- The Pixel Buds Pro sees Google make its debut in the upper price segment of TWS in India and go up against the likes of the Sony WF-1000XM4, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3, and of course, the AirPods Pro.
- The Pixel Buds Pro come with ANC, very good controls, and superb audio, although not as bass-accented as in the past.
- At $199/Rs 19,990, the Pixel Buds Pro are among the best options for anyone looking for great sound, especially from an Android device. They could well be the AirPods Pro that Android users wanted.
When it comes to TWS, Android users have a number of very good options, but nothing quite in the class of the AirPods Pro. You might get TWS with great sound or great ANC, but there is something inevitably missing. Sony and Sennheiser flagship TWS deliver great ANC and sound, respectively but can be a nightmare in the controls department, whereas Jabra’s sound can be a little too bassy for purists. Yes, one could use AirPods Pro with an Android device, but Apple’s OG TWS play best with Apple devices.
There was hope that Android users would get their own avatar of the AirPods Pro when Google entered the TWS fray in 2020, but that attempt, while praiseworthy, did not quite hit the levels many expected. Now Google has finally taken the Pro train in TWS. The search giant has recently released the Pro variant of its Pixel Buds, the Pixel Buds Pro, and judging by their performance; Android users might finally have the AirPods Pro they always wanted!
Pixel Buds Pro: A (Pixel) A-Grade Design that clicks, with a lid we loved to click
You might confuse the Pixel Buds Pro with the Pixel Buds A at first glance. The buds have the same identical pebble-shaped case with a black accent around the lid. But a closer look reveals their innate pro-ness. The matte white case has a tiny LED right below the lid, which flips open and shuts with a satisfactory click, as Google has used quite a strong magnet to keep the lid of the case shut. The click was so satisfying that we often found ourselves fidgeting with the top.
Though similar looking, the case of the Pixel Buds Pro is visibly bigger than the case of the Pixel Buds A series’ case but still remains very compact. The smooth round design makes it even more pleasurable to hold and carry. The case of the Pixel Buds Pro is compact enough to slip into even the tightest, tiniest pockets without too much fuss. The case is pretty light, too, and weighs 62.4 grams with the earbuds. There is a USB type C port at the base of the case to charge it, and it also comes with support for wireless charging. There is a tiny capsule-shaped button at the back of the case for pairing purposes. While the case is and feels pretty sturdy and comes with an IPX2 rating, it sadly does not age well. The color of the review unit got a bit muddy soon and quickly picked up scratches. It is not as prone to scratches as the glossy case of the AirPods, but it does get bruised easily. Interestingly, there is no Google branding on the case.
Pixel Buds Pro: Getting the wings off the buds
While the case might look just like some of the other Pixel Buds launched in the past, flip open the lid, and you will see a distinct visual difference when it comes to the buds themselves. The case they come in might be white, but the buds themselves are black in color. Google has removed the sports fit attachment which used to come with the Pixels Buds and the Pixel Buds A Series. The Pixel Buds Pro have no wing attachments; they are just the buds all by themselves with no stem. The slightly elongated body of the buds have a circular, somewhat rounded top with Google’s logo stamped on it, while the eartips are present on the other end.
Google has added three mics to the Pixel Buds Pro (one more than on the Pixel Buds A), two at the rounded top near the logo while the other one sits near the ear tips. Clear R and L are marking on both buds, and they sit well and tight in the case, but you really have to get the hang of putting them back. It’s not just as simple as slipping them in. As the magnetic attachment of the buds to the case is not quite the strongest, you would need to get used to putting them back carefully in their case. The earbuds are quite lightweight at approximately 6 grams and do not feel like a burden even through long music sessions. They also do not stick out like sore thumbs and are pretty compact and blend easily into one’s ears. They are also quite sturdy and come with IPX 4 rating, making them A-OK for even the most intense and sweaty workouts.
Pixel Buds Pro: them buds next door looks and easy to set up
Like most earphones, these come with three different-sized tips. While the medium size of most TWS suits us the best, with the Pixel Buds Pro, we preferred the small-sized ear tips.
