Sofia Pitt wearing Google Pixel Buds Pro
Sofia Pitt | CNBC
The Pixel Buds Pro are Google’s first noise canceling headphones, just like Apple’s AirPods Pro. The sound quality is first class and almost on par with Apple AirPods Pro. When switching between my AirPods Pro and Pixel Buds Pro while listening to the first minute of Billie Eilish’s “Ocean Eyes”, the bass sounded too loud on the Google Buds with the slightest hint of feedback.
The Pixel Buds Pro have an audio switching feature that makes switching between devices like my phone, computer, and tablet seamless. Other than the initial setup, I didn’t have to pair the earbuds with each device more than once, which was convenient.
Noise cancellation is almost as good as the AirPods Pro. This helped block out the noise so I couldn’t hear my editor when he asked me a question while I was listening to the music. I haven’t tested this on an airplane, but this noise blocking feature is usually effective in reducing engine hum during flight. That’s why this type of headphone is popular among frequent travelers. Google said it has created sensors that constantly measure pressure in the ear canal to make the headphones more comfortable and not make users feel like their ears are clogged. I have to say that this was true for me.
The headphone case has a USB-C port for charging – the same as most current Android phones – meaning you only need to carry one cord around. The case also supports wireless charging, just like the AirPods Pro case. This means that you can simply drop it on the wireless puck to charge it.
I could wear the Pixel Buds Pro for hours without even a slight earache, which sometimes happens when I wear AirPods Pro. The promise of such comfort would be welcome on long plane rides.
They boast longer battery life than AirPods Pro, with seven hours of listening time on a single charge with noise canceling activated. When this technology is not activated, they last up to 11 hours. Apple’s AirPods Pro last four and a half hours on a single charge. For many, this makes a big difference, and as an AirPods user, I have noticed the difference.
Pixel Buds Pro make it easy to communicate with someone who speaks another language thanks to the link to Google Translate. I tested the real-time conversation mode with my Brazilian stepmother, whose native language is Portuguese.
To get started, I opened the Google Translate app on my Pixel 6a and clicked “Talk”. After a few minutes, we were able to continue our conversation with a nearly perfect translation. I asked, “Will your family in Brazil use this translation feature?” To which my stepmother replied in Portuguese: “Yes. Is it available? How much does it cost?” The phone translated the conversation for me, and I heard her answer in English through the Pixel Buds Pro.
I probably wouldn’t use this feature to ask someone for directions unless I was really desperate as it was a bit inconvenient and time consuming. But it would be helpful if I’m shopping overseas and need to ask a question about what I’m buying.
The Pixel Buds Pro come in four colors: black, coral, gray, and light green. I like that the ear tips are black instead of white. (I know I’m not the only person who might get pissed off looking at a buildup of earwax on white headphones.)
Pixel Buds Pro are super sensitive to touch. The outer surface of the headphones reacts when you touch it, for example to pause a song. This is handy if you just want to skip a music track while walking. But I was listening to a podcast with my head on the pillow, and the slightest movement of my head caused the podcast to stop. I often fall asleep with AirPods Pro in my ears and they have never worked like this.
I asked Google if a software update could fix this glitch, but a rep was not immediately available for comment.
Also, finding a lost set of Pixel Buds Pro isn’t as easy as it is with competing AirPods. The Google Headphones must be connected to the Android phone. But with AirPods, the Find My app will show you the last known location, even if they’re no longer connected to your iPhone.
And the microphones weren’t great either. My husband said it sounded like you were on speakerphone when I made a test call to him. He said he could hear me pretty well, but my voice sounded a little distant.
We also tried FaceTime and WhatsApp video chat. I often adjusted the Pixel Buds Pro in my ears because the fit was not as natural as my AirPods Pro. When I fidgeted, he could hear unpleasant feedback.
The Pixel Buds Pro come with three different rubber tips, which means they should be enough for most people. But none of them suited me so well.
The AirPods Pro work just as easily with an Android device as they do with an iOS device, which is why I prefer the AirPods Pro. But if you’re looking to save money, the Pixel Buds Pro are your best bet. Battery life is great, and seamless transitions when switching between devices make the Buds Pro easy to use. The quality is almost as crisp as the Airpods Pro, but the clunkier design makes them feel a bit clunky.