It’s hard to think of a smarter pair of true wireless earbuds than the new Google Pixel Buds Pro. Well, aside from the other Pixel Buds earbuds that is.
We have the Google Pixel Buds Pro with us today, and they’re a definite improvement from the older models.
So let’s talk design first. The case itself looks almost identical to the cases for the A series and the original Pixel Buds. You get a USB-C charging port on the bottom and a pairing button at the back.
The earbuds themselves are where the design has changed. You no longer get the mentos-looking earbuds, with Google opting instead for a more traditional earbud design. The earbuds do have relatively long nozzles, and they sit quite securely in the ear despite the lack of stabilising fins.
In the box, you get a paper tube with different ear tips, but there’s no charging cable. Honestly, it’s a bit of a controversial opinion but I’m perfectly fine with no cable. I have plenty of USB-C cables at home, so I don’t need to have yet another one from a pair of earbuds.
Touch controls are fantastic, the earbuds are responsive and they don’t accidentally activate. A single tap on either side controls play/pause and a double tap skips tracks forward while a triple tap skips tracks backwards. A long press and hold on the left brings the voice assistant up, while a long press and hold on the right toggles between ANC modes. This is customisable of course. There’s also volume control here, so you can swipe forward to raise the volume while swiping backwards to lower the volume. Not quite as intuitive as swiping up and down, but better than nothing.
The Google Pixel Buds app is now a system-level app, but if you’re using an iPhone, do take note that the app isn’t available on the App Store, so you’ll be missing out on features and software updates. The Pixel Buds are not the best option for iPhone users anyway, but yeah, it’s quite clear this is a pair of earbuds that are targeted toward Android users.
Inside the app, you get a eartip seal check, touch control customisation for the tap and hold option, ANC, EQ and more. There’s now finally audio switching between different devices as well as multipoint, so if you’re using these earbuds with a laptop and phone, you’ll be able to switch whenever a call comes in. The volume EQ feature will be available on launch, which tunes the EQ based on the listening volume, and spatial audio will also be available later this fall, which I’ll definitely be waiting for.
There’s ANC here and it’s actually quite decent. Lower pitched rumbles are pretty effectively cancelled out although higher pitched noises like voices and train or bus announcements are still audible. It’s not to the level of the Sony XM4 earbuds or AirPods Pro, but it’s a pretty good option. Transparency is pretty good, although I did find that I had to take out the earbuds once in a while if I was going to speak to someone.
These are running on Bluetooth 5.0, which is a bit of an old standard, but what’s really disappointing is that these only support SBC and AAC. There’s no aptX support here for low latency and the likes. That being said, there are no real audio sync issues that I’ve encountered.
Google claims 7 hours of battery life in the earbuds with ANC on and 11 hours with ANC off. With the case, there’s a total of 20 hours with ANC on or 31 hours with ANC off. It’s actually quite decent, so there’s very little to fault here, especially since there’s also wireless charging.
You get IPX4 water resistance with the earbuds and IPX2 water resistance with the case, so keep the case safe and dry, but the earbuds will be able to withstand sweat and the likes, no problem at all.
Microphone quality is alright, there are three microphones on each earbud and my voice does come across quite clearly, perfectly fine for work calls.
The sound quality is actually pretty good. It’s a very balanced sound, with a decent amount of thumpy, impactful bass that doesn’t negatively impact the mids. There’s a good amount of detail and energy in the mids, although I did feel that the treble could do with a bit more energy and sparkle.
The soundstage is pretty much on par with the average. I’d say that there’s not too much to shout about sound-wise with the Pixel Buds Pro, but it definitely sounds better than the 2020 Pixel Buds as well as the A-series.
Where these really shine, is when the software comes into play, so the hands-free integration with Google Assistant, the ability to use Google Translate in conversations and such. If you’re using an Android phone and want stuff like notifications being read aloud, there are few other earbuds in the market that do as good and as seamless a job as the Pixel Buds series. And the Pixel Buds Pro is certainly the best option in the series right now.