These aren’t the Pixels everyone has been waiting for. The wait for the new Google smartphones, especially after the rumors of the last few weeks, is really great. However, we will have to wait a little longer, in the meantime Google has announced the new Pixel Buds A.
They are always true wireless earphones like those on the market for a year now, the Pixel Buds 2, but with a very important difference: they cost exactly half. We had judged the 199 euros of the Buds 2, tested last year, excessive for a pair of earphones without an active noise cancellation system, and in this perspective the 99 euros that Google is now asking for the new model seem to be decidedly more centered. .
At first glance, the new Buds A may seem like the low-end model, instead we will see how Google has slightly changed its earphones and has given up only one feature: wireless charging. The Buds A, compared to the Buds 2, they do not have a case that can also be recharged without wires. Not bad anyway, the case is something to recharge every week or so, depending on use, and we realized that on this type of accessory wireless charging does not make a difference in terms of comfort as it can be recharging the phone or smartwatch. Curious note: compared to the previous model, the case is magnetic and attaches to the back of an iPhone or a Pixel, albeit with a very weak attraction.
Seemingly identical, definitely different
At a superficial glance the Buds A seem completely identical to the Pixel Buds 2. In reality, aside from the shape of the similar charging case, the single earphone is slightly different in both shape and composition. Google has kept the same form factor that reminds us a lot of a mint candy, with a small silicone holder that helps to keep the headset well positioned, and like the previous model, at least in our ears, the Buds look super comfortable.
Together with Samsung’s Buds Live they are the few earphones that we can use by resting our head on the pillow, without the slightest discomfort: they protrude very little, they adhere perfectly and after a few minutes we forget we are wearing them. You can run, play sports, even play basketball without ever having to touch them: thanks to the silicone appendix, if you have chosen the right size of the rubber pads, they do not fall out.
Obviously, no problem using them for sports: they are IPX4 certified and sweat resistant.
Two versions will arrive in Italy, the white one we tested, with a light gray profile, and the olive green one. Strangely, Google has decided not to use the classic pastel colors that characterize it for the earphones: there would be no regrets in colored earphones.
Going a little into the details we find the same identical 12 mm driver used on the old model, but this time the earphone port is decidedly smaller and, especially in the vicinity of the attachment of the stickers, some economy is perceived.
In addition to a slightly different shape, the microphone opening in the lower part has been enlarged on the new model. There are two microphones, placed at the extremes, and since it is an in-ear type headset, Google has provided the outlet port to avoid the annoying plug effect. As on the previous model, there is no active noise cancellation system: the only guaranteed isolation is passive.
Good for music, perfect for Google
Like the previous model, the Pixel Buds are born to be coupled to an Android system. They also work on iOS, but in this case they become classic bluetooth headsets. Connected to an Android smartphone, preferably to a Pixel, the new Buds feel at home. On any phone, thanks to Fast Pair, just bring them closer to connect them, on the Pixel all the software is integrated at the system level.
Connectivity is bluetooth 5.0 and the codec is the classic SBS one. If you want you can also choose to use the AAC, certainly better: on Pixels is activated by default. All the functions we have already seen on the previous Buds are present: there is the translator that relies on Google Translate, there is Google Assistant and there is the very useful Adaptive Sound, which automatically adjusts the volume according to the ambient sound for avoid having to adjust it by hand every time.
The only EQ option present is a bass boost, which can seem poor in some situations, especially if you don’t use a suitable rubber pad. The choice of the rubber pads, as well as the silicone appendage, is fundamental to improve the sound performance: only with perfect isolation can you enjoy a good response on the lower part, otherwise the feeling is that of being in front of earphones a little too unbalanced on the mids.
The autonomy is more than adequate: about 4 and a half hours at good volume, with the case offering at least 5 full recharges. Compared to the previous model, charging the individual earphones in the case is faster: when they are completely discharged, just leave them in the case for 30 minutes and you can again have about 4 hours of autonomy.
The audio quality, if we look at the phone calls, is very good: even in a noisy environment, such as a train, the interlocutor can hear us clearly and distinctly, even if the background noise is not completely suppressed. . The yield is also good while we walk or run, our voice is always very clear. If we look at pure music listening there are earphones that feel decidedly better, but the Buds A are well balanced, offer good scene separation and also a decent opening. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on the point of view, they do not have systems such as 3D Audio or other solutions for spatial audio, so to a very commercial ear the yield could appear poorer in terms of scenic reconstruction than a pair of AirPods Pro. The Buds A are balanced, perhaps slightly lacking in character but nonetheless capable of a more than satisfactory acoustic performance especially if we consider that they are wireless and that they are used to listen mainly to compressed music.
The touch recognition system is satisfactory as in the old model: being very stable there is no need to touch them every time to put them back in their place, but the occasional touches are still discarded. There is no volume adjustment, but there is a skip track, a pause and a call to the assistant.
Ok, at 99 euros the price is right
The price of true wireless earphones has dropped over the last year: the standardization of platforms, with Qualcomm providing turnkey solutions, has allowed earphones to be sold for a few tens of euros.
The Google earphones are a good quality product, perfectly integrated into the system, with good audio quality and excellent ergonomics. That product, in short, for which it is worth spending a little more. 99 euros as a list price are a fair price for what they offer, and you only give up on wireless charging which is not all that essential. They are not the perfect earphones for those who want the highest audio quality, nor for the commuter who should lean towards a model with active noise cancellation, but to play sports, thanks to their particular form factor, they are perhaps one of the best choices you can make. The presence of Assistant on board, with the useful translation function, and the rounded shape of the case give that touch of characterization typical of Google products.