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Galaxy Buds: Samsung S10’s hearable companion

Samsung puts artificial intelligence into the size of an olive with its latest “truly wireless” earphones, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Until now, Apple’s AirPods have been the only commercially successful artificially-intelligent (AI) wireless earphones. The appeal of the AirPods diminishes for those who don’t like the design and disappears for non-iOS users. Samsung’s Galaxy Buds released at Samsung’s Unpacked event this week are very likely to be next commercially successful AI hearable technology, and answers directly to a market of minimalists and Android users.

The AI earphones are the successor to the less-intelligent Gear IconX. The IconX received a luke-warm reception, and was criticised for having a low capacity charging case compared to Apple’s AirPods.

The Galaxy Buds fix a lot of the IconX’s issues. “We’ve listened to customer feedback,” said Sung Yoon, CEO of Samsung Africa. “All the criticism from the previous generations has been used to construct a product that our consumers want. Ultimately, our customers always come first.”

A built-in processor allows these earphones to do some voice processing directly from the buds, eliminating on-smartphone voice processing. Currently, it’s being used for Bixby commands, which allows the virtual assistant to perform functions like controlling music or adjusting ambient sound settings. 

The design from IconX to the Galaxy Buds hasn’t changed much, with the exception of being 30% smaller than the previous generation. They are round, touch-controlled units that have a silicone “fin”, which ensures that it locks against the cartilage of the ear. Standard in-ear soft silicone fits into the ear. Overall, the design is very minimalist while staying in one’s ear.

Samsung calls these earphones “truly wireless” because the included charging case can charge wirelessly. What’s even better is that they can charge directly off the back of a Galaxy S10. When idle at a table, one enables reverse charge mode, puts the S10 on its face, and places the case on the back to charge, providing a truly wireless experience.

For faster charging, it houses a USB-C port, which happens to be the S10’s charger as well. so one only needs to carry around one charger. Convenience is key.

The earphones offer around 6 hours of playback, with an additional 7 hours when charged with the case. 

The speakers use AKG sound, produced by Harman. AKG’s audio is also included in other Samsung products, including the Galaxy S10. 

The earphones and matching cases will be available in white, black, and canary yellow on 8 March.

Click here to read the specs of the Galaxy Buds.

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