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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are out now for $200

The latest earbuds from Samsung feature active noise canceling and a totally new design.

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The Galaxy Buds Pro are available now in 3 color options.

Samsung
This story is part of CES, where our editors will bring you the latest news and the hottest gadgets of the entirely virtual CES 2021.

While most of the details of Samsung's new Galaxy Buds Pro noise-canceling earbuds leaked in recent weeks, they've now officially been released and are available to buy for $200 alongside Samsung's new Galaxy S21 smartphones. (Here are CNET's Galaxy S21 review and Galaxy S21 Ultra review.) While they're technically not part of CES 2021, they're arriving as the show comes to an end and are one of the higher profile headphones to hit the market this new year. (In the UK they're £219, which is roughly AU$385.)

If you were hoping for an upgraded noise-canceling version of the Galaxy Buds Plus, this isn't quite it -- at least from a design standpoint. Samsung didn't take that old design and put some new guts in it. No, it went ahead and created a totally new earbud with new drivers. It's kind of like a cross between the Galaxy Buds Plus and the Galaxy Buds Live and while the earbuds look different from the Buds Live, they appear to be similar to the case for the Buds Live. They've got USB-C and wireless charging, too.

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The case is the same size as the case for the Galaxy Buds Live.

Samsung

The buds come in three color options. It's boring to just call them black, silver and violet so as usual, Samsung added a little zest, going with phantom black, silver and violet. The new buds are fully waterproof, with an IPX7 rating that's the highest yet for a set of Samsung earbuds.

Along with the active noise-canceling, you get an Ambient mode that lets you hear the outside world, as well as a couple of notable bonus features. The first recognizes when you're talking and automatically lowers the volume of your music and fires up Ambient mode, so you can have a chat with someone. It's the same feature that's on Sony's WH-1000XM4 over-ear noise-canceling headphones and it's pretty cool unless you talk out loud to yourself a lot (or sing along to your music). In that case, you'll want to turn it off in the app.

Read more: Best noise-canceling true-wireless earbuds of 2021

The feature works with all Android phones, not just Samsung's Galaxy models, but it isn't supported with Apple iOS devices. That's because unlike the Galaxy Buds Plus and Galaxy Buds Live these earbuds don't -- and won't -- link up with the Galaxy Buds app for iOS, according to Samsung. (They do stream Bluetooth audio from iOS devices and work for making calls, you just don't get access to any of the Galaxy Buds Pro's extra features). 

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The Buds Pro have a totally different design from the Buds Plus.

Samsung

The other bonus feature is something similar to Apple's spatial audio virtual surround feature. It's called 360 Audio. Samsung says it features Dolby Head Tracking technology, which "enables you to stay at the center of the scene when you're watching a movie or TV show." It's unclear which video apps and streaming services it works with, but if it's anything like AirPods' spatial audio, streaming services will have to update their apps to support it. 

As with previous Galaxy Buds, there's also low-latency gaming mode and the earbuds will automatically switch between your Galaxy devices. But there's no true multipoint Bluetooth pairing for switching between a computer and your phone, for instance. And these don't support the AptX streaming audio codec, for those who care about that. 

It's worth noting that 360 Audio currently only works with brand new Galaxy S21 models and isn't available for legacy Samsung smartphones and tablets. That'll happen down the road. And sadly, it doesn't work with any non-Samsung Android devices. This is a Galaxy exclusive feature. 

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The buds have an IPX7 water-resistance rating.

Samsung

Samsung told me it focused on the Buds Pro sound quality. It says the headphones offer "a more comprehensive sound, sporting an 11-millimeter woofer for deeper bass and a 6.5-millimeter tweeter for richer treble." 

They also should be good for making calls based on my experience with the Buds Plus and Buds Live. Samsung says they have three microphones, plus a Voice Pickup Unit and they're equipped with noise reduction technology that helps eliminate wind noise in particular. 

Battery life with noise canceling on may seem a bit disappointing to Buds Plus owners. You can get up to 5 hours of playback at moderate volume levels and up to 8 with noise canceling off. That's similar to what you get from other noise-canceling buds like the AirPods Pro.

Stay tuned for our full review. 

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Galaxy Buds Pro specs

According to Samsung:

  • Speaker: Two-way (11mm woofer + 6.5mm tweeter)
  • Earbud weight: 0.2 ounces (6.3 grams)
  • Charging case weight: 1.58 ounces (44.9 grams)
  • Microphones: Three mics (two outer and one inner), voice pickup unit and wind shield
  • ANC: Cuts up to 99% of external background noise, adjustable to two levels
  • Ambient Sound: Amplifies up to 20 decibels, four adjustable levels, voice detect
  • Battery life with ANC or Bixby voice wake-up on: 5 hours with 13 hours extra battery life in charging case
  • Battery life with ANC and Bixby voice wake-up off: 8 hours with 20 hours extra battery life in charging case
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • IPX7 water-resistance rating (fully waterproof)
  • Colors: Phantom black, silver and violet
  • Price: $200, £219
  • Available now