Google Pixel Buds Pro review: Great Googly …AirPods?

Extra secret sauce, please. 

Pixel Bud Pro
Google Pixel Buds Pro
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
Battery
7 hours
Water-Reistance
IPX4
Weight
6.2g
Alex Choros
Group Reviews Editor
Read More
August 02, 2022
4 min read
Quick verdict: Google Pixel Buds Pro

The Pixel Buds Pro are Google's best earbuds yet, but they don't quite stand out in a competitive market. 

pro
Pros
pro Great sound quality
pro Comfortable and cute
pro Multipoint support
con
Cons
con Poor touch controls
con No standout functionality

Most earbud manufacturers want their headphones to be the default choice for their ecosystem. In the same way AirPods are the go-to for many iPhone users, the likes of Samsung, OPPO, and Nothing, to name a few, all want their buds to be your pick if you're using one of their phones. It's all about

But as the developer of Android, Google has an even bigger opportunity with the Pixel Buds Pro: to make Android's equivalent to AirPods. To not just be the first consideration for anyone with a Pixel, but for anyone in the Android bubble. Interestingly, it hasn't taken it. They're great sounding earbuds, but they don't have a clear selling point unless you're explicitly a Google stan.

Pixel Bud Pro

How much do Pixel Buds Pro cost in Australia?

Store
Price
More info
Google
From
$299

Pixel Buds Pro features

Pixel Bud Pro

The Pixel Buds Pro don't break the mould when it comes to the functionality you'd expect from Android-optimised headphones. You've got hands-free access to Google Assistant (including the nifty translation functionality) and you've got fast pairing as the two major conveniences.

On Pixel devices, the Pixel Buds Pro get neat system integration in the Bluetooth menu - you can fiddle with settings without the need for a separate app. On other Android handsets, you'll need to download the companion app. You can pair the Pixel Buds Pro with an iPhone through standard means, but there's no companion app, so you miss out on any customisation.

The Pixel Buds Pro are a step ahead many competitors thanks to multipoint audio, which allows them to be paired with two devices at once. For example, I had them paired with both my Pixel 6a and iPhone 13 Pro. I was listening to a song on the Pixel 6a, paused it, and then opened a YouTube video on my iPhone without needing to reconnect the Pixel Buds Pro to it. The Pixel Buds Pro can also intelligently jump from device to device if you're getting a phone call, for example.

Google is also promising customisable EQ and support for spatial audio in future software updates. While you can't judge unreleased features, Google does have a pretty good track record of actually delivering on new features down the line.

Pixel Buds Pro sound quality & noise-cancelling

Pixel Bud Pro

When it comes to audio quality, the Pixel Buds Pro mostly deliver. They're a great sounding pair of earbuds. Mid frequencies (which is where vocals typical sit) are a touch scooped, however, meaning bass and treble can overpower them. The tuning isn't pronounced enough to be overly detrimental. For example, the horns and synths take a little bit of the spotlight from Nina Simone in "Feeling Good" on our testing playlist, but the song certainly doesn't sound bad. It does mean you can lose a bit of nuance in more sonically busy songs like Opeth's "The Funeral Portrait".

The Pixel Buds Pro do a solid job at noise cancelling. They don't quite reach the gold standard set by the Sony WF-1000XM4s, but they’re comparable to the AirPods Pro. It's certainly respectable for Google's first shot at noise cancellation.

Noise cancelling brings with it an ambient mode, which mixings in sounds from around you into the earbuds. The results are a little too artificial, unfortunately, and they become unbearable in environments with even slightly too much background noise - like a gym or public transport. Not only do the Pixel Buds Pro filter it in, it feels like they amplify it.

The Pixel Buds Pro are always respectable when it comes to microphone quality. While a touch sharper than the natural sounding AirPods Pro, the Pixel Buds Pro are still some of the better earbuds we've tested when it comes to voice.

Pixel Buds Pro battery & design

Pixel Bud Pro

The Pixel Buds Pro have a pretty decent battery life, lasting up to seven hours per charge with noise cancellation on. When combined with the charging case, you're looking at 20 hours before a top-up. That's on the shorter side for the category, with many wireless earbuds now achieving at least 24. Standouts like the Nothing Ear 1s and Jabra Elite Active 4s can hit over 30 hours.

