Google's New Pixel Buds vs. AirPods and AirPods Pro

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Google's new wire-free version of the Pixel Buds started shipping out in late April, and we picked up a pair to see how Google's wire-free earbuds compare to the AirPods and the AirPods Pro.


When it comes to price and feature set, Pixel Buds are more similar to the AirPods than the AirPods Pro. The Pixel Buds are priced at $179, in between the pricing of the standard AirPods ($159) and the AirPods with Wireless Charging Case ($199).


They're not as expensive as the AirPods Pro and that's because there is no Active Noise Cancellation included in the Pixel Buds.

Design wise, though, the Pixel Buds have a little more in common with the AirPods Pro than the AirPods, featuring silicone tips (with multiple size options) that fit into the ears. AirPods, of course, have no silicone tips and are unlike most other earbuds on the market.


Google gave the Pixel Buds a unique design with a matte white Mentos-shaped body that sits outside of the ears and provides a small surface for gestures. Google actually made Pixel Buds before, but this is the first version without a wire - the prior model had a wire between the two earbuds.


There's a little stem that sticks out of the top of the Pixel Buds that provides a tight but comfortable in-ear fit to keep them in place. We found the Pixel Buds to be comfortable to wear, but as with any in-ear headphone, ear fatigue sets in after long periods of use and there can be some ear pain. For shorter listening periods, the Pixel Buds were comfortable, as are the AirPods and the AirPods Pro for most people.

The little Mentos-like puck on the outside is useful. One tap for play/pause, double tap for the next track, and triple tap to go back. There's also an option to control the volume by sliding from left to right, a useful feature missing from the AirPods.


When it comes to sound quality, the Pixel Buds work well for music and videos. There's separation between the low, mid, and high frequencies, and different instruments can be heard clearly. Lack of bass has been a complaint with the Pixel Buds, but we thought they sounded better than the AirPods and close to the AirPods Pro.

Our Pixel Buds had a major issue, though, and it appears we may have had a faulty pair. With no music playing, there's a high-pitched hum coming from the right earbud. It cuts out when music is playing, but can be heard during calls. We'll be getting a new pair from Google and will provide an update here in this article on whether that pair is functional.

Like AirPods and AirPods Pro, Pixel Buds come with a wireless charging case that adds additional battery life. It's a little bit egg shaped and closer in size to the skinny AirPods case than the wider AirPods Pro case.


Pixel Buds are meant to last up to five hours before needing to be recharged, with the case adding up to 24 hours of listening time. The case charges over USB-C or a Qi-based wireless charging mat, while AirPods are limited to Lightning or Qi charging if the wireless case was purchased.

When paired with an iPhone, Pixel Buds are equivalent to any other Bluetooth earbuds with no special features, but when used with an Android, there's more functionality to work with.

There's a fast pair option for holding the case near the phone to pair, much like with the AirPods, and the Pixel Buds link to a Google account for management and tracking purposes. If Pixel Buds get lost, they can be tracked via the app, which also provides a toggle for Adaptive Sound and other settings that can be tweaked.


Adaptive Sound, by the way, is meant to tune the audio based on your surroundings and it's in lieu of noise cancellation, which is not a Pixel Buds feature. Pixel Buds also include real-time language translation, which is neat, and access to Google Assistant through a gesture, which is great for Google Assistant users.


For iPhone users, there's no reason to purchase the Pixel Buds over the AirPods or AirPods Pro just because the AirPods have so much more to offer in terms of quick pairing, device switching, range, and iPhone integration, but for Android users, Pixel Buds are worth considering.

With the Adaptive Sound, wire-free fit, charging case, gesture support, and fast pairing options, Pixel Buds are the closest thing to AirPods on an Android.

Article Link: Google's New Pixel Buds vs. AirPods and AirPods Pro
 

DeepIn2U

macrumors 604
May 30, 2002
7,436
2,523
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Google caching up and mimicking some functionality. Using touch hw interface. Passive physical noise separation. Nothing to see here. Move along Apple folks.

Edit: Wait what? Our video host states APP are jammed way further into the ear canal? That maybe unique to him and my ears are tiny (6cm top to earlobe) 2.4cm ear canal cover to outside ear, and I love in-ear headphones ... but the APP don't jam anywhere in my ear canal ... barely sits just outside the opening as designed/intended by Apple.
 

Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
34,066
35,076
Google is pathetic. Copying every successful move Apple makes, censoring the internet, and influencing american elections.
I’d say that’s a bit extreme. Google isn’t pathetic In terms of ‘copying’. If you look a lot of these earbud designs, they all really kind of resemble each other in some form or fashion. For example: Look at the Samsung Galaxy buds Plus, they’re very similar to the Pixel Buds, did Google copy Samsung to? I think you only have so many ‘design elements‘ in terms of what in earbuds would look like, but I think it really comes down to the platform Of what somebody is choosing to use V.s. Just the design.

