Highly anticipated: Apple arguably dominates the truly-wireless earbud space with its AirPods, but Samsung is quickly proving to be a worthy competitor, especially with new offerings like the Galaxy Buds Live just around the corner. These new Buds, which were just announced today at Samsung’s annual ‘Unpacked’ event, boast an ambitious new look and premium features that help them stand out from the pack.
First, let’s discuss the Buds’ new appearance: unlike previous truly-wireless earbuds from Samsung, the Galaxy Buds Live do away with the oval-shaped aesthetic in favor of what it calls a “bean-shaped” design. That’s certainly an odd way to describe a product, but it’s also accurate in this case: as you can see from the images throughout this article, the Galaxy Buds Live are indeed shaped like a pair of beans.
Samsung didn’t choose this look just for the fun of it, of course. The bean-shaped design is intended to make the buds a bit less noticeable in public, while also improving comfort. They accomplish the latter by fitting “neatly inside your ear’s concha,” rather than requiring you to shove a “protruding speaker” down your ear canal.
In addition to the Buds themselves getting a new appearance, their carrying case has also been altered. Previously, Samsung shipped Galaxy Buds in a small, oval-shaped case with a rounded top and flat bottom. This time around, the Galaxy Buds Live come in a square charging case, which looks to be a bit bulkier.
Moving on, the Galaxy Buds Live’s first major selling point is Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). This feature is present in other high-end earbuds, but so far, it’s been missing in Samsung’s Galaxy Buds, so it’s notable this time around. As the name suggests, the functionality (developed in collaboration with AKG) allows users to tune out distracting background noises without “missing what’s important.”
That means that some sounds, such as voices or “announcements,” will still make their way to your ears, but others, like noisy traffic or white noise, will not. Samsung calls this “Open” ANC, and it can be activated with a simple long-press on the side of one of the buds.
ANC isn’t the only new feature arriving with the Galaxy Buds Live. Samsung is also shooting for “best-in-class” call quality, courtesy of something called a “Voice Pickup Unit.” The Voice Pickup Unit allegedly senses the movements of your jaw and converts those vibrations into voice signals that enhance your voice’s quality, even in “noisy places.”
Incoming audio ought to be fairly clear, as well: the Galaxy Buds Live have a pair of 12mm AKG speakers, designed to “deliver spacious sound.”
If you’re a fan of Samsung’s ‘Bixby’ voice assistant, you may be pleased to hear that it’s been fully integrated into the Galaxy Buds Live. You can wake up the assistant and give it commands using natural language — you can tell it to “Call Jessica,” for example, or ask it “How’s the weather today?” to receive a seamless response.
It’s unclear how Samsung plans to prevent the AI from executing accidental commands, but we assume that’s something the tech giant’s engineers have accounted for.
In terms of battery life, the Galaxy Buds Live can be used for up to eight hours on a single charge, provided you don’t switch on Bixby or ANC. Using both of these features in tandem will drop that number to around five and a half hours, though you can gain an extra 11 hours of juice by popping the Buds into their charging case for a while.
The Galaxy Buds Live don’t offer much in the way of water resistance, with only an IPX2 rating. That should be enough to protect the buds from dripping water, but they probably won’t survive full submersion, or heavier splashes without at least some damage.
If the Galaxy Buds Live sound like your cup of tea, you won’t have to wait long to get your hands on a pair. They ship out tomorrow for $170, with three different color options: white, black, and a fancier, metallic copper skin.