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John Weland | July 16, 2020

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Google Pixel Buds: Did they finally get it right?

Back in November 2017 when Google debuted their Google Pixel Buds (1st edition), they were full of huge promises. But many found them to fall short. April 2020 saw the release of the Pixel Buds (gen 2), which promised to shore up many of the shortcomings of their predecessors and improve upon what they had done right. We have reviewed other peripherals before, but these new 2nd gen earbuds are our first in the realm of audio.

Pixel Buds & Build Quality

The Google Pixel Buds (ours in white), look similar to the Apple Air Pods, though without the “stem” that hangs out of your ear. Unlike the first edition of the Google Pixel Buds, these do not have a wire running from one earbud to the next.

Battery life is pretty great. Ours averages 4 – 5 hours of use before needing to be dropped in to the case, which also serves as a battery pack. We managed to get around 19 – 25 hours of use before needing to recharge the battery/case. The case charges via USB-C or wireless charging.

The varying sizes of silicon tips and size of the ear buds made for a really great fit, and comfortable for long term use. I was able to jog, do yard work and bike without fear of them falling out. I’d imagine they would stay fitted even in a mild to moderate intensity cardio kickboxing class (working the bags). But I haven’t tried.

Usability

These are a far cry better than the first edition Pixel Buds, both in quality and usability. There are a lot of features like touch gestures and voice assistant built in. However, some of the features that were showcased in the 1st edition run not only didn’t make it into the 1st edition, they still haven’t been introduced with the 2nd edition.

The biggest feature is live translation. This feature was touted as an instant in-ear translator, but in practice, it’s just the Google Translate app on your phone.

The Assistant is pretty handy; you can activate it with a touch and hold on either ear bud. It does do a range of “assistant” type things, from reading your messages/notification to you to checking the weather, making calls and helping with your shopping list.

They connect to Google Pixel phones immediately simply by opening the charging case and then clicking accept on your device. On my Samsung Galaxy S10, however, it did require that I install the “Pixel” app. Then they functioned the same.

Pixel Buds & Sound Quality

The sound quality on the Google Pixel Buds is pretty damn solid. Even at higher volumes there isn’t distortion. They are not exceptionally bass heavy, but still pack a punch.

They are NOT noise cancelling. But with an array of bud tips, they do seal well in the ear canal to isolate sound and block a lot of external noise.

Final Thoughts

For $179 dollars, they’re rather pricey for earbuds. But they sound really good and the battery life is pretty long. And if you find the assistant-in-ear features handy, they just might be worth your time and money.

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