) for not including them in my roundup. I liked the Galaxy Buds, I said, but I thought they were lacking in a couple of areas: They sounded decent for their price — but not great — and they just weren’t good for making calls in noisier environments because callers complained about hearing too much background noise.
How it stacks up
- Improved sound, with dual drivers that deliver better bass performance.
- Boosted battery life (11 hours).
- Significantly better for making calls
- New iOS app for Apple users
- USB-C and wireless charging
- Same design as standard Galaxy Buds.
- Priced higher than the previous model.
- No active noise canceling
- Only IPX2 water-resistance
But now Samsung gets a do-over in the form of the Galaxy Buds Plus, which have launched alongside the company’s newand smartphones. The new Buds Plus look essentially the same as the originals, but they have some improvements on the inside boost performance significantly: Their battery life is rated at 11 hours for music playback (up from 6), and they pack improved drivers for better sound and an additional microphone in each bud to help with external noise reduction while making calls.
At $150, they cost $20 more than the. And they’re not bundled with Samsung’s new phones, but the $150 (when ordered via Samsung’s site) effectively knocks the price down to free. (UK and Australian prices are TBA.) Alas, while they feature the same noise-isolating design, they don’t offer active noise-cancellation like do.
Available in three color options (black, light blue, white), the Galaxy Buds Plus have the same dimensions as their predecessor and look nearly identical. However, they weigh 6.3 grams (0.2-ounce), or 0.7-gram more than the Buds. That’s because they have a larger battery and two-way drivers (with a woofer and tweeter) as opposed to a single driver. The battery case, which charges via USB-C and wirelessly with any Qi-compatible charging pad, is also equipped with a larger battery (a three-minute charge in the case gives you one hour of juice). And yes, all of those new Samsung phones have the Wireless PowerShare feature, so you can top off your Galaxy Buds Plus just by resting the case on the phone’s backside.
The other noteworthy changes are multidevice pairing — an often overlooked feature that many people appreciate — and an iOS app geared to make the Galaxy Buds Plus more friendly to iPhone (
) owners. At launch, the app garnered many negative reviews from current Galaxy Buds owners because it doesn’t appear to be compatible with the original Galaxy Buds. But I thought the app was fine.
The app gives iOS users access to firmware upgrades, EQ settings for tweaking the buds’ sound and “ambient sound” settings that allow you to adjust the buds’ transparency levels (off, medium or high), letting sound in from the outside world into the buds. In the app, you can also opt to have ambient sound on when making calls. That allows you to hear your voice in the earbuds while talking. (This is sometimes referred to as Sidetone.)
Android users use Samsung’s Galaxy Wearable app and get a few small features not available to iOS users, the biggest of which are one-touch Spotify access from the buds themselves and a gaming mode to “minimize audio delay for vivid, synchronized gaming sound.” I used the buds with an iPhone 11 Pro and a Galaxy S9 Plus (
The Galaxy Buds Plus keep the same touch controls as their predecessor. They work well and are quite responsive, although my double-taps to advance a track forward sometimes turned into triple taps that ended up restarting the track I was listening to (you triple-tap to skip back one track). In the app, you get some options for customizing the touch controls, including adjusting volume with a long press. There’s even an “experimental” setting that enables you to use the edge of the buds for volume and the center for other controls.
The Galaxy Buds fit my ears well, and the Galaxy Buds Plus felt very similar in my ears. These are pretty compact buds (they stick out from your ears a little, similar to) and should fit most ears well. The only issue I had was with the ear tips. With these types of noise-isolating earphones it’s crucial to get a tight seal to get optimal sound quality. I got a pretty good seal with the largest of the included tips, but things improved when I switched to my own ear tips (one of the advantages of reviewing a lot of headphones is that I have a lot of ear tips lying around). The ones I used were rounder and little wider than the included tips, which should work fine for many people’s ears. The Samsung tips — three sizes are included — are a little more convex shaped.
I opted to use the middle-size wing tip (three sizes are included) and got a nice secure fit. Although these have only, they are sweat-resistant (to a degree) and can be used at the gym and for running. That said, competing models like the (IPX5) offer higher water-resistance ratings and some are fully waterproof.
I was impressed with the sound. It’s detailed and smooth, with deep, well-defined bass. The sound is richer and more spacious than that of the original Galaxy Buds. Well-respected Austrian audio company, which Samsung acquired when , is behind the audio. While the original Buds were also “tuned” by AKG, these are a nice upgrade over the originals — and right there with what you get with Jabra Elite 75t, if not even a touch better. Like a lot of headphones these days, there is a tad of presence boost to help make your music sound more detailed and exciting but which leads to some faint sibilance in the highs. You can toggle between a few EQ settings — “Soft, Bass Boost, Dynamic, Clear and Treble Boost” — but I stuck mostly with the “Normal” EQ setting, which seemed the most balanced.
Aside from the better battery life, the other performance enhancement you’ll most appreciate is the call quality. The added external microphone for better noise reduction during calls helps correct the earphones’ biggest weakness. The Galaxy Buds may not work quite as well as the AirPods Pro orfor making calls, but they’re significantly improved in this area from the original Galaxy Buds. In our test calls from the New York City streets, external noise from traffic was effectively reduced and my voice could be heard clearly.
I’ll also add that my wireless connection remained rock-solid during my two days of testing. New York City can be notoriously difficult on true wireless earbuds with interference issues. But I didn’t experience any dropouts or glitches. I also didn’t notice any problem with audio syncing when using various video streaming apps (I tried YouTube, Netflix and DisneyPlus).
