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Samsung's new Galaxy Buds 3 look nearly identical to Apple AirPods - and that's a good thing

Samsung's latest wireless earbuds debut with several new features, plus an unexpected but welcomed redesign.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
Samsung Galaxy Buds 3
Kerry Wan/ZDNET

This week, during Samsung's annual Unpacked event, the company announced the latest generation of its premium flagship earbuds, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 Pro. Coming out two years after their predecessors, the Galaxy Buds 3 Pro are packed with new AI-powered audio features, some interesting integrations with Samsung smartphones, and a significant redesign.

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

The third-generation Galaxy Buds' base and Pro models also sport a new form factor. Instead of a rounded design reminiscent of Sony's WF-1000X-series earbuds, Samsung's buds now look like -- you guessed it -- Apple's AirPods.

The Galaxy Buds 3 have a traditional bud-and-stem design, and Samsung implemented the earbuds' touch controls on the stem. Like the AirPods, the Galaxy Buds 3 have microphone houses at the top of the bud. 

The Buds 3's earbud stem is a bit longer than the AirPods Pro 2's, so Samsung's newest earbuds more closely resemble the base model AirPods, but with an edgier, more angular design and LED light strips along the stem. The base model Galaxy Buds 3 omit silicon ear tips, similar to Apple's AirPods (3rd Gen), while the Galaxy Buds 3 Pro have silicon tips.

In my opinion, the new design is one of the Galaxy Buds 3 series' best features. Here's why.

More reliable touch controls

Earbuds with a rounded form factor, like the previous generation of Galaxy Buds, leave little surface area for touch controls, which are located on the outer edge of the earbud.

When touch controls are placed there, you have to tap the buds in a manner that can push them deeper into the ear canal, causing discomfort. Additionally, loose hairs can easily trigger touch controls on the buds' outer edge, leading to accidental command completions.

With touch controls housed on the stem, you can easily access them more naturally and reliably. The Galaxy Buds 3's new touch controls, which Samsung calls Blade Lights, are like the ones found on Apple's AirPods Pro 2, with commands consisting of pinches or swipes to the bud stem.

Finding 'that' perfect fit

For some users, rounded bud designs are more comfortable to wear and can be more secure in their ears. If you're like me, however, the bud-and-stem design is the way to go. Although companies like Samsung and Sony say rounded bud designs are more "ergonomic," I find the bud-and-stem design easier to adjust in my ear.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra: Key specs, features, price, and everything else we know

When I tested Sony's rounded earbuds, I didn't have much wiggle room to adjust them when they didn't fit snugly in my ear, and the only option I had was to change the earbuds' tip sizes. With my AirPods, however, I can twist the bud stem forward or backward to find the perfect angle where the buds fit best in my ears. I expect the same adjustments to work when I soon test the Galaxy Buds 3 Pro.

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