First, let me say, I hate having to use that reference of the “AirPods for Android”. As a die-hard Android and Google user, having to mention an Apple product so people will understand the concept is eh. But when a reference works, it works. And how the AirPods work wonderfully for the iPhone, the Google Pixel Buds, in turn, is what it is for an Android user (and even more so if you are a Pixel phone user for now at least). When Google released the first Pixel Buds, while it has some great features it was lacking when compared to true wireless earbuds out and about to come out right after it. It is great to see this 2020 version of it go totally wireless and having tons of great features to it as well. I’ve been waiting for these since they were announced and now we can see if they were worth it. TL:DR they are!
So I picked these up back towards the end of April and they have quickly become my go-to and primary wireless earbuds of choice. As this is G Style, I usually look for devices that are aesthetically pleasing but with the Google Pixel buds that’s wasn’t why I wanted them. Not to say they don’t look good because the Google Pixel buds are definitely a cool looking pair of earbuds. Starting with the case itself, I think these are hands one of the coolest earbud cases I’ve seen for the segment. The smooth matted feel, the contrasting black and white colors (which matches perfectly with the Clearly White Pixel 4), to the nice egg-shaped design. Then once you get to the buds itself, the simple “mentos” design with a small wing on one end is clean. It is a simple design and I enjoy the fact that it doesn’t protrude out the side of your ear like many other earbuds in the segment, sitting almost flush with your head. From some angles, people wouldn’t even know you were using them.
Once you move from the design which is definitely appealing, as I mention this is why I wanted them. When I previously talked about the Google Pixel 4 XL I stated that it is the Google software I was excited about, not so much the hardware. The hardware was good, but the software was what did it for me. The Google Pixel Buds are an extension of that. Much like the Apple ecosystem ties all of their Apple products together, on Google’s side, this is the same. A collection of devices that tie in together and enhance with machine learning with the crown jewel being the Google Assistant. I’ve used a variety of devices as Google strives to put the Google Assistant toward the center (Wear OS watches, Google Glass, Google Home speakers) of their software experience. With the Pixel Buds, I now get to have the Google Assistant right in my ears. I get to interact with my phone, execute action all without even taking my phone out of pocket and that is what I’ve been excited about. To fully understand that I need to walk you through my ecosystem.
I’m very much embedded in the Google world. I use G Suite, I have a Google Pixel 4 XL, my home is very much a small phone which I can control by voice using a variety of Google Home and Google Nest devices. And just recently I traded in my car for one that has Android Auto (which I love as well, but that’s a story for another post). I have a Chevrolet car, which has can use Google Assistant actions via the OnStar remote access package. With the Google Pixel Buds, I can do and have actually done recently various commands all without touching my phone.
For example, one Saturday afternoon while working outside my house replacing a smart floodlight I was listening to music using the earbuds but needed to cut the circuit breaker to the area of the house I was making the change. Without touching my phone I was able to use the Pixel buds to call the misses. I didn’t need to press and hold any buttons, the buds are always listening for the google command. So saying the phase I was able to call the misses to ask her to turn off the breaker. Also since I knew she was going to the basement, I ask the Google Assistant via the buds to turn on my basement lights…done. Not once did I even remove my phone from my pocket. And just for the sake of it to test, I was able to start up and unlock my car door using the google command all without even reaching for my phone. This is why I wanted the Google Pixel Buds!
Now the ecosystem use is great, but what about the sound. These Google Pixel buds don’t disappoint. They aren’t straight audiophile-level buds but they do a good job with music quality. They don’t have active noise cancellation so if this is something you are looking for, these won’t be for you. If you are looking for a pair of good sound quality buds, these won’t disappoint you. I’ve seen some reviewers mention something about a faint hiss sound at times. I haven’t experienced this so far but I will be sure to update this if I do.
Great Google Assistant ability, good sounds, how’s the battery? Because of the case, do-able. Yes, 5 hours isn’t at the bleeding edge of where others might be right now, with the case you’ll get about 24 hours before you have to recharge both buds and the case. Plus you can get about 2 more hours of listening / 1 of talk time use with just a 10-minute charge in the case. For most people, this should hold them for a work out session or commuting to/from work. Add in also USB-C and wireless charging for the case, other features like adaptive sound and you have a compelling case for the Pixel Buds with a maybe a slightly cheaper $179 price tag.
From the moment I heard about the newer Google Pixel Buds, I knew I was going to get them. Now that I have them, would I recommend them to you? That depends on one thing really. Are you an Android user? Then yes I would recommend them for you. Are you an iPhone user? I wouldn’t suggest it. While they will work with your device like any Bluetooth earbuds would, as an iOS user you won’t get the full experience as you would from an Android device. This is just one of those things, where the platform works best if everything is in the same house. But then again you already have the best earbuds made for your phone so you’ll be fine!