Truly wireless earbuds are a great way to bring music, podcasts, and more along with you, but it can be difficult to choose which is the right one for you. In this guide, we’ll answer some of the biggest questions around Google Pixel Buds, including which model might be right for you.
What are Google Pixel Buds?
To date, there have been four versions of the Pixel Buds produced by Google.
The first was released in 2017 alongside the Pixel 2 series and, while wireless, had a wire connecting the two earbuds to each other. There was quite a bit to like from the smart features of the Pixel Buds, they were largely forgettable due to a bulky earpiece, annoying case, and high price point. Ultimately, Google only kept them around for a couple of years while working on something much better.
In 2020, Google debuted a new pair of Pixel Buds that were truly wireless while offering the same features as the originals and more.
The “Pixel Buds 2” were significantly better than the originals, with great sound quality, smart features, a delightful case, and a reasonable price. The Pixel Buds (2020) had a vent in the earpiece to allow external sound in, as well as a “fin” to help keep the earbuds in place when moving around. These earbuds also introduced support for native “Hey Google” support on the earbuds themselves.
Other clever features included notifications read aloud when paired to Android devices, the ability to translate spoken languages, and also alerts when the earbuds detected noises such as a baby crying, dog barking, or a siren.
We loved the Pixel Buds, but they were quickly subject to a hardware issue that caused regular cut-outs in the audio stream. That led to Google pulling the plug on the Pixel Buds (2020) in mid-2021 as its next release came around.
The Pixel Buds A-Series were Google’s first attempt at a more affordable pair of earbuds. At $99, they offered a lot of the same core features as the regular Pixel Buds, as well as the same basic design. Plus, the Pixel Buds A-Series fixed the cut-out issues the more expensive model suffered from, which is why Google discontinued the Pixel Buds (2020) almost immediately after the A-Series launch.
In 2022, Google announced the latest addition to its Pixel Buds portfolio, the Pixel Buds Pro. The $199 earbuds are Google’s most expensive to date, but also the most feature-packed.
The design of the Pixel Buds Pro is very similar to past models, without the “fin” on the eartip. The Pixel Buds Pro release on July 28, 2022, and come in four colors with the additions of Active Noise Cancellation, multipoint connections, and more on top of the same smart features found on existing Pixel Buds models. Later, Google is also adding a 3D audio feature.
Google Pixel Buds: Frequently Asked Questions
The Pixel Buds, Pixel Buds A-Series, and Pixel Buds Pro are all very similar earbuds, and share most of their key software features in common. But, each model comes with its own strengths.
The Pixel Buds (2020) featured “Hey Google” support, alerts, notifications with Android, and 5 hours of battery life.
Meanwhile, the Pixel Buds A-Series share the same design as the Pixel Buds (2020), but remove support for wireless charging, touch controls for volume, and make some other minor tweaks to sound quality to cut down the price.
Finally, Pixel Buds Pro are the most feature-dense of the bunch, with support for Active Noise Cancellation, wireless charging, spatial audio, and the best battery life too.
In 2021, Google stopped selling the Pixel Buds, but only the version that was released in 2020. The earbuds were quietly discontinued alongside the launch of the Pixel Buds A-Series, and is largely believed to be because of the audio cutout issues that many users reported over the years.
Active noise canceling (ANC) is only supported on one version of Google Pixel Buds. The Pixel Buds Pro, released in 2022, support active noise cancellation, but the Pixel Buds (2020) and Pixel Buds A-Series do not support the feature. In fact, both have a “vent” that allows external audio into the experience.
Like many other earbuds, Pixel Buds do have some amount of water resistance, but it depends on the situation.
All three versions of Pixel Buds feature IPX4 water resistance which protects the earbuds from sweat and water, such as when exercising or when caught in the rain. But you should never bring Pixel Buds into the pool, as they can’t handle the amount of water involved in swimming. Notably, the Pixel Buds (2020) and Pixel Buds Pro both have a water resistance rating for the charging cases as well as the earbuds, while the Pixel Buds A-Series only applies that rating to the earbuds themselves.
