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Samsung Galaxy Buds Live: 8 tips and tricks to get the most out of your new earbuds

Samsung's latest wireless earbuds look different and have plenty of features that make them stand out.


The Galaxy Buds Live have a unique look, don't they? 

David Carnoy/CNET

Alongside the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra, Samsung this month announced a new pair of completely wireless earbuds. The Galaxy Buds Live may look weird, but they have all of the features and specs to compete with Apple's AirPods ($100 at Amazon)

The Buds Live bring active noise cancellation to drown out background noise, experimental features for improving the gaming experience and the ability to have your notifications read to you.

Exactly how they work will depend on the phone you're using them with, but on the whole, from the initial pairing process to controlling your music, they're easy to use. Below are eight tips and tricks to get you started with the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live.

1. Pair the Buds Live to your phone

Before you pair your new earbuds with your phone, make sure you install the Galaxy Wearable app on your Android device or the Galaxy Buds app on your iPhone. You'll use this to adjust settings and update their software.

Pairing your Galaxy Buds Live to an Android device is as simple as unlocking your phone, and opening the Buds Live charging case. Your phone will recognize the buds are nearby and prompt you to connect the two devices. If your phone doesn't prompt you, or you're using an iPhone ($499 at Apple), open the Samsung Galaxy Buds ($49 at Walmart) or Wearable app and add a new device.


All you have to do is open the charge case to pair your earbuds. 

Picture by Jason Cipriani/CNET

2. Pair them to another device

If you've already connected the Buds Live to your phone but want to connect them to a computer, tablet or another phone, the quick trick of opening the charging case won't work. Instead, you'll need to put both earbuds in your ears, then long-press on both of them until you hear a radar-like sound, indicating they are in pairing mode. Then follow the standard pairing process based on the device you're using.


The top portion of the earbud is the touch target. 

David Carnoy/CNET

3. Get to know the touch controls

Each of the earbuds will respond to touch controls through a series of taps or a long-press. The touch area is located on the top half of either earbud, at least according to the animations played in the Wearable app. However, I've had success tapping anywhere on the earbud. Here's a list of the touch controls you'll want to know:

Single-tap: Play/pause.

Double-tap: Play next track or answer or end a call.

Triple-tap: Play the previous track.

Long-press: User customizable, but it will enable or disable active noise cancellation by default. Also rejects an incoming call.


Turn on active noise cancellation with just a couple of taps. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

4. How to turn on active noise canceling

There are two different ways you can turn on active noise canceling (ANC) to help keep the background noise to a minimum. As I covered in the previous tip, you can turn ANC on or off by long-pressing on either earbud.

However, if you've changed the long-press functionality (more on that in a minute), you'll need to open the Wearable app on your phone and slide the switch next to Active noise canceling to the On or Off position.

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5. Customize the long-touch action

If you forget what the gesture controls do or are struggling to get the hang of them, you can view short animations showing you how to use the controls in the Wearable app. This is also where you can go to change the long-press action for each earbud.

Open the Wearable app and tap on Touch controls. There you'll find a section labeled Touch and Hold. Select the earbud you want to customize, and you'll see a short list of options, ranging from adjusting the volume up or down, triggering Bixby, toggling ANC, or launching Spotify.


Never miss important alerts. 

Lexy Savvides/CNET

6. Have notifications read to you

This feature only works with Android phones; sorry, iPhone owners.

If you don't want to reach for your phone to read every single email or text message, your Galaxy Buds Live and read them to you. Enable the feature in the Wearable app by selecting the Read notifications aloud option. Slide the switch the On position then follow the prompts to give the app access to your phone's notifications.

Make sure you go back to the Wearable app and customize the apps that you want to hear notifications from. The fewer the apps, the better is my approach.

7. Check out Samsung Labs

If you're using Galaxy Buds Live with a Samsung device, you'll have a couple of experimental features available in the Labs section of the Wearable app. For example, with the Buds Live paired to a Galaxy S20 Plus, right now I have an option to use a dedicated Gaming Mode and Relieve pressure with ambient sound. On an iPhone, I only have access to the latter feature.


SmartThings can help you find your lost earbuds. 

Picture by Jason Cipriani/CNET

8. Find lost earbuds with SmartThings Find

After connecting your Buds Live to a Samsung phone, you'll likely see a prompt asking if you want to turn on SmartThings Find. This new feature will help you track down a lost earbud, should you misplace one. When you see the prompt, tap Get Started and follow the instructions to turn the feature on.

Once it's enabled, you can open the SmartThings app on your phone and it will show you the current location -- assuming your phone and earbuds are still connected -- or the last location they were connected.

If the Find feature isn't showing up for you, or you're having trouble with it, make sure you're using the latest version of the SmartThings app by updating it in the Play or Galaxy app store.

Now that you've mastered the Galaxy Buds Live, take a few minutes to learn all of the new S Pen tips and tricks that come with Samsung's latest phone, the Note 20 Ultra. Speaking of the Note 20 Ultra, we found some hidden features you should know. Otherwise, you can get ready for the upcoming launch of Android 11 by checking out some of our favorite features