When it comes to design, the Pixel Buds Pro are a bit different to their predecessors. Instead of using hooks for stability, they've now got a more bulbous design reminiscent of the Sony WF-1000XM4s. Despite the lack of stabilisers, I didn't have any issues with the Pixel Buds Pro yeeting themselves out of my ears - even when running or headbanging.

I find bulbous earbuds can feel a little weird in my ears when compared to a stemmed design - they exert pressure in a different direction. This was also the case with the Pixel Buds Pro, but any discomfort went away quickly. I've worn them for over two hours straight while exercising and doing odd jobs after, and didn't feel any strain on my ears.

The Pixel Buds Pro feature fairly standard touch controls that ended up being a bit unreliable in practice. A tap is meant to pause your audio, but a swipe on the bud will modify the volume. The buds often mistook my taps for swipes and vice versa. Every now and again, they'd register a tap as a double tap and skip my song entirely. There are some basic customisation options for controls, but it would be nice to turn off gestures like volume swipes entirely.

It's hard not to find the overall Pixel Buds Pro aesthetic cute. I appreciate the subtle pop of colour given so many earbuds come in the stock standard choice of white or black. It gives the Pixel Buds Pro a bit of personality. You can still get them in a two-tone black, if that's more your style. Lastly, the battery case has the most satisfying click of any pair of earbuds I've tested. It's a little too easy to fidget with it.

Are Pixel Buds Pro worth buying?

Pixel Bud Pro

The Pixel Buds Pro are great headphones that could use a little more secret sauce. Google's opened up the toy boy to other manufacturers, giving all of its most interesting tricks. Translate, which used to be a Pixel Buds exclusive feature, now works on any headphones that support Google Assistant.

While this is a big win for you and me, it's less so for Google; the Pixel Buds Pro don't have a marquee feature that makes them a must-buy.

They certainly should be within your consideration if you're looking at buying Androids buds around the $300 point mark, but you've got Sony WF-1000XM4s for $50 more thanks to a recent price cut, while Samsung's Galaxy Buds Pro can now be had for as little as $200.

Based on the current market, multipoint is the biggest drawcard when compared to other earbuds in the price point, and could alone make the Pixel Buds Pro worth it if you tend to use your headphones with multiple devices.

Otherwise, the Pixel Buds Pro get a little bit lost in the crowd. They're great, but in a space as competitive as wireless earbuds, greatness isn't enough to make a product a must-have.

How do Pixel Buds Pro compare?

Product
Rating
Active noise-cancelling
Water resistance
Availability
Nothing ear (1) earbudsNothing Ear 1
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$149
4.5 hrs (buds)
34 hrs (case/total)
propro
Apple AirPods 3
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
From
$279
6 hrs (buds)
30 hrs (case/total)
conpro
Pixel Bud ProGoogle Pixel Buds Pro
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
From
$299
7 hrs (buds)
20 hrs (case/total)
propro

Disclaimer: Pricing and deal information only accurate as of the last page update. 

How we review wireless earbuds

When we review earbuds, broadly speaking, we're looking at five main considerations:

  • Sound: Obviously. Do they sound good? 
  • Comfort & Design: Are they nice to wear? 
  • Features: Is the battery good? Is the connectivity reliable? What's the noise-cancelling like?
  • Vibe: What's the overall experience like? 
  • Value: Are they good for the money?

While audio products can be quite subjective for many reasons, we have standardised testing procedures across the team designed to help us look at the category in a consistent way. You can read more about how we review wireless earbuds here

Alex Choros
Written by
Alex Choros
Alex Choros is the Group Reviews Editor for Clearlink Australia's local websites - Reviews.org, Safewise, and WhistleOut - and the Managing Editor for WhistleOut Australia. He's been writing about consumer technology for over eight years and is an expert on the Australian telco sector, to the point where he knows far too many phone and internet plans by heart. He also contributes to Gizmodo and Lifehacker, and makes regular appearances on 2GB. Outside of tech, Alex loves long hikes, red wine, and death metal.

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