Pixel Buds Pro, one small step for man, one giant leap for Google

The Pixel Buds Pro are Google’s first earbuds without wings or supporting stabilizers. Instead, the earbuds are bean-shaped and rely on the silicone ear tip to hold the bud in your ear. For a few years, Google has also been producing wireless earphones. The ‘Buds,’ as they call them in Mountain View, receive a significant update this year, coinciding with the market release of the Pixel 6a smartphone. Despite not being the flagship model in Big G’s mobile landscape, the Buds Pro are actually the behemoth’s top-of-the-range portable audio device, able to compete with the likes of the AirPods Pro and Galaxy Buds2 Pro. The price is slightly lower, but the hardware under the sensors has a lot to say. This is our review.

Google Pixel Buds Pro, what they look like

The Pixel Buds Pro are Google’s first earbuds without wings or supporting stabilizers. Instead, the earbuds are bean-shaped and rely on the silicone ear tip to hold the bud in your ear. Personally, I preferred the old wings because they make the accessory more stable. In any case, the new design is snug and quite comfortable to wear. Looking around the bud, we see three microphones, an in-ear detection sensor, two pogo pins for charging, and a capacitive touch surface to control the media playing. The controls on the ear buds are easy to use and work well. One tap plays or pauses music, double-tapping skips forward, triple-tapping goes backward, and long-pressing can switch between listening modes (ANC, Transparent mode, and off) or activate the Google Assistant. You can also swipe forward or back to raise or lower the volume.

The charging case that comes with the ear buds is almost identical to that of Pixel Buds (2020) and Pixel Buds A-Series. It is roughly the size of an egg (but obviously thinner) and is extremely pocketable. Looking around the device, there is a USB-C port at the bottom with a physical button on the back used to put the earbuds in pairing mode. Around the front is a single LED light that will glow white or orange.

The light will also flash to indicate the battery and pairing status. Solid white: Pixel Buds are fully charged. Steady yellow: one or both headsets are charging. Flashing white: the Pixel Buds are in pairing mode. Pairing mode starts automatically if you press and hold the pairing button for 3 seconds during the set-up process with a new device. Changing white/yellow: the Pixel Buds are attempting to pair, but one is not positioned correctly in the charging case. Flashing yellow: the Pixel Buds still have a remaining charge, but the charging case has less than 20%.

How they sound

The Buds Pro are Google’s best-sounding earbuds ever. They produce super-clear audio with excellent tone separation, even on complex tracks. The bass is precise and punchy, reaching the deepest notes, the mid-tones are rounded, and the treble is quite detailed, sounding great in most genres of music. Volume equalization boosts bass and mid-range tones for better balance at lower volumes.

Google promises to add a full equalizer and spatial audio for immersive surround sound of movies via updates later this year. Overall, these are excellent earphones that take listening to a step further every day. Noise cancellation is just as capable, reducing most bass rumble, road noise, and fan noise and equaling the performance of Apple’s AirPods Pro. They perhaps suffer a little from wind noise, and their ambient awareness mode is good but not as natural. Finally, call quality is very good, with natural, transparent sound even in noisy environments.

Pixel Buds ProThe specifications

The Buds Pro are Bluetooth five headsets that support the standard SBC and AAC audio formats and Google’s Fast Pair with Android. They can be used in mono, which is useful for calls, and support seamless switching between paired devices. Also, they support ultipoint connecting two devices simultaneously, such as a phone for calls and a laptop for music.

In addition they have Google’s new automatic audio switching system that connects Buds Pro to whatever Android phone or tablet is answering a call or playing media content. They do not work with PCs, Macs, or other devices, so multipoint is generally more useful. Google Assistant is another advanced feature that only works with Android. Simply tap and hold one of the earbuds or use the activation phrase ‘Hey Google’ to have notifications or messages read, send replies, control music playback, adjust the volume, get directions from Google Maps, perform real-time translations with Google Translate, and other tasks. Battery life is 11 hours with ANC off, 7 hours using ANC, 31 hours using the charging case with ANC off, and 20 hours using the charging case with ANC on.

Do I buy it or not?

With Pixel Buds Pro, Google has finally hit the jackpot in Bluetooth headsets. They are comfortable, sound great, and have solid noise cancellation, with the battery lasting an impressive seven hours. The controls are excellent, as is the pocket-sized case. They have useful features such as multipoint connectivity for more than one device at a time and good call quality. While some more advanced features are limited to Android, basic tasks are more than satisfactory even with an iPhone. They are not the best Bluetooth earbuds around, but for everyday use, the Pixel B

Antonino Caffo has been involved in journalism, particularly technology, for fifteen years. He is interested in topics related to the world of IT security but also consumer electronics. Antonino writes for the most important Italian generalist and trade publications. You can see him, sometimes, on television explaining how technology works, which is not as trivial for everyone as it seems.