Sunday . 25 July . 2021

Google’s original Pixel Buds came at a time when the company was still finding its feet as a hardware maker. They shipped in 2017 alongside a Pixel 2 XL with a bad screen and that very strange Clips camera. Despite launching after AirPods, Google stubbornly ignored the industry shift toward truly wireless earbuds, & the fabric cable between the Pixel Buds became a chore whenever you wanted to lớn put them away. There was some good in there — mainly the deep integration of Google Assistant — but it wasn’t enough to trang điểm for a “meh” overall package.

With its new second-generation Pixel Buds, Google has done an impressive job correcting course. At $179, they’re now fully wireless, have sầu improved sound unique, and are the first truly wireless earbuds to lớn offer hands-không tính phí Google Assistant voice controls. But these Pixel Buds face even more competition than the originals, & while Google has made excellent progress, there are still flaws khổng lồ be found that put them a bit behind the competition. Namely, there are frequent connection issues that other earbuds at this price don’t exhibit.

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Google’s Pixel Buds have sầu integrated wing tips. Photo lớn by Becca Farsace / The Verge
The matte White oval-shaped charging case looks a little sci-fi to me (in a good way). It’s not far off from an AirPods case in overall kích cỡ, but the added thickness might be noticeable if you’re carrying the Pixel Buds in a tight jeans pocket.

The case supports wireless charging and contains enough juice for the earbuds khổng lồ reach 24 hours of total battery life. You’ll get around five hours of continuous listening, which puts these exactly at par with the AirPods, but the Pixel Buds fall short of the Jabra Elite 75t earbuds and come nowhere cthua trận to matching the 11-hour endurance of Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus.


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The case supports wireless charging. Phokhổng lồ by Chris Welch / The Verge
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It also makes a very satisfying cliông xã when you cthua it. Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge
The charging case has a status light for its own battery và a single LED that signals a charge for both earbuds. After the random battery woes I’ve had with some true wireless earbuds where only one of the pair charges, I’d really lượt thích to lớn see separate lights for each earbud to lớn eliminate any uncertainty.


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I’ve noticed that the left and right Pixel Buds tover khổng lồ discharge at different rates, sometimes by a substantial amount. A Google spokesperson said that this behavior is expected. “Because the two earbuds serve sầu different functions at different times to maximize battery, one earbud may consume more battery than the other. The algorithm monitors the state on both earbuds and can switch either earbud to tư vấn more power hungry functions, while intelligently prioritizing high unique connectivity và playbaông xã performance,” Google told The Verge by tin nhắn. “On voice calls, the algorithm is more conservative to lớn avoid any dropped audio. So while a difference may be noticeable after a long gọi, if you switch to lớn streaming audio or other functions after, you will likely see the battery màn chơi out.”

The new Pixel Buds now seal in your ear with silicone tips, but, lượt thích Apple, Google has integrated a venting system lớn prsự kiện that plugged-ear feeling that some people find very unpleasant. It works extremely well. There’s no active sầu noise cancellation with these earbuds, but with the exception of Amazon’s Eđến Buds, it’s rare khổng lồ see ANC for under $200. At least you won’t encounter the “eardrum suck” that can be experienced with the AirPods Pro và Sony 1000XM3s. The Pixel Buds are among mỏi the most comfortable earbuds I’ve sầu ever worn — but that comfort comes with a trade-off.


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The Pixel Buds have sầu a venting system similar to lớn Apple’s AirPods Pro. Photo lớn by Chris Welch / The Verge
The vents on the Pixel Buds let in a fair bit of ambient noise. They’re designed to vị this, but you’re not going to get the same level of noise isolation here as you would with the Jabras or Samsung’s buds. Runners & other outdoor enthusiasts will lượt thích having this spatial awareness; people who want a peaceful train commute probably won’t. The noise creep isn’t as bad as with regular AirPods or the older Pixel Buds — the seal does muffle some of what’s happening outside — but it’s a thing lớn keep in mind.

