(Pocket-lint) - It's safe to say that the TWS (or True Wireless) earbuds market has grown phenomenally over the past few years. Thanks mostly to the huge popularity of Apple's AirPods and AirPods Pro.
Just because they're the market leaders doesn't make them the only options worth considering. Samsung's Galaxy Buds+ are a decent shout too. Especially if you're not an iPhone user. Hopefully by the end of this and having watched our video below we'll help you decide whether the AirPods Pro or Galaxy buds+ are the best option for you.
- Buds+: 17.5 x 19.2 x 22.5mm
- AirPods Pro: 30.9 x 21.8 x 24mm
- Buds+: IPX2 splash resistant
- AirPods Pro: IPX4 water resistant
At the design stage there might be something here that makes you choose one over the other. Samsung's Galaxy Buds are a neat little rounded triangle shape, but have subtle built-in fins to help keep them in your ears, plus a silicone tip to create a seal within your ear to cut out some noise from outside.
If you're after a pair that stays in while you're running or working out, this is going to be your best bet. But, we've the found design of the tips and earphones isn't quite comfortable enough to wear for long periods.
Apple's AirPods Pro also have the silicon tips to help create that seal in the ear - but they're a little less secure, so not really great for working out. They seem more comfortable over longer stints though.
We didn't find that either of them fell out of the ears during everyday listening, while commuting or walking. The AirPods are light enough that they sit pretty well-balanced in the ear.
The charging case
- Buds+: USB Type-C wired and Qi wireless charging
- AirPods: Lightning wired and Qi wireless charging
Both come with a charging case, and despite being different shapes and sizes, they're both neat and portable and made from glossy plastic.
The AirPods Pro case charges using either a Lightning cable (the same as the iPhone) or you can use a wireless charger. Samsung's uses either a USB Type-C cable or wireless charging. So either way, they're as convenient as each other to top up on the go.
Sound and noise cancelling
- Buds+: Ambient noise mode
- AirPods Pro: Adaptive Noise Cancelling
AirPods Pro is by far the best pair for noise cancelling. Once in the ears, it's almost as if they close you in a noiseless bubble, even when there's no music playing.
They're great for ensuring you can hear your music as intended when on busy trains or on a plane. It's also constantly monitoring and analysing external noise and adjusting to match, as well as using an internal mic to detect any leakage and adjusting the sound to compensate.
There's a transparency mode you can use on the AirPods Pro, but you can't really adjust it. It's one setting, and it works well for hearing traffic and platform announcements.
Samsung provides something of a passive shield against the noise around you, although they don't have any active noise cancelling. Walking near a busy road, they do a good job of cutting out the ambient noise, and they have a really effective ambient mode that lets you choose how much external noise you want to let in using microphones on the exterior.
As for sound quality overall, we like Samsung's approach of using the app to adjust the sound. Set to 'Normal', the Samsung seems a bit more bassy and full than the AirPods, but then you can change it to be more treble heavy, clearer, or add even more bass. The Samsung headphones sound a bit harsher, with a slightly boomy bass. It's not that it's bad at all, but to our ears, we didn't enjoy it quite as much as the AirPods.
The AirPods Pro sound good. You get a bit less bass overall, but it's better controlled and the sound overall seems a bit clearer with tighter treble. There's really not a lot in it though, and we think you'd enjoy listening to either of these two.
- Buds+: 11 hours playback out of case (22 hours total)
- AirPods: 4.5 hours playback out of case (24 hours total)
Looking at the ever important battery life, and when it comes to pure out-of-the-case longevity, there's one winner here: Galaxy Buds+.
They can play music constantly for up to 11 hours before needing to be plonked back in the case again. They have one single charge in the case, meaning you'll get a maximum of 22 hours before needing to charge the case.
AirPods Pro max out at 4.5 hours in one stretch, with 24 in total including the case. Overall, the listening time - including the battery case is similar - for both of them.
But, if you regularly go more than 4-5 hours in one sitting where you need to be taking calls or listening to music, the Galaxy Buds+ are best, when used in stereo.
Convenience, control and features
If you're an Apple user, there's added convenience to using AirPods. That H1 chip inside means that once it's paired with one of your Apple devices, it's paired with all of them. Of course, you can pair AirPods with Android phones too, it's just not as convenient as with an iPhone. One of the other benefits of AirPods however is that you can take them out and the music will stop automatically.
Samsung's don't seem to do that at all. In our testing, they just kept playing in both earbuds whether you had both of them out of your ears or not.
Apple AirPods also have the convenience of being able to use one at a time, so you can just use the right one for a long call, and if the battery runs out, put the left one in and seamlessly switch.
Samsung offers a bit more control overall using the app, where you can set the sound profile, see the battery level and choose ambient noise, and use it to find your earphones when lost.
- Galaxy Buds+: £159
- AirPods Pro: £249
On the whole, it may come down to price for you. Galaxy Buds are £159 and include the wireless charging case.
AirPods Pro are the more advanced, in terms of noise cancelling and wireless connectivity, and cost £249, also with a wireless charging case. Comfortably more than Galaxy Buds+ and that's quite a difference.
So, if you're in the Apple ecosystem and want that advanced noise cancelling and convenience, or even if you're not and just want a good pair of noise cancelling in-ears, it may just be worth it for you.
If you just want a solid pair of buds to listen to music with, Samsung will save you a lot of money.