Bring all the hyphens to Samsung’s latest swipe at the AirPods, as a unique take on wireless sound results in a bean-shaped tip-less design that seems like it will divide.
Selling earphones with a phone seems like a boy of a no-brainer, especially since we’re all listening to media with our phones these days, but so many of the best earphones don’t come from phone brands.
While Apple makes both the AirPods and the iPhone, other brands that stand out don’t have skin in the phone game at all, including Sony, Jabra, Bang & Olufsen, BlueAnt, and Bose. It’s therefore no shock that phone makers want to get in on that, but not all have been remarkably successful matching their earphones with their phones.
Samsung is an example of this, and while the Galaxy Buds haven’t been a bad example, breaking the cycle and showing it can compete may take not just yet another pair of Buds, but a pair that can think outside of the bud, and maybe into another shape entirely.
At this week’s Samsung Unpacked event held virtually for the Galaxy Note 20 launch, the phone maker revealed just how it plans to do that: designing a pair of bean-inspired earphones.
Called the Galaxy Buds Live, they’re possibly one of the more interesting products from the launch, thanks in part to the Note 20 range feeling like pen-equipped variants of the S20 range, and the Buds Live really being like nothing else Samsung has previously made.
Yes, they’re bean-shaped, and shiny and glossy, which is definitely a polarising look to be sure, but there are other things that make these Buds stand out.
For starters, Samsung is finally getting on the ANC train, the Active Noise Cancellation train, though for an “open” style of ANC whereby it cancels out noises in the background, similar to how ambient modes work on other noise cancelling headphones.
The Galaxy Buds Live also offer a reduced latency mode for gaming on phones, as well as a way to share music with friends who have Galaxy Buds, however many of those there are.
And then there’s the ear-tip design, or rather ear-tip-less design, because these are tip-less earphones, and more akin to earbuds with a short ridge to sit in the ear.
Will tip-less design work in the Galaxy Buds Live?
We have our doubts about a design without a tip, simply because you invariably need a seal to get noise cancellation to work, a problem Huawei suffered in its take on open ANC earbuds earlier in the year, and one Apple has successfully navigated around by switching its earbud AirPods to earphone AirPods Pro.
It’s possible Samsung’s unorthodox bean shape could be the way Samsung navigates this, as the extra design could block the ear more clearly and get the ANC to a more successful state than what Huawei tried.
However a tip-less design may also be uncomfortable, because not everyone fancies earbuds, this reviewer included.
Australian Galaxy Buds pricing and availability
Fortunately Australians won’t have long to find out whether the Buds Live are successful, or even if they’re comfortable, as they’re set to arrive in Australia from August 7, priced at $319 in three colours: black, bronze, and white.
While we’ve not seen confirmation that carriers and retailers will necessarily bundle in the Buds Live with the Note 20, it wouldn’t surprise as if this one was thrown in with pre-orders for the new phone, as that has been known to happen.