This year Samsung released the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and we’re all wondering how it stacks up to big names like the Apple AirPods Pro. Both pairs of true wireless earbuds in question have active noise cancelling and come from well-known product lines: the Galaxy Buds and AirPods. Let’s find out which of these two pairs of earbuds are going to be your next.

Editor’s note: this article was updated on November 8, 2021, to address the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds as alternatives.

What fits better, the Apple AirPods Pro or  Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro?

A picture of a man wearing the Apple AirPods Pro against a gray background.

The Apple AirPods Pro addresses listeners’ complaints about a lack of seal from the previous generations.

The AirPods Pro and Galaxy Buds Pro designs differ from one another. The AirPods Pro has an angled stem that ensures easy placement and removal as well as a stable fit, the Galaxy Buds Pro is more compact. The Galaxy Buds Pro still provides a stable and comfortable fit thanks to a slight protrusion from the side of the earbud that serves as a mini wing tip. As long as you use the proper silicone ear tip size, you shouldn’t have issues wearing either of these.

Start here: What makes a good set of true wireless earbuds?

The AirPods Pro has an IPX4 rating, meaning it can withstand sweat with no problems, but the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro has an IPX7 rating, so you can fully submerge it in water for up to 30 minutes. Though the Galaxy Buds Pro isn’t a pair of swimming earbuds, per se, because it lacks onboard storage. Bluetooth connectivity doesn’t carry well, or at all really, through water.

Apple AirPods Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Bluetooth connection

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro sit on a shelf next to a Google Pixel 4a with the Samsung Wearables app open on it.

The Samsung Galaxy Wearable app is easy to use and makes customizing your experience a breeze.

Connecting to the AirPods Pro if you have an iPhone is very easy thanks to Apple’s H1 chip, which is integrated right into the earbuds. When you open up the case, your iPhone automatically detects that there is an Apple product nearby and prompts you with a pop-up on the screen. Once you’ve connected the AirPods Pro to one of your Apple devices, it will automatically be connected to all your Apple devices through your iCloud account.

Connecting the AirPods Pro to an Android device isn’t exactly rocket science, but it’s not as streamlined as the process with an iPhone. Just go to your Bluetooth menu and pair to the new device. The AirPods Pro supports the SBC and AAC codecs and has a generally reliable connection quality on iPhones, but AAC just doesn’t perform all that well on Androids.

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Pairing the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro can be a streamlined process too, but requires you to download the SmartThings and Galaxy Wearable Android apps. When these requirements are met, a notification card will alert you to the Galaxy Buds Pro’s attempt to initiate the pairing process. If you own an iPhone or don’t want to download a few apps, you need to go into your phone’s Bluetooth menu to manually establish a connection. The App Store Galaxy Buds app doesn’t support the Galaxy Buds Pro, though it might in the future.

If you have a bunch of Samsung Galaxy devices, you can seamlessly switch between paired devices, provided all of them are connected to your Samsung account. It supports SBC, AAC, and the Samsung Scalable Codec.

Does the AirPods Pro have better software features or the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro?

The Apple AirPods Pro in a man's left hand (foreground) with an iPhone and the AirPods Pro wireless charging case in the background.

The redesigned AirPods Pro has dedicated nozzles that insert into the ear, making for a more stable fit and improved audio quality.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and Apple AirPods Pro both have touch controls. To toggle media playback, calls, or voice assistant access on the AirPods Pro, you can press or squeeze on the stem of the earbud. Similarly, to control anything on the Galaxy Buds Pro, you administer a series of taps, though the touchpads can be a bit too sensitive at times.

The AirPods Pro only allows you to control playback volume from Siri, which is limited to iPhone owners. The Galaxy Buds Pro, on the other hand, has the built-in feature of volume control which can be remapped via the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app (Android only). There is no iOS support for the Galaxy Buds Pro. The Galaxy Wearable app can also set noise cancelling settings, turn on ambient sound mode, and switch EQ presets. Samsung isn’t totally all-inclusive, though, as app features like automatic device switching and 360 audio are only available for Samsung users.

