Update May 6, 2020 – See our full review of the new Pixel Buds (2020).
Google finally cut the cord on its famed earbuds. It now competes directly with the likes of Apple, Sony, and Samsung. Senior Vice President Rick Osterloh championed the Pixel Buds’ long-range Bluetooth connection capabilities. When outside, the earbuds will remain connected to your phone for the length of an American football field. Indoor wireless range is lessened to a three-room distance. This vague descriptor makes sense seeing as there’s much more interference indoors.
The Google Pixel Buds 2 feature a svelte design which allows the whimsical housings to sit flush against the ear. A spatial vent at the bottom of each housing lets some ambient noise in, keeping users aware of their surroundings. While we’re awaiting any mention on high-quality Bluetooth codecs, the Pixel Buds will feature adaptive sound. This dynamically adjusts the volume according to your environment, saving you from reaching for your phone.
Beam-forming microphones focus on your voice as you speak while accelerometers detect movement from your jawbone. These technologies work in tandem to reduce background noise transmission. Ideally, this will yield a clear, accurate representation of your voice to the person on the other end of the call. Osterloh posits that the Pixel Buds 2 microphones are effective enough to transmit your voice even if on a bicycle. These features are all reminiscent of the Beats Powerbeats Pro.
Battery life is listed at a reasonable five-hour standalone playback time and the wireless charging case provides extra charges, totaling to 24 hours of listening. Google Pixel Buds 2 retain signature Google features like hands-free Google Assistant access and live translation. By uttering, “Hey Google,” you can check notifications, respond to texts, and more.
Google’s promotional video pushed intelligent software and machine learning in the true wireless Pixel Buds 2. However, our appetites were only whetted, rather than satiated: we’re awaiting more specifics on how this technology will come into play.
While the Google Pixel Buds 2 don’t leap from the page compared to competitively priced alternatives, many Pixel 4 owners will gravitate toward the ‘buds for the same reason iPhone users are drawn to the AirPods: convenience. The Pixel Buds 2 are available in 2020 and will retail for $179.