When early leaks and rumours suggested that Samsung’s next true wireless earphones would look like beans, a lot of people (including me) scoffed at the idea, and thought it was too ridiculous to implement in a production-scale headset. Those rumours turned out to be true though, and the Galaxy Buds Live earpieces do in fact resemble beans. This might appear to be an odd shape at first glance, but they actually sit quite well in the ears, and look elegant when in place.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live is available in three colours – black, bronze, and white, matching the company’s latest flagship phones, tablets, and wearables – and all have a glossy, reflective finish. The black of my review unit is, in my opinion, the best looking of the three, although many might like the more unusual bronze colour option.
Whatever colour you pick, you get a matching charging case. which is compact, glossy, and features USB Type-C fast charging as well as Qi wireless charging. The earpieces latch into place in the case magnetically, and a small indicator light tells you the approximate battery level of the case. You can see the exact battery level of the case using the Galaxy Wear app, but more on that later.
It’s hard to imagine functional active noise cancellation on earphones with anything short of a proper in-canal fit, so I was definitely curious to see how ANC would work with the unique design of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live. There is a specific way to insert the earphones, which is described through a short tutorial graphic in the Galaxy Wear app. Putting the earphones on the correct way ensured better passive noise isolation than with earphones designed for an outer-ear fit, but it didn’t quite come close to what a good pair of in-canal earphones can offer.
Other useful features in the app include graphical battery indicators for each earphone individually and the case (the latter is visible only when the earphones are in the case with the lid open), and equaliser settings. You can also activate an experimental ambient sound mode, update the firmware, and more. The app is excellent as before, offering just the right number of controls without being too complicated.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live uses Bluetooth 5 for connectivity, and supports the SBC, AAC, and Samsung’s proprietary Scalable codecs. The earpieces weigh 5.6g each, while the case weighs around 42g. I was able to use the earpieces of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live for around 5 hours, 30 minutes on a single full charge with active noise cancellation enabled much of the time. The case was able to recharge the earphones just under thrice over, for a total battery life of around 20 hours per charge cycle.