When it comes to smartphones, you’re either an iOS or an Android fan. This rivalry extends to the true wireless earbuds realm. Most people want Apple’s AirPods while the rest prefer Samsung’s Galaxy Buds. Of course, there are plenty of other options out there, but these two reign supreme for many reasons: They both boast a robust build, easy operation, and good sound, not to mention total freedom from wires. Right now, the AirPods 2nd Gen and Galaxy Buds are on sale at Amazon and Best Buy for as low as $110. If you want active noise cancellation thrown in, you can opt for the spectacular-sounding AirPods Pro instead for a cool $21 off.
Samsung Galaxy Buds — $110, was $130
The Apple AirPods might be the most popular option, but the Samsung Galaxy Buds are the best true wireless earbuds that you can buy right now for Android. They offer a super comfortable and secure fit, six hours of playtime (an hour longer than the AirPods), and they’re sweatproof. Right now, you can buy them at Best Buy for a cool $20 off. Get the Galaxy Buds with a wireless charging case for just $110 instead of $130.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds are triangular and ergonomically shaped to fit the ears snugly. They attach to three sets of silicone eartips and sport fins, and although they seal the ears shut and provide a physical layer of noise reduction, they’re among the most comfortable truly wireless earbuds we’ve worn in a long time.
The Galaxy Buds promise a solid six hours per charge. That’s an hour longer than the more expensive AirPods. Unfortunately, while the playback time is impressive, the amount of juice the wireless charging case can hold is not. The Galaxy Buds offer just seven hours of additional battery life, but not to worry. These true wireless earbuds can charge wirelessly on the backs of recent Galaxy phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S20.
Samsung’s buds come with a lot of neat features. Controls can be accessed via tapping and touching the buds to switch songs or adjust the volume. The controls can be customized using the Samsung Wear app, which also offers great customization for your listening preferences. Activating ambient sound mode allows the Galaxy Buds’ built-in microphones to adjust the level of noise that goes in, letting you hear traffic noises, flight announcements, or your coworkers calling out to you. And if you lose your Galaxy Buds, don’t fret. Just activate “Find my earbuds” on the app and you will no longer have to dig through the numerous couch cushions, bags, or jeans pockets whenever they go missing.
Samsung collaborated with AKG to ensure the Galaxy Buds deliver the type of customizable sound experience that other true wireless earbuds normally don’t offer. Using the app, you can choose different audio presets to suit your liking. Our favorite equalizer mode is “Dynamic,” which adjusts the sound to best suit whatever genre you’re listening to. Although the Galaxy Buds don’t offer the same audiophile-grade sound quality as the likes of Sennheiser Momentum and Master and Dynamic MW07, they don’t cost nearly as much, and they’re far better than AirPods.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds pose a serious threat to the AirPods’ popularity with their superb design, solid sound, and ease of use. Get them for just $110 instead of $130 at Best Buy today.
Apple AirPods (2nd Gen) — from $139
What’s the difference between the first and second generation of AirPods besides the wireless charging case upgrade? Not much, to be honest. They look exactly the same, although there are some notable improvements underneath the hood, including the H1 chipset, longer talk time, and support for voice-activated Siri. They also remain ridiculously easy to operate and set up for iOS devices, although the lack of waterproofing or workout features is baffling considering the price point (you can take the Galaxy Buds to the gym, and they cost less). Right now, you can get the AirPods 2 with the standard wired charging case for $139 (down from $159) at Amazon and $150 (down from $199) for the model with a wireless charging case.
The latest AirPods rock the same golf-tee shape of their predecessors. A lot of people seem to like this design (considering how immensely popular they are), although if you ask us they look like the old EarPods with the wires cut off. Compared to its wired counterpart, the wireless charging case now has its LED lights on the front, which allows you to see charging status when the case is placed atop a Qi charging pad. Apple claims that the case can carry the same amount of reserve charging it did three years ago, offering up to 24 hours, which still beats most competitors.
