In recent times I have had the opportunity to test a large number of “true wireless” headphones, such as the Jabra Elite 75, the Oppo Enco Free, or the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 2, but the Pixel Buds are the first to provide real experience. To put it in perspective, I am a daily user of AirPods Pro, and of an Android smartphone (OnePlus 8 Pro). Like all of our tests, we will focus on experience with the product, rather than raw features. Because, even more with these Pixel Buds, it is the experience that changes everything.
A sober and premium design
One of the most important things about wireless headphones for me is the case. Google made the choice of plastic for that of Pixel Buds, but the finish is simply perfect. The size (close to that of AirPods Pro), the feeling of solidity, the ease to insert or take out the Buds and this matt texture are a real success.
Apple has accustomed us to an excellent quality of finish, and for me the case of the Pixel Buds is above.
The headphones do not stick out of the ear and take up the matt finish of the case. Like this one, the exterior is white, and the interior is black. True differentiation compared to most of the competitors, a small flexible rod allows the support in the ear. I went out to run several times, and the outfit is perfect. In the box, you will find a total of 3 tip sizes so that the intra is perfectly suited to your ear.
They are for me the most discreet wireless headphones that I have tested today, this is an important point for many. Google has been able to listen to critics following a completely failed first generation.
Also key point of my Google Pixel Buds test: comfort. While these are intra, I have never felt "oppressed" by Pixel Buds, even wearing them for several hours.
Perfect earphones for Android
The setup experience couldn't be simpler. You open the case next to your smartphone, and a notification will guide you in the configuration, like the AirPods in iOS. If you’re not using an Android smartphone, a small button on the back of the case lets you put it in pairing mode. For example, I was able to quickly connect them to my GPS watch, the Garmin Venu.
The surface on each of the headphones is tactile and perfectly functional. I find the experience offered by Google very successful, and the responsiveness of the touchscreen is much better than on the Bose Headphones 700, even though the surface of the headphones is much higher.
Here are the different touch gestures:
- Slide forward: turn up the volume
- Slide back: lower the sound Click: pause, resume or pick up
- Double click: next song, hang up or reject the call
- Triple click: return to previous song
- Long press: trigger Google Assistant
For me, this is a major asset of these Pixel Buds. While when I go running with my Garmin Venu and my AirPods Pro I cannot manage the volume directly on the headphones, this is the case with the Pixel Buds. Speaking of sports, these Pixel Buds are IPX4 certified, so you can sweat without worry.
Integration with Android also allows you to have access to the autonomy of each headset, and the case. And precisely, for wireless headphones the autonomy is excellent, I could enjoy a little more than 5 hours 30 minutes of listening before exhausting the battery. The case allows a total of 24 hours of charging, and the fast charge (USB-C) allows to take 2 hours of headphones in … 10 minutes! The case is also compatible with wireless charging.
And in terms of sound, what does it give?
If you are looking for the best of the best in terms of sound, you will have to turn to the Sony WF 1000XM3 or the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 (€ 299). In terms of noise reduction, it is the AirPods Pro that stand out.
But for me these Pixel Buds stand out for their balance. The sound is still very good, and they are much more pleasant to wear than the competitors at Sony or Jabra. They are also better than the AirPods 2, its real competitor.
Since the reduction is passive, we do not reach that of a helmet or AirPods Pro. With its software know-how, Google would certainly benefit from releasing a “Pro” version which incorporates active noise reduction. The giant should also offer an equalizer, which would allow bass lovers to find their happiness.
During calls in a calm environment, my contacts always heard me well, and vice versa. Right in the street with the noises of my city, it is much less fluid, and I find the same limits as the AirPods Pro. A feature called sound adaptation also allows Buds to change their volume independently depending on environmental noise.
The smartest headphones on the market
Having a little headset with all the intelligence in the world could be a good idea in a science fiction book a few years ago. Today we are there. The integration of Google Assistant in these Pixel Buds is simply perfect.
Like most of its competitors, a long press gives access to the voice assistant made in Google, but that's not all.
If you have activated the Voice Match feature in Google Assistant, "Ok Google" is used to start a conversation. So you can do everything the wizard does quickly, without having to unlock your smartphone. And there, while writing this article on the train, I can launch my Roborock S6 MaxV vacuum cleaner remotely, without touching anything.
It's the same thing with instant translation, except for one caveat, the application must be launched. But in reality it works very well. I look forward to being able to test it during a trip abroad, when this pandemic is finally slammed to the ground by our scientists.
My opinion on Google Pixel Buds
Google was widely criticized for the first version of the Pixel Buds, which fell short. Everything changes with these Pixel Buds 2002. And my test was clearly a little slap on the mastery of software and hardware integration. Without being the best on each point, they do everything very well, and are for me the most balanced on the market.
At a slightly lower price (179 €), you have the AirPods 2, which have no wireless charging of the case, recessed sound, no sound control on the headphones, and no noise reduction. For 100 € more you have the AirPods Pro, of which only noise reduction is better. The Sony WF-1000XM3 are today at an almost equivalent price since their price drop, but I find them much less comfortable.
If, like me, you are AirPods users with an Android smartphone, only one advice, test these Pixel Buds. With the free return to online merchants for 2 weeks, this is a good way to make up your mind. But this test of the Google Pixel Buds version 2020 is for me a real success. With active reduction and an equalizer, they would be perfect.
Google Pixel Buds
Value for money
9.0 / 10
We like less
- No equalizer
- No active reduction