Google Pixel Buds – As part of the press conference that Google just held in San Francisco,
the company unveiled many new products,
including new wireless headphones called Google Pixel Buds.
Google says the new wireless earphones look great, easy to use, and charge.
It also provides assistance through the Google Assistant.
The new Google Pixel Buds wireless earphones feature a unique loop of fabric making them comfortable, safe and quick to use.
Google has put all the volume control buttons in a touch-sensitive panel on the right speaker
so that the buttons do not hang on the rope.
The Google Pixel Buds headphones charging and storage process is also easy.
It is possible to keep these headphones in a small pocket-sized charging box,
which provides 24 hours of additional use. In order to connect it with a smartphone,
just open the charging case near your Android 7.0 Nougat smartphone or higher with Google Assistant.
Google Pixel Buds Price and Release Date
The Google Pixel Buds dropped on Monday, April 27, 2020, and available in four colors
Oh So Orange, Clearly White, Quite Mint, and Almost Black.
The Google Pixel Buds cost $179 (for reference that works out at about £140 / AU$270),
but we’re still waiting for official global pricing.
That means that (in the US at least), the Pixel Buds are more expensive than the Apple AirPods
with the standard charging case.
However, they’re still $20 cheaper than the more-comparable AirPods with Apple’s Wireless Charging Case.
How does that $179 price tag fare against other true wireless earbuds? Not great, unfortunately.
For $50 less you can get either the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus that have a 12-hour onboard battery
and 12-hour charging case or the Sony WF-XB700 that have a huge, beefy bass response.
If you’re willing to spend $50 more, you can pick up the Sony WF-1000XM3 that has active noise cancellation
a supremely helpful feature for commuters and frequent travelers that you won’t find on the Pixel Buds.
Google Pixel Buds Design
The most prominent feature of the Google Pixel Buds
and the thing that separates them from the original Pixel Buds that it will likely replace in the future
is that they’re completely wireless.
There’s no cord running in between the buds this time, and that’s truly liberating.
Inside the box Google includes multiple sets of eartips and a decently long charging cord – both of which are appreciated.
In fact, you’ll very likely need the extra eartips as the mediums that come on the buds
can actually run a bit large and push the earbuds out of your ear.
While they don’t always fit very well, you have to hand it to Google for building a ton of features
into these earbuds for Android users. The automatic connectivity right out of the box is pretty magical,
and the always-listening Google Assistant allows you to control your whole home from wherever you are.
One neat feature that’s specific to the Pixel Buds is the ability to integrate directly with Google Translate to offer real-time translations.
The way it works is that, once you say ‘OK Google, be my Spanish translator’,
your Android phone automatically opens the Google Translate app and starts working.
You press and hold your left earbud to say something in your native language,
and it will then repeat in the translated language from the speakers on your phone.
Hold the translate button on your phone while the other person talks
and you’ll hear the translation directly in your earbuds. Advertisement
When you get a rhythm down for the conversation,
the solution is magical, allowing you to talk with extended family, friends,
and strangers that you would’ve struggled to communicate with before.
The only problem is that you’ll need to speak one at a time and unless you download a language pack (around 45MB each)
you’ll need to be connected to Wi-Fi in order for it to work.
So how do they sound? Not amazing, unfortunately. Right off the bat,
without any music playing you might hear the slightest bit of hissing
and you’ll notice that some songs have an incredibly weak bass response.
Instead, what you’ll notice is that Google’s Buds really focus on the mids and treble.
They make hard rock songs like The Best from Awolnation course with energy
and sublime left-right separation – which is great –
but the music never sounds like it’s supposed to because it’s missing the low-end.
How to pair the new Pixel Buds on iOS and other operating systems
If you don’t have an Android phone you can still connect to the new Pixel Buds if you want.
I was able to pair to my pair with both my Huawei Matebook and my iPhone 11 Pro
and use them as I would any other Bluetooth device. To do this you just have to:
- Place earbuds inside the charging case and close the lid.
- Open the lid but do not remove the earbuds.
- Press and hold the small button on the back of the charging case until the small LED light begins blinking white.
- Go to the Bluetooth settings of your source device and choose the Pixel Buds from the list.
- Take out the earbuds and use them normally.
Unfortunately, you won’t get some of the features if you’re not connected to an Android device.
While connected to an iPhone you won’t get access to the Google Assistant even if you have the app downloaded on your phone.
Long pressing on the earbud won’t even bring up Siri.
You also won’t get the Adaptive Sound feature, or at least it doesn’t seem like it in my experience.
On the bright side though, the auto-pause feature still works regardless of which device you’re using.
How does the real-time translation feature work?
One of the big features that Google has been pushing since the days of the original Pixel Buds is the real-time translation feature.
I tried my hand at some Spanish to see how they worked.
To get it to work, you need to download the Google Translation app,
and you also need to have the app open while you’re trying to translate something.
I find that this kind of defeats the purpose of having the real-time translation built into the earbuds if I need to reach for my phone anyway.
Plus, the Assistant had a hard time trying to figure out whether I wanted to use my phone
or the earbuds—and half the time it ended up playing the audio entirely through the earbuds.
While the translate app is definitely useful, and I’ve used it while traveling in the past,
I’m still not sold on how useful it is in earbuds.
The process to access translation via the earbuds is just another layer of annoyance that isn’t needed.
Can a software update break my Pixel Buds connection ?
More and more headphones recently have been relying on software updates to add new features
and fix problems, but unfortunately, that can also sometimes lead to new issues arising.
That is what many Pixel Buds gen 2 users are saying has happened
with one of the newer software updates to the Pixel Buds.
They say that a recent update has caused issues with the connection resulting in frequent audio
cutouts between the earbuds and the source device, mainly while the phone is in a pocket and the user is exercising.
While I didn’t have any issues with my review unit we figured this was worth mentioning anyway
as it’s clearly not an isolated incident.
It should hopefully be fixed by another software update but we’ll be sure
to keep this review updated with the latest news as it arises.
There’s no debating that these are a huge improvement on the original Pixel Buds.
The feature-set alone is a marked improvement and Google has clearly paid attention
to what customers are looking for in terms of ease-of-use and sleek design.
Where the Pixel Buds could still improve is in their sound quality and lack of active noise cancellation tech
at $179 these things are table stakes and shouldn’t be absent.
To that end, there are a number of other earbuds out there that sound better
and cost less, or cost more and include noise cancellation.