Apple and Samsung aren’t strangers to competition, and the two have been fighting for years to clinch the top spot on the technology market. Although a lot of people have their own opinions when it comes to Apple vs Samsung, how do the two compare when it comes to headphones?
Below are some of the key features to look for in wireless headphones, and how the two compare against each other.
For any wireless headphones, one of the most crucial factors is battery life, especially if they have the added bonus of noise cancellation. But how do these earphones compare to one another?
The Buds Live promises a six hour battery life with active noise cancellation on and Bixby (Samsung’s virtual assistant) switched off. The carry case provides an extra 15 hours of battery life for when you’re on the go.
However, the battery life depends on your settings. With Bixby on, the battery life drops to 5.5 hours, but if you have both Bixby and noise cancellation switched off, that will give you 8 hours of juice.
In addition, with both of those settings turned off, the carry case will provide a further 29 hours of battery life, which is almost double the standard hours.
The Buds Live also has quick charging capabilities, so just five-minutes of charge is enough to give you around an hour of playback. This is super handy if you’re in a rush out of your house, but have forgotten to charge your headphones.
When it comes to the AirPods Pro, you’re looking at around five hours of playback, with the carry case providing an extra 19 hours of battery life.
All in all, they provide a total of 24 hours of playback before you need to use a mains plug again.However, with active noise cancellation switched on, the AirPods battery life drops to around 4.5 hours.
Like the Buds Live, AirPods also have quick-charging capabilities. A five-minute charge will also provide you with one hour of listening time. The Buds Live narrowly beat the AirPods when it comes to battery life.
Active noise-cancellation (ANC) is a feature more and more of us are looking for when it comes to headphones. Both the Buds Live and AirPods Pro feature ANC, so you can cut out background noise without having to crank your music higher.
Samsung claims that their ANC tech can reduce background noise by up to 97% percent, but allows some outside noises, like voices and announcements, to get through. However, unlike most noise-cancelling earbuds, the Buds Live don’t have ear tips.
As there are no ear tips to help create a seal between the ear phones and the ear canal, the ANC is not as effective. They let in more ambient noise, making the feature rather unreliable.
Apple, on the other hand, has a more high-tech approach to noise-cancellation. Each AirPod has two microphones. The one on the outside detects any incoming noise which is often cancelled out by anti-noise.
The one on the inside detects any noise that has made it through the seal. The noise-cancelling technology is adjusted at around 200 times per second, and Apple claim they are the first on the market to do this,
Unfortunately, neither the Buds Live or the AirPods Pro have varying degrees of ANC – it’s either off or on. However, they both offer ‘Transparency’ mode, which allows in more outside noise like transport announcements. Overall, Apple’s noise-cancellation proves to be more effective than Samsung’s.
Sound quality often depends a lot on isolation and the quality of active noise-cancellation, as it allows you to hear the music purely, without the interference of background noise.
With that being said, the Buds live manage to do a good job at serving up plenty of bass, despite their lack of airtight seal. Overall, they deliver a nice balance, and the lows don’t overpower the highs. They deliver a rather full-bodied and pleasant package.
There are some downsides to the Buds Live audio quality. Firstly, they’re not that exciting to listen to, and can often struggle to get the groove of a track right. More complex arrangements can also take their toll on the Buds as they suffer with both the timing and the dynamics.
Unfortunately, the lack of air seal means that their sound quality is inconsistent between users, so, it’s pretty hard to clearly judge the Buds Live.
Apple, on the other hand, provides a more consistent and coherent performance. They use a digital signal processor (DSP) to tune the sound signature to the shape of a user’s ear. Like the Buds, they are typically easy-going, meaning they won’t offend over long listening sessions.
Despite their ear tips, the AirPods Pro sound pretty spacious – which is thanks to the vents Apple incorporated in the design. This makes it sound less like the music is being pumped directly into your brain.
The AirPods provide plenty of texture and detail when it comes to vocals, and the treble sparkles too. Overall, they provide a much more interesting listening experience compared to the Buds Live.
Aesthetically, it’s hard to draw comparisons between these two earbuds as they couldn’t be any more different. Nicknamed the “Galaxy Beans”, the Buds Live look like two kidney beans, with glossy exteriors. Unlike a lot of in-ear headphones, these earphones don’t have ear tips.
This may sound unusual, but it actually makes for a less invasive fit, as they sit gently in your ears without sticking into your ear canal.
These earpods are available in three different colors: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black and Mystic White. They’re also available in two different wingtip sizes (small and large) to help you get the right fit for your ears.
Despite not having ear tips, the Bud Lives have a surprisingly snug fit that feels secure even when you’re doing intense activities like running.
The AirPods Pro have a more conventional look about their design. Just like their predecessors (the original AirPods), they have a glossy white finish with protruding stems, except there’s one major difference; the silicon tips.
These help secure them in your ears, even during intense workouts. Apple provides three different pairs of silicon tips, so you should be able to find the size that fits you best.
Whether you prefer the design of the Buds Live or the AirPods Pro is down to personal preference. Perhaps you favour the more traditional looking AirPods? Or you like the colour options that the Galaxy Beans offer.
Both of these headphones offer a hands-free experience which comes in the form of Siri (iPhone) and Bixby (Samsung). Activating one of these assistants will allow you to adjust the volume, change the song or play/pause without a touch of a button. (If you don’t have an iPhone or Samsung, you can activate Google Assistant using the headphones.)
Samsung’s headphones support Bluetooth 5.0, and use a ‘Samsung Scalable Codec.’ This fancy term refers to a technology that changes the bitrate of the music being played depending on the strength of your Bluetooth signal. This basically means that it stops your music from jumping around when your signal is weakened.
The Buds Live also comes with an accompanying app which allows you to check the battery life of each earbud, and has a ‘find my earbuds’ feature. If you’re part of the Samsung ecosystem, you can quickly switch between different Samsung devices like TVs and smartphones.
Apple also provides a touch control feature, allowing you to control your music (except volume) from the headphones themself. They also have a ‘Ear Tip Fit Test’ which you can do using your iPhone.
After a 5 second test, you’ll either be given the ‘Good Seal’, or Apple will flag a problem. If that’s the case, you just need to choose one of the other two silicone ear tips.
With the iOS 14 update, Apple also updated the AirPod Pros (only available to those with iOS devices). The update included Spatial Audio which mimics the effects of surround sound. They also optimized the battery, so the charging case learns your daily charging routine to help maintain their battery life.
Despite the Galaxy Bud Lives having an abundance of features, the Apple AirPods Pro are just marginally better.
On this occasion, the Apple AirPods Pro takes the crown as the better pair of earphones. Not only do they have a way better sound quality, they also provide a better noise-cancelling experience. Overall, they’re just more reliable.
However, the Galaxy Buds Live shouldn’t be disregarded. Although their look is a bit out there, they’re actually pretty comfortable, and come with a ton of cool features.
They’re pretty good and an affordable wireless earphone. Also, if you use an Android device, you’re better off steering clear of AirPods as you won’t be able to experience all of the features.
If you do own an iOS device, and they’re within your budget, it’s definitely worth getting the AirPods Pro.