My wife and I both purchased pairs of Samsung Galaxy Buds in on Oct 5, 2019 from Amazon. Hers were the pearl color and mine were black, otherwise they were the same model. We both have original Pixel XL phones, and each phone is updated to Android 10 (Q) with the latest (and last) update from Google earlier this month.
We are experiencing Bluetooth instability frequently with both pairs of earbuds across both of our phones. This issue appears to be similar to issues described in these two other support threads:
But, as those threads have solutions that seem specific to using the Galaxy Buds with Samsung phones, I feel that the issues I am having warrant a new thread since I'm experiencing the issue with a non-Samsung phone (Google Pixel XL) and the solutions described in those articles (updating Samsung software on the Galaxy S10+) is not applicable to my environment.
We do not own Samsung phones, so we cannot unfortunately test the Galaxy Buds with a Samsung phone (and we cannot buy Samsung phones because we use Google Fi as our wireless carrier, and Samsung phones are not compatible with the Google Fi network). That said, we were assured by marketing materials (and by Samsung support) that Android phones with Bluetooth were supported, and that a Samsung phone was not a prerequisite for the Galaxy Buds.
The behavior is extremely easy to reproduce. With our phones, we connect a set of earbuds, play some music on the phone (via Spotify), and we can reproduce Bluetooth interference simply by placing the phone in my front jeans pocket, or placing the phone near my jeans pocket and turning my head to the right.
Interestingly enough, I can't reproduce the issue by turning my head to the left. It only seems to happen if I turn my head to the right. That said, I have only placed the phone in my right jeans pocket, so perhaps if I placed the phone in my left jeans pocket, then turning my head to the left would reproduce the issue.
We have had the exact same Bluetooth interference issues with both sets of Galaxy Buds, paired to each of the two Pixel XL phones that we have. That is, we have tested and confirmed the interference in 4 different configurations. Both sets of earbuds paired to my Pixel XL, and both sets of earbuds paired to her Pixel XL.
I have opened a support case for both sets of earbuds at this point, and am in the process of exchanging the earbuds for replacements. I am very skeptical that the issue will be rectified because I've been able to reproduce it easily with two different pairs of earbuds and two different phones.
I also ran tests with different sets of wireless earphones to ensure that the issue isn't specific to the Pixel XL. I have a pair of Jaybird X3 Bluetooth earphones and I also have a Bose QC35 noise cancelling Bluetooth headset and neither of these exhibit the behavior that I am able to replicate on the two pairs of Samsung Galaxy Buds that I have purchased.
When I get the replacement two sets of Galaxy Buds, I will re-run all of the tests described above to see if I can still replicate the issue. If I can, I'll continue to exchange both sets of earbuds until the issue goes away.
That said, I am open to other solutions to this issue. But, updating the software on my Samsung Galaxy S10+ is not an option, because that is not the phone that I am using with this set of earbuds.
Update Jan 2 2020
I received two new replacement Galaxy Buds (one Black, one Silver) as part of the exchange mentioned above. I paired a set of the earbuds to both my phone (Pixel XL, Android 10) and paired the other set to my wife's phone (Pixel XL, Android 10). I was immediately able to reproduce the Bluetooth audio cutout by playing music on each phone with the phone in my front right pocket, and with me turning my head to the right while walking outside.
Both earbuds came with the latest firmware installed, as the Galaxy Wear app said that there was no new firmware to install on them. The firmware installed on both Buds at the time of writing this article is: R170XXU0ASJ2
This confirms that the issue is still present in the replacement earbuds, and I have confirmed it in multiple pairs of earbuds now (4 pairs total) and with two different devices (two Pixel XL phones running Android 10).
I have access to two Moto g6 devices (both running Android 9), so I tried the same experiment above pairing one of the replacement Galaxy Buds to the Moto g6, and I was able to reproduce the Bluetooth cutouts immediately.
Given that I could now reproduce the issues on multiple phone types from different manufacturers (Google and Motorola) and two different versions of Android (9 and 10), I looked for what might be common between the two.
Both the Pixel XL and Moto g6 have Bluetooth 4.2 stacks. So, I obtained a Google Pixel 3a XL (Android 10) which has Bluetooth 5.0 support.
My test with the replacement Galaxy Buds and the Google Pixel 3a XL showed no Bluetooth instability thus far.
Therefore, I believe the root cause of the issue is that devices with Bluetooth 4.2 are incompatible with the Samsung Galaxy Buds. Perhaps 4.2 does not put out sufficient power to make the Bluetooth connection stable.
The Samsung website for the Galaxy Buds says:
Compatibility: Samsung, other Android: Android 5.0 or higher & RAM 1.5GB above
I belive this should be updated to reflect that Bluetooth 5.0 or higher is required.
Adding to the unfolding conversation here. I have spent several more hours on both chat and phone support with Samsung, and based on what I've told them their response to me is that the issue is that the Samsung Galaxy Buds are incompatible with both the Google Pixel XL and Motorola Moto g6 phones.
I referenced the compatibility information on Samsung's website here:
Which specifically states that the only things required to support using these earbuds are:
Compatibilty: Samsung, other Android: Android 5.0 or higher & RAM 1.5GB above
Nothing in that list of requirements indicates that a Samsung phone is a requirement to use this consumer device, or that the Pixel XL or Moto g6 are incompatible.
And in several conversations so far that I have had with Samsung tech support, they continue to ask me if I can reproduce the problem using a Samsung phone. To me, it seems clear that Samsung is not truly supporting their acccessories with non-Samsung phones if they insist continually on their end users reproducing the issues with a Samsung phone.
I would appreciate it if someone from Samsung could reply to this support thread with their thoughts on the overall situation, since I am not able to get any support from the Samsung technical support line.
After several hours on the phone with technical support and case management, I have been given full refunds for both pairs of my Galaxy Buds
Samsung has determined that replacing them with new devices will not solve the Bluetooth 4.2 incompatibility.
I have also been told that this article will be escalated to appropriate teams inside Samsung so that the website and other marketing materials can be updated to reflect that Bluetooth 5.0 is recommended and Bluetooth 4.2 phones may not be compatible with these earbuds.
In short, the solution to this article is to not purchase Samsung Galaxy Buds unless your Android phone is at least Bluetooth 5.0 compatible, and if you have already purchased these earbuds for a non-Samsung Android phone that only has Bluetooth 4.2 support, you should contact Samsung for a refund if you are experiencing Bluetooth connectivity issues as described in this support article.
I thought that this issue was resolved by moving to a Bluetooth 5.0 capable phone, but additional research on my part indicates that this is not entirely the solution.
After using the Pixel 3a XL a bit more with the Samsung Galaxy Buds, I have determined that the audio instability and interference is still present, but just not as prevalent. So, moving to a Bluetooth 5.0 capable phone will mitigate the issue, but it does not fully resolve the issues.
I cannot speak to whether or not this issue is present on Samsung phones, but I can say that I would absolutely not recommend purchasing the Galaxy Buds for any Google Pixel phone at this point. It seems like the audio is very unstable across multiple variants of the Pixel phones, even recent phones like the Pixel 3a.
At this point there is no resolution to this issue and the only remedy seems to be to argue with Samsung for a full refund.