- Samsung in February unveiled the Galaxy Buds, wireless Bluetooth headphones designed to compete with Apple’s AirPods.
- Starting at $130, Galaxy Buds are cheaper than AirPods, which retail for $159 with similar features.
- Both devices offer a built-in microphone, Bluetooth connectivity, wireless charging, and personal-assistant support.
- The Galaxy Buds have a lower price point, two additional color options, and a slightly longer battery life than the original AirPods.
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Samsung in February revealed the Galaxy Buds, a set of wireless earbuds designed to compete with Apple’s AirPods. Starting at $130, the Galaxy Buds are a bit cheaper than the $159 AirPods.
Since their release in December 2016, Apple’s AirPods have defined the market for wireless headphones. While Samsung produced multiple models of Bluetooth headphones before the AirPods were announced, the Galaxy Buds are the first pair of wireless buds to ship under the same name as the company’s flagship smartphone.
The Galaxy Buds hit stores March 8 for $130; those who preordered the new Samsung Galaxy S10 or S10 Plus smartphones received a free pair.
When compared with Apple’s original AirPods – Apple unveiled second-generation AirPods in March – the newer Galaxy Buds offer an additional microphone, an extra hour of battery life, wireless charging, and two extra color choices.
But the core features remain similar with either choice – both the Galaxy Buds and the AirPods have a built-in microphone, connect wirelessly, and are primarily controlled using your smartphone’s virtual assistant.
These are the key differences between the Samsung Galaxy Buds and the Apple original AirPods:
When choosing between the AirPods and the Galaxy Buds, your preference of smartphone and virtual assistant is important.
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Your virtual assistant will differ depending on which smartphone you use, a key factor in choosing which headphones will work better for you.
The AirPods are designed for use with Apple’s iOS virtual assistant, Siri, which is available only on devices like iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks. The Galaxy Buds use Samsung’s virtual assistant, Bixby, which is specific to its devices.
If you plan to use voice commands, the headphones will work best when paired with their native assistant. It’s possible to use AirPods with Google Assistant or Bixby, but you’ll need a third-party app to make them work together. Samsung does not list the Galaxy Buds as compatible with iOS, but it may be possible to pair them as standard Bluetooth headphones.
The Galaxy Buds come in white, black, and yellow, while the AirPods are exclusively white.
- Stephen Nellis/Reuters
Samsung was kind enough to offer a choice of white, black, or yellow for the Galaxy Buds; Apple’s AirPods have been available only in white since they debuted in September 2016.
The Galaxy Buds are also a bit smaller than the AirPods, but the AirPods weigh less – 4 grams versus the Galaxy Buds’ 5.6 grams.
AirPods have programmable buttons, which allow for quick controls and some customization. The Galaxy Buds don’t have any external buttons.
- Maurizio Pesce/Flickr
The buttons on the AirPods are typically used to activate Siri, but they can be set to specific controls like “play/pause” and “next track.”
The Galaxy Buds don’t have any buttons but can trigger the same controls with Bixby voice commands.
The Galaxy Buds case allows for wireless charging, and the new Galaxy S10 phone can charge other devices on the go. The original AirPods case doesn’t have wireless charging.
- JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images
Both the AirPods and the Galaxy Buds require a case when charging, but only the Galaxy Buds case is capable of wireless charging. Apple did unveil an AirPods case that can charge wirelessly, but it doesn’t come standard when you buy AirPods – you have to pay $80 extra.
The Galaxy Buds last up to six hours on a full charge, while AirPods last for five hours. The charging cases for both devices can also pack a separate charge, expanding the maximum battery life of your buds if you choose to bring the case on the go.
And as an added bonus for Samsung fans, the company’s newest smartphone, the Galaxy S10, can be used as a wireless charging pad for the Galaxy Buds and other devices.
Both the Galaxy Buds and the AirPods contain technology designed to maintain quality during noisy calls.
- Reuters/Beck Diefenbach
Samsung said the Galaxy Buds would shift between an external and internal microphone to deliver better sound quality under noisy conditions.
Apple says AirPods can do something similar: The buds contain a voice accelerometer designed to recognize when you’re speaking. AirPods should then be able to filter outside noise so the person on the other end of the line can hear you better.
Galaxy Buds are slightly cheaper than AirPods.
- Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider
Galaxy Buds will cost $130 when they go on sale, while AirPods still retail for $160.
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds benefit from newer technology, but the AirPods should still suit most needs.
- Stephen Lam/Getty Images
The Galaxy Buds’ updated technology offers a few extra perks, but iPhone users may find that the the original AirPods fit their wireless headphone needs just fine. Android users looking for their first pair of wireless headphones will most likely find the lower price point and updated features of the Galaxy Buds more appealing.
If you’re interested in the Galaxy Buds, they’re available in stores now.