These are a third-generation device although they are the first to sport the “Galaxy” branding considering the previous two versions arrives as “Gear IconX” products.
In spite of the new name, they are a familiar product in terms of the overall design with the earbuds continuing on a refinement journey. Therefore buyers can expect a similar look and feel to the 2016 and 2018 versions.
One interesting feature change — more of an upgrade than a change — is that the carry case that also doubles as a charging case now supports wireless charging.
As the Galaxy S10 also supports outward wireless charging through PowerShare, users are now able to place the earbuds case on the Galaxy S10 and have the smartphone feed a charge through to the case which in turn replenishes the earbud batteries.
For those who do no opt to buy the Galaxy S10 smartphone as well, the Galaxy Buds still make use of the same mechanics in general where the case will continually top up the earbuds when stored and the wireless charging feature is compatible with Samsung's wireless chargers.
The case itself has also seen some minor revisions as it is now a little smaller and this is largely due to the earbuds being reportedly 30-percent smaller than the previous version. This also makes them the lightest earbuds to come from the company to date.
One of the clear knock-on effects of this smaller size is the battery capacity has now decreased generation-over-generation. As each new Galaxy Bud comes with a 58 mAh capacity compared to the 82 mAh that’s on offer with the Gear IconX (2018).
Similarly, the case’s power bank comes with a 252 mAh capacity battery for on-the-go charging, compared to the 340 mAh that was on offer before.
Charging time is not expected to be too adversely affected, however, due to the decrease in earbud capacity. So users should not necessarily expect a slower charge time when it comes to the new earbuds, or even less charge cycles per case charge. In addition, Samsung is claiming some optimizations at the software level which should help to mitigate against any daily usage duration drop due to the lower capacity of each earbud.
When streaming music over Bluetooth, Samsung claims up to six hours of usage which is actually one hour more than the Gear IconX (2018) did. The case is said to be able to deliver an additional seven hours of battery as and when needed.
Moving passed the battery and one important change is the removal of local storage. For those unfamiliar with this product line, Samsung’s earbuds have in the past come with their own storage on-board so users can store songs directly on the buds and omit using a connected smartphone completely. With this having now been removed, it would seem the Galaxy Buds now fall more in line with other personal solutions that rely on a connected phone device at all times. On the positive, they do feature Bixby allowing the user to ask questions, get feedback and further engage with a connected Samsung device – including the Galaxy Fold – Samsung's new foldable phone.
Other notable upgrades include the employment of Bluetooth 5.0 compared to 4.2 on the Gear IconX (2018), along with an IPX2 water-resistance certification, improved audio (tuned by AKG) and adjustable ambient sound.
In terms of pricing, Samsung has now confirmed the Galaxy buds will arrive to market priced at $129 in the US and are due to go on general sale on March 8. This does make them a little more affordable compared to the previous models which is surprising as in spite of the lower mAh capacity and the removal of local storage, buyers will be getting more for their money. Those in need of color variation will have the option to choose between Black or White.
What’s more, starting from tomorrow (when Galaxy S10 pre-orders open) Samsung will be bundling the new Galaxy Buds in with early Galaxy S10 purchases. This is a limited-time offer but one which effectively makes the cost of the Galaxy Buds free.