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Samsung's Weird New Headphones Are a Breath of Fresh Air in Earbud Design

And they're $80 less than the AirPods Pro.

a pair of black samsung earbuds

Today, Samsung has announced a whole host of gadgets, headlined by the new 5G-capable Galaxy Note20 Ultra complete with a 3200 x 1440, 6.9-inch AMOLED display, 120HZ refresh rate, 8K video capabilities and a huge 4,500mAh battery. But maybe the most interesting of the suite of gadgets that accompany it is the new Galaxy Buds Live.

A complete redesign of Samsung's original Galaxy Buds that were aimed at taking on AirPods, the Galaxy Buds Live are a brand new noise-canceling design that put the AirPods Pro in their sights -- while staying $80 cheaper with their $170 price point. What makes the Buds Live fairly unique, however, is their pairing of active noise-canceling tech with a design that doesn't create a physical seal in the ear using silicone tips. Instead, they wedge down into the ear and hold themselves in place with their unusual bean-like shape.

It's an odd combination of functionality that Samsung promises will give the benefits of active noise-cancelation (like tuning out low, monotonous drones) but without the sense of total isolation those headphones typically bring. It's something other ANC headphones like the AirPods Pro and Bose Headphones 700 have traditionally provided with a "transparency mode" that alters what sorts of noise the ANC blocks in order to make interaction with the outside world possible.

Samsung's approach is less flexible since it has no physical seal to fall back on, but potentially comes with added benefits like never having to worry about what setting your buds are on, and being more comfortable for folks who have trouble dealing with canal-sealing silicone tips.

Can this design delivery noise-canceling power on the same level as its competitors? We'll have to wait and see. But beyond just having a goofy look, the Galaxy Buds Live are a refreshing bit of experimentation in a product category that is increasingly consolidating around one particular design solution, and that is always nice to see.

The Galaxy Buds Live will be available starting August 6th, for $170.

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