Samsung’s entry-level Galaxy Buds are due for a refresh, and moving past previous trends, 2023 is the year we might just see that happen. While we’ve reviewed several Galaxy Buds models in recent years, we’ve yet to be truly impressed by a Samsung pair, with wireless earbuds from Sony, Apple and Bose stealing the spotlight in the audio department.
So what are we hoping for from Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 3 and Buds 3 Pro models? Well we don’t have much to go on since rumors and leaks have been light so far so we’ve rounded up what to expect from Samsung’s next gen buds as well as some of the features and improvements we hope these true wireless earbuds up a notch (or two).
Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 and Buds 3 Pro release date
The first two Galaxy Buds saw a two-year gap between new models, with the Galaxy Buds 2 launching in August 2021 and the original Galaxy Buds making their debut in March 2019. This could indicate that 2023 is the year we see the Seeing Galaxy Buds 3 and with a Galaxy Unpacked event scheduled for February 1 could be Samsung’s chance to reveal the next generation of earbuds. We saw the Galaxy Buds+ pop up in 2020, as a revised edition of last year’s buds, but we don’t have Galaxy Buds 2+ on our radar.
We’re not expecting any new Buds in the flagship Pro line, as Samsung launched the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro alongside the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 in August 2022. That’s why we think it’s way too early for the Galaxy Buds. 3 Pro to see the light of day.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 and Buds 3 Pro price
The Galaxy Buds 3 will hopefully keep Samsung’s track record of offering affordable true wireless earbuds. The Galaxy Buds 2 and original Galaxy Buds both launched for £139 / $150 / €149 / AU$219, so fingers crossed that Samsung follows this trend for a next-gen.
How does this compare to other wireless earbuds? Apple’s highest-priced rival, the AirPods 3, launched in October 2021 for £169 / $179 / AU$279 – which might not seem like a huge difference at first, but when you consider that the standard AirPods don’t include any active noise cancellation (ANC ), the Galaxy Buds (which do offer ANC) have plenty to offer on paper.
As for the more expensive flagship model, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro launched in August 2022 for £219 / $229 / AU$349. That price undercuts Sony’s flagship WF-1000XM4 (£250 / $280 / AU$450), AirPods Pro 2 (£249 / $249 / AU$399) and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II (£280 / $299 / AU$429). Samsung packed in plenty of extra features (new 24-bit hi-res codec, 360-degree audio with dynamic head tracking), so whether they decide to stick with that price or go higher, we’ll see later in the year .
Samsung Galaxy Buds 3: Features and Performance Wish List
Starting with what we love about the entry-level Galaxy Buds 2, we love the lightweight design and build quality of the buds, which has improved the compact form factor without sacrificing useful features like Qi wireless charging. Samsung’s latest update also made the Buds 2 more suitable for smaller ears, and at just 5g per earbud, the less bulky design made for a more comfortable fit overall. We imagine the brand won’t stray too far from this design, apart from perhaps new finishes. The only thing we’d like to change is that Samsung ditches the glossy finish in favor of a matte outer coating, like the Buds 2 Pro’s more advanced design.
We also like the accessible price, as mentioned earlier – the Buds 2 are very competitively priced for their feature set, and you can even find them now for around £55, which is a bargain.
Now about what we would like to see improved. The first and most important feature is the sound quality. Across the board, the Galaxy Buds line has delivered fairly mediocre sound performance, meaning they haven’t managed to score more than three stars in any of our Galaxy Buds reviews. When you consider that rivals like the Sony WF-C500 produce much higher quality sound for just over a third of the price, it’s a sign that Samsung needs to step up its game. Sony’s flagship wireless earbuds, the WF-1000XM4, also pop up more often at around £200, which isn’t a huge price hike for a pair of much better sounding earbuds. We criticized the Buds 2 for their harsh highs and lack of dynamics, so we can only hope Samsung addresses all of this in the future Buds 3.
Building on the sound performance, it would be nice to see some form of spatial audio (or 360 audio, as Samsung calls it) on the Buds 3, in line with Apple’s AirPods 3, which offer spatial audio on non-Pro devices. Earbuds. We’re not expecting the 24-bit quality codec on these budget buds (which we imagine will stick with the flagship Pro line), but given the rise in popularity of 360 audio across products and in music streaming services, we’re sure Samsung would can find a way to make Buds 3 a more immersive pair of earbuds.
Another area with room for improvement from Samsung is battery life. Again comparing the last generation Buds to the much cheaper Sonys, the Samsungs only get about five hours off a single charge, while the Sony WF-C500s double this with 10 hours on the earbuds alone. The only real weakness of all wireless earbuds is that they’re completely useless with a dead battery, and pulling out dead earbuds when you need them most is downright crushing.
Finally, a more customizable set of ANC features would be a welcome addition to the Buds 3, rather than the existing on or off options. This can include levels of noise reduction and even a transparency mode. And given that Samsung already offers customization for the Buds via the Galaxy Wear mobile app, we think it could easily include a toggle there.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 Pro: Features and Performance Wish List
As for the Buds 3 Pro, many things on your wish list translate to the regular Buds 3, most notably better sound quality. The flagship wireless earbud market is ferocious, with the Apple AirPods Pro 2, the aforementioned Sony WF-1000XM4 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II all offering formidable five-star performance and features to match. Samsung is playing catch-up on these other wireless earbuds, so the Buds 3 Pro’s audio performance needs a big leap to compete.
While Samsung’s inclusion of its own 24-bit hi-res codec (called Samsung Seamless Codec -SSC-HiFi) that enabled end-to-end transmission of 24-bit audio files from music services such as Tidal and Qobuz was a welcome addition , it alone did not result in better sound quality. We’re not bashing the codec itself, but its limited compatibility instead. Samsung of course keeps its own technology within its own ecosystem (Apple does the same with its iOS features, of course), in this case for Samsung Galaxy devices with One UI 4.0 and above, but we’d like to see Samsung open codec compatibility with a wider range of phones. Whether that’s more Galaxy models from its own lineup or other (Android) phones, it’s something that will allow more users to take advantage of High-Resolution Audio on these earbuds. Opening up the platform to other devices might make these buttons more attractive and give other manufacturers a chance to build on this feature.
Improvements can also be made to the 360 audio and head tracking feature on the Buds Pro. While the effect on the Buds 2 Pro model was immersive and very well implemented, we found the actual controls to be temperamental and often didn’t work, which was frustrating. Simply making this feature more robust and consistent would make a world of difference in future Buds 3 Pro.
Finally, echoing the concerns of the standard Galaxy Buds, the Buds 3 Pro’s battery life needs a boost. Apple’s AirPods Pro 2 significantly outperforms the Buds 2 Pro, so Samsung needs to up its game on batteries to compete. Apple’s wireless earbuds only last about six hours on a single charge (with a total of 30 hours with the charging case), so the standard isn’t unbeatable, but considering the Buds 2 Pro only get five hours/18 hours with the case, Samsung is easily outclassed by Apple here.
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