Google says the Pixel Buds contain custom-designed 12milimet drivers, but the kích cỡ of these things doesn’t necessarily determine how expressive sầu & bold the resulting sound is. For example, the Jabra Elite 75t buds have 6milimet drivers, sound excellent, and kichồng out powerful bass. So let’s not get hung up on tech specs. But the Pixel Buds bởi vì sound quite nice. At the time they shipped, bass was a weakness, & the low over didn’t pachồng enough punch for EDM, funk, metal, or other genres that are heavy on low tones. But in late August, Google released a new firmware update that included a “bass boost” EQ setting. When toggled on, bass boost makes a noticeable improvement lớn audio quality — there’s a boomy oomph that was missing before — without muddying the mids and highs.


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Google improved the low-end performance of the Pixel Buds with a new bass boost EQ setting. Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge
The Pixel Buds deliver a very enjoyable listening experience. Instruments are nicely layered with an enveloping soundstage. “Scott Street” by Phoebe Bridgers is always a good traông chồng for gauging detail & how expressive sầu headphones are. And here, her vocals are never lost lớn everything else happening in the song’s crescendo. The Pixel Buds vị well showcasing acoustic-focused tracks like “Dreamsicle” by Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit. Without bass boost, if I switch over to lớn my Hold Steady playcác mục, they lachồng the driving oomph I look for behind the resounding electric guitars. Similarly, you sense something missing when listening to Post Malone’s “Circles.” But with it on, suddenly the powerful low frequencies are there.

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Google previously told me that “from a hardware, software and overall acoustics standpoint, we have sầu room to further boost lows, mids, & highs,” và bass boost shows that the company wasn’t lying. The Pixel Buds sound markedly better now than they did at launch.

I still wish controlling the Pixel Buds took slightly less concentration, though. Like the original Pixel Buds, these rely on taps for pausing music và skipping tracks. To adjust the volume, you swipe forward or back on the earbud surface. It all works, và I can appreciate that Google tried to build in as much functionality as possible. But lượt thích with other headphones that rely on swiping gesture controls, you have sầu to lớn be deliberate and precise when you’re using these controls. It’s relatively easy to pause when you’re trying to change the volume và vice versa if you’re not mindful of your finger actions. I

Google doesn’t let you customize any of the controls, but they work the same on both sides. (Yes, you’re able lớn individually use either the left or right Pixel Bud for a call or xe đạp ride & leave sầu the other in the case.) There’s only so much you can vị on earbuds of this kích thước, and the occasional misread gesture never gets overly frustrating, but it happens. If you find the controls too unreliable, you can disable them in the Pixel Buds tiện ích. To help you avoid having to fiddle with volume constantly, the Pixel Buds have a feature called Adaptive sầu Sound, which automatically adjusts volume based on your environment. Music will get louder if you’re walking around a thành phố but lower down if you head someplace quiet. Adjusting the volume yourself temporarily disengages Adaptive Sound until your surroundings change, and you can always just turn it off entirely if you don’t like the effect.


AGREE TO CONTINUE: GOOGLE PIXEL BUDS (2020)

Every smart device now requires you to agree to lớn a series of terms và conditions before you can use it — contracts that no one actually reads. It’s impossible for us to read và analyze every single one of these agreements. But we started counting exactly how many times you have lớn hit “agree” khổng lồ use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people don’t read & definitely can’t negotiate.

You can pair & listen to lớn Google’s Pixel Buds without needing to lớn agree to anything. However, installing the Pixel Buds app comes with a number of mandatory agreements:

Google Assistant also collects data “such as your device contacts or activity on Google sites & apps, to lớn provide better, more helpful answers through the Google Assistant. Third tiệc nhỏ services may also mô tả information with Google pursuant khổng lồ their own privacy policies when you choose to lớn use those services via Google services, including the Google Assistant.”

Final tally: at least three mandatory agreements if you want lớn get the most from the Pixel Buds.


