Review: The Samsung Galaxy Buds FE converted me from an AirPods Pro user
8 mins read

Review: The Samsung Galaxy Buds FE converted me from an AirPods Pro user


I’ve spent the last decade of my life hopelessly devoted to Apple products. From my first iPhone to (finally) splurging on my first Macbook, I’ve always been committed — aside from my week-long attempt at switching to a Blackberry — and happy with my decision to purchase Apple products…until I tried the new Samsung Galaxy Buds FE.

Here’s the thing. I know this is going to sound wild. It’s going to sound like I’m exaggerating somehow, like I’m trying to get clicks on this article, but I need you to understand that I’ve been obsessed with Apple for as long as I can remember. My trusty iPhone 11 Pro? Love it. Well-worn iPad? Obsessed. The AirPods Pro I’ve owned for exactly four years? Fantastic. You can even read some of my past reviews to see that I don’t pull my punches, and I’ve given some incredibly popular products a resounding “meh” review.

But these tiny little earbuds from Samsung have put a chink in my Apple-plated armor, so I’ll ask you to suspend your disbelief for a few more paragraphs while I tell you why.

First Impressions of the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE

woman's hand holding square, white galaxy buds case

I was impressed unboxing these earbuds.
Credit: RJ Andersen / Mashable

Before I opened the box, I was prepared to be underwhelmed by the Galaxy Buds FE. I’ve always preferred the look and feel of AirPods, so there was a definite bias against the wingtip design of the Buds FE that — in all honestly — I still hold to this day. Something about them looks a little silly, at least in my ultra-small ears, so I wasn’t prepared to love (let alone like) these earbuds straight away. 

And then I did. The packaging was fantastic, simple, and streamlined, and the glossy white charging case is a bit smaller, lighter, and shinier than my AirPods Pro case. With three different ear tips, the Buds FE are also easily customizable to get that perfect fit — and include a second size of wingtip — so it only took me a few tries to find what works for me. 

The sound quality of the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE is unreal

Once I connected the Buds FE to my iPhone, I experienced a full jaw-drop moment, which is surprisingly rare for someone who loves reviewing products. It’s uncommon for something to truly blow me away, but the Buds FE truly did. Over the next few minutes, I found myself frantically switching between my AirPods Pro, JBL Vibe Beam, and the Buds FE so I could marvel over the difference in sound quality — and even did several rounds of telling my partner, “Hold on, hold on, now listen to the same song on these.”

Not only is the sound quality of the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE robust, crisp, and surprisingly bass-heavy, these tiny earbuds almost rivaled the sound quality of my beloved Bose QuietComfort 45s — something no earbud has ever done before. From podcasts to EDM, hip-hop, Top 40, and classical, the sound quality blew my AirPods Pro out of the water, so much so that I haven’t reached for my AirPods at all since that first day. 

galaxy buds fe and case next to airpods pro and case

The Samsung Galaxy Buds FE converted me from a die-hard AirPods user.
Credit: RJ Andersen / Mashable

The active noise cancellation (ANC) was also pretty good and comparable to my Airpods Pro, which was a nice bonus. It was also super easy to switch between ANC and ambient mode with a single long press of the touchpad, so I was able to toggle between listening to music and having a conversation without any extra hassle. 

Now, I will say that the one area where the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE don’t perform quite as well as the Apple AirPods Pro is the microphone quality. Everything sounded a bit fuzzy and far away, which was kind of a bummer, but it wasn’t bad enough to make phone calls super difficult. 

The initial pairing was easy, but swapping between devices was annoying

Straight out of the box, I was able to pair the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE to my iPhone within seconds. I just opened the charging case to put the buds into pairing mode, navigated to my Bluetooth settings on my iPhone, and selected the Galaxy Buds FE. Unfortunately, while the initial pairing was surprisingly effortless, I did have some struggles from that point on.

Because the Buds FE are a Samsung product, I wasn’t able to use Samsung’s companion app on my iPhone to customize my Buds FE experience — which was understandable — so the AutoSwitch functionality didn’t work with my Apple devices at all. If I wanted to switch between my iPhone and Macbook, for example, I’d have to turn off Bluetooth or forget the Buds FE on my iPhone, put them into pairing mode, and connect them with my Macbook in a separate step. 

Even switching between my Samsung M7 Smart Monitor and my Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ gave me the same issue, which was pretty disappointing. I was expecting difficulty with my Apple products, but struggling with my Samsung ones was a surprise. That being said, I am pretty new to Samsung products, so I’m willing to admit that it could’ve been user error. 

I did consider using the Galaxy Wearable App on my Samsung Tab, but after learning it required permission to access pretty much everything on my device (including my calendar, calls, contacts, and even my files), I decided to ditch it. Apparently, the app does make some things easier — like switching between devices, accessing an equalizer, and changing the touchpad actions — but using the Buds FE without the app was a pretty solid experience. 

Are the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE worth the price? 

At $99, the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE are absolutely worth purchasing — unless you’re an Apple user who relies on easy switching between devices or you’re someone who wants a better microphone. 

The sound quality is unreal for a sub-$100 earbud (especially considering they’re frequently on sale for $79), and the overall product quality is top-notch. The Buds FE are also available in two different color options, solid black or solid white, which is a nice perk. Compared to my Apple AirPods Pro, which retail at $249, switching to the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE feels like a no-brainer. 

Aside from the microphone quality and the ease of switching between devices, the Buds FE either match — or surpass — my original AirPods Pro in every single way. The sound quality is noticeably better, but features and specs like active noise cancellation and battery life are on par. In fact, the battery life is slightly better than my original AirPods Pro, which advertised five hours of playtime, with the Buds FE offering six hours of playtime with ANC or 8.5 with it off — as well as an additional 21 to 30 hours of playtime from the charging case depending on whether or not you’re using noise cancellation. 

Honestly, Samsung has delivered an excellent product with the Galaxy Buds FE, so much so that this lifelong Apple user is starting to have serious doubts about whether only owning Apple products — and paying their high price tags — is actually worth it anymore.





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