The Samsung Galaxy Buds FE, like its smartphone counterpart, offers a stripped-down experience at an affordable price point. Thankfully, Samsung managed to strike a good balance between features, performance, and price. The active noise cancellation and audio quality are excellent for the S$158 asking price. Meanwhile, non-essential features (at least to me) like wireless charging and voice detection, have been omitted. Samsung also increased the battery capacity, making these earbuds the longest-lasting ones in its lineup.
- 6.5mm 1-way driver
- ANC and transparency mode
- IPX2 (earbuds)
- 6 hours of playtime with ANC (21 hours with case), 8.5 hours without ANC (30 hours with case)
For the Galaxy Buds FE, Samsung brought back the wingtips from earlier Galaxy earbuds. There are two different sizes for these removable silicone wingtips, which help to keep the earbuds snug in the ear. Samsung also includes three sizes of ear tips. Unlike the IPX7-rated Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, the Buds FE are only IPX2 rated, which means you shouldn't wear them in the rain. The touch area for the earbuds are flat, which reduces accidental taps. The usual touch controls apply — you can tap (play/pause), double-tap (play next), and triple-tap (play previous). In addition, you can press and hold to enable other functions, from switching between noise control e.g. active noise cancellation and ambient noise to adjusting the volume to activating the voice assistant. These controls can be customised using the Galaxy Wearable app.
One feature that didn't make the cut is wireless charging. You'll have to charge via the case's USB-C port. But this is unsurprising for entry-level earbuds. For example, the Jabra Elite 4 doesn't have wireless charging either, though brands like Redmi may offer this feature on their cheaper earbuds. I didn't really miss it since I prefer wired to wireless charging anyway. However, I did miss having Bluetooth multipoint, which would keep these earbuds connected to more than one device simultaneously. Another omission is Voice Detect, which senses when you're speaking, and switches to Ambient Mode (or transparency mode) so you can hear your surroundings. However, the Galaxy Buds FE's Ambient Mode is not the best — it lets in too much wind noise.
With a 6.5mm driver instead of the 10mm used in the Pro model, the Galaxy Buds FE's sound takes a slight hit. But I think most folks will find these earbuds to sound pretty good. The bass is decent, and the sound is detailed. There's even a equaliser in the app with several audio presets. The active noise cancellation (ANC) is the big surprise here. It's really good, and easily beats some even more expensive true wireless earbuds that I have tried. While nearby human voices will come through mostly unfiltered, lower frequencies are well dampened. I can still hear my music — with the volume set to 30 to 40% — on the train or bus.
Battery life is good at around 6 hours of playtime with ANC. It's not the best I have seen, but it's still better than the higher-end Galaxy Buds 2 Pro (5 hours). The Samsung Galaxy Buds FE (S$158) dispenses with some extras, though I think Bluetooth multipoint should have been available. But these earbuds excelled at the basics, especially audio quality and ANC. For Samsung smartphone users looking for a cheapish pair of true wireless earbuds, the Buds FE makes much sense. It's available in Graphite and White, from Lazada, and Shopee.
Note: Review set provided by Samsung.
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