Samsung has taken the wraps off its latest Galaxy devices at Unpacked 2022 – including the new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro true wireless earbuds, which boast end-to-end 24-bit high-resolution audio playback for the first time (without downsampling, but with caveats) and improvements to the design, active noise cancellation and connectivity.
We had some hands-on time with the new earbuds ahead of their official launch – read on to find out our first impressions.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro will launch with a retail price of £219 ($230). The UK pricing matches the launch price of the previous Galaxy Buds Pro (although we tested it for cheaper) and for once, it's nice to see a brand buck the current trend of rising costs and charging higher prices. The fact that you get improved specs and new features for the same price also bodes well in Samsung's favour.
Gone is the glossy plastic finish of the old Galaxy Buds Pro. The new Buds 2 Pro have a lovely smooth, matte finish that looks and feels more premium. They come in three finishes: graphite, white and Samsung's signature Bora Purple. We love the new colours and matte finish – it's a more grown-up look that befits the over-£200 pricing too.
The earbuds themselves are now 15 per cent smaller, designed to fit even more snugly in your ears without sticking out too much. We tried on a few pairs and found them fitting neatly and securely in our ears – there's a sense that everything has been streamlined to offer a more premium and slick profile.
The compact charging case is similarly sleek in its matching matte finish. It's a nice, pocketable size that makes it supremely easy to carry with you at all times.
The big news on the specs sheet front is that the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have Bluetooth 5.3 on board – which is the very latest Bluetooth standard for wireless connectivity and a huge step up from the Buds Pro's 5.0 (and the Buds 2's 5.2). This brings with it better wireless range, higher speeds and and more efficiency.
Active noise cancelling (ANC) has also been improved on the Buds 2 Pro, with three new mics removing even more outside noise – by 40 per cent claims Samsung. A new feature is Conversation Mode: this uses one of the earbuds' mics to detect your voice when speaking – ordering a coffee while wearing the earbuds, for instance – and switch automatically to Ambient mode and lower the volume of what you're listening to.
Samsung says this saves you precious seconds from having to use the earbuds' touch controls to make the switch or take the earbuds off entirely, letting the Buds 2 Pro do the hard work for you. We look forward to trying this out when we get our own review sample, as well as seeing how the 'improved' ANC fares in real-world testing.
The Buds 2 Pro come with best-in-class IPX7 rating, which means the earbuds can survive up to 30 minutes in up to a metre of fresh water. Ideal for all weather conditions and intense workouts.
Another boon for Samsung fans: these earbuds are integrated within the Samsung ecosystem, which includes Samsung's smartphones, watches, and now even TVs for the first time. As long as they're Samsung's 2022 smart TVs, you can seamlessly and wirelessly connect them to the Buds 2 Pro.
Here's the all-important headline: for the first time, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro will fully support 24-bit high-resolution "hi-fi" sound quality.
This means you'll be able to hear 24-bit hi-res audio files wirelessly from music streaming services (Amazon Music, Tidal, Qobuz) intact and listen "exactly as the artist intended" through these earbuds. All without downsampling.
This is all thanks to a new Samsung Seamless Codec (SSC) Hi-Fi codec in the Buds2 Pro, and Samsung says this delivers 256x more sound data than 16-bit (CD quality) audio.
Here's the caveat: this only works with Samsung Galaxy devices running One U1 4.0 or higher. That means the latest Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 smartphones are ideal candidates for pairing with the Buds 2 Pro.
If you're using any other Android device that doesn't support this specific codec or software version, the 24-bit audio stream will get downsampled to 16-bit.
The earbuds also offer enhanced 360 audio when watching TV shows and films. Coupled with support for head tracking with Dolby Music videos for virtual surround sound, this results in an all-encompassing performance. When watching a demo video clip and paired with a projected screen of ambient landscapes, the dynamic head tracking worked a treat. It felt accurate and immersive, with ambient sounds playing over you in all directions.
For stereo music – in our limited demo time, we listened to a few songs on a Spotify playlist (other hi-res options weren't available) and the playback was loud and clear, with a big soundfield. Work by Rihanna sounded bold and lively, and the head tracking was once again vivid.
Of course, a launch event isn't the place to form an accurate picture of a product's sound quality. For a full test of the Buds 2 Pro earbuds' 24-bit hi-res audio chops, we'll have to wait until we get our own review sample to try out.
It's worth noting that "Sound by AKG" is stamped inside the cases – Samsung says it continues to have a "good working relationship" with the legendary headphone brand (whose owners Harman was acquired by Samsung) and AKG's sound expertise is once again used in the Buds 2 Pro.
"How Samsung are you?" That's the question we asked at the start of our original Galaxy Buds Pro review, and the question remains pertinent – even more so. Because if you're very Samsung, then the new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro will serve you extremely well. The 24-bit high-resolution audio support is the big draw here and those marrying the latest Samsung Galaxy devices with the new Buds 2 Pro will get the full-fat end-to-end high-res sound experience. It's one that non-Samsung users will look on with envy.
We like the new design and the buds' many features will go head-to-head with numerous rivals. How good they sound will be put to the test once we get our hands (and ears) on a review sample, but we have high hopes – could it change the standard of wireless audio?
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are available for pre-order from 10th August and will be on general sale from 26th August.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review
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