The Apple AirPods Pro touch settings on an iPhone.

A pop-up card informs you of the AirPods Pro battery life at a glance.

The AirPods Pro actually has predominantly iOS-only features, like firmware updates. This can be super annoying, especially if you’re struggling with connection problems that could be fixed in an update—you can always borrow a friend’s iPhone to update your firmware. Additional features only available for iPhone users are the ear tip fit test, a battery optimization feature that preserves the earbuds’ long term health, auto-pause, spatial audio with head tracking, and “Hey, Siri.”

Thankfully the most important features—ANC and transparency mode—are available to all users. That being said, if you do have an iPhone, you’ll have a wide world of cool software features to play around with.

Do you get better battery from the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro or AirPods Pro?

Man holding open case of Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro in hand over colorful game.

The new Galaxy Buds Pro has active noise cancelling.

Like most things with the Apple AirPods Pro, the battery performance is optimal when paired with an iPhone. When we tested the AirPods Pro with an iPhone, we got 5 hours, 6 minutes of battery life on a single charge with ANC turned on. In addition to this battery capacity, the earbuds’ case provides a total of 24 hours of listening time. It is kind of inconvenient that the case charges via Lightning to USB-C, because it’s unlikely you’ll have many of these cables lying around your house—you’ll need to bring your AirPods cord with you anywhere you’ll wish to charge it.

The Galaxy Buds Pro lasted 4 hours, 48 minutes on a single charge with ANC turned on, and its case holds approximately 13 additional hours of battery juice. The Samsung Buds charges via USB-C which is definitely a more universal method of charging than what the AirPods Pro offers.

Both cases support wireless charging, and only AirPods Pro units bought after the release of the AirPods (3rd generation) include a MagSafe charging case (MagSafe charger not included).

Does the AirPods Pro have better noise cancelling than the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro?

A picture of the AirPods Pro earbud with the silicone sleeve removed to reveal the nozzle.

The AirPods Pro silicone sleeve pops into a divot surrounding the nozzle, which ensures a more stable connection between the pieces.

The AirPods Pro was the first true wireless earbuds with active noise cancelling that really made a name for itself, but how does it compare to the latest release, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro has two selectable active noise cancelling settings: low and high. Both settings work quite well considering it is a pair of true wireless earbuds. If you want to attenuate more low-end noise, such as airplane rumbles or the sound of your dishwasher, you should go with the high setting. On the other hand, if you want to block out more mid-range noise, such as people talking, go with the low setting, though it won’t completely cancel out human speech.

The noise cancelling on the AirPods Pro is also very good, but the Galaxy Buds Pro definitely outperforms it in terms of low-end attenuation. If you’re choosing between these two earbuds for long bus commutes, you should go with the Galaxy Buds Pro. As for high-frequency cancellation, the effectiveness depends on how well your earbuds isolate, which is a product of how well they fit in your ears. Assuming you get a perfect fit, the Galaxy Buds Pro will probably do a better job at isolating than the AirPods Pro.

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Does the AirPods Pro or Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro sound better?

A chart showing the frequency responses of the Apple AirPods Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro compared to the SoundGuys' house curve.

Both headsets’ frequency responses follow our house curve relatively closely.

Both the Apple AirPods Pro (cyan) and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro (yellow dash) closely follow our house curve (pink), but most accurate frequency ranges vary slightly.

The Apple AirPods Pro doesn’t boost bass notes quite as much as the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, but you’re more likely to encounter some degree of auditory masking with Samsung’s buds because of the relative difference in bass and upper-midrange frequency reproduction. This can make it hard to hear your favorite harmonies with the Galaxy Buds Pro, but you can easily adjust this through the in-app EQ profiles. Whereas with the AirPods Pro, what you see is what you get, though there are some live adjustments that Apple makes with its Adaptive EQ software.

If you want a more accurate sound right out of the box with no tinkering required, the Apple AirPods Pro is the better pair of earphones. However, if you like to adjust the sound quality depending on your media, the Galaxy Buds Pro will give you a more pleasant, adjustable listening experience.

