At a glanceExpert’s Rating
ProsSmall and lightweightFits firmly and comfortablyGood sound qualityConsMostly for Android phonesFew featuresMediocre battery lifeOur Verdict
The Samsung Galaxy Buds FE perform really well in comparison with the more expensive Galaxy Buds 2 Pro headphones and are even better on a couple of points. But unfortunately, some of the shortcomings remain, such as the lack of an app for the iPhone. On the whole, however, the Galaxy Buds FE are a pair of affordable earbuds.
About a year ago we tested the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro from Samsung, a good but rather expensive pair of true wireless headphones best suited for Android phone owners.
Now it’s time to test the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE, a cheaper alternative that performs well and even proves to have a few advantages over its more premium sibling.
One difference that is immediately noticeable is the design of the headphones. Where the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro had a slightly rounder touch surface, it is instead cut off and flat in the Galaxy Buds FE. Whether it’s more attractive or not is debatable, but it’s undoubtedly more practical. It’s also very accurate on the Galaxy Buds FE: accidental touches are very few and the touch controls have just the right amount of sensitivity.
Another difference is that the Galaxy Buds FE are equipped with a pair of “wings”, which makes them much more stable and comfortable in the ears. These wings can also be removed if you wish. Three pairs of “plugs” are also included to ensure a perfect fit.
In terms of weight, there is no major difference. Galaxy Buds FE weigh 5.5 grams each, Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are 5 grams each. However, the charging case for Galaxy Buds FE is slightly lighter, 40 grams against 44 grams for the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.
As with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, there’s a limit to how much you can change the settings for what the touch controls should do in the associated app. It isn’t possible to change what the single, double or triple tap does, only what “press and hold” does.
This is a bit limiting, but even more limiting is that the app is only available for Android. In other words, if you’re an iPhone user, you can’t change the settings for the touch controls at all.
Other features that iPhone users miss out on include the equaliser, headphone fit test and “find my headphones”. Galaxy Buds FE also have slightly fewer functions on Android than Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.
For example, “voice detection” (which automatically disables the noise reduction and lowers the volume of the playback when you start talking), 360-degree sound and some “Labs” functions are missing.
Good sound, decent noise cancellation
Despite being so small and delicate, the Galaxy Buds FE sound good. Admittedly, they don’t quite reach the same heights as the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, but considering the price, it’s okay.
Nor is the noise reduction as good as the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s. It is also not possible to adjust the settings for it other than turning it on or off. But here, however, the Galaxy Buds FE gets help from the wings and the tight design, which contributes to a passive noise reduction that complements the active one.
And just like the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, phone calls are clear, noise-free and crisp.
Although the battery life is slightly better with the Galaxy Buds FE than with the Galaxy Buds Pro 2, it is still not impressive. Without the noise reduction, it is possible to get a total of 30 hours of listening, compared to, for example, Nothing Ear 2 which gives 36 hours or the similarly priced JBL Live Pro 2 which gives a total of 40 hours.
Finally, unlike the Galaxy Buds Pro 2, the Galaxy Buds FE lack support for wireless charging.
All in all, Galaxy Buds FE has both advantages and disadvantages compared to its bigger brother, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. But considering the lower price, the Galaxy Buds FE are arguably better value.
Product: Samsung Galaxy Buds FETested: December 2023Wireless: Bluetooth 5.2System requirements: Android or iOSAssociated app: Yes (Android only)Active noise cancellation: YesHands-free function: NoSupport for voice control: Yes (Google Assistant and Alexa)IP certification : IPX2 (Drip-proof)Colours: Black and whiteWeight (two headphones): 11 gramsWeight of charging case without headphones: 40 gramsSize of charging case: 4.8 x 4.8 x 2.6 centimetresTotal battery life with noise reduction: 21 hoursBattery life with noise cancellation per charge: 6 hoursBattery life music-only total: 30 hoursBattery life music-only per charge: 8.5 hoursWireless charging of the box: No