Formerly a pioneer in the category , in 2020 Samsung launched its fourth generation of true wireless headphones . Promising in particular record autonomy, the Galaxy Buds +, however, have a lot to do to stand out from competition that has become abundant.
The Galaxy Buds + are the fourth generation of true wireless headphones from Samsung and succeed the Galaxy Buds released just a year ago.
Although physically very similar to the latter, they are differentiated by the promise of record autonomy, which would reach 11 hours on a single charge, new options for simplified pairing with Samsung devices.
Despite this last point, the little ones paradoxically put aside the proselytism of their elders: for the first time, their companion mobile app is available not only on Android, but also on iOS.
We would be very annoyed if we were asked to distinguish at first glance the Galaxy Buds + from the Galaxy Buds at all.
The old and the new model share their design and their very efficient manufacturing, even if one can be saddened by the use of shiny plastics a little too dirty, and by the lack of protection against water.
In any case, they have the advantage of a very compact design, both in terms of the earbuds themselves and their storage and charging case.
An obvious corollary to this, the comfort of the headphones is also unchanged. For most users, the Buds + are not only very pleasant to wear even for long hours, but they also benefit from excellent support thanks to their expertly profiled silicone fins.
As always however with in-ear, the feeling depends on the morphology of each. Samsung has certainly done its utmost to optimize the universality of its headphones (3 sizes of ear tips and 3 sizes of fins are provided), but people with small ears may experience slight discomfort under the conch shell after one or two hours of use. ‘use.
For in-ear headphones, the Galaxy Buds + offer fairly low noise isolation – which can be seen as an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on the use you want to make of it. Conversely, in the cases of use where one wishes to remain fully connected to one’s environment, the headphones offer a “transparency” mode, amplifying outside noise in a very natural and convincing way.
The headphones have presence sensors that allow them to automatically go to sleep when not in use. Unlike most true wireless headphones , they don’t automatically pause music when you take off one headset, but only when you take off both.
Behavior which certainly has nothing less relevant in absolute terms; but the best would have been that it could be configured by the user, which is unfortunately not the case.
The wireless connectivity is excellent: in more than a week of daily use, both indoors and on the go, we have never suffered a single instability, micro-cutoff, or a single concern for synchronization between the headphones or another problem.
On the other hand, one can be saddened by the latency of 310 ms (which is fortunately compensated automatically by most video playback applications) and by the absence of multipoint connection to several sources simultaneously.
This last point can also make it quite painful to use headphones with several “non-Samsung” devices – see on this subject the box at the end of the test.
The controls are positioned on two tactile surfaces, one on the back of each headset. The playback control is done via short presses (simple for play / pause / answer calls, double or triple for navigation between tracks).
These commands are disabled when the earpieces are not worn, but this is unfortunately not enough to completely avoid involuntary actuations.
As soon as you simply want to reposition one of the best earphones in your ear, it is almost systematic that you inadvertently interrupt your music, that you skip the song in progress … or that you hang up on your nose. his contact during a phone call.
Long press is used for secondary, configurable functions. By default, it is assigned to the activation of the “transparency” mode, but the mobile application allows it to be called the voice assistant of the phone or the volume adjustment.
This last option is welcome, especially since it is still rare on true wireless headphones . But one cannot say that its use is fully satisfactory, the fault of the slowness of the adjustment; it takes long, far too long seconds to increase the volume from its maximum level to 50%, for example.
But the manufacturer also offers another possibility for adjusting the volume: tapping twice not directly on the touchscreen, but on its strapping. At the time of this test, with the firmware R175XXU0ATA5, the functionality is disabled by default, and presented as in the beta test phase. In fact, the detection is not of an irreproachable reliability, and it is sometimes necessary to try it twice or three times so that the command is detected.
The solution is therefore still not ideal, but it is always better to have that than nothing at all, especially since the long press then becomes available again for another function.
This is one of the most remarkable promises made by the Galaxy Buds + and, to our great happiness, this promise is kept: at a rather generous listening volume (around 70%), we did measure endurance reaching 11 hours on a charge, beating the previous record set in our lab by the Powerbeats Pro (10 h 30 min).
The headphones will be able to accompany you during a long working day without ever needing to sleep in their case.
The latter, since we are talking about it, can provide the headphones with a second full recharge, and supplies itself either via USB-C, or wirelessly via the Qi standard. All good.
More unexpectedly, the Buds + also impressed us with the quality of their microphone. Even in windy and very noisy environments, they manage to ensure a very correctly intelligible capture, without the need to raise the voice too much.
They match Apple’s AirPods at this level – which is a real feat for rodless headphones. Finally, note that each earpiece can be used alone as a hands-free kit.
Like their predecessors, the Galaxy Buds + proudly display the “Sound by AKG” badge, supposed to be the guarantee of audio quality worthy of the reputation of the venerable Austrian brand.
But the promise is unfortunately still as inconsistent: despite some adjustments, the Buds + deliver performances very similar to those of their elders; that is to say very arbitrary.
Too unbalanced, the frequency response is notably marked by a big accentuation of the cutting edge (around 3 kHz) which makes the sound very aggressive and “hard” – especially for people who like to listen to their music at high volume, since this frequency region corresponds to the peak of sensitivity of the human ear.
Most of the mixes take on a rather garish character, with medium instruments (guitars, trumpets, human voices …) whose attacks and first harmonics are widely highlighted. The overall return is certainly nervous, but also very narrow.
These two imbalances can fortunately be calmed by opting for the equalization profile “Bass amplifiers” in the mobile application – a profile with a very strange denomination, since it has the effect of restoring a little of the presence that is lacking at low mids and soften the upper half of the spectrum.
Fast, unified pairing: valuable benefits for Samsung devices
Like Apple AirPods or Google Pixel Buds, the Galaxy Buds + have some connectivity benefits when used with source devices from the same brand as them.
Samsung smartphones equipped with the Galaxy Wearable app can thus access a quick and simplified pairing: simply open the headphones case near your phone, and an alert will appear automatically, offering to perform the pairing with one click .
Once done, the connection information of Buds + will be propagated via your Samsung account – assuming of course that you have created one – to all your connected devices of the brand (tablet, television …), allowing to pass from one device to another again with a single click.
- Very compact design.
- Excellent comfort and support.
- Outstanding hands-free kit.
- Record autonomy (11 h), box compatible with wireless charging.
- Unbalanced, aggressive and narrow restitution.
- Lack of precision.
- Loss of bass dynamics at high volume.
- Use with several very laborious non-Samsung devices.
- Touch control surfaces that activate by mistake far too easily.
- High diffusion latency.