Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Buds Live, in the recent Galaxy Unpacked August 2020 event. The truly wireless earbuds were released alongside devices like Galaxy Note 20 lineup, Galaxy z Fold2 5G, Galaxy Tab S7 lineup, and Galaxy Watch 3.
Like all the rumors and leaks before the event, the Galaxy Buds Live do have an all-new design that will remind you of kidney beans. This set of beans, contrary to expectation, works wonders! Unconventional design choices in the tech world are usually thought-through, and the Galaxy Buds Live is a perfect example.
The shape of the Galaxy Buds Live makes them more comfortable, especially when you have them on for long hours. Samsung includes an extra wingtip option in the box, but for most users, the out-of-the-box option should be fine. That said, everyone’s ears are different, and those with small ears may have a hard time fitting the Galaxy Buds Live in their ears. But then again, small ears do not go along with most true wireless buds or earphones in general.
Speaking of the fit, the Buds Live are to slide in your ear from the bottom side. You slide them in and push the buds till the point of comfort. The bottom houses the speaker and a vent. The orientation is pretty straightforward.
The unique design of the Galaxy Buds Live has paid off this time around. True wireless buds that do not feel comfortable defeat the purpose of owning it on in the first place. The 5.6g Buds Live not only fit well (for most), but so well, you may even forget you had them on, in the first place. Also, they won’t fall off as easily.
The Galaxy Buds Live comes in three color options – Mystic Black, Mystic Bronze, and Mystic White. All of them sport a shiny chrome finish with the bronze giving off a Rose Gold vibe. Choosing the Mystic Bronze will continue the ‘unique’ trend set by the bean-like shape.
The Good: All the basics!
To stress again, the design of the Galaxy Buds Live works! The benefits of the shape extend to the case and sound quality too.
The bean shape allows the Buds Live to have a smaller form factor that fits in a more compact square case measuring 50.0 x 50.2 x 27.8mm and weighs 42.2g. While the case becomes a little thicker compared to the Galaxy Buds+ and Airpods Pro, the width of the case is nearly half of that of the competition.
Sound quality benefits as the speaker and bass are pushed closer to the ear canal resulting in more crisp and bassy audio. Samsung has fit a 12mm speaker in the Galaxy Buds Live, and along with AKG tuning, media consumption is a strong suit of the buds.
With two mics outside and one on the inside, the call quality of the Galaxy Buds Live is also stellar. The active noise cancellation (ANC) facilitates keeping out the ambient noise resulting in clear calls. Although the Buds do not have mics nearer to your mouth like Airpods, your voice should still be clear to the receiver on the other end.
The Galaxy Buds Live also has a good battery life for real-world usage. With noise cancellation turned off, the buds will give you 8 hours of battery life. The battery life drops to 6 hours, with noise cancellation turned on. If you have the latest Galaxy phones, you can also opt to put Bixby on standby, which will set you back to 5.5 hours of battery life.
A fully charged case will allow charging the buds 2 to 3 times, depending on the features used. The case charges through USB-C and also through wireless charging.
Another true wireless buds basics nailed by the Galaxy Buds Live is the compatibility and connectivity. As expected, the best experience will come when you have a Samsung Galaxy device. However, the buds will pair just as fast with other Android, Windows, and even iOS devices. The caveat with paring with a non-Galaxy device would be no Bixby wake-up and manual switching/pairing (press and hold both buds simultaneously for around 3 seconds).
The Bad: ANC
Open-ear designs rarely have good noise cancellation. The Galaxy Buds Live design supports “ANC for open type,” which follows the same pattern. These buds do not do an excellent job of drowning out outside noise. Background noises are still audible, and there is minimal reduction of those noises at best.
While this may come handy for the times you don’t want to miss important instances, do not get the Galaxy Buds Live for the noise cancellation. Pinning your hopes on ANC will leave you disappointed. Especially if you prefer drowning out noise when listening to music or concentrating on work.
The Verdict: Samsung got it right
Despite the ANC woes, which has its own merits, the Galaxy Buds Live is a winner here. At $170, the price is slightly more than the previous Galaxy Buds Plus but still respectable. All the basics like fit, sound quality, call quality, and battery life is remarkable. The IPX2 certification means that the buds are sweat-resistant, too, at the least.
For Samsung to throw-in iOS compatibility also speaks volumes on the push for the Galaxy Buds Live to be your go-to wireless buds. Although, Galaxy phones will get the most out the Buds Live like mapping what long press does. All basic touch controls will work with any paired devices. Also, you can make do with one bud while you charge the other.
There are many things to like about the Galaxy Buds Live. The innovative design and the Mystic Bronze color adds a needed splash in a market dominated by a specific set of white buds.