As the resident headphone geek here at Android Guys, you can imagine my excitement when Samsung created a new style of headphones. The Galaxy Buds Live are unlike any pair of headphones I’ve ever seen or tried before. For that reason alone, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a pair and try them out, unfortunately, my excitement didn’t last long once I began using them.
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live are often referred to as beans, and for good reason. One look at the oddly shaped earbuds, and the resemblance to a bean is undeniable.
The unusual shape is only one facet of the Galaxy Live Buds design, and due to how they are inserted into your ear, there isn’t any space for physical buttons.
This is why the Galaxy Buds Live uses touch controls. Unfortunately, I was constantly activating the buttons when trying to get the buds situated in my ears and I had to deactivate them in the settings.
As I’ve said above, the Galaxy Buds Live are unlike any pair of headphones I’ve ever tried before. The unique design eschews silicone ear tips or any sort of ear tip at all to stay in your ears. Instead, the low-profile bean-shaped true wireless headphones squeeze themselves into your ears without entering your ear canals.
Honestly, I was confused as to how I was even going to wedge these things into my ears upon first seeing them, but wedge them in I did.
For me, this was an odd feeling that I could never get used to. Every time I put the Galaxy Buds Live into my ears, something just felt off and that prevented me from ever finding them comfortable to wear. The act of stuffing them into my ear and digging them out continued to remain an awkward fumbling experience throughout my weeks of using them.
To make matters worse, they weren’t even comfortable to wear. After an hour of use, my ears would go from mild discomfort to sore. At that point, I could continue to wear them, but I certainly didn’t want to.
Overall, the Galaxy Buds Live aren’t the most uncomfortable earbuds I’ve ever worn, but they’d certainly earn a spot in the top five.
To manage the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live experience you’ll need to use the Galaxy Wear app. With the app, you’ll be able to disable the touch controls, reassign the touch controls, view the battery life of the buds and case, control the read-aloud settings for notifications, adjust the equalizer, and more. It’s really quite essential to using the buds and will enrich the experience.
For an open ear design, the Galaxy Buds Live have surprisingly good audio quality. I don’t typically expect much from this type of headphones because without a silicone ear tip, there is nothing to create a tight seal in your ears. Regardless, the Galaxy Buds Live were still able to provide a deep thumping bass and plenty of clarity for vocals.
Of course, without the isolation ear tips provide, it still lacks the punch of the lower frequencies, and noise from your surroundings tends to leak through. However, if you’re the type of person who needs to hear your surroundings and still wants quality audio, the Buds Live won’t disappoint. The app even offers several EQ presets to choose from to help customize the sound to your liking.
The active noise cancellation of the Galaxy Buds Live is one of the least impressive parts of the earbuds, and that’s not surprising. Since the buds don’t create a seal with your ear canal it’s difficult for it to help combat any noise in the environment.
I did find that with the volume at 40% or higher that was enough to overcome ambient noise, but it still wasn’t as good as a pair of earbuds with silicone tips without ANC at 30% volume.
Samsung rates the Galaxy Buds Live for eight hours of use with ANC off. That’s far different from what I experienced. With ANC off, I was seeing around four to five hours of battery life. As you can imagine, with ANC on, that number would be even lower.
The case is also supposed to provide an additional 29-hours of playtime without ANC. I’m not sure how accurate those numbers are considering the battery life didn’t live up to Samsung’s claims, but I never had any issues with the case running out of battery life before I was able to charge it back up.
When it does come time to charge the Buds Live up, Samsung gives you two different options with a USB-C port and wireless charging built into the case. It will even work with reverse wireless charging if your phone supports it.
Arguably, I’m not certain why the Galaxy Buds Live were even made. Samsung has created a new form of earbuds, that neither makes them more comfortable to wear, nor do they drastically improve the sound quality of open-ear headphones.
If you can get around the awkwardness of how the Galaxy Buds Live feel in your ears, then they sound great for open headphones and provide hours of battery life. However, if you’d prefer something more comfortable with ANC, the WF-1000XM3 from Sony can’t be beaten. A more budget-friendly option without ANC, good sound quality, and a comfortable fit would be the Stylish True Wireless Headphones from 1More.