Keep in mind, competition is a good thing, and it’s good to have choices amongst all these competitors. But I don’t think it makes Google ‘pathetic’ at all, and I say this being an avid Apple user/AirPod fanatic.
 

iMaK18

macrumors newbie
Feb 6, 2018
7
42
You mean like Apple copied (unsuccessfully) the Echo devices and Google Home?
Copied?
The HomePod was in development for years.
Never mind that.

I don’t know how you can say Apple copied when Echo and Google Home are just physical devices enabled with Alexa and Google assistant...which are copies of Siri.

it doesn’t matter what shape Alexa or Google Assistant comes in, they are always automatically copies of Siri, in any of Siri’s forms.
 

bchery21

macrumors 6502a
Aug 3, 2009
716
469
Boston, MA
These seem to be the two best options if you're in the Apple or Google ecosystem. The next logical upgrade for the Pixel buds will include noise cancellation.
 

himanshumodi

macrumors 6502
May 18, 2012
406
341
India
I don’t experience any fatigue with AirPods. I realise that might not be true for everyone. But that is one reason I find AirPods irreplaceable. I dare say it’s the tip-less deign with Center if gravity inside the ear that contributes to the ergonomics. I have never tried pro, but I really wouldn’t the comfort of AirPods for ANC of pro. Other buds are out of question as far as I am concerned
 
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yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
14,970
2,694
St. Louis, MO
I love how they copied the whole Airpods design. It means it is a successful product.

But I don't know why is this permitted. Clearly, they copied the design and probably a patent.
All human ears are more or less the same shape. All ear buds are going to have some similarities to each other. I don't know what you were expecting....a rectangular body with a triangle bud part that goes in the ear canal? Don't be ridiculous.

But the Pixel Buds don't even look like Air Pods.
 

NavySilver

macrumors member
Aug 4, 2012
71
140
New York, NY
I was a fan of the Pixel line until last year. For whatever reason, they no longer deliver the best products in the Android camp (ceding the title to Samsung, Oneplus, and so forth) but still price their products equal to or even more than Apple does. These sound like good earbuds that delivers, but what makes Google think they can afford to sell this more than the regular Airpods?
 
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iLoma

macrumors newbie
Feb 13, 2020
7
21
Apple should release a truly wireless version of beatsX with in ear design similar to the pixel buds and the galaxy buds plus, hopefully that’s what the rumors of AirPods x refer to.
 

falainber

macrumors 68020
Mar 16, 2016
2,218
2,732
Wild West
Google is pathetic. Copying every successful move Apple makes, censoring the internet, and influencing american elections.
Some Apple fans are pathetic. They know nothing about other brands and believe that everything was invented by Apple. In reality, Apple mostly copies the things invented by other companies. For example, Samsung released first truly wireless earbuds (Icon Gear X) in July 2016. Apple followed with AirPods later this year (in December).

First Samsung Gear IconX (2016)

 

Amacfa

macrumors 68000
May 22, 2009
1,691
3,298
D.C.
You mean like Apple copied (unsuccessfully) the Echo devices and Google Home?
I’d say that’s a bit extreme. Google isn’t pathetic In terms of ‘copying’. If you look a lot of these earbud designs, they all really kind of resemble each other in some form or fashion. For example: Look at the Samsung Galaxy buds Plus, they’re very similar to the Pixel Buds, did Google copy Samsung to? I think you only have so many ‘design elements‘ in terms of what in earbuds would look like, but I think it really comes down to the platform Of what somebody is choosing to use V.s. Just the design.

Keep in mind, competition is a good thing, and it’s good to have choices amongst all these competitors. But I don’t think it makes Google ‘pathetic’ at all, and I say this being an avid Apple user/AirPod fanatic.
Just like Apple copied the echo and google home? Or how they copied a ton of Android and jailbreak features?
Some Apple fans are pathetic. They know nothing about other brands and believe that everything was invented by Apple. In reality, Apple mostly copies the things invented by other companies. For example, Samsung released first truly wireless earbuds (Icon Gear X) in July 2016. Apple followed with AirPods later this year (in December).

First Samsung Gear IconX (2016)


Woah woah woah calm down folks. Clearly this isn't the case of "oh uh everyone makes earbuds, you cant copy that"

There are many earbuds on the market, but it's clear the design language from these buds took heavy cues from Apple. They have no originality. Although I like the black white scheme - that's about it.

