A fantastic pair of Android-focused headphones

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Evaluation:
8/10
?
  • 1 – Absolute hot waste
  • 2 – A kind of lukewarm waste
  • 3 – Severely flawed design
  • 4 – Some advantages, many disadvantages
  • 5 – Acceptably imperfect
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 – Great, but not best in class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with some footnotes
  • 9 – Shut up and take my money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $200

Justin Duino / Practical Geek

Google has finally created a true Apple AirPods Pro competitor with the Pixel Buds Pro. It took four generations to get here, but these Android-focused true wireless (TWE) earbuds sound great, fit great, and deliver all-day battery life. They’re not perfect, but they’re my new favorite headphones.

Here’s what we like

  • Solid sound quality
  • Excellent ANC
  • Comfortable fit
  • Wireless charging

And what we don’t do

  • Transparency mode works but isn’t best in class
  • Limited audio codecs
  • No EQ settings (yet)

Design: no wings but still comfortable and secure.

Google Pixel Buds Pro headphones in a person's hand
Justin Duino / Practical Geek
  • Dimensions: Earphone: 0.88 x 0.87 x 0.93 inches (22.33 x 22.03 x 23.72 mm), charging case: 0.98 x 1.97 x 2.49 inches (25 x 50 x 63.2mm)
  • Lester: Earbud: 6.2g (0.22oz), Charging case: 62.4g (2.2oz) (with earbuds)
  • Water and dust resistance: Headphones: IPX4, case: IPX2
  • Controls: Touch gesture area

The Pixel Buds Pro are Google’s first headphones without support wings/stabilizers. Instead, the earbuds are bean-shaped and rest on the silicone tip to hold the earbud in your ear. Personally, I never liked the old fenders because they weren’t removable and eventually hurt my ears after several hours. The new design is comfortable and comfortable enough to wear for hours.

Looking around the bud you will find three microphones (more on their performances below), a sensor for in-ear detection, two pogo pads for charging and a capacitive touch surface to control the media you listen to.

The controls on the Pixel Buds Pro are easy to use and work surprisingly well. A single tap plays or pauses your music, a double tap skips forward, a triple tap skips back, and a long tap can switch between listening modes (ANC, Transparency mode, and off) or activate Google Assistant . You can also swipe forward or backward to increase or decrease the volume.

Physical button and USB-C port on Google Pixel Buds Pro case
Justin Duino / Practical Geek

The charging case that comes with the Pixel Buds Pro is almost identical to that of the PixelBuds (2020) and Pixel Buds A-series. It’s about the size of an egg (but obviously thinner) and is extremely compact.

Looking around the device, you’ll find a USB-C port on the bottom with a physical button on the back used to put the headphones into pairing mode. Around the front you will find a single LED light which will glow white or orange. The LED also flashes to indicate battery and pairing status, as shown below:

  • Plain white: Pixel Buds are fully charged.
  • Solid Yellow: One or both headphones are charging.
  • Bouncing White: Pixel Buds are in pairing mode. Pairing mode will start automatically if you press and hold the pairing button for 3 seconds during the setup process with a new device.
  • White/yellow switching: The Pixel Buds are trying to pair, but one of them is not properly seated in the charging case. Try closing the lid and reopening it to realign the buds.
  • Flashing yellow: The Pixel Buds are still charged, but the charging case has less than 20%.

This is obviously a lot to remember, so the only indicator I recommend memorizing is the flashing yellow pattern. When you see this, you’ll know it’s time to load up the deal.

Sound quality: Fairly good for the most part

Person wearing Google Pixel Buds Pro to ear
Hannah Stryker / Practical Geek
  • Bluetooth: 5.0
  • Sound features: Multipoint, Android audio switching, ANC, transparency mode, volume equalizer, special audio (coming soon)
  • Codec: AAC and SBC

I’ll cut to the chase: if you’re an audiophile, you won’t like the sound profile of the Google Pixel Buds. Out of the box, I found the 11mm dynamic drivers to boost the bass and treble too much, with the mids being a little muddled.

Unfortunately, a customizable equalizer isn’t coming until later in 2022. Google has a feature called “Volume EQ” that you can turn on, but it only boosts bass and treble at lower volumes. It doesn’t help much when those frequencies are already high.

Now, if you’re like me (a non-audiophile) and just want a pair of headphones that sound pretty good across the board, I think you’ll appreciate the Pixel Buds Pro. I enjoyed using them to listen to any kind of musical genre, podcast or movie. The audio quality is really excellent for anyone just looking to listen to content, especially on the go.

These TWEs are Google’s first with active noise cancellation (ANC) and transparency mode. Here I would say the Pixel Buds Pro are above average, but definitely not the best in class. ANC is good enough for use on an airplane (without too much pressure buildup), but Transparency mode still feels a bit muffled. I could carry on a conversation fairly easily, but you could definitely tell there was something in your ears. On the other hand, the Apple AirPods Pro Transparency mode feels so natural, you forget you’re wearing headphones.

The Pixel Buds Pro’s microphones are quite good. Your voice is clear in quiet environments, but can start to cut out in particularly noisy spaces. I once called someone in an unusually loud coffee shop and the Pixel Buds Pro were fighting so hard to cut out the background noise that half of what I said didn’t get through to the person in the end .

Microphone sample without background noise


Microphone sample with background noise

Battery life: they will last all day

Google Pixel Buds Pro inserted into the case
Justin Duino / Practical Geek
  • Battery life: 11 hours with ANC off, 7 hours with ANC, 31 hours with charging case with ANC off, 20 hours with charging case with ANC on

Between the comfort of the Pixel Buds Pro and their fantastic battery life, there’s almost no reason to take them out of your ears. Google advertises them as having 11 hours of battery life with ANC or Transparency mode off and 7 with them on. I have found these lab tests to be quite accurate in the real world.

My real battery test came on a recent business trip that took longer than expected due to flight delays. I kept them from the time I passed through security until the time I landed at my destination six hours later. I had enough juice to keep listening if I chose to.

Luckily, when I ran out of battery on the Pixel Buds Pro, the case quickly brought them back to full charge. I found that I could remove two to three full charges from the case before having to place it on a Qi wireless charger or plug in a USB-C cable.

One thing to note is that Google didn’t include a power adapter or USB-C cable in the Pixel Buds Pro box. You will need to use your phone charger or buy a new one.

Software: you will need an Android device

Google Pixel Buds app running on a Google Pixel 6a smartphone
Justin Duino / Practical Geek

The AirPods and AirPods Pro are some of the best wireless headphones you can buy, but to take full advantage of the headphones, you need an Apple device. You’re more than welcome to pair your AirPods to your Android smartphone or Windows 11 PC, but to update firmware or customize controls, you’ll need them connected to an iPhone, iPad or Mac.

We find the same type of limitation with the Pixel Buds Pro. The only way to keep the headphones software up to date and change the long-press touch control actions is to pair them with an Android smartphone or tablet.

To note: Most Android devices require you to download the Google Pixel Buds app from Play Store. Pixel smartphones come with the app pre-installed.

The Pixel Buds app experience is pretty standard with options to check the battery percentage of the headphones, switch between noise cancellation and transparency modes, and turn Bluetooth Multipoint on or off. You’ll also find a test to verify that the earmold seal is snug enough to use ANC effectively, a menu to find a missing earbud, and more.

At the end of the day, I used the Google Pixel Buds Pro with my iPhone 13 Pro and MacBook Air (2022) for the majority of my testing and had no issues. Just be aware that you will need to fix buds on Android device from time to time to check for firmware updates.

Should you buy the Google Pixel Buds Pro?

Google Pixel Buds Pro headphones outside the case on the floor
Justin Duino / Practical Geek

The Pixel Buds Pro are by far the best headphones from Google without a doubt. They’re comfortable to wear for hours, the battery life is excellent, the ANC is good enough for use on an airplane, and the audio quality is adequate for everyday listening. The Pixel Buds Pro are the equivalent of Apple’s AirPods Pro in that they’re not audiophile-grade, but they just work to pop into your ears and get a nice listening experience.

The good news is that if the Pixel Buds Pro aren’t for you, there are dozens of premium headphones available to buy now that also feature ANC. If you’re a Samsung Galaxy owner, the new Galaxy Buds Pro 2 are absolutely worth considering as they offer a similar form factor, 24-bit Hi-Fi (with newer phones), and don’t cost much. more expensive. And if you want to do it all, the Sony WF-1000XM4s deliver the best ANC and sound.

You can buy the Pixel Buds Pro for $199.99 in Charcoal, Coral, Fog, and Lemongrass. They are available from Amazon, Google Store, best buy, walmartand Target.

Here’s what we like

  • Solid sound quality
  • Excellent ANC
  • Comfortable fit
  • Wireless charging

And what we don’t do

  • Transparency mode works but isn’t best in class
  • Limited audio codecs
  • No EQ settings (yet)
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