Google Pixel Buds A-series review: The low-cost earbuds that compete with Apple AirPods
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The Google Pixel Buds A-series review: The low-cost earbuds that compete with Apple AirPods
Every week it seems like a new company is releasing a new pair of wireless earbuds, each with a new groundbreaking feature or the best noise canceling technology. Nothing’s ear 1 earbuds and Bang & Olufsen’s beoplay EQ earbuds were both released last week. Google’s Pixel Buds A-series earphones, which were unveiled in June, have finally arrived in the UK to join the raucous battle. They are a cheap follow-up to Google’s Pixel Buds 2 (£199, Freemans.com), which will be available in 2020. Consider this the cheaper alternative to the Pixel 4a or the AirPods to the AirPods Pro.
These little popcorn-shaped earphones look exactly like their premium predecessors, but trade in a few keys features for a lower price tag. To no one’s surprise, they don’t have active noise cancellation, yet are neatly integrated with the Android ecosystem. The A in the A series is supposed to stand for affordable (though Google never admitted that, after all). We tested them for a few weeks in different environments to see how they stack up against other wireless headphones, and of course against the almighty Apple AirPods (£124.98, Amazon.co.uk) with no ANC itself. Do you want to know what we think? Keep reading below.
8 Best Gaming Headsets: Enhanced Audio for PS5, Xbox, and More The first thing you notice when you take the A Series out of their immaculate white box is that the dinky egg-shaped charging case is exactly the same as the more expensive Pixel Buds 2. It’s cute, compact and slightly lighter than the Pixel Buds 2 charging case. The hinge feels nice and strong, just don’t push it back with force or the plastic exterior will likely break, but it closes satisfactorily like the AirPods’ magnetic shutter.
The A-series comes with three different earbuds – small, medium (already attached), and large, as well as a USB-C to USB-A charging cable. However, there’s no wireless charging here in the Pixel Buds A series, which is the first feature a departure from the more expensive Pixel buds 2. The buds themselves again look just like their more expensive counterpart – although they come in a variety of colors and are in fact slightly smaller in size. We tested the beautiful dark olive variety, but you can also buy them in bright white. Nor are they attached to stems, they essentially fit discreetly and snugly in our ears like little balls of Maltesers. There’s also a small stabilizer fin, which you pivot up to press into the triangular fossa in the ear, so they stay in place when we rigorously shake our heads at our solo dance party, for example.
Why do we call them AirPods for Android? Because just like the AirPods and the iPhone, the A series integrates seamlessly with Android devices. She feature Google’s quick pairing technology, for instance, which means you just need to bring them close to your Android device to pair them together. Plus it has that nice real-time translation feature, and the Google Assistant is always at hand if you need anything when the earbuds are in your ears. Live translation is a bit slow meaning it’s not a full real-time experience when you’re confused with a conversation, but we expect this to improve as the feature matures.
There are touch controls on the side of each earbud to pause, skip and rewind songs, but we were a little sad that Google ditched the really useful swipe feature found on the Pixel Buttons 2, which allowed us to increase and decrease the volume without our phone from our pocket or ask G. Assistant to do it for us. If you’ve been wearing AirPods, you can probably live without them feature anyway, because it can’t be found on Apple’s buttons.
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