Google has been in the wearables space for quite sometime now. The company first launched the Google Pixel Buds back in 2017. Since then, it has added a number of new devices to its portfolio. It launched the Pixel Buds 2 back in 2020 and the low-cost Pixel Buds A-series in 2021. This year, the company expanded its earbuds portfolio further by launching the Google Pixel Buds Pro. Also Read - Google releases new voices for Android apps by updating its text-to-speech engine
At a price of Rs 19,990, the Pixel Buds Pro are Google’s all-out attempt to offer top-of-line sound with smart features — something that can compete with the Apple AirPods Pro but in the Android ecosystem. With features like Silent Seal, in-ear detection, audio-switching, multi-point support, active noise cancellation (ANC) and more, the Pixel Buds Pro do make a compelling case, especially for those in the Android ecosystem (FYI: they work with iOS too). But are features and Google’s algorithm-refined sound enough to make these TWS earbuds an instant winner? We will answer that and more in the review below. So, keep reading… Also Read - Google Stadia is shutting down: Here’s what will happen to your purchases
Google Pixel Buds Pro: Design
Google has been steadily evolving the design of its earbuds. The original Pixel Buds partially featured a wireless design. They had a wire connecting the earbuds on either sides. With Pixel Buds 2, Google went a step further by introducing a truly wireless design. These earbuds had a tiny fin to give users that extra grip that is often needed to keep the earbuds in place. With Pixel Buds-A, the company refined this design a bit further by flattening the top a bit and making the twisted stem a bit smaller without losing the fin. With the Pixel Buds Pro, Google went a step even further by loosing the fin completely. Also Read - Google is making shopping easier than ever with five major updates to Google Shopping
This bold move could have turned into a rather precarious one had the earbuds not been able to sit still in the ear cavity, especially during workouts. But the unique design of the Pixel Buds Pro not only helps them in staying inside the ear cavity securely but it also ensure that users are comfortable all throughout, even on wearing these earbuds for a prolonged period of time. What helps in ensuring a more comfortable experience is a feature called Silent Seal, which Google says enables Pixel Buds to adapt to “your ear, to help maximize the amount of noise that’s canceled.” Furthermore, Google says that these earbuds also come with built-in sensors measure the pressure in your ear canal to ensure a more comfortable listening experience. While Google hasn’t shed further light on the matter, it is safe to assume that the company’s algorithms optimise the sound experience based on the feedback received from the sensors in the earbuds. Also, users can check the ear-tip seal using a feature available within the phone app every time they use them.
Overall, the Pixel Buds Pro are comfortable to wear even during prolonged usage and they don’t tend to come out even when you’re on a move or out for a run.
Google Pixel Buds Pro: Sound
Another department that Google has aced with its Pixel Buds Pro TWS earbuds is the sound. The Pixel Buds Pro offer a crystal clear and a balanced sound quality that replicates music in a way that feels natural.
Most earbuds these days either offer a bass-heavy sound with a booming effect or go heavy on the treble, which can be ‘treble-some’ in some cases. But unlike a lot of these earbuds available in the market, the Pixel Buds Pro TWS earbuds sit in the middle offering a sound that is simple yet distinct and well-balanced. In my case, they helped me connect with the finer under tones in music that often go unnoticed or get concealed in a lot of existing earbuds. Whether you are listing to David Guetta’s Titanium and Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol or a Lata melody from the yesteryears or something more acoustic focused such as Ed Sheeran’s Perfect and Taylor Swift’s Untouchable, Pixel Buds Pro bring out the best version of the music being played and enhance the right parts just enough to leave a lasting experience.
That said, with Pixel Buds Pro you don’t get a lot of flexibility for tailoring the sound to your liking even with the app. However, you get the Volume EQ feature that brings out the details at lower volume levels, which can make all the difference sometimes.
Google Pixel Buds Pro: Software and other things
Now, let’s talk about the software side of things. The Google Pixel Buds Pro are quick to pair up with any device that you have at hand. If you are using an Android device, you can download the Google Pixel Buds app to get access to all the settings and features that are a part of the Pixel Buds Pro package. The process is really simple. You need to press the button on the case to get these earbuds in pairing mode. After that, the app does the rest. This process can be made a tad bit faster if you are using a Pixel smartphone owing to Google’s Fast Pair features that connects the Pixel Buds Pro as seamlessly to the Google Pixel smartphone as AirPods connect with an iPhone. And if you are using an iPhone, you can press the button at the back of the Pixel Buds Pro’s case to get these earbuds in pairing mode. After that, you can open Bluetooth section in the settings app on your your iPhone to finish the process. A caveat of using this process is that you don’t get access to the elaborate controls and features that you would normally get access to while using the Pixel Buds app on an Android smartphone.
Connectivity aside, Pixel Buds Pro offer a bunch of touch-based controls that drastically increase the ease of using these earbuds. You can forward or backward for controlling the volume, touch and hold to control ANC, single tap to play/pause music or answer a call, double tap to reject a call or play the next track and triple tap to play the previous. These controls work flawlessly each time.
Beyond connectivity and controls, the Pixel Buds app offers ample flexibility to the users in terms of features to the Pixel Buds Pro users. For instance, there is a Find a Device feature that lets you locate your Pixel Buds Pro earbuds if you lose them by playing a beeping sound. The app also gives you access to Google (which can also be accessed using touch-based controls) and multipoint feature that you connect the earbuds with two Bluetooth devices at the same time and audio switching functionality that lets the earbuds automatically switch between audio sources based on what they are doing.
In addition to all of these features, with Pixel Buds Pro you also get an active noise cancellation feature that filters out the outside sound while letting you focus on what’s playing in the buds. In an ideal scenario, turning this feature on should turn off all the outside sound. And for most parts, the Pixel Buds Pro do perform as expected. But sometimes — like in a bustling newsroom or in a crowdy market — they do falter, which is in this case is less than ideal. The alternative to using ANC is using the Transparency mode, which gives you the best of both worlds by playing the sound in the earbuds without filtering out the outside sound. While this mode works just fine, it lacks the fineness or the more natural sensation that you expect from a device that costs around 20 grand or you get in case of the AirPods Pro.
Google Pixel Buds Pro: Battery
Now, let’s talk about the battery. The Pixel Buds Pro offer up to seven hours of battery life with the ANC turned on and up to 11 hours with the functionality turned off. In our time with the device, the Pixel Buds Pro mostly held up to those limits. With mixed usage, they easily lasted for around eight to nine hours.
Should you buy Google Pixel Buds Pro or not?
Before we answer that question, let’s sum up the good, the bad and everything in between. What works for the Pixel Buds Pro is its light and comfortable design, its touch-based gesture, ease of connectivity, battery life and its beautifully balanced sound. What could have been better is the ANC feature, transparency mode and inclusion of more detailed controls for greater sound customisation. And bad? Well, there is nothing bad in the Pixel Buds Pro.
To sum it up, Pixel Buds Pro offers a solid performance owing to a host of good feature and a bunch of almost good ones. Sure, the almost good features could have made the experience even better, but that can still happen over a software update. Update or no update, the Pixel Buds Pro earbuds are a winner in their own right.