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Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 wishlist: All the features I want to see

Can Samsung bring superior ANC and sound quality to their mid-tier buds?
November 2, 2023
The Galaxy Buds 2 next to their case sitting on a wooden bench outdoors.
Zak Khan / Android Authority

Samsung’s line of true wireless earbuds makes for an eclectic and impressive-sounding catalog. In our review of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, we said they stand proudly as an affordable alternative to the flagship Buds Pro series. They share much of the same DNA, including industry-leading noise canceling and sound quality. They are also great value for money, costing little more than $100 at the time of writing.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that people are tingling with excitement for a next-gen Galaxy Buds 3 upgrade. There’s no official announcement yet, but read on for everything we know and our take on the features we would like to see included in the Galaxy Buds 3.

The Galaxy Wearables app needs better iOS support

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus Wearable app pulled up on a Samsung Galaxy S10e smartphone.
Lily Katz / Android Authority

Much like its biggest rival, Apple, Samsung has increasingly adopted proprietary features to entice consumers into its ecosystem. Nowadays, you often have to decide not only if you’re an Android or Apple fan but if you’re a dedicated Samsung fan too. You’re forced to commit to one ecosystem that tends to lack any meaningful support for any other. This over-simplified black-and-white choice causes problems with cross-connectivity and makes our listening experiences more difficult.

No truer is that the case than for iPhone users wishing to install the Samsung Wearables app for their earbuds. For too long, iPhone users have been unable to perform software updates for the original Galaxy Buds or Buds 2 series. Not only that, but iPhones are excluded from enjoying Samsung’s ear tip fit test, EQ presets, and control customizations. That’s not to mention the Spotify Tap feature, which only works for those that stream music via Spotify on their Android device. We’d like to see the Galaxy Buds 3 change the tide here with better iOS support out of the box for the Samsung Wearables app.

aptX high-res audio for the masses

Qualcomm aptX audio notification on phone
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Speaking of proprietary features, the Samsung Scalable Codec offers high-res audio, but only for those using Samsung smartphones. For everyone else, the Galaxy Buds 2 supports AAC and SBC Bluetooth connectivity. While they’ll play nicely for the average listener, audiophiles will undoubtedly be left wanting.

A happy middle ground could be the adoption of the aptX Bluetooth codec. This can stream 16-bit, 48kHz audio at 352kbps. That isn’t quite on par with Samsung’s Seamless Codec, but it’s much more universal. Whether you own a OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite, Xiaomi Mi 11, or anything in-between, you would have the option of listening to high-quality music. Better yet, Samsung could incorporate aptX Lossless into its headphones. This would provide universal access to 16-bit, 48kHz audio sampling up to 1Mbps. We’d love to see the Galaxy Buds 3 adopt this Bluetooth connectivity into its repertoire, however unlikely.

Customizable equalization

Sony LinkBuds and OnePlus 9 Pro
Thomas Triggs / Android Authority

Given that Samsung prides itself on audio quality, it’s surprising the Samsung Wearables app is yet to host an adjustable equalizer (EQ). By comparison, the Sony Headphone app has offered this feature for some time. One of the main reasons I keep coming back to Sony headphones is because of how customizable and interactive the companion app is.

EQ presets might get the job done for most, but audiophiles are likely to want more control over their mix. For example, The Samsung Wearables app only boasts six different options to choose from. While that’s more than, say, the Nothing X and HUAWEI AI Life apps, Samsung only includes “normal,” “bass boost,” “soft,” “dynamic,” “clear,” and “treble boost.” Being able to adjust specific frequency ranges across a multi-band EQ provides much more control over your sound. It also means you don’t have to rely on pre-made settings to get the best out of your music. If the Galaxy Buds 3 want to be truly competitive, we’d like to see them host a multi-band EQ in the Samsung Wearables app.

Improved microphone quality

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 earbuds next to each other.
Lily Katz / Android Authority
Galaxy Buds 2 (glossy earbuds) and Galaxy Buds 2 Pro (matte earbuds).

Let’s face it: true wireless headphones will struggle to deliver the call quality of over-ear headphones with closer microphone proximity. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all wireless earbuds are doomed to offer poor microphone quality forever; there are already some good examples on the market. It just so happens that Samsung has faltered here somewhat with its previous models.

Apple’s AirPods Pro 2nd Gen, for example, host possibly some of the best microphones on the earbuds market today. The Google Pixel Buds Pro aren’t too bad either. The problem is these headphones cost a lot more than the Galaxy Buds 2 did on release. What would be most welcome is if Samsung could bundle a low-distortion, high-quality microphone setup into the Galaxy Buds 3. This would address an often-overlooked aspect of affordable wireless buds.

