Sam­sung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live: Should You Upgrade

Namrata Gogoi

Ever since the Galaxy Buds hit the market a couple of years ago, Samsung has been steadfastly upgrading its true wireless earphones with interesting new features and designs. While the shiny bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live earphones made their debut in 2020, the Galaxy Buds Pro made their debut a while later in early 2021. This time, Samsung promises a better experience with features like Active Noise Control and 360 Audio. And that brings us to an important question—are these features useful? Does it make sense to upgrade from the Galaxy Buds Live to the Galaxy Buds Pro?

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Well, that's what we are going to explore in this post as we pit the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro with the Galaxy Buds Live and see if it's worth upgrading to the new version.

Since it's going to be a long one, let's get started, shall we?

Specs That Matter

PropertySamsung Galaxy Buds LiveSamsung Galaxy Buds Pro
PropertySamsung Galaxy Buds LiveSamsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Dimension2 x 2 x 1.1 inches2 x 2 x 1.1 inches
Battery LifeUp to 5.5 hours with ANCUp to 5 hours with ANC
IP RatingIPX2IPX7
Touch buttonsYesYes
ANCYesYes

Design and Comfort

The Galaxy Buds Live released to many polarising opinions. While some loved the comfort the bean-shaped buds offered, some of us at GT found the buds to be a tad uncomfortable. The inflexible nature made them immensely uncomfortable to be worn for a long time. Of course, the experience may vary and you might be lucky enough to find them comfortable. But then again, it's a gamble.

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The buds' open-design gets rid of the 'plugged' feeling that is usually associated with silicon-tipped buds on the upside.

Regardless of the size and shape, the Galaxy Buds Live manages to stay anchored to the ears. However, the absence of silicon tips, ear wings, or a waterproof rating made them a little inconvenient to be used during workouts and exercises. And if your ears sweat excessively during workouts (mine does), the metallic exterior does little to help its cause.

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At best, the Galaxy Buds Live is usable for casual listening, and in that, it works quite decently. The best part is that these buds come with touch-sensitive buttons, which makes them easy to operate. All you need to do is tap on the buds' exterior to change volumes, wake up Bixby or answer/reject a call.

While it works beautifully during the winters, the situation is a tad different during summer since the buds may or may not register your touch, all thanks to sweaty fingertips.

Thankfully, Samsung has done away with the bean-shaped design of the Buds Live. And if you look closely, the Galaxy Buds Pro looks like the cross between the Galaxy Buds Live and the Galaxy Buds Plus. Yes, lots of Galaxy terms to throw around.

You will find the familiar long neck design of the Galaxy Plus earphones flanked by a silicon tip, while the exterior has the metallic look like the Galaxy Buds Live. Quite naturally, the new buds are smaller than their predecessor and the new design feels light and comfortable to use. Till now, we have had no discomfort while wearing these buds.

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While there are no wing-tips, they stay hooked to the ear canal. Of course, you will have to find the right set of ear tips for a snug fit, and provided you do, and you can wear them while running or exercising. The fact that the newer buds have an Ingress Protection rating of IPX7 sweetens the deal further.

So, if you plan to use these earphones in your gym, you can now do so without worrying about sweat or water damage.

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When it comes to the touch functions, you will find most of the common functions like play/pause a song on a single tap or answer or reject calls on a double-tap. It's the 'long-tap and hold' action that has seen changes. Apart from waking up Bixby or tweaking the controls, you can also use it to switch between Active Noise Cancellation or Ambient Noise, depending on the need of the hour.

In short, though the Galaxy Buds Pro wouldn't win any prizes when it comes to the design, yet they are the better deal out there thanks to the comfort and snug fit it brings to the table. And the closed-feeling is a relief, to be honest.

Battery Life and Connectivity

When it comes to battery life, there is not much improvement. The older Buds Live could last up to 5.5 hours on a single charge with ANC enabled, with the charging case getting you an additional 20 hours with ANC. Without ANC, you should get roughly around 8 hours of continuous play and around 22 hours from the charging case.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live battery

On the other hand, the Galaxy Buds Pro will last around 5 hours on a single charge with ANC, and the case gives an additional 13 hours. This means you get around 18 hours with ANC (and 28 without ANC and Bixby).

While the battery life may seem to be a tad shorter, most of the current earphones with ANC, such as the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds or the Sony WF-1000XM3, have a continuous playback of 6-7 hours on average. Of course, the charging cycle and battery management differ across the different types.

When it comes to connectivity, the Buds Pro comes with a major addition—Auto Switch. Using Auto Switch, you can switch between nearby connected devices (logged using your Samsung account) with ease with the need to pair and unpair. So, for instance, if you are watching a TV show on your tab and a call comes to your phone, you can switch between the two devices.

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Apart from that, the Galaxy Buds Live supports AAC, SBC, and SSC Bluetooth codec, much like the Galaxy Buds Live earphones. And yeah, the support for Bluetooth 5.0 means no connection drops and lags. For example, I could watch TV shows or YouTube videos without any visible lags on both earphones.

Audio Quality and Noise Cancellation

The Galaxy Buds Live and the Galaxy Buds Pro are a huge improvement over the Galaxy Buds Plus. While the latter had a more balanced soundstage with minimal bass, the Galaxy Buds Live changed that. It brought home a wider soundstage and a much richer bass with clear vocals, and needless to say, it was a joy to listen to.

However, the open-ear design kind-of defeated the purpose of the ANC in these buds. Aside from the hum of AC or the printer, the open-ear design allowed plenty of noise to creep in, thereby stealing the purpose of buying a pair of earphones with Active Noise Cancellation.

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With the new Galaxy Buds Pro, Samsung has upgraded the driver design. And well, the new buds deliver a balanced sound with a wider soundstage. The bass is just about right. You will need to have a proper fitting of the buds to get the whole effect.

Other than improving the sound, there are a few additional features as well—ANC and 360 Audio. While the former is much better compared to its predecessor, it leaves something to be desired, especially on a pair of earphones that costs around $200.

While they do seem to block noise and hum from printers, AC, or fans, they still let in quite a bit of noise. Yeah, the sound was definitely reduced, but yeah, I could hear voices, music, or keyboards clattering from time to time.

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Another exciting feature is the Voice Detect. When enabled, it will switch automatically to Ambient Sound when it detects someone speaking. Else it will switch to the ANC mode.

It looks great on paper, but the real-world usage is a tad annoying, especially if you plan to use the earphones outside or if you or your partner share the study room.

Should You Upgrade

So should you upgrade to the new Galaxy Buds Live? If you already have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, you will feel at home with the Galaxy Buds Pro, especially with features like 360 Audio. More importantly, these earphones are immensely comfortable to wear even for long periods. And yeah, the better audio delivery sweetens the deal.

But at the end of the day, the ANC feature is not that up to the mark for $200 earphones.

At the same time, if you do not like the idea of the one-shape-fits-all of the Galaxy Buds Live, there are several quality wireless earphones out there. For instance, the Jabra Elite 75t has a great design and delivers quality audio, and the same can be said of the Sony WF-SP800N (see Sony WF-SP800N vs Sam­sung Galaxy Buds Plus).

The latter is immensely comfortable to wear and bring home a ton of features. Last but not least, if you are looking for top-notch ANC and dynamic audio, the BoseQuietComfort Earbuds make for a good buy as well, though they cost a little more.


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Namrata loves writing about products and gadgets. She has been working for Guiding Tech since 2017 and has around three years of experience writing features, how-tos, buying guides, and explainers. Previously she worked as an IT Analyst at TCS, but she found her calling elsewhere.