Review on Google’s brand new Pixel buds
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The Review on Google’s brand new Pixel buds
There was a time not too long ago when it felt like many of Google’s devices lacked an identity. But since the release of the Pixel 3a, Google has really carved out a niche when it comes to making simple but still affordable gadgets that are worth a lot. Google is now taking this approach to wireless audio with the new Pixel Buds A Series, which distills the best elements of last year’s Pixel Buds into an even cheaper package that starts at just $99.
Like its predecessor, the Pixel Buds A series comes with an included charging case that looks and feels like a futuristic space egg. There’s a hidden indicator light in the center of the case, and the matte finish is a joy to touch and makes you want to rock it even more like an unborn chick. There is a handy link all around button flush with the housing so you don’t accidentally press it. And while the Pixel Buds A Series comes in two colors (white and olive green), it’s hard to tell just by looking at the case unless you look at the thin band that wraps around the bottom of the lid.
Average battery life, no wireless charging
The only major difference from the case is that instead of supporting both wired and wireless charging, the Pixel Buds A series only feature wired charging via USB-C. Now I totally understand that as part of the process of turning the Pixel Buds (which launched for $180) into something more affordable, there were some tough decisions to be made, so I can’t blame Google for doing away with wireless charging to cover those. $99 price tag to get.
Still, there’s a part of me that wishes Google had found a way to include Qi wireless charging for convenience, because of the ability to simply drop your earbuds on a charging pad and know they’ll be completely squeezed. up when you return is incredibly convenient, even more for earplugs than for phones or watches.
While the Pixel Buds A Series is live up against Google’s claims of lasting about five hours on a single charge (plus three to four full charges stored in the case), I find myself wanting just a little more in this department, too. It’s not bad enough to be a complete deal breaker, but these days the 5-hour battery life for wireless earbuds is pretty average.
To put the Pixel Buds A-series battery life into perspective, five hours of juice is the same as last year’s Pixel Buds, the Galaxy Buds Pro with ANC on, and the standard Apple AirPods. However, other wireless earbuds all offer significantly longer run times: the Galaxy Buds+ lasts 11 hours on a single charge; the Galaxy Buds Live lasts 6-7 hours; and Sony’s likely soon to replace WF-1000XM3 around six o’clock. They’re all more expensive than the Pixel Buds A-series, so the A’s battery life, while not great, isn’t terrible for a pair of $99 earbuds. Easy setup, comfortable fit
Aside from great battery life, everything else about the Pixel’s bidding is simple, straightforward, and easy to use. If you’re using a Pixel phone or pre-install the Pixel Buds app, pairing the Pixel Buds A Series with your device is as simple as opening the case and tapping a few virtual buttons on your phone. And if you don’t, the earbuds will either prompt you to download the app and guide you through the installation, or you can just hold the clutch button in the back until the indicator lights start flashing if you want to do things manually (which you should do if you are using an Apple or Windows device).
Google also has built-in touch controls, so you can play/pause with a single tap of the buttons themselves, double tap to skip a track, or triple tap to go back. And as with pretty much everything Google makes these days, you can summon the Google Assistant with your voice, or tap and hold if you prefer a slightly more discreet wake-up method. As a small bonus, in addition to things like reading your notifications or helping you translate foreign languages, you can even ask the Google Assistant to increase or decrease the volume.
Crucially, Google hasn’t messed with the design of the Pixel Buds, with the Pixel Buds keeping the same ear tips and built-in wings that keep the earbuds securely in place even while exercising, while still overall being some of the most comfortable earbuds I’ve ever worn. Google offers a choice of three silicone ears tips in the box (small, medium and large), and while fit is always subjective, straight out of the box, the pre-installed medium ear tips suited me perfectly. And between the low-profile design and comfortable fit of the Pixel Buds, I sometimes even fell asleep with them on. (I know that’s not a good habit, but hey, I usually watch a video or two at night to help relax.) Solid audio but no ANC
Google even managed to make the Pixel Buds A series sound the same as their more expensive predecessor, delivering crisp, clear sound akin to Google’s line of smart speakers. When I listened to Pnau’s “Go Bang”, the knobs were more than capable of mimicking Kira Devine’s shimmering vocals, while the highs and mids remained relatively tight and distortion-free. And while the Pixel Buds don’t have an adjustable EQ or even other EQ presets, there’s a Bass Boost setting that adds some extra thump.
At this point, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to learn that the $99 Pixel Buds A-series doesn’t have any kind of active noise cancellation. However, the nice fit of the ear of the earbuds tips and wings are good at passively blocking sound, with small internal vents that keep air pressure from building up up unpleasant, while also letting in just enough ambient noise so that you are still aware of your surroundings. For city dwellers like me who have to walk everywhere, that’s a big plus for commuting, with Google also offering a handy Adaptive Sound setting that automatically adjusts the volume to suit your environment. And finally, thanks to two built-in beamforming microphones, using the earbuds for calls or video chats also results in good voice quality. Are Pixel Buds A Series Worth Buying?
Look, the Pixel Buds A Series isn’t a universal dent product — they won’t figuratively snap their fingers and instantly make people forget about half of all the other wireless earbuds on the market. But for just $99, you don’t have to.
To me, they’re much more comfortable (and cheaper) than Apple’s standard AirPods with their rigid, hard-shell design, and I think they sound better than AirPods, too. In fact, I’d say the Pixel Buds A Series is more pleasant to wear and use than the original Galaxy Buds, although the 11-hour battery life you get with the Galaxy Buds+ is tempting, especially for anyone whose number one priority is battery life. .
But if all you want is good, basic wireless earbuds, you’ve got the Pixel Buds A Series. And for everyone who already owns an Android phone, the Pixel Buds A Series is a great default choice when it comes to wireless audio. So even though they aren’t flashy or sexy, Google’s latest earbuds are another example of how the company is getting pretty good at making great, simple, and affordable technology.
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