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The best wireless earbuds for the Galaxy S21 series: Galaxy Buds Pro, Sony WF-1000XM3, and more!


Samsung’s Galaxy S21 phones are some of the best Android devices to date, available in three models (regular, Plus, and Ultra), and starting at only $800. Recent Galaxy S21 deals have even brought the phones down by $200, and you can expect more sales in the coming months. No matter how much you pay for any of the phones, there aren’t many downsides, except that the headphone jack is long gone.

Samsung’s flagship series lost the beloved 3.5mm connector with last year’s S20 series, and it hasn’t made a return on the S21 lineup. That means if you don’t want to deal with an adapter, and if you don’t have a pair of wired USB Type-C headphones, you’ll need a pair of wireless earbuds to enjoy music. Even if you have wired headphones, true wireless earbuds might be a worthwhile upgrade.

In this guide, we’ll look at some of the best wireless earbuds for the Galaxy S21 series. If you haven’t already purchased a case for your new phone, have a look at our roundup of the best Galaxy S21 cases.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro​

By most accounts, the best pair of earbuds for the Galaxy S21 series is Samsung’s own Galaxy Buds Pro. Not only do the earbuds sound great, but they also support Active Noise Cancelling (ANC), and their internal batteries last around five hours. When it’s time to charge them up, you can use a USB Type-C cable or a Qi wireless charging pad.

the Galaxy Buds Pro in its charging/carrying case

The Galaxy Buds Pro in its charging/carrying case.

SpecificationGalaxy Buds Pro
Battery lifeAround 5 hours, 18 hours with the case
ChargingUSB Type-C, Qi wireless
CodecsScalable (Samsung proprietary), AAC, SBC
Water resistanceIPX7
ColorsPhantom Violet, Phantom Silver, Phantom Black

The Galaxy Buds Pro has a few extra features when paired with Samsung devices. The buds support Samsung’s proprietary Scalable audio codec, which “prevents audio chopping by changing the bit-rate according to the strength of the Bluetooth connection” according to Samsung. You can also charge the earbuds’ case wirelessly on the back of any recent Galaxy S or Note phone, though that also works for any Qi-compatible earbuds.

The most noticeable downside to the Galaxy Buds Pro is that the touch controls are a bit finicky — it’s easy to accidentally pause music or skip to the next track by adjusting the buds in your ear. You can turn the touch controls off completely (as well as change other options) if you want. The buds also use Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant when paired to a Galaxy phone, but it’s easy to switch the buds to Google Assistant.

If you’re curious about our full thoughts, check out our Galaxy Buds Pro review for all the nitty-gritty details.

  • Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

  • These are the ultimate earbuds for the Galaxy S21, complete with ANC and support for Samsung's Scalable audio codec. However, at an MSRP of $200, they are on the expensive side.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live​

If you’re usually not a fan of in-ear earbuds (like me), or the Galaxy Buds Pro is just too expensive, the Galaxy Buds Live might be for you. The buds’ unique shape has earned them the nickname ‘Galaxy Beans,’ but they fit well in most people’s ears and have most of the features found on the Buds Pro.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live - Feature Image_1

SpecificationGalaxy Buds Live
Battery lifeAround 6 hours, 20 hours with the case
ChargingUSB Type-C, Qi wireless
CodecsScalable (Samsung proprietary), AAC, SBC
Water resistanceIPX2
Colors Mystic Bronze, Mystic White, Mystic Black

Just like the Galaxy Buds Pro, the Buds Live can be charged over USB Type-C or Qi wireless, and there’s support for Samsung’s special Scalable audio codec when paired to a Galaxy device. The earbuds also have limited water resistance but don’t go swimming with them. The controls and audio are customizable with the Samsung Wearable app.

The main drawback here is the Active Noise Cancellation. While the earbuds technically have ANC, you need an in-ear design for proper noise isolation, so ANC has little effect when turned on. If blocking the outside world is an essential feature, go for the Buds Pro or below-mentioned Sony earbuds instead. Check out our review of the Galaxy Buds Live for our full thoughts.

  • Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

  • The Galaxy Buds Live is a great cheaper alternative to the Buds Pro, with most of the same software features and a unique design. However, the ANC doesn't work well.

Sony WF-1000XM3​

The Sony WF-1000XM3 has been praised by many for its excellent Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) and long battery life. The earbuds aren’t just one of the best options for the Galaxy S21 series; they’re fantastic for any device, especially if noise canceling is a top priority for you.

sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds on table with xperia phone

Specification Sony WF-1000XM3
Battery lifeAround 6 hours, 24 hours with the case
ChargingUSB Type-C, Qi wireless
CodecsAAC, SBC
Water resistanceNone
ColorsBlack, Beige

Sony’s WF-1000XM3 earbuds can last up to 6 hours on a single charge with ANC on, and the earbuds’ case can push that to 24 hours. While you can plug in the case with a USB Type-C cable, you can’t wirelessly charge them (so no reverse charging from your Galaxy S21). There’s also no water resistance at all, so the earbuds aren’t ideal for working out or walking outside in the rain. The microphone performance also leaves a lot to be desired.

  • Sony WF-1000XM3

  • These are fantastic wireless earbuds for any phone, not just the Galaxy S21, with robust ANC support and fantastic sound quality. However, they are expensive and don't have wireless charging or any water resistance.

Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro+​

If you want AirPods-style earbuds that work better with Android devices, including the Galaxy S21 series, the Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro+ is one of the best options. It has a design similar to AirPods, but the case charges with USB Type-C, and all features are available on both Android and iOS.

Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro+

SpecificationMobvoi TicPods 2 Pro+
Battery lifeAround 4 hours, 204 hours with the case
ChargingUSB Type-C
CodecsQualcomm aptX, AAC, SBC
Water resistanceNone
ColorsIce, Navy

The TicPods are the only earbuds on this list that support Qualcomm’s aptX audio codec, which means you’ll get excellent wireless performance on any Android device using a Qualcomm chipset (including the Galaxy S21). They might be the best choice if you’re swapping between several different phones and tablets if most of them have Qualcomm hardware. However, the earbuds don’t have ANC or wireless charging.

  • TicPods 2 Pro+

  • These earbuds closely match the design of Apple's AirPods, but can charge over USB Type-C and support Qualcomm's aptX audio codec.

If you’re looking for more options that go beyond targeting the Galaxy S21 series, you can check out our curated list of best true wireless earbuds for all phones.

The post The best wireless earbuds for the Galaxy S21 series: Galaxy Buds Pro, Sony WF-1000XM3, and more! appeared first on xda-developers.


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