In India, Google only brought the Charcoal Grey color option, while other markets have more youthful and poppy color options. The grey color sadly makes them look more or less basic and gives them a very ‘buds next door’ kind of look. It is not as if the Pixel Buds Pro (grey option) do not look bad; they just lack the edge which we think the colored variants have about them.
Pairing the Google Pixel Buds Pro is pretty simple. You just have to flip open the case and long press the button on the back of the case until the tiny LED on the front starts breathing in white. You can then find the Buds Pro in the Bluetooth list on your device, tap on it, and the buds will get paired. Once paired, you just have to take the earbuds out of the case and put them in, and you will be good to go. There is a Pixel Buds app for Android users, which comes with additional features, but iOS users have no such option. You can connect the Pixel Buds Pro to up to two devices simultaneously, making it really easy to switch from one device to another without having to go through the pairing process repeatedly.
Pixel Buds Pro: Comfortable fit as long as you do not move too much
We have heard many people rave about how well the Pixel Buds Pro not only sit but stay in their ears. But for some reason, that has not been the case for us. We have struggled and struggled and struggled with the fit of the Buds Pro. We first tried the medium tips as that size usually works for us, but we found them too big, and the buds kept falling out of our ears even with minimal movement. So we switched to the small-sized ear tips, which helped the situation but did not completely rectify the issue.
We also took the 20-second Ear Tip seal check (available to Android users through the app) to know if we were using the wrong tips, and the app suggested we use the medium ones, but the buds just refused to stay put. And every time we tried to twist and push them back in our ears, we inevitably ended up launching an unwanted command.
Needless to say, we did miss the sports fin that came along with other Pixels Buds. The earbuds are quite light and behaved well in situations where we had plonked ourselves in front of our screens for ours and when our usage did not include much movement. Using the Pixel Buds Pro for prolonged periods also did not invite any kind of pain or discomfort, which other in-ear earphones often do. The buds are very comfortable; we just wished Google had included the detachable winged tips for the likes of us.
In terms of connectivity, the buds come with Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, and we did not face any issues with the Pixel Buds Pro. Never did we face an abrupt connection failure while using the earbuds. The multipoint pairing allows you to connect the buds with two devices simultaneously, which means you can pair the buds with your smartphone and your laptop, tablet, or even TV, for that matter, if you wish.
Pixel Buds Pro: A well-balanced audio performance
The drivers on the Google Buds Pro are 11 mm ones, slightly smaller than the 12 mm ones on the Google Pixel A series. Google also claims that a lot of software magic has gone into the Pixel Buds Pro, which also come with features like active noise cancellation and transparency mode.
In terms of performance, the Google Pixel Buds Pro churned out quite an impressive audio output. In a world where bass-y results often overpower balanced audio, Google has kept the audio on the Pixel Buds quite clean and balanced, albeit with just a touch of extra bass. Those used to punchy, pumped-up output might find the Pixel Buds Pro relatively oomph-less, and well, there is no ‘bass boost’ option here as there was on the Pixel Buds A. But in reality, the Pixel Buds Pro managed to bring a lot of detail and clarity to audio and did not let it get muddy, even at maxed-out volume, which is something many TWS struggle with. That said, we would have preferred the maximum volume to be a tad louder.
