Samsung Galaxy Buds FE review: a rare case of Android envy

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Samsung Galaxy Buds FE successful unfastened case, sitting among plants.

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE

MSRP $100.00

“The Galaxy Buds FE are a awesome and affordable bargain for Android users.”


  • Accessible price
  • Comfy and unafraid fit
  • Clear, powerful sound
  • Very tin sound cancellation
  • Good transparency mode
  • Excellent app support


  • No app for iOS
  • No wireless charging
  • No Bluetooth Multipoint
  • Only IPX2 h2o resistance

Samsung’s earbuds person ever been unapologetically (and understandably) Android-centric. The company’s latest effort — nan affordably priced Galaxy Buds FE — are nary exception. Yes, you tin brace them pinch an iPhone if you want, but because Samsung doesn’t make an iOS type of its Wearable app, there’s nary measurement to entree immoderate of nan Buds FE’s settings and features.

In nan past, I haven’t had overmuch logic to bemoan this situation. After all, location are plentifulness of astonishing wireless earbuds that activity perfectly pinch Apple’s devices, and which connection nan aforesaid aliases amended capacity erstwhile compared to likewise priced Samsung models.

But aft spending much than a week pinch nan $100 Galaxy Buds FE, I find I’m now a small envious of Android users. Here’s why.

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE: design

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE successful unfastened case.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Whether you opt for nan Galaxy Buds FE successful graphite aliases white, nan compact charging lawsuit is ever dressed successful a glossy achromatic finish. Its smooth, rounded exterior feels awesome successful your manus and requires small room successful your pouch aliases purse.

It’s a mini thing, but nan lid, hinge, and magnet closure are each top-notch. The build value is arsenic bully arsenic Apple’s — possibly moreover better. Cleverly, Samsung has utilized identical measurements for nan cases of its various Galaxy wireless earbuds. If you person existing lawsuit covers for nan Galaxy Buds 2, Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, aliases Galaxy Buds Live, they’ll fresh nan lawsuit of nan Galaxy Buds FE.

The lawsuit whitethorn not person wireless charging, but Samsung provides a very generous 38-inch USB-C to USB-C charging cablegram pinch which you tin complaint nan lawsuit from a wall adapter, a laptop, aliases moreover a phone.

The buds themselves are mini and understated, pinch ample and level touch-sensitive surfaces. These are fingerprint magnets, which is simply a small ironic fixed that you’ll beryllium rubbing them constantly.

In emblematic Samsung fashion, nan Galaxy Buds FE only person nan barest magnitude of h2o protection astatine IPX2. This intends a spot of sweat is fine, but beryllium very observant erstwhile cleaning them — moving them nether nan pat is not recommended.

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE: comfort

 included accessories.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

If you’ve mostly had nary problem pinch closed wireless earbuds (the benignant pinch silicone eartips), you’ll apt find nan Galaxy Buds FE very comfortable and secure. They travel pinch a reasonably modular 3 sizes of eartips and nan prime of utilizing nan default wingtips aliases nan optional stableness bands. Those pinch larger ears will astir apt find nan wingtips preferable — they thief pinch expanding tegument interaction — while smaller-eared group whitethorn for illustration nan bands instead.

The Samsung Galaxy Wearable app, for illustration galore companion apps these days, has a useful fresh trial to fto you cognize erstwhile you’ve achieved a seal that’s optimal for sound canceling and sound quality.

Once I switched to nan largest eartips, I recovered them to beryllium very comfortable, moreover for longer periods of time, and unafraid capable for everything but nan highest-impact workouts.

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE: controls, connections, and extras

 some buds successful beforehand of case.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The touch controls activity good — it’s easy to deed them accurately and they respond to those taps pinch a matching group of tones to fto you cognize your taps were recognized. But for immoderate reason, Samsung chose to move astir of nan touch gestures disconnected by default. Out of nan box, only nan azygous pat and touch-and-hold options work. You’ll request nan Samsung Galaxy Wearable app to alteration nan others and/or modify what nan gestures control.

You tin alteration up to 4 gestures per earbud (single-, double-, triple-tap, positive touch-and-hold), but only nan touch-and-hold motion tin beryllium modified. Since nan first 3 gestures are dedicated to playback (play/pause, way skip forward, backward) that intends you’ll person to determine what’s astir important to you for nan 4th gesture. You tin prime ANC mode, measurement up/down, Spotify Tap, aliases sound control.

Speaking of sound control, arsenic pinch different ecosystem-specific earbuds for illustration nan Apple AirPods, Google Pixel Buds Pro, and Amazon Echo Buds, nan Galaxy Buds FE springiness you hands-free, aftermath connection entree to Bixby, Samsung’s sound AI for Galaxy telephone usera. I’m not overmuch of a Bixby personification — heck, I don’t really usage sound AIs astatine each prevention for nan occasional room timer — but nan adjunct responded quickly and accurately each clip I said, “Hi, Bixby.” From there, it fto maine commencement euphony from Spotify, cheque nan time, and inquire for a upwind forecast.

As I noted successful nan intro, Samsung doesn’t make a type of nan Galaxy Wearable app for iOS. And because nan app unlocks truthful galore useful features and customizations (I’ll touch connected a fewer much successful a moment), there’s conscionable nary measurement Apple users should bargain these earbuds. The only objection is if you unrecorded successful a multi-OS world — say, you usage an iPad and a Galaxy phone.

The 1 point I find baffling astir nan Galaxy Buds FE is that Samsung went to nan problem of giving them deterioration sensors — thing that is hardly communal astatine this value — and yet they’re only utilized for making judge your telephone calls get routed to your telephone alternatively of nan earbuds erstwhile they’re not successful your ears. That’s a bully feature, but what astir utilizing nan sensors nan measurement almost each different shaper does — to fto you region your tunes automatically erstwhile removing an earbud? Apparently, Samsung doesn’t deliberation you’d want them to do this.

