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The best Pixel 5 headphones: Google, Sony, Samsung, and more

The Google Pixel Buds are the obvious Pixel 5 companion, but what other headphones are out there?
June 29, 2021
A hand holds the Google Pixel Buds 2020 true wireless earbuds case open to reveal the earbud.

The Google Pixel 5 arrived late last year, and it’s sans-headphone jack, as expected. It’s hard to know what headphones are best, and most compatible with your new handset. Rather than have you scour the internet for the best Pixel 5 headphones, we’ve compiled a list of our favorites. Whether you’re a jet-setter, remote worker, or athlete, our list includes something for everyone.

Buying the right headphones and earbuds for your Google Pixel 5 phone

The Google Pixel 5 doesn’t have a headphone jack, hence why all of our picks in this list are Bluetooth. All of the headphones listed support wired listening, though, so you can always use a USB-C dongle for high-resolution playback.

In order for your Pixel 5 to communicate with your earbuds, both devices must share the same Bluetooth codecs; in other words, they must speak the same language for data transmission to occur. If you want to stream consistent high-quality audio from your Google Pixel 5, the headphones your using must support aptX or LDAC. AAC is technically a high-quality Bluetooth codec but Android OS gets tripped up when encoding it.

Another thing to bear in mind is that true wireless earbuds, which make up most of our top picks, aren’t built for the long haul. The constant charge and deplete nature of the battery cycle hastens the degradation process. Apple is pioneering a fix for this with its battery optimization software. iOS 14 allows for AirPods and AirPods Pro headsets to hold off on fully charging in the case until a user is about to remove them.

The best Pixel 5 headphones

  1. The Google Pixel Buds are the clear and best choice for most Google Pixel 5 smartphone owners who want to make the most out of Google Assistant.
  2. The Sony WH-1000XM4 noise-cancelling headphones are great for frequent flyers and pack plenty of software that works on Android and iOS.
  3. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus have some of the best battery life we’ve tested among true wireless earbuds.
  4. The Jabra Elite Active 75t are great true wireless workout earbuds that are just as at home in the gym as they are in the office.
  5. The Sony WF-1000XM4 are Sony’s complement to its over-ear noise-cancelling headphones, but these earbuds are much more portable.

Google Pixel Buds: The best Pixel 5 headphones for most

A picture of the Google Pixel Buds 2020 true wireless earbuds case hand 2

The Google Pixel Buds are the best companion for your Google Pixel 5 smartphone, because they work seamlessly on Android, specifically with Google devices. The Pixel Buds (2020) afford plenty of advanced software features like hands-free Google Assistant access and live Google Translate.

The earbuds supply six hours of playback on a single charge, and nearly 24 hours of playtime when you account for the case’s battery capacity. Microphone quality is very good, so you can use these true wireless earbuds for personal and professional calls all the same.

The earbuds rely strictly on touch controls to adjust the volume, control media playback, and answer calls. You can disable touch controls in the Pixel Buds app. Both earbuds support automatic ear detection which pauses playback when the buds are removed and resumes playback when they’re reinserted. If you want something that is silly simple to use, get these Pixel 5 headphones.

Google Pixel Buds (2020)
$79.00 at Walmart
Save $100.00

Check out our full review to learn more about the Google Pixel Buds.

Sony WH-10000XM4: The best noise-cancelling headphones

An aerial photo of the Sony WH 1000XM4 noise cancelling headphones full yellow backdrop.
Adam Molina / Android Authority

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are for listeners who want some of the best noise-cancelling headphones around. The XM4 improves active noise-cancelling (ANC) performance compared to the WH-1000XM3 and supports multipoint connectivity. This means you can connect to two devices at once, which is great for monitoring incoming phone calls while streaming a video from your laptop.

Sony also included a new AI-powered feature called speak-to-chat. This automatically pauses music playback once the microphones sense your voice, so you can carry out a conversation without removing the headset.

Compare: Sony WH-1000XM3 vs Sony WH-1000XM4

Sound quality is extremely important in any set of headphones, especially when they cost as much as the Sony WH-1000XM4. Sony didn’t fail us here; in fact, it improved upon sound quality from the previous model. The WH-1000XM4 has a neutral-leaning frequency response, so all genres of music will sound close to how the artists and engineers intended straight out of the box. Of course, you can always fiddle with the sound in the Headphones Connect app which is free on iOS and Android.

Sony WH-1000XM4

Check out our full review to learn more about the Sony WH-1000XM4.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus: The best true wireless battery life

A photo of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus true wireless earbuds using wireless PowerShare atop a Samsung Galaxy S10e.
Lily Katz / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus are perfect for Samsung smartphones and are great for the Google Pixel 5, too. Battery life is exceptional: the Galaxy Buds Plus last over 11 hours on a single charge, and they support fast charging. Three minutes in the case yields one hour of playtime. You can also charge the case wirelessly atop any compatible Qi charging pad.

