The latest Pixel Buds Pro are more than double the price of their Pixel Buds A siblings but have more features that make them an alluring upgrade to the original and A series despite their higher price tag.
Pixel Buds Pro doesn’t stray too far from Google’s minimalist hardware design language. The case almost matches the shape of the original Pixel Buds flat egg but is slightly larger overall.
The bottom edge houses a USB-C charging port and although the Buds Pro support Google’s Fair Pair, there’s also a Bluetooth pairing button on the back if you need to pair it with other devices including PCs, Macs, iPhones, or iPad.
The buds feature the letter ‘G’ embossed on the outer capacitance pad but there is no wing tip anymore. The overall shape of the buds is now slightly larger and designed in a way that will better fit your ear canal. It meant more contact with your inner ear and I found that it stayed in place no matter what I was doing. I also found them comfortable to wear, even more so than the originals, but I think if you do a lot of vigorous training, the wings should provide a bit more safety. The downside to wings is that they can add extra pressure and become uncomfortable after long periods of use.
You get three sizes of silicone ear tips in the box and it’s worth the effort to try them all to ensure the best fit, best sound and ANC performance.
It’s also worth noting that the Buds Pro stick out a bit more out of your ears than the originals. However, they still sound somewhat streamlined while in your ears.
The Buds Pro headphones are mostly black but the outer cushion comes in four different color options; Charcoal, fog, lemon and coral.
The outer surface of the bud is touch sensitive with easy gesture controls. To pause or play a track, tap once. To skip tracks, click two or three times. Hold to turn ANC on or off. And swipe forward and backward to increase the volume and down. You have the option to turn off the touch controls if you wish but you can only customize the touch and hold gesture. This can be done independently for each bud to switch the ANC and talk to the assistant. You can also choose two or three modes to switch; ANC, ANC is off or transparency mode is on.
There’s also in-ear detection where the earbuds will automatically play sound on entry and pause the sound on exit.
The case supports Qi wireless charging and you can use ANC for up to an hour after a 5-minute charge in the case. Google says it uses a dedicated processor that’s tuned for energy efficiency so you can get more out of your battery. You should get up to seven hours of playback on a single charge with the ANC turned on, and up to 20 hours with the charging case.
Something I hear a lot in the newer earbuds is the tendency toward more powerful bass. This also applies to the Pixel Buds Pro, whose 11mm drivers can produce a large sound range with lots of great detail with warm mids and deep bass. While the shooting and technical details aren’t as good as the best I’ve reviewed, the overall sound signature is well-balanced and suitable for a wide range of musical genres.
An enjoyable listening experience without tiring after long sessions. Buds Pro are a clear upgrade from the already excellent A headphones with greater presence, clarity, and bass.
One neat software trick that can be turned on or off is the equalizer, which enhances the bass and treble frequencies at low volume levels.
Not having a customizable EQ is not ideal but hopefully this will be added later in a future update.
The ANC performance is excellent at reducing the low notes of engine and fan sounds that are always present on my gaming console. However, it is not as good as the best at calming sounds than the inquisitive café sound test.
During an off-road course, I was able to give them the full wind test and although they aren’t bad, they don’t completely suppress wind noise. Ambient Awareness Mode is excellent but still a bit behind the class-leading AirPods Pro.
Call quality is excellent, looks natural and clear even in noisy environments.
Like the Enco X earbuds from Oppo, the Buds Pro’s settings are built into the Android OS settings if you’re using a Pixel phone. You can also download the Pixel Buds app for Android if you don’t use a Pixel, but there is no version for iOS. You can still pair Buds Pro with iPhone and iPad even though you won’t get any of the extra features as you do on Android like Fast Pair.
It comes with Bluetooth 5 and supports SBC and AAC audio formats but not aptX or LDAC. They allow multipoint connections so that you can connect to two devices simultaneously, such as a phone for calls and a laptop for music.
Another advanced feature that is exclusive to Android is the Google Assistant. To allow Google to read notifications or messages, reply, manage music playback, change the volume, give you directions from Google Maps, translate in real time with Google Translate, and do other actions, touch and hold one of the earbuds.
Pixel Buds Pro are what AirPods for iPhone are – seamless integration between your Pixel phone and its software. It’s the complete package with excellent sound quality, ANC, Transparency mode and battery life. It also works great with Android devices, and while I’ve had no trouble using it on an iPhone, you’ll miss out on some cooler features.
Pixel Buds Pro is now available for €219