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Budget-friendly ear buds best-suited to Galaxy users

Tech review: Samsung Buds FE are a sensible choice and you will get the best experience and all the best features if you have a compatible smartphone

Samsung Buds FE
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Price: €99
Where To Buy: Samsung

Samsung introduced the FE range – or Fan Edition – in 2020 with the launch of the Galaxy S20 FE, offering potential Samsung users another option for their smartphones.

The FE models are Samsung flagship devices that have all the best features but at a more competitive price. In other words, you’ll lose some of the lesser used, non-essential bits in exchange for a lower price, but it’s unlikely you will miss them.

Now the company has added a new set of ear buds to the FE range. The Samsung Buds FE are the company’s budget-friendly wireless earbuds. Yes, you sacrifice a few features – more on that later – but you get the most important of the lot: good audio and decent noise cancelling.

There is a tonne of competition in the market, including from home-grown audio company OneSonic. And Samsung’s regular Buds aren’t the most expensive out there as it is. So are they worth checking out?


The good news is that the Buds FE will work with all bluetooth-enabled phones. The bad news is that some features – customisation of the touch controls, for example – won’t work on iOS because of the lack of an Apple app for the buds, and the best features, including auto switch, will only work with Galaxy phones using One UI 3.1.

So if you are a Samsung user already, then the Buds FE will be a sensible choice. They are designed to be integrated with the Galaxy system from the off, so you will get the best experience, and all the best features of the buds if you have a compatible smartphone.

The Buds FE also have a new design, with swappable wing tips joining the customisable tips so you can get the best fit possible. This will be great for some people and a deal-breaker for others, although they are removable if you really hate them. It is supposed to help with fit, although your ear shape and size will largely dictate how successful that is. It also helps a little with the noise isolation if you aren’t fan of active noise cancelling.

Inside the box you get three different sizes of ear tips and two different sizes for wing tips, so most users should be able to get a good fit.

How comfortable you find the buds will depend on your own preferences. For the most part, I could wear these for a few hours at a time without issue, although getting the wing-tip sitting correctly was important. If I didn’t, the buds’ weight, although not substantial, pressed in the wrong place and caused some discomfort.

The Buds FE also have a decent battery life, up to 8.5 hours of playback without active noise cancelling and six hours with it turned on. The use of the charging case will boost that to 30 hours and 21 hours respectively, according to the official specs. In real-world use, the buds largely lived up to that, although you may eke out a little extra time by swapping between automatic noise cancelling and regular mode. I was getting a solid five hours-plus with automatic noise cancelling active consistently.

Speaking of automatic noise cancelling, it stood up well with other ear buds in this price range. Is it the best? No, but the best is usually found on significantly more expensive ear buds.

One of the sacrifices the Buds FE make is with charging. There is no wireless charging in the case and, although it is a nice extra rather than an essential, the lack of it may put some people off. I prefer to throw my headphones on to the wireless charger in the car to keep them topped up; with the Buds FE the only option was the (short) USB C cable included in the box.


The Samsung Buds FE keep all the good bits of the Buds range, including decent noise cancelling and good audio quality. Will they rattle the premium end of the market? Unlikely, but they will offer a budget-friendly alternative. Battery life is good too, at more than five hours with automatic noise cancelling enabled.


Not everyone will like the tweaked design, with the wing tips likely to divide people, although they can be removed. The Buds FE occasionally had an audio sync issue too, but it was intermittent and rare.

No wireless charging in the case will be inconvenient for some people.

Everything else

The Samsung Buds FE are made with some recycled materials, with discarded fishing nets and water barrels all making their way into the plastic used in the ear buds. Samsung says some components have a minimum of 20 per cent of post-consumer recycled plastic; it may not be a large percentage but it is a start.

The buds come in two colours, graphite and white. The glossy plastic case of the Buds FE doesn’t pick up smudges or dirt, which is a positive, although you might need to be careful of scratches.

The verdict

A solid set of budget-friendly ear buds, but best suited to Android and primarily Galaxy users.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist