Google Pixel Buds 2 Review
Better call quality, battery life, and Google Assistant integration improve Google’s wireless earbuds
- Long Bluetooth range
- Tight integration with Google Assistant
- Better battery life
- Snug fit
- Earbuds are now true wireless
- No active noise cancelation
- Advanced features only work when paired with phones running Android N or higher
Google Pixel Buds 2 (or, simply, Google Pixel Buds as the manufacturer calls them) are positioned to take on Apple AirPods Pro. The second generation of the earbuds was first announced in October 2019, but it has taken some time to hit the market.
Compared to the first iteration of Google Pixel Buds, the new line has better call and audio quality, a more secure fit, and a vent that lets in some environmental noise.
Notably, the new Google Pixel Buds are true wireless, which means they have ditched the clunky cord connecting the two earbuds in the original version.
Google Pixel Buds cost slightly less than Apple AirPods with a wireless charging case. But has Google done enough to position the new Pixel Buds as the top choice in an increasingly crowded market?
The case and the Buds themselves have a comfortable matte finish. You can drop the earbuds into the case at any angle and they’ll be snapped into place by magnets.
Google Pixel Buds come in four colors, which are ‘Quite Mint’, ‘Clearly White’, ‘Just Black‘, and ‘Oh So Orange’, similar to the colors available on the Google Nest Mini.
The physical design is quite dainty, and the housing sits flush against your ear. The minimal design is refreshing for those of us who want to wear wireless earbuds all day without making it a fashion statement.
Google says that to get the highest level of comfort from Pixel Buds, they scanned thousands of human ears. The fit is secure and customizable, with a three-point anchor system. There’s the stabilizer arc (earfin), soft-fit eartip, and retention curve that all aim to make the fit from the Google Pixel Buds more secure than competitors are.
We found the earbuds to fit nice and snug and the wingtip stabilizers keep them right in place. There’s no chance that they’ll fall out during exercise and they’re smaller than Microsoft Surface Ear Buds.
A spatial vent keeps the sound from the outside world coming through to you so you’re always aware of your surroundings. It also avoids the discomfort you can get from earbuds that fully seal off air circulation.
Perhaps Google Pixel Buds’ most interesting feature is its tight integration with Google Assistant. You can use ‘Hey Google’ voice commands to access your music, get directions, and make calls. A few other sets of wireless headphones can support various virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but Google Pixel Buds just do it more smoothly when paired with an Android phone.
An interesting feature is the ability to get real-time translations right into your ear if your phone is running Android Nougat or higher.
If you misplace your earbuds, you can use Find My Device to locate them again.
Using Google Pixel Buds for making calls is now a much-improved experience. Sensors detect when you’re talking and adjust the sent audio accordingly. Mics focused on your voice cut out the background noise for better calls. It detects speech through your jawbone. The result is a more professional-sounding call.
Both earbuds act as the primary. This means you can use either of them as a solo Bluetooth headset and you can tap either earbud to control volume and music playback.
Tap to play or pause music. Swiping forward or backward adjusts the volume. You can long-press the earbuds to activate Google Assistant, but as the earbuds are always listening for the hotword, this isn’t necessary.
Taking the earbuds out of your ear will automatically stop music playback.
Battery and Power
You can power the earbuds by placing them in the case. The case works with compatible wireless charging pads, so you only need to drop it on your pad if you have one. Otherwise, there’s a USB-C connector on the bottom of the case.
Two LEDs on the charging case indicate earbuds battery charge and charge of the case itself. Bluetooth pairing can be achieved through a single button on the back.
You’ll get five hours on the earbuds between charges and up to 24 hours from the charging case. This is on par with Apple AirPods.
Extra-long Bluetooth Capabilities
If you’re using a Google Pixel phone, you can pair it with your earbuds with a single tap. Google Pixel Buds are also compatible with any Bluetooth 4.0+ device, so you can use them with your laptop, iPhone, and tablets. Some features like Adaptive Sound and live translation will only work on Android, though.
One of the upgrades to the earbuds is in the Bluetooth range. Google Pixel Buds have a range of around 100 yards (90 meters), meaning you could leave your phone in your gym locker while working out and never need to worry about connectivity. In an office environment, this is equivalent to using the earbuds up to three rooms away.
Google Pixel Buds offer high-quality audio through custom-built 12 mm dynamic speaker drivers. The dynamic drivers give you a punchy, powerful sound. Your ears are sealed for rich bass and clear highs, but there’s also a spatial vent to let environmental sound through.
If you enable the Adaptive Sound feature, the volume of your music will adjust automatically when you move between quiet and loud areas.
Now true wireless with better battery life and smart features, Google Pixel Buds are arguably better than Apple AirPods Pro earbuds at a lower price point.
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