Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

The recently-released second-generation Apple AirPods Pro are a huge step up from the first-generation AirPods Pro, offering improved noise cancellation, better sound quality, battery, and a personalized listening experience, among other upgrades. But are these new features good enough to give other earbuds a run for their money?

To find out, we look at the biggest differences between the AirPods Pro 2 and popular rival earbuds, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. They’re both similarly priced and share several features, making them seem like tough competitors. But are they? We’ll find out. 

While you’re here, also check out our breakdown of the Apple AirPods Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM4.

Design, comfort, and fit

man wearing apple airpods pro 2.
Senior contributor Simon Cohen tests the AirPods Pro 2’s fit. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

If you love flaunting your earbuds, you’ll enjoy the color options you get with the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. You can pick between three shades: Graphite (black), white, and Bora Purple. The purple ones definitely stand out and look unique, considering most earbuds come in just black and white. You don’t get any color options with the AirPods Pro 2, or with any AirPods, actually — just that iconic white. On the other hand, you do get to customize your AirPods Pro 2 case. You can decorate it with emoji, initials, or numbers, making it fully unique to you. This point is kind of a wash, in our opinion. 

As far as comfort and fit go, The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are excellent, and in our review of them, Phil Nickinson gave them the nod over the first-generation Apple AirPods Pro, calling them “smaller and less obtrusive” and offering a more snug fit. The buds won’t slip or fall off during a sweaty workout session, so they’re ideal for active users. The AirPods Pro 2, on the other hand, are unchanged from the original model, except for the addition of an extra-small ear tip. That said, some people aren’t into the stem design, and while still incredibly comfortable, we’re going to give this one to the Galaxy Guds 2 Pro by a nose (or ear, as it were).  

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

Controls

the touch control on the airpods pro 2.
Apple

The biggest complaint with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro comes from the touch controls. They can be a bit too sensitive and oddly positioned on a much smaller surface area, so every time you try to adjust the earbuds, you run the risk of accidentally pressing pause. This can get frustrating very quickly. 

This isn’t a problem with the AirPods Pro 2, which have introduced new touch controls to adjust the volume simply by sliding your thumb up or down the stem. This allows you to comfortably reposition your earbuds as many times as you want without worrying about accidental pauses. The easy-to-use, squeeze-to-click controls for play/pause, call/answer, and skip/back that were much-loved from the first-gen AirPods Pro are here in gen-two as well, as is the customization, adding credence to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality.  

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

Sound quality

At the $200-plus level, you’re going to get a reasonably great-sounding pair of earbuds no matter which you choose. According to our reviews of both the AirPods Pro 2 and Galaxy Buds 2 Pros, they both offer the requisite levels of amazing bass and clear mids and highs that will make your music and podcasts sound great. 

With the AirPods Pro 2, Apple’s upgraded the previous generation with new low-distortion drivers and high-dynamic-range amplifiers for a richer and clearer sound that our reviewer confirms. But Apple has the competition beat if you’re all about that cool, immersive surround-sound feature known as head-tracking spatial audio. Add to that Personalized Spatial Audio, a new iOS 16 feature that customizes that 3D surround sound to your ear shape, and we’re talking next-level here.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro also offer their version of spatial audio and head tracking to give you what the company calls Intelligent 360 Audio, but we weren’t as impressed with it in our review, with Phil Nickinson stating, “Everything sounds overly processed compared to the (first-generation) AirPods Pro.”

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

Noise cancellation and transparency

infographic of the airpods pro 2 specs.

The AirPods Pro 2 come with the more powerful H2 chip that Apple says offers “2x more active noise cancellation” to better block the outside noises of everyday life. As with the first-gen AirPods Pro, the AirPods Pro 2 also do this very, very well — almost as good as the renowned Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II. But where they perhaps shine the most is with their transparency mode (the ability to tailor how much outside sound you want to hear) and a new feature for the second-gen model that Apple calls Adaptive Transparency, in which the earbuds constantly monitor the outside world for really loud, obtrusive sounds that they attempt to filter to safer, more acceptable levels. This feature fully impressed us in our review, giving the AirPods Pro 2 a leg up over the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. 

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s noise cancellation, on the other hand, works quite well for most people and is an improvement over their predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. In our review of the Buds 2 Pro, the ANC and transparency mode were good, but nothing to write home about. This one’s a no-brainer.  

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

Battery life 

apple airpods pro 2 charging case suspended from its lanyard loop.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

If you spend a long time with your earbuds, you probably want to purchase ones with good battery life for long flights, commutes, or binge-watching seasons on Netflix. Neither the first-gen AirPods Pro nor the Samsung Galaxy Buds were the best at offering long runtimes, but the AirPods Pro 2 fare better than the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. The AirPods Pro 2 offer six hours of listening time on a single charge and up to 30 hours with the charging case. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro fall short, offering five hours of listening time on a single charge, with an additional 18 hours in the charging case, for a total of 23 hours. Not bad, but the AirPods Pro 2 still win this one. 

Winner: AirPods Pro 2 

Cases

apple airpods pro 2 inside their charging case, near iphone 14.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Earbud cases can feel unimportant, but they play a huge role in improving your overall user experience. Take the AirPods Pro 2 case, for instance. One of the best additions to the new AirPods Pro is the Find My feature. Now you can track your earbuds if they get lost. The case has a speaker that plays out a loud beep when you’re searching for it, making it easier to spot. The speaker also indicates when the battery is low and the case needs charging. You also get a lanyard loop (albeit without the actual lanyard), but you can buy a pack for less than $10. 

The Samsung buds don’t offer any of these fancy features, so when you compare the two, Apple has an obvious advantage. 

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

Water resistance

samsung galaxy buds 2 pro.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Both the AirPods Pro 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are water-resistant. The only difference? The Galaxy buds are IPX7-rated, while the AirPods are IPX4-rated. This means the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are submersible, but the AirPods aren’t. Another difference is that the AirPods Pro 2 case is IPX4 water-resistant as well, so there’s added safety against accidental splashes. But again, they won’t hold up against being dropped in a swimming pool.  

Winner:  Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

Price

Both earbuds are similarly priced, but the AirPods Pro 2 are slightly pricier at $249, while the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are available for $230. The $19 difference is negligible because you’re getting much better quality and improved features with the AirPods. That said, if price is your biggest factor and you’re willing to wait, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro can be found on sale pretty readily. 

Winner: AirPods Pro 2


 

The bottom line

The AirPods Pro 2 win in nearly every category, making them an obvious choice over the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro offer some excellent features, but the new AirPods Pro are better, especially with Apple’s new upgrades. They’re just $20 more and offer much better sound quality and customization, giving you the most bang for your buck. 

The only downside is that they’re best for people already deep in the Apple ecosystem. You need an iPhone to use them effectively and power them with Apple’s chargers. If you’ve always been using Android and aren’t looking to change that in the near future, you’re better off going with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. Yet overall, we highly recommend the AirPods Pro 2 for the excellent sound quality, improved transparency mode, and superior noise cancellation.

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