The onboard controls are the same as before – for better or worse. Each AirPod works autonomously, which means they don’t run out of juice at the same time. They auto-pause audio immediately when you take one out — but only with Apple devices. As usual, they don’t have volume and song-skipping default controls, offering only play and skip forward with a double-tap. You can assign play/pause, next track, and previous track controls in your iPhone’s Bluetooth settings on either earbud if you want to, though. To change the volume, you can simply ask Siri to turn it up or down for you. If you have an Android phone, though, you’re stuck with doing it manually.
Speaking of Siri, voice-activated control wasn’t possible with the old AirPods. You can thank Apple’s new H1 chip for adding it, alongside lower gaming lag, and its “50% faster” connection for phone calls — although we didn’t really notice any difference compared to other true wireless earbuds, including the original AirPods. Apple also claims that the chip can significantly reduce the distortion of your voice in windy conditions for superior call quality. We tested this in moderate wind, and it actually worked. Despite all these extremely welcome new additions, it’s hard to forgive Apple for the fact that it still hasn’t made the AirPods sweatproof. For that, you’ve got to pay a premium price for the Airpods Pro, which also boast active noise canceling.
When it comes to sound quality, the AirPods fall under the “Not bad” category. It reminded us a lot of the wired EarPods. It’s far from terrible, and we do appreciate the softness and warmth it lends to certain songs, but that’s not exactly what you’re looking for when you’re listening to hip-hop, rap, and other beat-driven genres. It’s a very safe sound signature, designed not to offend anyone.
You get a modest update with the AirPods. If you’re an iPhone user, these are the best true wireless earbuds to get, especially if you’re after convenience. If you already have the old AirPods, you don’t need to buy these.
AirPods (2nd Gen) with Charging Case — $139, was $159:
AirPods (2nd Gen) with Wireless Charging Case — $150, was $199:
AirPods Pro — $228, was $249
It’s probably pretty obvious that we weren’t all that impressed with the standard AirPods. There are just several other true wireless earbuds out there that offer better value for your hard-earned money. So when Apple announced it was going to release the souped-up AirPod Pro, we were naturally skeptical. Will the company be able to deliver this time and improve on all the areas that the AirPods failed at? The answer is a resounding yes. The AirPods Pro are shockingly good and a huge win for Apple. Their sound quality has improved tremendously, their noise-canceling is spectacular, and they’re extremely comfortable to use even for a long time. The only problem we foresee is their questionable long-term battery life. Right now, you can score the AirPods Pro at Amazon for $228 instead of $249 – a cool $21 off.
Love it or hate it, the AirPods’ golf-tee design is iconic, so Apple didn’t stray too far away from it when designing the AirPods Pro. They just now sport a shorter stem, which brings us to this major concern: Battery life. While the AirPods Pro offer the same battery performance as the standard AirPods (roughly 4.5 to 5 hours of listening time and/or 3.5 hours of call time per charge), we fear that their smaller batteries might not last in the long run. Unlike the Airpods, the AirPods Pro come with three sets of silicone eartips that snap on with a satisfying click instead of sliding onto a little nubbin as so many other in-ear buds require. This change not only offers a more secure and comfortable fit but also contributes to a better bass response.
The AirPods Pro inherit the original AirPods’ controls which means they’re ridiculously easy to operate and, as expected, Siri is always listening and ready to obey your every command. As with most true wireless buds with active noise-canceling, you have the option to either shut noise out or let it all in. Apple calls the latter feature “Transparency Mode” and activating this allows sounds from the outside world to arrive in a very natural way, almost as if you’ve taken the buds themselves out. Noise-canceling is decidedly top-notch and almost on par with what over-ear ANC headphones offer. Last but certainly not least, the AirPods Pro deliver a pretty impressive sonic performance. Their sound signature is terrific, rich in subtle details with some zesty treble, rounded-up by a full-bodied bass.
We tip our hats to the Apple AirPods Pro. These are absolutely the best true wireless earbuds that you can get if you’re an iOS user. Get them for $228 at Amazon today.
Looking for more? Check out Deals Hub for more AirPods deals.
Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.