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Galaxy Buds 3 Pro vs. AirPods Pro 2: Which premium earbuds are right for you?

Apple's AirPods Pro 2 have been a top contender for best premium earbuds since their release, but Samsung hasn't held back on the Buds 3 Pro's upgraded features. Let's compare the earbuds and see which ones are the best for you.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 Pro and Apple AirPods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro 2 (left) and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro 3 (right).

Kerry Wan/ZDNET

Apple's AirPods Pro 2 are some of the best earbuds on the market, but the competition gets stiffer every year. Sony, Bose, and Samsung have released worthy competitors in the premium earbuds market. Most notably, Samsung announced the latest iteration of its flagship premium earbuds, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro 3, during its Galaxy Unpacked July 2024 event.

Also: Everything announced at Samsung Unpacked July 2024: Galaxy Z Fold 6, Watch Ultra, Smart Ring, more

Samsung's new earbuds debuted with features supercharged by Galaxy AI, while Apple's earbuds have held tightly to their value despite being released one month after the second-generation Galaxy Buds Pro.

Earbuds are not a one-size-fits-all affair, and the ones that are right for you hinge on essential factors. Here are some key differences that will help you decide which buds best suit your audio needs.


Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 Pro
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen)
Sound features360 Audio, ANC, and Ambient Sound ModesPersonalized Spatial Audio, ANC, and Transparency Modes
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.4Bluetooth 5.3
BatteryUp to 7 hours of playback and 30 hours with charging case (ANC off)Up to 6 hours and 30 hours with charging case (ANC off)
ColorsWhite, SilverWhite

You should buy the Galaxy Buds 3 Pro if...

Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 Pro
Kerry Wan/ZDNET

1. You have a compatible Samsung smartphone

The latest premium Samsung earbuds can connect to your Pixel phone or iPhone, but users of those brands will miss out on key features reserved for specific Samsung smartphones. Standout features like ultra-high-quality audio playback and Interpreter Mode are exclusive to Samsung devices.

Also: The 3 best Galaxy Z Flip 6 features

Additionally, Samsung SmartThings Find, the software for locating your Galaxy devices, is only compatible with Samsung smartphones. This feature allows you to find your Galaxy Buds and will notify you if you leave one earbud behind. Samsung EasyPair allows for quick pairing between your Galaxy Buds and your Samsung smartphone, similar to Google's Fast Pair and Apple's one-tap Bluetooth pairing software.

2. Galaxy AI is deeply embedded in your tech ecosystem

If you have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone or tablet compatible with Galaxy AI, the Galaxy Buds 3 Pro will be another addition to your ecosystem. These earbuds are supercharged with AI, offering translation software and enhanced microphone quality. Galaxy AI powers Interpreter Mode, and when you're wearing the Galaxy Buds 3 Pro, you can listen to spoken words in a foreign language, and the earbuds will translate them to your preferred language. This feature is, however, only available via the new Galaxy Z Fold 6 and Z Flip 6 smartphones. 

Galaxy AI also contributes to enhanced adaptive noise cancellation and call quality. According to Samsung, the earbuds use machine learning to preserve the best possible quality of the speaker's voice when you take phone calls, and the result should be comparable to taking a phone call on a smartphone.

You should buy the AirPods Pro 2 if...

AirPods Pro 2 case full view with earbuds showing sensors
Christina Darby/ ZDNET

1. You're loyal to the Apple ecosystem

Like the Galaxy Buds, Apple's flagship premium earbuds work best with other devices in the same ecosystem. If you have multiple Apple devices, like an iPhone, Apple Watch, or MacBook, the AirPods Pro 2 are the audio companions you need. Features like Personalized Spatial Audio, seamless multi-device pairing, and Conversation Awareness are only available when the earbuds are paired with an Apple device.

Also: Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) review

You can still connect AirPods to non-Apple devices, such as Chromebooks, and Google and Samsung smartphones, but you won't have access to iOS-specific features.

2. Longevity is at the front of your mind

Apple's AirPods Pro 2 have been part of the conversation for the best premium earbuds since their release in 2022. Every year, Apple updates the software to prolong these earbuds' lifespan. In comparison, Samsung released the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro one month before Apple dropped the second-generation AirPods Pro. Instead of releasing a new pair of earbuds with exclusive features, Apple conducts over-the-air software updates to enhance its earbuds. Samsung users, however, must purchase new earbuds to experience the latest features.

Also: 3 useful features coming to Apple AirPods this fall (but only for these models)

Additionally, Apple's list of compatible devices encompasses more than Samsung's. The Galaxy Buds 3 Pro's most notable features are only available to a handful of smartphones and one tablet. In contrast, the AirPods Pro 2's full range of features are available to devices as early as the first-generation iPhone SE, first-generation Apple Watch, and MacBook Air (2012).

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