(Disclosure: Samsung lent a unit for this article.)
There are tons of choices in the true wireless earbuds category now. Some notable ones that are cheaper than the usual Samsung pair include the Enco line from OPPO, realme’s own Buds line, and the Jabra Elite. Apple users will most likely stick to the AirPods while those looking for seriously good sound often have Sony’s WF-1000 models in mind.
So how does the 7,000-peso Buds2 stack up compared to other popular choices in the market? Let’s get to that by looking at its top features.
Lightweight design, lowkey profile
One of the things I immediately noticed about the Buds2 is that it’s lighter than the Buds Plus (2019) I’ve been using. Checking for official weight, the Buds2 is at 5 grams while the Buds Plus – which was essentially a Buds 1 with improved sound – is at 5.7 grams. It doesn’t look like a big difference numerically, but for something that you put in your ear for a few hours, any additional weight that can be taken off helps.
I wouldn’t say the Buds2 is the lightest true wireless earbuds around. For one, the Jabra Elite 3 at 4.4 grams is even lighter than the Buds2. But just comparing it with other models in the Samsung Buds family, the Buds2 scores points for losing weight.
A bigger physical difference is the design. While the Buds Plus was something that was considered to be pretty compact when it first came out, it now looks chunky compared to the Buds2. The Buds2 barely juts out from your ear, which is actually helpful when you’re working out, or when doing certain movements where you lift your arm over your head. With the Buds Plus, sometimes you’ll hit the earbuds with your shoulders, inadvertently triggering a tap on the earbud that stops the music. I don’t know if that’s happened with the Buds2. It’s so neatly tucked into your ear.
The old Buds Plus also had rubber rings (called “wing tips” by Samsung that helps the earbuds stay in place) around the earbuds that, through time, can slip out or experience some discoloration. The Buds 2 ditches those, and features a sleeker, nearly seamless design, with just a tiny slit going around it, signifying the two sections of the earbud.
The Buds 2, both the case and the earbuds, look and feel the price too – both sporting a nice, glossy finish that doesn’t feel cheap. In addition, the tap mechanic – for stopping and playing songs, skipping songs, turning on ambient sound etc. – feels more responsive than the Buds Plus’. What adds to its appeal is that it has a design that’s pretty much their own. There are a lot of choices out there that, while priced lower, look like copycats of pieces from Apple or Samsung.
One thing though that’s been lessened too, possibly because of its smaller body, is battery life. The Buds Plus had 11 hours of battery life, while the Buds2 only lasts 7.5 hours with active noise cancellation off and 5 hours with it on.
Good sound quality
At above P5,000, you expect a certain level of audio quality from true wireless earphones. The Buds2, I think, hits that expectation, and then, just ever so slightly, exceeds it. The problem with cheaper earphones is that the sound can seem thin, airy, and it can lack body. You can say goodbye to all of those traits with the Buds2. Short of going for the exquisite sound of the highly regarded Sony pairs, the Buds2 gives you solid audio at this price range: full-bodied and clear.
It’s especially likable if you like your sound bass-heavy. You can turn on your bass boost through the app, and things start to get fun for the Buds2. Don’t expect the audio definition you get from premium earpieces though. While the entire audio spectrum is well-represented by this pair, you won’t get the audio separation you hear from more expensive pairs with more sophisticated drivers.
It’s solid, slightly above average midrange sound you get from this midrange pair, and will fit most everyday applications.
The active noise cancellation (ANC), I feel, could be better though. There are cheaper pairs from OPPO and realme that offer active noise cancellation, and it doesn’t feel like the Buds2 offer a significantly better experience. In a quiet room for example, with the ANC on, I still could definitely hear the hum of the fan, or the taps I make on the table. It’s unfair to compare this to the Sony WF-1000 pairs, but I think I just expected slightly more powerful ANC than I got.
The Buds2 also sounds good when making calls. Along with three microphones on each earphone, it incorporates machine-learning technology that, according to Samsung, allows it to better filter outside noise. Making calls outside at the mall, I could hear the other person clearly, and they said they heard me pretty clearly as well. Even inside, the earbuds seemed to have been able to filter the wind noise you usually get from an electric fan blowing at you.
On the wishlist
Audio quality, product build, and lightweight design – these are three things that the Buds2 definitely have going for it.
If we were to make a wishlist for future improvements though, we wish it could up the waterproof protection from its current sweatproof IPX2 protection, and enhance its active noise cancellation. IPX2 protection can be good enough for moderate workouts, but if you’re going to get really sweaty, it’s probably a better idea to take them off or risk damage.
Likewise, maybe after another year or so, Samsung can incorporate stronger ANC in their next main-line non “Pro” Buds models for those looking for more immersion. – Rappler.com