This is Google's Standard Operating Procedure - take a successful product and copy it (Apple Watch, Iphone, Ipad, Airpods, Apple Credit Card). And these days, since every product from Apple is usually a hit, companies like google begin the copy print as soon as rumors go around of Apple building a new product. This is no different than a chinese company making knock offs to leach off market share. At least with some companies - I give them credit for creating an original product - not so much with google.

Apple blatantly copying the notifcation bar (which they did) is a far cry from almost a decade of hardware and software theivery schemes from Google.

Although 'Google' is based in the USA - they do not respect american values. (Privacy, Censorship) And being the biggest information network in the world, they use this to influence american (and probably other) elections, and censor information from the internet. When has Apple used it's great wealth and power to do other than good?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

MasterMaCanada59

macrumors newbie
Feb 25, 2020
16
9
Near Montreal CANADA


Google's new wire-free version of the Pixel Buds started shipping out in late April, and we picked up a pair to see how Google's wire-free earbuds compare to the AirPods and the AirPods Pro.


When it comes to price and feature set, Pixel Buds are more similar to the AirPods than the AirPods Pro. The Pixel Buds are priced at $179, in between the pricing of the standard AirPods ($159) and the AirPods with Wireless Charging Case ($199).


They're not as expensive as the AirPods Pro and that's because there is no Active Noise Cancellation included in the Pixel Buds.

Design wise, though, the Pixel Buds have a little more in common with the AirPods Pro than the AirPods, featuring silicone tips (with multiple size options) that fit into the ears. AirPods, of course, have no silicone tips and are unlike most other earbuds on the market.


Google gave the Pixel Buds a unique design with a matte white Mentos-shaped body that sits outside of the ears and provides a small surface for gestures. Google actually made Pixel Buds before, but this is the first version without a wire - the prior model had a wire between the two earbuds.


There's a little stem that sticks out of the top of the Pixel Buds that provides a tight but comfortable in-ear fit to keep them in place. We found the Pixel Buds to be comfortable to wear, but as with any in-ear headphone, ear fatigue sets in after long periods of use and there can be some ear pain. For shorter listening periods, the Pixel Buds were comfortable, as are the AirPods and the AirPods Pro for most people.

The little Mentos-like puck on the outside is useful. One tap for play/pause, double tap for the next track, and triple tap to go back. There's also an option to control the volume by sliding from left to right, a useful feature missing from the AirPods.


When it comes to sound quality, the Pixel Buds work well for music and videos. There's separation between the low, mid, and high frequencies, and different instruments can be heard clearly. Lack of bass has been a complaint with the Pixel Buds, but we thought they sounded better than the AirPods and close to the AirPods Pro.

Our Pixel Buds had a major issue, though, and it appears we may have had a faulty pair. With no music playing, there's a high-pitched hum coming from the right earbud. It cuts out when music is playing, but can be heard during calls. We'll be getting a new pair from Google and will provide an update here in this article on whether that pair is functional.

Like AirPods and AirPods Pro, Pixel Buds come with a wireless charging case that adds additional battery life. It's a little bit egg shaped and closer in size to the skinny AirPods case than the wider AirPods Pro case.


Pixel Buds are meant to last up to five hours before needing to be recharged, with the case adding up to 24 hours of listening time. The case charges over USB-C or a Qi-based wireless charging mat, while AirPods are limited to Lightning or Qi charging if the wireless case was purchased.

When paired with an iPhone, Pixel Buds are equivalent to any other Bluetooth earbuds with no special features, but when used with an Android, there's more functionality to work with.

There's a fast pair option for holding the case near the phone to pair, much like with the AirPods, and the Pixel Buds link to a Google account for management and tracking purposes. If Pixel Buds get lost, they can be tracked via the app, which also provides a toggle for Adaptive Sound and other settings that can be tweaked.


Adaptive Sound, by the way, is meant to tune the audio based on your surroundings and it's in lieu of noise cancellation, which is not a Pixel Buds feature. Pixel Buds also include real-time language translation, which is neat, and access to Google Assistant through a gesture, which is great for Google Assistant users.


For iPhone users, there's no reason to purchase the Pixel Buds over the AirPods or AirPods Pro just because the AirPods have so much more to offer in terms of quick pairing, device switching, range, and iPhone integration, but for Android users, Pixel Buds are worth considering.

With the Adaptive Sound, wire-free fit, charging case, gesture support, and fast pairing options, Pixel Buds are the closest thing to AirPods on an Android.

Article Link: Google's New Pixel Buds vs. AirPods and AirPods Pro
As always very good review. It was funny because I listen it with .... AirPods Pro !!! And sound is soooo great I don't think I will change it for anything else. Air Pods Pro Cancelation noise is really awesome. Many thanks for all your good reviews.
 
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