AirPods Pro 2 are the flagship earbuds for an iPhone user; you get all the benefits of the ecosystem 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 need 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 is one such product.
I use 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 buy the flagship Samsung earbuds, they work shockingly well with an iPhone – even if there are a few caveats.
Open, pair and play
Samsung has removed the Galaxy Wearables app from the Apple App Store, with the result that Samsung smartwatches will no longer support iPhones after the Galaxy Watch 3. You might think the same could be said about the Samsung earbuds, but the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is 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 easily open the cover and pair it with your iPhone. Then you play your favorite music or podcasts through 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
When you pair and connect the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro to your iPhone, no other setup is required to make full use of the earbuds. While the earbuds support 24-bit audio, it’s 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 great pair of earbuds.
The Buds 2 Pro feature dual drivers tuned by AKG, making 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 canceling is one of the best in a pair of earbuds with no stem design under $200. In my experience, the ANC of the Buds 2 Pro is closer to the Pixel Buds Pro. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have been my companion on my commute and travel – on taxis, buses and planes. The Buds 2 Pro really shine when they muffle the hum of an airplane. However, that doesn’t mean it feels like I’m in a vacuum. Instead, the silicone tips provide a good seal (in my ear, at least), and the software does the rest.
What made my experience more enjoyable was the ability to have a conversation with the earbuds still in place and without me touching them. How? There’s a “speech detection feature” that recognizes when you’re talking to someone and turns on transparency mode so you can clearly hear the other person. And it’s not like it’s there for the sake of it. The voice detection worked nine times out of 10 for me within seconds, and if it works, it is all effective.
Samsung promises up to five hours of continuous playback with ANC turned on and 18 hours of battery life with the case on. During 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 combine to make for a great experience with these. And remember: this is all possible with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with an iPhone; no Samsung phone required.
Where the iPhone experience stumbles
The Galaxy Wearable app acts as a catalyst to bring more features, but the Buds 2 Pro and its unavailability on the App Store means you’re missing out on some features when you pair it with an iPhone.
First, you can’t remap the touch controls on the earbuds. This is the most basic feature I expect from any manufacturer regardless of the device I use the earbuds with. Surprisingly, though, I haven’t had any issues with not being able to edit controls. On the right earbud, you can play/pause music with a single tap, double tap to skip to the next track, and triple tap for the previous track. You can touch the left earbud to switch between ANC and Transparency mode.
Second, you cannot edit the duration of the speech recognition feature. By default, this 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, “degraded the sound quality”.
Fourth, you’re missing out on Samsung’s extras, like the “Find My Earbuds” feature that plays a small sound through the earbuds to help you find one or both earbuds if they go missing. It’s 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.
More Samsung-exclusive features include 24-bit audio, which only works with select streaming services. There is also the Samsung Seamless Codec which cannot be licensed by anyone.
All in all, I don’t think you’re missing much without the Galaxy Wearable app. Of course, it would be good to match your earbuds to the controls you like. That’s the one big caveat; everything else is just a minor annoyance. What you already have on the earbuds works fine and you don’t feel any friction.
Not an AirPods replacement, but close
Does all this mean you should buy the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro instead of a pair of AirPods? No. While the sound, ANC and voice detection are top notch on the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, if you’re in the Apple ecosystem, you should still opt for the AirPods Pro 2 for seamless connectivity across all 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 is 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 really enjoyed my time using them with my iPhone 13 Pro Max. And if you’re like me and use a wide variety of devices, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are for you.