Is the AirPods Pro or Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro better for phone calls?

A picture of the Apple AirPods Pro true wireless earbuds in the case being held by a man's left hand.

The Apple AirPods Pro charging case has a single LED indicator.

The AirPods Pro has a pretty decent microphone, which accurately reproduces the human vocal frequencies. There aren’t real differences in quality between low-toned voices and high-pitched ones, so everyone should come out sounding pretty good over the AirPods Pro.

It’s rare that you get two pairs of true wireless earbuds with good microphones, but lo and behold, the Galaxy Buds Pro has a nice mic as well. The output is similarly accurate across all ranges and the slight bass boost can help maintain the “fullness” of your voice. The mic might sound slightly muffled, but overall its quality is quite good and it rejects ambient sound decently. Don’t take my word for it, though: check out these mic demos for yourself.

Apple AirPods Pro microphone demo:

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro microphone demo:

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Should you buy the Apple AirPods Pro or the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro?

As is the case whenever we discuss the AirPods Pro, we implore you to only buy it if you have an iPhone. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on a lot of the features that make this pricey pair of buds worth over $200 USD. It is a very good pair of true wireless noise cancelling earbuds with nice sound quality and effective ANC, but so are the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro.

If you like the sound of all the bells and whistles of the AirPods Pro but are looking for a pair of over-ear headphones, check out the Apple AirPods Max. This pair of headphones is pricey but has very good sound quality and the best active noise cancelling in the business.

Apple AirPods Pro
All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

Similar to how the AirPods Pro is only really suited to iPhone users, the Galaxy Buds Pro is only fully suited to those with Samsung Galaxy devices. Its exclusivity is slightly less extreme, however, because its companion app provides access to the majority of its features to anybody with a smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

Read next: The best Apple AirPods alternatives

What should you get instead of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and Apple AirPods Pro?

If you want to save a few bucks and get a great Galaxy Buds Pro alternative, invest in the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. This pair of buds has better noise cancelling than the Galaxy Buds Pro and features a very similar design. Unlike the AirPods Pro and Galaxy Buds Pro, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 lacks any kind of 3D sound and has a less impressive IPX2 rating. Still, for about $150 USD, you can’t go wrong here.

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds is another great option for listeners who want solid active noise canceling and the liberty to hop between Android and iOS. These bulky earphones do an exceptional job of cancelling out low-frequency sounds, much like the larger Bose QuietComfort 45 and QC 35 II.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do the AirPods connect to multiple devices?

No, none of the Apple AirPods support Bluetooth multipoint. However, you can take advantage of automatic device switching between Apple hardware under the same iCloud account. This means when you’re listening to music on your iPhone and start playing a video on your MacBook, the AirPods (3rd generation) will stop playing from your phone and immediately switch to the laptop’s audio output.

Does the Galaxy Buds app on iOS support the Buds Pro? How do you control the Buds Pros features on iOS?

While the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app is only available for Android, Samsung offers the Samsung Buds app to iPhone users. This app affords essentially all the same functions as the Galaxy Wearable app.

Why did you use two different people for the Samsung and Apple microphone recordings?

Up until recently SoundGuys workers have been located all over North America, so our testing was conducted in multiple places by different people. This year, however, we relocated most of our staff to Vancouver, BC, and that is where objective testing will take place from here on out. This will make things like microphone demos more uniform across the board.

Can you repost microphone samples? The galaxy recording was so much quieter than the airpods sample, so hard to compare really. Airpods pro win simply because the buds sample isn't loud enough to judge.

In order to demonstrate actual use, we record the demos all the same way. This means that you’re noticing that the Apple AirPods Pro are louder in those frequencies than the Galaxy Buds Pro. If we turned up the Galaxy Buds Pro to the same level then you wouldn’t know that.

I would hesitate to call loudness a default win, because it depends on your individual priorities. If you prize loudness above all else, then yes the AirPods Pro are better, but if you prize other features more than loudness, such as accurate sound reproduction or noise rejection, maybe it is not as clearly obvious which is the winner.