More comfort and control

HUAWEI FreeBuds 5i earbud
Thomas Triggs / Android Authority

The Galaxy Buds 2 made some nice improvements to the original Galaxy Buds model. They were smaller and lighter than their predecessor, weighing in at only 5g per bud. They also had a very pleasing and compact form factor without sacrificing some of their top-of-the-range features. The rounded wing tip-free design was undoubtedly comfortable too, even if athletes had to miss out on securing a reliable fit. The build quality of the Galaxy Buds 2 felt sturdy without being too bulky to sit nicely in its charging case. While we don’t imagine the Galaxy Buds 3 will stray too far from the design of the Galaxy Buds 2, there are a few improvements we’d like to see.

I’ve often found that Samsung Buds feel a little bit too bulky in the ear. It’s true that their build, in addition to the silicon tips, is often what helps to seal off the ear canal from unwanted noise. Combined with impressive ANC, Samsung is a proud champion of noise canceling. The caveat to all of this, however, is that the buds are a little on the larger side. That means they don’t always rest snugly between the tragus, concha, and antitragus.

More streamlined earbuds, such as Apple’s AirPods, Nothing Ear 1, HUAWEI FreeBuds 5i, and OnePlus Buds Pro 2, are generally more comfortable. Their addition of a stem also helps to separate the touch controls from the rest of the bud. That means no accidental song skipping when inserting the buds into your ears. Unfortunately, I do this all the time with my Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, and it’s pretty frustrating. The Galaxy Buds 2 suffered from this, too, hosting overly sensitive touch controls that picked up unintended gestures. If Samsung doesn’t want to adopt a stem for the Galaxy Buds 3, they might consider chucking out the single-tap function. That way, we can insert and take out our buds without any annoying accidental prompts.

What do you want most from the Samsung Galaxy Buds 3?

304 votes

Will there be a Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 series?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 in graphite outside of the case seen from the back resting on a wooden table.
Zak Khan / Android Authority

Samsung has been updating its range of earbuds pretty regularly since it debuted the Galaxy Buds in 2019. In our review of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, we noted that they are the brand’s biggest accomplishment to date. Announced alongside the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 smartphones in August 2022, they have some of the best ANC capabilities on the market. This is in addition to several bespoke features for Samsung smartphone owners. Given that Samsung only recently released earbuds from the flagship Pro series, it’s safe to assume there’s no imminent release for the Galaxy Buds 3 Pro. However, that does leave space for an update to the original Galaxy Buds line.

According to Dutch outlet Galaxy Club, the next set of earbuds will land with model number SM-R400N. This likely won’t be a Pro model, as that line uses the “SM-R5xxx” model string. This does then suggest these could be the Galaxy Buds 3. There are also suggestions that they could be an intermediary line — a filler model before the big version tick is announced.

It’s also worth noting that earbud manufacturers are currently falling over themselves to bundle high-end features into affordable buds. For example, HUAWEI released the FreeBuds 5i in January 2023. These earbuds offer superior ANC capability and sound quality without breaking the bank. Not only that, but OnePlus and Sony have made recent releases, too, in the form of the Nord Buds 2 and the WF-C700N, respectively. All three of these earbuds come in at a price point between $60 — $120. With that in mind, Samsung will more than likely be showcasing its own affordable and feature-packed earbuds sometime in 2023.

A release date is even more up in the air. Samsung’s Galaxy Buds portfolio is relatively small in comparison to other manufacturers, such as Sony. For that reason, it can sometimes be a little tricky to gauge the release pattern of upcoming earbuds. That said, the previous two models in the Galaxy Buds series were released roughly two years apart. Last generation’s Galaxy Buds 2, Buds Live, and Buds 2 Pro all came out between the 21-28 August. That gives us a pretty good indication of Samsung’s preferred release schedule.

For that reason, it would seem likely that the Samsung Galaxy Buds 3 will launch sometime in 2023. We’ll need to wait and see how this pans out, but for now here are the release dates for the last two generations for context:

  • Samsung Galaxy Buds series — March 9, 2019
  • Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 series — August 11, 2021

Should you wait for the Samsung Galaxy Buds 3?

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 earbuds case
Lily Katz / Android Authority

There’s no lack of solid true wireless earbuds on the market right now. If you need a pair soon and don’t want to wait for the Galaxy Buds 3, you have a wealth of options, both from Samsung and competitor brands. However, the Galaxy Buds 3 could bring some new features to the table, so if you can wait a bit, it might be worth it.

Those who can’t wait should definitely look at the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro ($179 at Amazon). They are older, but they are still the best earbuds Samsung has ever made. The chances are high that even the Galaxy Buds 3 won’t top them — we’d need to wait for the inevitable Galaxy Buds 3 Pro for that. The MSRP of the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is high, but since they are older, they are easy to find for much less.

The Google Pixel Buds Pro ($119.99 at Best Buy) are also worth a look. They have been around for a while, so finding steep discounts is pretty easy.

If those are too expensive, check out the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 ($99 at Amazon). The cost-benefit ratio of those earbuds is second to none, even more so now that they are up for a next-gen upgrade.

Of course, waiting for the Galaxy Buds 3 might be the best idea. We expect them to come in 2023, so you don’t have that long to wait. Once you see them and know what Samsung’s updated, you’ll have a better grip on whether or not going with a different product is the best move.