Most musical genres sound very good on the Buds Pro, but genres like Jazz, classical, and pop shone the most. The Buds Pro handled delicate details extremely well. However, those expecting thundering bass in genres like EDM or heavy metal might feel disappointed. In the case of podcasts, YouTube videos, or while binge-watching movies, we did not experience latency which is another plus for the Pixel Buds Pro. However, the buds do not come with support for aptX or LDAC audio codecs, which may disappoint some. There is no support for spatial audio, even though the Pixel 6a comes with support for it. We also expected to have some equalizer options on the app for those who like to tweak settings. Google has said a 5-band equalizer will be coming later in the year. Also expected later is support for spatial audio, especially with the Pixel phones running Android 13. That’s another thing about the Pixel
Pixel Buds Pro: Very good ANC and calls, decent battery life
One of the star features of the Pixel Buds Pro is active noise cancellation (ANC). And it works well too. The Pixel Buds Pro, anyway, come with great insulation from ambient noise when they stay snuggly fit in one’s eras, but ANC takes the noise-removing game up a notch. The ANC on the Pixel Buds Pro can easily eliminate the sound of indistinct chatter or other pale noises completely and muffles loud noises as well. The arrival of ANC also means that there is no Adaptive Sound, which we had seen on earlier Pixel Buds, where the volume rose and fell automatically depending on ambient noise. Another
The transparency mode was very pretty good and provided us with much-needed environment sound when needed. The call quality on the Pixel Buds Pro is impressive, and we, as well as those we spoke to using the Buds Pro, faced no issues. We cannot state how important this is, as call quality is often a challenge on TWS.
As per Google’s claims, the Pixel Buds Pro can last up to seven hours on a single charge with ANC. This is more or less accurate. We got about 6-7 hours of listening time with ANC on while it went all the way up to 10-10.5 hours when ANC was turned off. The case of buds comes with about 20 hours worth of charge which can hydrate the buds mAH-wise twice or thrice, which is decent without being exceptional. We did have higher expectations from that slightly larger case.
Pixel Buds Pro: Superb controls, but no Attention Alerts
In all these years of using TWS, we cannot remember if we have ever not had complaints about the controls on any pair of TWS. Well, that changes with the Google Pixel Buds Pro. The Pixel Buds Pro come with haptic panels that allow you to place commands with just a tap or two. You can use a single tap to play/ pause the audio, while a double tap will skip to the next track or reject a call. You can triple tap to go back to the previous track. Long pressing the buds will turn on ANC or transparency mode or turn them off. Our favorite feature, however, was volume control – you can swipe up to raise the volume and swipe down to bring the volume down. The best part is that all this works smoothly. You can customize controls from the app if you wish.
Removing one of the Pixel Buds Pro is supposed to pause the music while putting it back in will resume the audio playing in our buds. We said “is supposed to” because the feature actually did not work well for us. Often when we took one of the buds out, the music kept playing in the other one, although it sometimes did stop after 30-40 seconds. We were also surprised to see Google drop Attention Alerts from the buds. Attention Alerts are used to reduce volume when the buds detect sounds like a barking dog, an alarm bell, or a crying baby, and while it was a little hit and miss, we felt it was a very Pro feature to have. Here’s hoping Google brings it back with an update.
Pixel Buds Pro Review: Taking on the AirPods Pro
At $199/Rs 19,990, the Google Buds Pro come with a price tag that is definitely on the premium side. Standing against them are some of the best TWS in the market. The similarly priced Sony WF-1000XM4 offers better ANC, and the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 set the benchmark for audio quality in TWS. And then, of course, there is the OG of Pro TWS, the AirPods Pro. Apple has released a new version of the AirPods Pro at the time of writing at Rs 26,900, but older versions are still being sold at prices in the vicinity of Rs 20,000.
However, the Google Pixel Buds Pro has a lot going for them as they come with very good audio, superb ANC, and, very importantly, one of the best control systems we have seen on a TWS this side of the AirPods. In fact, in many ways, they remind us of the AirPods Pro, with their stress on ease of use and general functionality rather than obsessing over a single feature. We would have preferred a cleaner fit, the retention of the smart features of older buds such as Attention Alerts, and perhaps a little more in the battery department, but that apart, the Pixel Buds Pro are about as good a pair of TWS as you can get in the Android world. Android users finally have their version of the AirPods Pro, and it comes from the brand that gave the world Android, Google. Apt. Very.
- Very good quality sound
- Good ANC
- Great for calls
- Excellent controls
- Ear fit issues (no wings)
- No support for aptX, LDAC codecs
- No bass boost, attention alerts
- App has no equalizer
|Ease of Use||
At $199/Rs 19,990, the Pixel Buds Pro are among the best options for anyone looking for great sound, especially from an Android device. They could well be the AirPods Pro that Android users wanted.