on your mobile device.
Other noteworthy features include Music Share for listening to music on two Galaxy Buds Live devices from a compatible smartphone, Swift Pair for quickly connecting earbuds to Android devices and Windows 10 PCs, and two different options for locating lost earbuds: Find the my earphones and SmartThings Find support. I can’t even forget PowerShare to recharge the buds by placing the case on the back of a compatible Samsung device.
In the end, both models are equally loaded with features in their own way.
AirPods Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Live: call quality
If there’s one thing Apple has done well, it’s call quality. AirPods Pro remains one of the best calling headphones around, using its noise-canceling microphones to minimize background noise for clear sounding calls. Having used these buds for nearly a year, I have always appreciated the clarity and wind resistance they provided when answering calls outdoors. Don’t be foolish to think that you will get complete silence when you pass a construction site; high frequency sounds are audible.
Samsung’s three-microphone array was designed for clear calling, but that’s not the case with the Galaxy Buds Live. Some people have said that my voice sounded low during video chats, while my wife heard a lot of background noises when I answered her phone calls in the backyard. The only good thing was that I could hear everyone from the opposite end loudly and clearly.
Winner: AirPods Pro
AirPods Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Live: Battery Life and Charging Case
Any pair of wireless earbuds that can guarantee you at least 6 hours of ANC use is great in my book. Well, only one of these two models does: the Galaxy Buds Live. Samsung rates battery life at different levels (revisit the spec list above), the shortest playtime listed at 6 hours with ANC on, and the longest at 8 hours with ANC and Bixby off. No matter which option you settle for, you are getting a sufficient amount of playing time. Worst-case, the buds gave me around 5.5 hours with noise cancellation, Spotify heavy streaming, and loud volume taking the equation into consideration.
It may sound short compared to many other competitors, but it’s still more than what AirPods Pro offers you. You’re stuck with 4.5 hours, which is disappointingly shorter than the AirPods 2 (5 hours). The playing time was accurate based on my tests. Despite Apple tweaking its algorithms to optimize battery usage, the truth is you’ll still have to rely on the charging case for extra charge.
Fast charging is even more powerful on the Galaxy Buds Live, generating 35 minutes on a 3-minute charge and 1.5 hours on a 10-minute charge. AirPods Pro doesn’t promote this feature, although you can get around 1 hour on a 5-minute charge. Why Apple hasn’t adopted Beats’ Fast Fuel technology, which is used on the Powerbeats Pro to get 4.5 hours of use on a 15-minute charge, is still staggering.
Samsung’s charging case can hold up to 29 hours, but it’s with all features turned off. When everything is on, you are looking at 21 hours, which is not up to par with Apple’s charging case (24 hours). The number of additional charges (maximum 6) you will receive will depend on how you use Galaxy Buds Live. Both cases support wireless charging if you want to turn on the wireless earbuds via the Qi-enabled wireless charger.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
AirPods Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Live: verdict
In first place in most categories, AirPods Pro is the clear winner. It has better ANC, controls and call quality, along with improved features and audio, making this version of AirPods the best of the series. Then there’s the seamless iOS integration that keeps AirPods Pro running smoothly no matter the Apple device. Simply put, Apple’s noise cancellers ensure A-grade performance, even if that means having to spend more for it.
|AirPods Pro||Samsung Galaxy Buds Live|
|Price and value (5)||3||4|
|Audio quality (20)||16||18|
|Active Noise Cancellation (20)||18||15|
|Special functions and apps (15)||13||13|
|Call quality (5)||5||3|
|Battery life and charging case (10)||6||8|
|Overall score (100)||81||79|
However, Samsung’s debut in truly wireless noise cancellation is far from a failure. The Galaxy Buds Live has a lot going for it with great customization, long battery life and excellent sound. Some may also find its strange design interesting. And there are many features that add to its value. At the same time, it fails to provide a meaningful ANC for the listener. I would recommend waiting until the model is discounted, so you can get great sounding gems for less.