Galaxy buds plus + still worthy in 2021? Review

Still worthy in 2021?

Samsung launched the Galaxy Buds Plus in February 2020 at a price of $149. But even though they had solid specs and great sound quality, that was still a tough price to swallow for the average consumer. One year later, Samsung has refined its Galaxy Buds Plus experience through multiple software updates. And the best part is they now have a more consumer-friendly $109 price tag. Which means they are easier to recommend in 2021. So, after 6 months of regular use, here’s my long-term review of the Galaxy Buds Plus.

The galaxy buds plus are low profiled earbuds and come in a capsule-shaped case with a flat underside.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus in their capsule-shaped case

Galaxy Buds Plus appearance and design

Samsung delivers the Galaxy Buds Plus in Cosmic Black, Aura Blue, Cloud Blue, Red, White, and a special BTS edition purple variant. Yeah, I know that’s a lot of colors. But not all colors are available in all regions. The Galaxy buds plus, come in a small and slim capsule-shaped case with a flat underside. There is a USB C port on the back, an LED indicator on the front side and it has a smooth glossy plastic finish. A groove above the LED indicator, makes it easier to grip the lid when opening the case. The case opens smoothly without much resistance and closes with a satisfying click sound. When closed, the lid is held in place by magnets.

There’s a second LED in the case and two grooves into which the earbuds sit. The left earbud marked with an “L” goes to the left and the right bud marked with an “R” goes to the right. In each slot, there are two pins that accomplish two jobs. They produce a firm magnetic pull to keep the earbuds in place and simultaneously recharge them.  

Galaxy Buds Plus Connectivity

Pairing with Android and iOS smartphones

Whenever you open the charging case, the Buds Plus automatically enter Bluetooth pairing mode. Pairing is simple and hassle-free. Especially with Samsung Smartphones (like the very recommendable Galaxy S20 FE), which show a pop-up from Samsung’s SmartThings app. Other Android phones, can pair with the Galaxy Buds via the Bluetooth menu, or Samsung’s Galaxy Wearable App available on the Google Play Store. It can also connect to iPhones through the Bluetooth menu or with the Galaxy Buds + Application in Apple’s App Store.

Pairing with Windows and Mac

The Galaxy Buds Plus can also conveniently pair with a Windows 10 PC via Swift Pair. Just turn on Bluetooth on your PC then open the charging case with the buds still inside. Once detected, Swift Pair on Windows 10 will display a pop-up menu to connect to your buds. Connection to a Mac is possible through the Bluetooth menu.

Bluetooth connection quality

When worn, each Earbud makes a gentle sound after a Bluetooth connection is established with your device. The Galaxy Buds + have Bluetooth 5.0. In a direct line of sight with your phone, they can sustain a stable Bluetooth connection up to about 10meters. This distance may reduce if there are walls between the earbuds and your smartphone. In my 6 months of use, I have almost never a Bluetooth disconnection while listening to audio. And I use my Galaxy Buds Plus pretty much every day when commuting to work and back. Whether it be wind or crowded areas (like in a train), the Bluetooth connection remains steady and consistent.  

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The Galaxy Buds Plus can pair with iPhone Android Windows and Mac
The Galaxy Buds Plus are compatible with Android, iPhone, Windows and Mac

Seamless connection switching

In the past, the Galaxy Buds Plus could only pair with one device at a time. If you had to use them with two devices, there was only one option. First, turn off Bluetooth on the device to which they are connected, then enable pairing mode on the Galaxy Buds. Before pairing them with the second device. But as you can imagine, this was such a hassle. So later on, Samsung pushed a software update that enabled a feature called “Seamless Connection”. What this feature basically does is make it easy to switch your Galaxy Buds Plus between devices without disconnecting and pairing every time.

Seamless switching between Samsung devices

When you have a Samsung Smartphone and Samsung Tablet connected to the same Samsung account. Then pair your Galaxy Buds Plus to the Smartphone, its pairing information will be synchronized with any other devices connected to your Samsung account. Now, let’s say you start listening to some audio on your smartphone and later on launch a YouTube video on your tablet. The Galaxy Buds Plus would automatically disconnect from your smartphone and start receiving the audio from your tablet.