The Buds FE’s Bluetooth relationship is stone solid. Once you’ve paired them pinch a device, you tin unit them to reconnect to that instrumentality conscionable by tapping nan Galaxy Buds FE listing successful your Bluetooth paper — moreover if they’re presently connected to different product.

That’s not nan aforesaid arsenic existent Bluetooth Multipoint (which allows simultaneous connections to 2 aliases much devices), but it’s nan adjacent champion thing. If you person a Samsung account, nan Galaxy Buds FE tin beryllium automatically added to each of your registered Samsung products, making instrumentality switching moreover easier — it’s akin to Apple and Google’s account-based, cloud-driven instrumentality switching systems.

Want 2 much reasons to usage nan Galaxy Buds FE wrong nan Samsung/Android ecosystem? The finder and reminder options. With nan Wearable app, you tin beryllium notified via Samsung SmartThings Find if you locomotion distant from your earbuds accidentally. Should you do truthful anyhow and request to find them, you tin propulsion up a map, and past unit nan earbuds to emit a large beeping sound truthful you tin fig retired precisely which sofa cushion they’re under.

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE: sound quality

 Right bud successful beforehand of case.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The Galaxy Buds FE mightiness not meet audiophile standards of sound quality. But unless you are genuinely obsessed pinch sound, you’ll beryllium thrilled pinch really these buds perform. Before you moreover statesman to messiness astir pinch nan EQ preset options wrong nan app, nan Buds FE connection a clear, full-frequency sound signature, pinch a generous soundstage. There’s plentifulness of low-end bass and Samsung has managed to support it free of bloat, thing that fund earbuds often neglect to do. There’s capable item to admit a wide assortment of genres.

I put them successful a comparison trial against immoderate of nan champion $100 wireless earbuds we’ve reviewed, including nan Jabra Elite 4, Soundcore Liberty 4 NC, and nan Pixel Buds A-Series, and I deliberation nan Galaxy Buds FE travel retired connected top. They perfectly demolish nan Apple AirPods Gen 2.

Sidebar: The Galaxy Buds FE are nan first Samsung earbuds I’ve reviewed. Somehow, complete nan people of 10 years contributing to Digital Trends and different publications, Samsung’s buds person ne'er crossed my table until now. All this time, I’ve been forced to publication nan positive-to-glowing assessments of Samsung’s cogwheel arsenic written by Caleb Denison, Phil Nickinson, Parker Hall, and Andrew Martonik. Now, don’t get maine wrong, I respect these guys for illustration crazy. But successful nan backmost of my mind, location was ever this nagging emotion of, “Oh yeah? I’ll judge it erstwhile I perceive it.” Well, I’ve now heard it, and I judge it. Samsung knows really to make a great-sounding group of wireless earbuds.

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE: sound cancellation and transparency

Simon Cohen wearing Samsung Galaxy Buds FE.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

When you’re looking astatine spending $100 connected a group of wireless earbuds, you shouldn’t beryllium expecting world-class progressive sound cancellation (ANC) aliases transparency. The extremity should beryllium to return nan separator disconnected of nan astir annoying regular inheritance noises while letting you person nan occasional speech aliases summation your consciousness of your surroundings — each while ne'er needing to region your earbuds. The Galaxy Buds FE transcend these expectations. Not by a lot, but by to an grade that I’m prepared to opportunity astir group won’t consciousness nan request for thing better.

Whether wandering engaged streets aliases taking transit, nan ANC easy provided much-needed quiet. The transparency mode isn’t arsenic bully arsenic what you’ll find connected nan Jabra Elite 4 — your ain sound won’t sound arsenic clear to you — and yet I could perceive everything I needed to hear, from nationalist reside announcements connected nan subway to postulation coming done a engaged intersection.

Samsung lets you take whether you want to rhythm betwixt ANC, transparency, and disconnected modes, aliases betwixt immoderate two. This not only makes it much convenient to usage these modes, it besides gives you nan expertise to prevention connected artillery life if you’re moving low.

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE: telephone quality

 successful beforehand of case.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Like astir wireless earbuds these days, nan Galaxy Buds FE are very bully for making calls aliases jumping connected video chats erstwhile indoors. Your sound will beryllium bully and clear, and pinch nan Ambient Sound During Calls mounting turned connected successful nan Wearable app, you’ll perceive your ain sound intelligibly too.

Outside, aliases wherever conditions are noisy, it’s a mixed bag. You’ll still beryllium audible, but clarity tin return a existent hit. At immoderate points, my sound became highly muffled arsenic large postulation passed by.

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE: artillery life

Samsung claims nan Galaxy Buds FE will springiness you 6 hours of playtime per complaint pinch ANC turned on, and a full of 21 hours erstwhile you see nan case’s capacity. That’s connected par pinch nan Jabra Elite 4, but still connected nan debased broadside erstwhile you comparison them to models from Soundcore aliases Earfun. Still, you person nan action of disabling ANC, which brings nan Buds FE up to a very tin 8.5 hours and 30 hours, respectively.

There’s a quick-charge action successful lawsuit you find yourself moving precariously low: 5 minutes of charging will bargain you an other hr of (ANC on) playtime.

If you’re looking for a group of $100 wireless earbuds that do it each and activity pinch some iOS and Android, my favourite prime is still nan Soundcore Liberty 4 NC. But if you’re all-in connected Android — and particularly if you’re a Samsung Galaxy telephone personification — nan Galaxy Buds FE are amazing. With a comfortable and unafraid fit, awesome sound, highly effective sound cancellation, and tons of features via nan Samsung Wearable app, they’re everything you request (even if they whitethorn not beryllium everything you want).

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