Ultimately, I don’t think these will slow the sales of AirPods, but the Galaxy Buds have only become a better option for Android users and may even earn some fans who use iOS devices. Hopefully, they’ll come down in price a bit — I would have liked to have seen the original Galaxy Buds go to $99 and have these priced at $129. But if you do go the preorder route for your new Galaxy phone and can effectively get these for “free,” you won’t be disappointed.
Google tests moving Android's music controls to the quick settings menu – Android Central
Unlike iOS, Google has always had music controls in the notifications center alongside your messages, social alerts, etc. While this made finding music controls quite easy, it also meant that sometimes notifications could push media controls all the way down and out of sight.
With Android 11, there’s a very, very slight possibility that that may change. The team over at XDA has spotted a new feature Google’s built into the upcoming operating system.
In essence, the music controls have migrated out of the notification center to the quick settings menu, sitting alongside other controls like rotation lock and Wi-FI.
In order to accommodate the music player, the Quick Settings panel will expand from one to two rows and will display the Quick Settings toggles on one side, while the music player will take up the other side.
Opening the Quick Settings panel completely by swiping down once again will move the music player to the bottom of the panel, with all the toggles right above it. In a bid to accommodate the music player, the Quick Settings panel will take up more space than it does currently
From XDA’s screenshot, the change does look more than a little unfinished and out of place that it seems likely, this is just a test. Google has previewed features like screen recording and themes in Beta builds of Android before rolling them out in the next big update.
So while this could still come with Android 11, it’s much more likely to do so in Android 12.
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One year later, the future of foldables remains uncertain – TechCrunch
Yesterday, Samsung announced that the Galaxy Flip Z sold out online. What, precisely, that means, is hard to say, of course, without specific numbers from the company. But it’s probably enough to make the company bullish about its latest wade into the foldable waters, in the wake of last year’s Fold — let’s just say “troubles.”
Response to the device has been positive. I wrote mostly nice things about the Flip, with the caveat that the company only loaned out the product for 24 hours (I won’t complain here about heading into the city on a Saturday in 20-degree weather to return the device. I’m mostly not that petty).
Heck, the product even scored a (slightly) better score on iFixit’s repairability meter than the Razr. Keep in mind, it got a 2/10 to Motorola’s 1/10 (the lowest score), but in 2020, we’re all taking victories where we can get them.
There’s been some negative coverage mixed in, as well, of course; iFixit noted that the Flip could have some potential long-term dusty problems due to its hinge, writing, “it seems like dust might be this phone’s Kryptonite.” Also, the $1,400 phone’s new, improved folding glass has proven to be vulnerable to fingernails, of all things — a definite downside if you have, you know, fingers.
Reports of cracked screens have also begun to surface, owing, perhaps, to cold weather. It’s still hard to say how widespread these concerns are. Samsung’s saving grace, however, could well be the Razr. First the device made it through a fraction of the folds of Samsung’s first-gen product. Then reviewers and users alike complained of a noisy fold mechanism and build quality that might be…lacking.
A review at Input had some major issues with a screen that appeared to fall apart at the seams (again, perhaps due to cold weather). Motorola went on the defensive, issuing the following statement:
We have full confidence in razr’s display, and do not expect consumers to experience display peeling as a result of normal use. As part of its development process, razr underwent extreme temperature testing. As with any mobile phone, Motorola recommends not storing (e.g., in a car) your phone in temperatures below -4 degrees Fahrenheit and above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If consumers experience device failure related to weather during normal use, and not as a result of abuse or misuse, it will be covered under our standard warranty.
Consensus among reviews is to wait. The Flip is certainly a strong indication that the category is heading in the right direction. And Samsung is licensing its folding glass technology, which should help competitors get a bit of a jump start and hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls of the first-gen Fold and Razr.
A new survey from PCMag shows that 82% of consumers don’t plan to purchase such a device, with things like snapping hinges, fragile screens and creases populating the list of concerns. Which, honestly, fair enough on all accounts.
The rush to get to market has surely done the category a disservice. Those who consider themselves early adopters are exactly the people who regularly read tech reviews, and widespread issues are likely enough to make many reconsider pulling the trigger on a $1,500-$2,000 device. Even early adopters are thrilled about the idea of beta testing for that much money.
Two steps forward, one step back, perhaps? Let’s check back in a generation or two from now and talk.
Pixel 4 car-crash detection can now be sideloaded onto older Pixels thanks to Android 11 Preview – Android Police
The first Developer Preview of Android 11 didn’t just reveal a barrage of new system features and tweaks to pore through. It also ushered in a dogfood version of the Personal Safety app that can enable crash detection on Pixel phones outside of the 4 and 4 XL. Here’s how to sideload the app and get it running:
First, you’ll need to download the Personal Safety app version “1.1.286909525.dogfood beta” from APK Mirror and install it — this is the release that came bundled into the Android 11 Preview, now extracted and ready to be shared. Next, follow the prompts to add your emergency contacts that would be notified if you were to get into an accident. Then fill out any pertinent medical information to help first responders understand your health profile.
Next, click the settings cog in the top left corner of the screen. From there, you will see a “Driving” section with a tab that says “Car crash detection.” Select that, toggle on the feature, and you’re all ready to go!
We didn’t actively attempt to wreck a car when testing out the Personal Safety app with crash detection, but we were successful in activating it on a Pixel 3a XL. We were also able to use the built-in demo button that ran us through the a digital crash simulation, and everything went off without a hitch.
If you’d like to try out the Personal Safety app for yourself, you can grab version “1.1.286909525.dogfood beta” at APK Mirror here. Keep in mind that the app will still not work on non-Pixel phones.
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