GOogle’s latest Pixel Buds earbuds have been given the “pro” treatment, with better sound, noise cancellation, multipoint Bluetooth, and a more comfortable design aimed at rivaling Apple’s AirPods Pro, but for Android users.
The Pixel Buds Pro costs £179 ($199 / A$299) and sits above the company’s £100 Pixel Buds A-series as Google’s new flagship model. They work with any standard Bluetooth device, including PCs and iPhones, but have special features designed for Android.
They’re bigger than the A-series earbuds, but have an equally unobtrusive and likable look that doesn’t stick out too far from your ear. A smooth plastic cap with subtle “G” branding is all people see when they’re in your ear.
The earbuds are held in place with a traditional silicone tip, three sizes of which are included in the box. They feel safe and comfortable to wear even for extended periods without the “plugged in” feel of some comparable models, but a lack of stabilizing wing makes them less suitable for exercise.
The colored cap is touch sensitive for a range of highly effective gesture controls. Tap once to pause or play, twice and triple to skip tracks, or press and hold to turn noise cancellation on or off. Also swipe forward and back for volume control, which is very welcome. The music pauses when you take out an earbud and resumes when you put it back.
The Buds Pro last up to seven hours with noise cancellation, which is longer than many rivals. They snap magnetically into a flip-top battery case, which stores easily in a pocket and can charge the earbuds just under three times for a total of 20 hours of playback time. A five-minute quick charge of the earbuds adds an hour of listening pleasure.
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5, SBC, AAC
Battery life: seven hours (ANC) plus up to 20 hours with case
Dimensions and weight case: 63.2×50×25mm; 50g
Dimensions and weight earplugs: 23.7×22×22.3mm; 6.2g each
Water resistance: earplugs IPX4 (splash water); housing IPX2
Driver size: 11mm
Charging case: USB-C, Qi wireless
Good sound and noise reduction
The Buds Pro are Google’s best sounding earbuds yet. They produce super-clear sound with excellent tonal separation, even on complex tracks. The bass is accurate and punchy, reaching the deepest notes, the mids are rounded and the trebles are quite detailed, sounding great in most genres of music.
They’re quite bass-heavy and can sound a bit too clean in some songs, without a bit of raw energy in grunge, but I think most will enjoy them. The volume EQ boosts bass and mids for better balance at lower volumes. Google promises to add a full equalizer and spatial audio for immersive movie surround sound via updates later this year.
Overall, they’re excellent earbuds that go a step beyond everyday listening, and just not the very best from Sennheiser and Sony.
The noise cancellation is similarly capable, reducing most of the low-end rumble, road noise, and fan noise, matching the performance of Apple’s AirPods Pro. They aren’t as capable as Sony’s best and struggle more with higher notes like keyboard clicks, but are still very good overall. They have a bit of wind noise and their Situational Awareness mode is good, but not as natural sounding as the best.
Finally, the call quality was very good, it sounded natural and clear even in noisy environments, although a little bit of background noise from the street crept into the conversation.
Connectivity and Settings
The Buds Pro are standard Bluetooth 5 earbuds, which support the standard SBC and AAC audio formats and Google’s Fast Pair with Android. They can be used in mono, which is convenient for calls, and support seamless switching between paired devices. They support multipoint for simultaneous connection to two devices, such as a phone for calling and a laptop for music.
They have Google’s new automatic audio switching system that connects the Buds Pro to one of your Android phones or tablets that answers a call or plays media. It doesn’t work with PCs, Macs, or other devices, so multipoint is generally more convenient.
Google Assistant is another advanced feature that only works with Android. Press and hold one of the earbuds or use the “Hey Google” wake-up phrase to get your notifications or messages read, send replies, control music playback, adjust volume, give you directions from Google Maps, real-time translation with Google Translate and other tasks.
Google doesn’t give an expected battery life, but it should last more than 500 full charge cycles at at least 80% of its original capacity. Like most wireless earbuds, the Pixel Buds Pro are non-repairable, ultimately making them disposable.
The housing contains recycled rare earth elements. The company publishes environmental impact statements for some of its products, but not for earplugs. It will recycle old appliances for free.
The Google Pixel Buds Pro costs £179 ($199 / A$299) in a variety of colors.
In comparison, the Sony WF-1000XM4 costs £199, Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 costs £219.99, Beats Fit Pro costs £199, Apple AirPods Pro costs £239, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro costs £149, Jabra Elite 7 Pro costs £199, Bose QC Earbuds cost £209.95 and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 cost £99.
With the Pixel Buds Pro, Google has finally nailed Bluetooth earbuds.
They’re comfortable, sound great and have solid noise cancellation, and the battery lasts a whopping seven hours. The controls are excellent, as is the pocket-sized pocket. They have useful features such as multipoint connectivity for more than one device at a time and good call quality.
While some of the flashier features are limited to Android – I wouldn’t recommend buying them if you weren’t using an Android phone in the first place – the basics work just as well with PCs and iPhones if you have a combination of devices.
They are beaten in terms of sound quality and noise cancellation by the very best, but for everyday earbuds the Pixel Buds Pro are great and also undercut the best rivals in price.
You can’t repair the earbuds or replace the battery, which eventually makes them disposable and makes them lose a star.
Advantages: great sound, effective noise reduction, long battery life, very comfortable, good housing, great handling, fast pair, multipoint, nice google assistant features with android.
cons: no high-end bluetooth audio formats, no multi-platform settings app, waiting for updates to EQ and spatial audio, easy case marking, no stabilizer wings for practice, unfixable.