Yes, you can use only one Pixel Bud at a time. Google designed its earbuds to where they both connect to the phone, rather than connecting one to the phone and the other to the first earbud. This mean you can still listen to music or make phone calls while wearing a single earbud.
Yes, Pixel Buds can be paired to any Bluetooth device, including iOS devices such as the iPhone or iPad, as well as laptops and other computers running Windows, Linux, macOS, or Chrome OS. But it’s important to note that most features of the Pixel Buds will not work unless you are paired to an Android smartphone or a Chromebook, such as Fast Pair, alerts, and “Hey Google” commands.
Pixel Buds can pair to multiple devices, but only the Pixel Buds Pro support “multipoint” connections which allow the earbuds to be paired to multiple devices at the same time. Google is also improving support for this with a new Fast Pair feature that allows Pixel Buds Pro to be connected to multiple Android devices at once and hand-off audio to other devices as needed.
A neat trick of Google Pixel Buds is the ability to translate spoken conversations right in your ear, but how does it work? When connected to an Android smartphone, Pixel Buds can tie into the Google Translate app to facilitate this connection, and you can set the language in the app. The Pixel Buds can then hear words spoken in another language, process them, and then read the translated statement through the earbuds.
Google Pixel Buds have varying cost depending on the model. The Pixel Buds A-Series cost $99, while Pixel Buds Pro cost $199. The Pixel Buds (2020) cost $179 before they were discontinued.
Battery life on Pixel Buds depends on the model you buy, but all three have respectable endurance.
The Pixel Buds (2020) offer up to five hours of music streaming using the earbuds on their own, with up to 24 hours stored in the case. The same battery life estimates apply to the Pixel Buds A-Series.
Meanwhile, the Pixel Buds Pro top the charts, with their specs enabling 11 hours of battery life from the earbuds alone, and 31 hours in total when including the case. That stat does change, though, when including Active Noise Cancellation, which cuts the total down to seven hours from the earbuds and 20 hours from the case.
Google Pixel Buds are an excellent choice for earbuds, especially if you own an Android device. They feature Fast Pair support, deep integration with Google Assistant, and clever features to go with it all. For the price, they’re a solid choice for anyone!
Pairing Google Pixel Buds is rather easy. When you first buy them, you just need to open up the lid on the case, and Pixel Buds will automatically be in pairing mode. If you have an Android smartphone, Pixel Buds will use “Fast Pair” to pop-up on your phone and start the process of connecting, as well as linking to your Google account for faster pairing on other Android devices.
If you need to start the pairing process manually, there’s a small button on the back of the Pixel Buds case that can help with that. Simply hold down the button for a few seconds until the status light on the front of the case starts slowly blinking.
If you need to reset Pixel Buds to give them away, or sell them, it’s a pretty easy process. Just open the case, let them connect your phone, and hit “Forget” in the Bluetooth menu. You don’t need to factory reset earbuds, as they store no personal information.
Like any pair of earbuds, Pixel Buds will get dirty over time. But thankfully, they’re pretty easy to clean. The easiest way to clean Pixel Buds is to remove the silicone ear tip by simply sliding it off, and then use a tissue or cloth to wipe away earwax. If the earbuds or case are especially dirty, you can also use a cotton swab (Q-Tip) soaked, but not dripping, in isopropyl alcohol and gently wipe the surface.
Have other questions about Google Pixel Buds? Drop a comment below and we’ll do our best to answer!
Where to buy Google Pixel Buds
More on Google Pixel Buds:
- Pixel Buds A-Series Review: ‘Hey Google’ and the best features without deal-breaking flaws
- Pixel Buds Pro have to make up for Google’s biggest earbud mistakes
- Pixel Buds Pro specs: 31 hours of battery life, ANC, custom chip, more
Author: Ben Schoon