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The Pixel Buds suffer worse connection stability issues than many competing earbuds. Photo by Becca Farsace / The Verge
The Pixel Buds can’t connect khổng lồ two devices simultaneously lượt thích Jabra’s 75t, but it’s at least very quichồng when switching between ones you’ve already paired. Taking one of the earbuds out will pause your music. When watching videos on my phone, I couldn’t piông xã up on any voice sync issues. As for phone (or Zoom) calls, the Pixel Buds have beamforming mics & an accelerometer lớn detect jaw movement (và thus speech), and this does a good job of making you sound clear khổng lồ people on the other end without letting in unrelated noise. They’re not the best of the bunch (as you’ll hear in Becca’s video), but your voice will at least be consistently intelligible.

On the software side, the Pixel Buds still have sầu that useful triông xã of putting Google Assistant right in your ear and can keep you updated on your phone’s notifications as they come in. But the convenience is now made better since you can speak lớn Assistant hands-không tính tiền. You’ll hear a chime after you say “Hey Google,” & you can then ask for the weather, request a certain playcác mục, tell Assistant khổng lồ control your smart home page gadgets, or bark commands for whatever else you’d normally bởi vì. Having the ability to lớn bởi this while your hands are occupied is a nice perk. The Pixel Buds also tư vấn Fast Pair on Android, which mimics the seamless thiết lập process that AirPod owners get on an iPhone. You hold the Pixel Buds near your phone, a screen pops up to lớn pair with them (& liên kết them to lớn your Google account), và you’re done. If you open the case near your device, you can view the battery status for both the case & earbuds.


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Pairing the Pixel Buds with an Android phone is very convenient.
As with the original Pixel Buds, these new ones are capable of helping you abroad with Google Translate through conversation mode, but your phone is still doing all of the real work. It’s a nice feature khổng lồ have available even if the results can be imperfect, but it is also something that other earbuds with Google Assistant can do. The main new functionality you gain with the Pixel Buds is hands-free voice commands. Google is also experimenting with other features like “attention alerts” that automatically lower the volume when the earbuds detect certain sounds like emergency sirens or a crying baby.

But over the course of extended testing after this initial nhận xét, it’s become more clear to me that the Pixel Buds have sầu significant connectivity issues. The dropouts were few và far between in the beginning, & they’re virtually non-existent if you’re using the earbuds indoors, but I’ve experienced a lot of them when using the Pixel Buds outside — and this experience has been shared by many buyers.

Google has tried khổng lồ resolve sầu the signal issues via regular firmware updates, & some people have found their own temporary “fixes” lượt thích doing a factory remix or making sure to take the left earbud out of the case before the right one, which has apparently helped connection stability. But this is a problem that most other true wireless earbuds in the Pixel Buds price range just don’t have lớn the same degree.


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Google’s competition includes the Jabra Elite 75t earbuds for around the same price. Photo lớn by Chris Welch / The Verge
Google’s new, second-ren Pixel Buds are a big improvement over the old in both concept và execution. Their thiết kế makes a ton more sense và is much easier lớn use, they’re comfortable khổng lồ wear, và they’re right in lockstep with the competition on most core features. And the company has made impressive sầu improvements khổng lồ sound chất lượng with the addition of bass boost. But the connection issues persist, & it’s troubling that Google can’t seem lớn fully get a handle on them.

At $179, the Pixel Buds are priced the same as Jabra’s Elite 75t earbuds, which I’d still personally piông chồng over these for their more dynamic sound, better stability, & because you don’t miss out on features depending on what phone you have. (There’s unsurprisingly no Pixel Buds app for iOS.) Google has made big strides with its second pair of Pixel Buds, but the buggy audio holds them baông xã from greatness.

Update Tuesday August 25th 9:00AM ET: This Đánh Giá has been updated lớn reflect new features & sound improvements that Google has brought to the Pixel Buds through firmware updates. However, it also now takes inlớn tài khoản the Công nghệ Bluetooth stability issues that many buyers have experienced in the months since the Pixel Buds went on sale. The company has yet to fully resolve this frustrating problem. As a result, the reviews score for the Pixel Buds has dropped from 7.5 khổng lồ 7.

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