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Samsung Galaxy Buds FE Review: Solid and affordable

By Cheryl Tan - 6 Jan 2024
Launch SRP: S$158

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE Review: Simple, solid and affordable

Note: This review was first published on 27 December 2023.

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE.

Announced earlier in 2023 with the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds FE are the most affordable entry in the company’s true wireless earbuds lineup. These basic buds punch way above their weight with plenty of useful features like active noise cancellation, a feature-rich companion app, and a pleasant sound, all for just S$158

The TL;DR version:

Reasonably priced and solid all-round, Samsung's Galaxy Buds FE are a great option for anyone who's looking for a no-nonsense set of earbuds.

With a range of true wireless earbuds released over the years, including the Galaxy Buds2 Pro, Galaxy Buds2, Galaxy Buds Pro, Galaxy Buds Live, Galaxy Buds Plus and Galaxy Buds, Samsung has clearly been learning from each release, with a top-notch price-to-performance ratio in this newest Galaxy Buds FE. 

The Galaxy Buds FE is available in Graphite and Mystic White, and its design takes massive inspiration from the older Galaxy Buds Plus, with a flat faceplate paired with a small stabilising wingtip instead of the rounded bean shape design of the Galaxy Buds2 and Galaxy Buds Live. This does, however, result in more accurate touch controls, as well as a more secure fit in the ear thanks to the wingtips.

Standard Samsung earbuds case.

The case itself is very standard and looks identical to the cases used for the Galaxy Buds2, although the standard “Sound by AKG” is missing from the case. On the rear, there’s a USB-C port for charging. There’s no wireless charging here, but it’s not a surprise as some features definitely have to be omitted in order for Samsung to keep the price point low.

There’s a single 6.5mm dynamic driver inside each earbud. It's modestly-sized as far as drivers go, but size isn't everything and it does a decent enough job which we’ll talk about later on. 

Touch control customisation is a must

Samsung Wearable app.Samsung Wearable app.

The earbuds work with the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app, which is only available on Android, meaning you’ll be in a bit of a pickle if you’re using these earbuds with an iPhone. In the app, you get touch control customisation, which is absolutely essential as Samsung has somehow opted to let these earbuds ship with no control mapped to the double-tap input.

There’s only a single tap for play/pause and a long tap and hold to toggle ANC or ambient mode. If you want track-skipping functionality through touch controls, you’ll have to manually assign it to the double-tap and triple-tap gestures in the Galaxy Wearable app.

Thanks to the snug fit of the earbuds which provide a high level of passive noise isolation, the ANC is better than I had anticipated. With just ANC on and no music, public transport announcements are audible but muffled and nearby conversations do slip in as well. But once you start playing some tunes, it's nearly impossible to hear anything that going on outside.

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE.

One thing to note is that these earbuds only come with an IPX2 water resistance rating which means some care needs to be taken in case you use them in the rain or if you sweat profusely when exercising. The Galaxy Buds FE supports Bluetooth 5.2 and supported codecs include SBC, AAC, and Samsung’s own Samsung Scalable Codec (SSC) if paired with a Samsung device. 

Curiously, unlike other Samsung earbuds, there’s no “Sound by AKG” slogan on the case, but on Samsung’s website, it does note that the Galaxy Buds FE are “powered by AKG”. 

Battery life is decent. Samsung claims up to six hours on a single charge and a total of 21 hours including the case when ANC is turned on and that seems entirely believable in my tests. And if you turn ANC off, you can stretch its battery life to up to 8.5 hours on a single charge and a total of 30 hours with the case.

Mic and sound quality

Image credit: Samsung.

Each earbuds have three microphones, two outer and one inner, for voice calls, and the audio quality out of these microphones is relatively clear if in a quiet environment. In windy environments, you do get a bit of wind noise reduction, but it’s still a noisy distraction in the background.

As for how the Galaxy Buds FE sound, these earbuds are definitely tuned for the general public with a noticeable boost in the lows and a V-shaped signature. Without any EQ profiles applied, this is a generally pleasant sound signature for most listeners and most genres of music. However, we recommend boosting the treble just a tad to add a bit of sparkle and energy to the high notes and to balance out the heavy low-end. 

Unfortunately, the equaliser feature in the Wearable app is limited to preset EQ profiles so it’s not possible to fine-tune the sound to one's exact preference. Fortunately, there are other apps out there that will allow finicky listeners to accurately dial in their listening preferences.

Simply Solid

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE.

Samsung’s true wireless offerings over the years have mostly been solid products, and the Galaxy Buds FE continues that trend. The earbuds and case are simple and comfortable to use and carry around, the ANC is very serviceable, the battery life is above average, and the sound quality is good enough for most listeners. What's more, Samsung has managed to do all this while still keeping the price down to a very reasonable S$158

Sure, it would be nice if it had a wireless charging case, better codec support (aptX Adaptive or LDAC), and higher water resistance, but Samsung has generally nailed the basics. At this price, the Galaxy Buds FE should be considered a winner.

Note: You can find the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE on AmazonLazada, Shopee, and the Samsung Online Store.

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  • Design 8
  • Performance 8
  • Features 7.5
  • Value 9
The Good
Great value for money
Active noise cancellation works well
Sound quality is pleasant
Battery life is decent
The Bad
Low water resistance rating
No wireless charging
No aptX support
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