Seamless switching between non-Samsung devices

Seamless switching on the Galaxy Buds Plus also can also work between non-Samsung devices, as long as you have previously paired your Galaxy Buds to each one of them. You wouldn’t need to disconnect from one before pairing to the other. All you have to do is go to the Bluetooth settings on the device you want to switch to, then select Galaxy Buds Plus under unpaired devices, and click pair. Your Galaxy Buds would automatically disconnect from the previous device and connect to the new one.

LED indicator in the Galaxy Buds Plus case (red for low battery)
LED indicator in the Galaxy Buds Plus case (red for low battery)

Galaxy Buds Plus comfort, build quality and usability

Replaceable Ear Tips

The Galaxy Buds Plus are small and lightweight. In fact, they’re so light that I’d sometimes think one side may have fallen off. But when I reach out to feel them, they would still be sitting in my ears. There are three sizes of ear-tips in the box; large, medium, and small. It’s advisable to test all three in order to find the most comfortable fit and the best ambient noise seal for your ears. But that’s not the only replaceable part. There are also three sets of wing-tips included.

Replaceable Wing Tips

Mine came preinstalled with the medium wing-tips. But I have rather small ears. So, the wingtips applied a lot of pressure on the back of my ears. Which became unbearable after just a few hours of use. Hence, I swapped out the medium wingtips for the smallest ones and it completely solved the problem. Unlike Apple AirPods, there’s no stem. Instead, the whole body sits inside the ear canal. So, the Galaxy Buds Plus have a compact form factor, with improved grip through their rubber ear tips and wingtips. And that’s what makes it difficult for them to fall off my ears.

iPX2 water resistance rating

The Galaxy buds plus have a water resistance rating of iPX2 which means they can resist small amounts of sweat. However, they cannot provide you waterproof protection like the Power Beats Pro or other iPX7 certified headphones. So, I won’t advise wearing them for workouts or exposing them to rain and splashes of water. It’s recommended to remove the ear tips and clean the galaxy buds with a sanitizer every once in a while. Because over time, sweat and ear wax can clog the pores through which sound is delivered. And that would ruin the listening experience.

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Galaxy Buds Plus replaceable ear tips and wingtips
Galaxy Buds Plus replaceable ear tips and wingtips

Galaxy Buds Plus Controls

The flat edge on the Galaxy Buds Plus is touch-sensitive. (elaborate on how responsive and accurate the controls are) So, Samsung has embedded a few useful touch controls into it.

  • A single tap on either side to play/pause the current track.
  • Double-tap on either earbud to skip the current track forward or answer/end a call.
  • Triple tap on either side to return to the previous track.
  • The touch and hold control would decline incoming calls by default. But it can be modified via the Galaxy Wearable app to; Activate Bixby, launch Spotify, enable/disable ambient sound, or control the playback volume. When the volume control option is chosen, a long press on the right earbud increases the volume and vice versa for the left side.

Ever since I discovered this feature, I set the long press on my Galaxy Buds Plus to volume controls and kept it there permanently. For people who may find the touch controls a little intrusive and useless, they can use the Galaxy Wearable App to completely turn them off.

Galaxy Buds Plus Sound quality

Movie and Music Sound Quality

Samsung used a two-way speaker to make the galaxy buds sound as good as possible. Inside each bud, there is a Tweeter that focuses on high notes and a Woofer to handles bass. So how does music sound on these headphones? The Galaxy Buds Plus are tuned by AKG. They have a big rich full base. The Mids and Highs are crisp. When I listen to music with these headphones, I feel like I can easily distinguish the sound of almost every instrument at any moment. I use Amazon Prime Video on a daily basis. And I feel extremely satisfied with how the Galaxy Buds Plus produces very clear vocals while watching a movie. Their stereo sound seems to surround me because I can easily tell from which direction a sound is coming from during movie watching. Its am an immersive experience!

Galaxy Buds Plus sound equalizer

By default, the Galaxy Buds Plus sounds a little too base-heavy for me. But with the equalizer in the Galaxy wearable app, there are a variety of sound profiles to choose from. It ranges from Normal to Bass Boost, Soft, Dynamic, Clear, and Treble Boost. After taking some time to test each profile, I finally settled with the “Dynamic” setting. And one more tip. I enabled the Dolby Atmos Sound Effects and set it to “Auto”. So, it automatically optimizes sound depending on if am listening to Vocals, Music, or watching a movie. It enhanced the whole listening experience.

