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Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are everything but the basics

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But finally something small enough for my ears

As someone who is either wearing or carrying headphones around almost all day, I was excited to try Samsung’s Galaxy Buds. The $129.99 wireless earbuds were my shiny gleam of hope for headphones that would let me cut cords and forget about some of the tech I’m carrying around. I’ve tried AirPods, but I didn’t like all the ambient noise; and although the Jabra Elite 65t have good audio quality, they don’t stay in my ears.

But once I started living the cord-cutting future with the Buds, I realized the importance of the fundamentals. For me, a pair of headphones has three seemingly simple jobs: play music, take calls, and be comfortable. Anything else is luxury. And although I want that luxury in my life, I won’t sacrifice the necessities to have them. Unfortunately, the Galaxy Buds make those sacrifices.

Coming from the Jabra Elite 65t, the Galaxy Buds feel like feathers. They’re easy to sit in your ears, and they seem to get Samsung’s claimed six hours of battery life on a charge (with seven more in the case). I also loved the wireless charging and small form factor that allowed the case to easily fit in my pocket.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

But the problems set in when you begin to use them as, well, headphones. The Buds’ audio lacks character and fullness. There’s no mistaking that the sound is coming from a very small source and being shoved directly into your ears. The built-in microphones are terrible, too. When speaking to someone on the phone while using the Buds, I was told my voice sounded distant and robotic, leading me to just using my phone instead. (Head to 5:21 in the video to hear what I’m referring to.)

Now the funny part about this whole thing is that Samsung is known for nailing the fundamentals. Its devices last a really long time, its screens are beautiful to look at, and its phones have even kept the headphone jack. But with the Galaxy Buds, it’s like Samsung lost sight of the necessities and opted to pack these little headphones with just the luxuries instead. Wireless charging and a small case with beautiful design are things I want, but what I need is great audio and microphone quality.

Maybe next year, Samsung.

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