At first, you have to laugh at Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds Live, or at least I did—they look like lil shiny beans. But looks aren’t everything: The top-selling Bluetooth earbuds in the world, Apple’s AirPods, were roundly mocked for their weird-looking stemmed design at launch. Now they’re inescapable.
Samsung just announced its widely leaked pair of refreshed Galaxy Buds, and clearly the company is aiming to undercut Apple. To start, the new Buds Live are $170, that’s $80 cheaper than Apple’s AirPods Pro. Samsung’s ‘buds sport the fresh bean look (which Samsung bravely calls “iconic”), active noise cancellation (similar to AirPods Pro), and use three microphones and what the company calls a Voice Pickup Unit powered by beam-forming tech to make phone calls better. As someone who relies on her AirPods exclusively for phone calls because the sound quality is better than other ‘buds, I’m excited to try out this feature.
The Galaxy Buds Live may also beat AirPods Pro when it comes to battery life. Samsung promises six hours of playtime with Bixby and active noise cancellation enabled, and 21 hours total (with some extra juice from the charging case). The AirPods Pro last just 4.5 hours. If you turn off Bixby (which you almost certainly will) and ANC, Samsung says the Galaxy Buds Live can last 8 hours on a charge with a total of 29 hours, including juice from the case, which is kind of wild. This year’s Galaxy Buds+ lasted 22 hours, with 11 hours on-board and an additional 11 hours in the case.
The Buds+ lack active noise cancellation and aren’t sweatproof, and while the new beany Galaxy Buds Live added the former, they still lack the latter. The AirPods Pro are designed for fitness, and it would be nice to see Samsung step up in this area. (The company has experimented with fitness-focused earbuds in the past, but returned to the drawing board to make cheaper, longer-lasting models.)
Alright, let’s get back to the design: Galaxy Buds Live will come with two wingtips for a more customizable fit and come in three colors—bronze, black, or white—for a more customizable look. And there’s a small air vent to keep your ears cool. I’m dying to know if these things are comfortable because just lookin’ at these beans has my ears screaming. But they could be amazing. We’ll soon find out.
Galaxy Buds Live go on sale August 6.