These buds may not pair as seamlessly to your Google Pixel phone as the Pixel Buds, but they reconnect immediately when you open the charging case. Samsung includes nifty features with its Galaxy Buds Plus, the most headline-worthy being integrated Spotify access. You may directly access Spotify-recommended playlists from the earbuds’ touch panels.

Bass notes sound loud without forsaking clarity, thanks to the default treble emphasis. If you enjoy popular genres of music, these are the buds to get. Worst case, you can choose from a selection of premade EQ options in the Galaxy Wearables app.

See also: Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus vs Jabra Elite 75t: Which earbuds will you choose?

These earbuds aren’t the most durable on the list seeing how they warrant just an IPX2 rating, but they’re perfectly fine for casual exercise and surprise spring showers. If you want a compact pair of earbuds that place comfort and functionality first, get the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

Check out our full review to learn more about the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus.

Jabra Elite Active 75t: The best for athletes

Jabra Elite Active 75t true wireless workout earbuds waterproof sweat
Lily Katz / Android Authority

Active users should get the Jabra Elite Active 75t because they’re IP57-rated. This means the earbuds can resist both dust and water; in fact, they can even be submerged for up to 30 minutes without damage. They also have a slip-resistant fit.

You can play music for over seven hours straight (ANC off) before you need to recharge them in the case. Fast charging is supported: 15 minutes in the case supplies you with one hour of playback. Microphone quality is also good thanks to the four-microphone array. Clear call audio is relayed even in poor conditions (e.g., a busy coffee shop).

Jabra released a free update to its Elite 75t series that enables noise-cancelling.

They aren’t just for athletes though: Jabra added noise-cancelling to its Elite 75t series earphones via a free over-the-air (OTA) update in September 2020. This grants you the choice to enable noise-cancelling in loud conditions, and if you feel the noise-cancelling isn’t enough, you can always pick up the Jabra Elite 85t.

Jabra Elite Active 75t True Wireless Earbuds
$99.99 at Amazon
Save $80.00

Check out our sister site SoundGuys’ full review to learn more about the Jabra Elite Active 75t.

Sony WF-1000XM4: The best premium, portable pick

sony wf 1000xm4 review case pairing

If you like everything about the Sony WH-1000XM4 except for its size, get the Sony WF-1000XM4. These are some of the best portable noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds you can buy. Noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds are becoming more and more common, but Sony stands out as its ANC is best-in-class.

The earbuds amplify bass notes, so you’ll enjoy that familiar “oomph,” though you may find that your music doesn’t sound as detailed as you’re accustomed to. Fortunately, you can easily fix this in the OS-agnostic app by slightly lowering the bass and midrange response. You can also take advantage of Sony 360 Reality Audio on certain platforms like Tidal or Deezer.

Battery life is quite good for this flavor of true wireless earbuds, clocking in at seven hours and 43 minutes of playtime with ANC enabled. The case provides an extra two charge cycles, so you should get around 24 hours of on-the-go playtime before you need to recharge it.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Earbuds

Check out our full review to learn more about the Sony WF-1000XM4.

Best Pixel 5 headphones: Honorable mentions

  • Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen): Amazon debuted its active noise-cancelling tech with these unassuming earbuds, and it’s quite good for the price, outperforming the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Apple AirPods Pro.
  • Apple AirPods Pro: AirPods aren’t just for iPhone users, and the AirPods Pro have proven their worth many times over. If you don’t mind that the AirPods Pro may only be updated with an iOS or iPad OS device, then these noise-cancelling buds are for you.
  • Beats Powerbeats Pro: Listeners who want a more secure fit than traditional in-ears offer should consider these Beats earphones. The ear hook design keeps the buds stable during vigorous movements, and they’re IPX4-rated to survive any workout.
  • Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: Perhaps Sony’s design didn’t do it for you; in that case, feast your eyes on the Bose Headphones 700. These depart from Bose’s previous designs in favor of a more elegant appearance. Microphone quality is very good and you may choose from 11 levels of ANC intensity.
  • Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: These are yet another pair of solid noise-cancelling earbuds that sound great and fit comfortably. The touch controls perfectly register taps and swipes nearly every time.
  • Google Pixel Buds A-Series: While the Google Pixel Buds (2020) are our top pick, the more affordable Pixel Buds A-Series are solid earphones for a more palatable price. You do miss out on some features like wireless charging though.
  • Microsoft Surface Headphones 2: Microsoft stepped into the wireless audio game a bit late, but exceeded expectations with these headphones. The onboard controls are genius, and noise-cancelling is quite good. Plus, these have the best implementation of multipoint connectivity that we’ve experienced.
  • Sennheiser PXC 550-II: If you want a lightweight, affordable pair of noise-cancelling headphones, get the PXC 550-II. Microphone quality is very good and the compact, portable design makes these a game-changer for frequent flyers.