Passive noise cancellation

Unlike Samsung’s Latest Galaxy Buds Pro, the Galaxy Buds Plus doesn’t have active noise cancellation. However, I’m usually amazed at how quiet it becomes when I wear them. Because their passive noise cancellation is very effective. Of course, you would have to make sure you’re using the best fitting Ear Tips for your ears. Which for me happens to be the smallest size (I have equally small ears). I can hear very little ambient nose even without playing audio. And when audio starts playing with the volume at about 60%, all outside nose pretty much fades away. I sometimes wear these at work, when I need to focus. And believe me, when am listening to stuff with these headphones, I have a hard time hearing my colleagues talking to me.

Call sound quality

Call quality on the Galaxy Buds Plus is crisp and clear.  There are two outer mics and one inner mic. Together, all three microphones block out surrounding sounds while picking your voice during a call. In addition, the Galaxy Buds Plus has a low-profile design and sits inside your ears. So, they are less likely to pick up wind noise. Every time I used these for calling, I was able to hear my correspondent loud and clear. And my voice sounded clear enough to them too. No complaints whatsoever on this point. The Galaxy Buds Plus play a gentle ringtone when there’s an incoming call. A double-tap on either side would answer the call. Similarly, a double-tap during a call would end the call.

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Automatic sound switching

The Galaxy Buds Plus have a feature called “automatic sound switching”. In simple words, you can switch from using two earbuds to one earbud at a time. And the Buds will change from stereo to mono sound output depending on how many buds are detected in the charging case. That means you can use one earbud at a time until its charge gets depleted, then switch to the other earbud. In that way, you would get longer battery life.

galaxy buds plus battery life and charging
Galaxy Buds Plus battery life and charging

Galaxy Buds Plus Battery life and charging

Battery life

The official battery life rating of the Galaxy Buds Plus is 11 hours of uninterrupted listening on a single charge. And its charging case holds an extra full charge to extend the listening time up to 22 hours. That’s pretty consistent with what I observed during my daily use. On one of my extended battery life tests, I found that my Galaxy Buds Plus drained from 100% to 58% in five hours. That’s less than 10% battery drain per hour, with the volume at 70 to 75% and the “Ambient Sound” function turned off. It’s the longest battery life I’ve got so far on any wireless earbuds.

Charging speed

A quick 10-minute charge can get you about 30% juice which would last at least 3 hours. It takes about 1h 30 minutes to charge both the earbuds and the charging case from a flat 0% to 100%. The charging case also supports Qi wireless charging. Therefore, if you use a Samsung phone (like the Galaxy s20 FE) that has the “Wireless Power Share” feature.

Charge indicators

You can check the Galaxy Buds + battery life at a glance using the two LED indicators on the charging case. The one located on the outside shows how much charge is left in the case. While the inside one indicates the amount of juice remaining in the earbuds. When it’s green, it means you have at least a 40% charge. Red means you have a low charge. And blinking/flashing red means the charging case is completely empty. However, the best way to get the most accurate battery level is via the Galaxy Wearable app. For Samsung phones, the juice levels show each time during pairing.

Galaxy Buds Plus in capsule-shaped case
Galaxy Buds Plus in capsule-shaped case

Pros and Cons

Pros

After using the Galaxy Buds Plus daily for about 6 months now, here’s what I liked and didn’t like about them. I think they have an amazing sound quality and the passive noise cancellation is surprisingly very good. I love how well they fit and how comfortable they feel in my ears. You would really have to work hard to make them fall off. I enjoy the convenience of easily pairing with Samsung phones and switching from one device to another using the seamless pairing feature. Above all, I really appreciate that long 11-hour battery life, fast charging speeds, and Qi wireless charging capability.

Cons

It is really hard for me to find something that I hate about the Galaxy Buds Plus. But if I really wanted to be picky, I would say it’s the build quality of the charging case. It feels a little squeaky, especially after all this daily abuse I’ve been giving it. Also, the lack of Active Noise cancellation might be a bummer for some people.  

Price and availability

In most parts of the world, the Galaxy Buds Plus currently retail at around a hundred US dollars. If you are interested in picking up one these, you can use one of our affiliate links littered through out this post.