Reports that Samsung is planning to release a new pair of smart headphones have been circulating online.
Last week we brought you a roundup of what to expect from Samsung’s newest smartphone, the Galaxy Note 8, due to launch later this month. The large device will be designed to go hand in hand with a new virtual assistant, named Bixby.
Bixby is Samsung’s answer to Apple’s Siri: a friendly voice-activated helper that can perform various tasks. When Apple launched the iPhone 7 last year it also introduced the Airpod headphones, specifically designed to interact with Siri while you’re on the go. Now the latest rumours point to Samsung doing much the same thing with the Galaxy Note 8 launch and releasing its own pair of companion headphones.
Best Buy headphones – models to give you great sound from your phone
What kind of headphones will they be?
According to reports from Korea, they’ll be wireless Bluetooth, in-ear headphones. They will also include a way to activate the Bixby voice assistant without getting your phone out of your pocket. In these respects they seem like they will be very similar to Apple’s Airpods, but there are a couple of possible key differences.
Samsung’s Bixby-ready headphones are rumoured to feature active noise cancelling – something the Airpods do not. This would allow you to completely block out the outside world – handy on flights or in other noisy situations.
Also rumoured is the possibility of fitness-tracking features. Apple has already got people talking this summer by filing patents relating to health-monitoring headphones. Crucially, Samsung has form in this department – last year it released the Gear IconX headphones (pictured below). These feature a heart-rate monitor and on-board processing power, allowing you to track your workout in real time and get voice updates on your progress.
They feature touch controls too, so it seems likely that the Gear IconX will form the design basis for Samsung’s Bixby headphones. This would suggest that they could be relatively discreet in-ear headphones, as opposed to the seemingly Storm-Trooper-inspired Airpods that dangle from the ears conspicuously.
What’s the competition?
The aforementioned Airpods are designed to work seamlessly with the iPhone 7, so die-hard Android users should probably skip to the Bose pair below. After initially announcing them at the iPhone 7 launch in September 2016, Apple took its sweet time with getting them onto shelves. Some glowing initial reports from owners suggested they may have been worth the wait, but it takes more than a bit of hype to impress the experts at our test lab. Find out what we thought in our full Airpods review.
Bose Soundsport Pulse
These wireless in-ear headphones (connected to each other by a wire) may lack the active noise cancelling that’s rumoured to feature with the new Samsung pair, but they do have built-in fitness tracking. A heart-rate monitor inside the earbud will beam data from your exercise session straight to your smartphone. Bose is a big name in audio but these headphones are quite expensive considering you don’t get the full complement of voice-assistant features you do with other pairs. Does the sound quality make them worth it though? Find out in our full Bose Soundsport Pulse review.
Beats Powerbeats 3
These headphones (also connected to each other by a wire) are something of a halfway house between normal wireless headphones and the Apple Airpods.
Beats is owned by Apple, and that has allowed it to incorporate some Apple-specific features, such as fast charging via a Lightning cable, and the ability to activate Siri by pressing a button on the neckband. But you don’t necessarily need an iPhone to appreciate this pair. An impressive battery life of 12 hours puts them ahead of most in-ear wireless models and they’re also water resistant so you won’t need to worry about taking them out in the rain. Are they the perfect everyday pair? Find out by reading our full Beats Powerbeats 3 review.