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Google Pixel Buds Pro vs Apple AirPods Pro 2: Which should you buy?

Should iPhone owners ever get the Pixel Buds Pro, and should Pixel phone owners ever get the AirPods Pro?
By

Published onMay 16, 2023

Google Pixel Buds Pro
MSRP: $199.00
Check price
Positives
ANC with transparency mode
Hands-free Google Assistant
Above average battery life
Water-resistant case and buds
Fast pair and multipoint connectivity
Custom EQ (after updates)
Negatives
No aptX
Fit is a bit loose for some people
Microphone underperforms in noisy environments
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
MSRP: $249.00
Check price
Positives
Effective ANC
Great sound quality - Lossless Audio
Great auto-wear detection
Water-resistant buds and case
USB-C charging
Good fit with four ear tip options
Negatives
Many Apple-exclusive features
No way to customize the EQ without third-party app

To be king of the wireless earbud hill, a company must overthrow Apple. Many have tried to outperform the Cupertino company, but none have taken away its lion’s share of the market. In our Google Pixel Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro 2 comparison, we see how well Google’s earbuds compare to Apple’s and if owning an Android phone prohibits you from using the AirPods Pro (2nd generation).

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs Apple AirPods Pro 2: At a glance

The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and Pixel Buds Pro share many features as flagship earbuds, but here are the key differences:

  • The Pixel Buds Pro retail for $199, and the AirPods Pro 2 retail for $249.
  • There is no official Pixel Buds app for iOS or AirPods app for Android. Many of the earbuds' features are exclusive to one operating system or the other.
  • Android phone owners can equalize the Pixel Buds Pro, while there's no Apple-approved way to EQ the AirPods Pro 2.
  • The AirPods Pro 2 have better noise canceling than the Pixel Buds Pro.
  • The AirPods Pro 2 case is IPX4-rated, and the Pixel Buds Pro case is IPX2-rated.
  • The Pixel Buds Pro have a standard earbud design, and the AirPods Pro 2 feature short stems.

Pixel Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro 2: Specs

Google Pixel Buds ProApple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Dimensions
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Earbud: 23.7 x 22.3 x 22mm
Case: 63.2 x 50 x 25mm
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Earbud: 30.9 x 24.0 x 21.8mm
Case: 60.6 x 45.2 x 21.7mm
Weights
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Earbud: 6.2g
Case: 56.2g
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Earbud: 5.3g
Case: 50.8g
Bluetooth connectivity
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Bluetooth 5.0
SBC, AAC
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Bluetooth 5.3
SBC, AAC
Water resistance
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Earbuds: IPX4
Case: IPX2
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Earbuds: IPX4
Case: IPX4
Battery life (listening time)
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Earbuds, ANC on: 7 hours
Case and earbuds, ANC on: up to 20 hours
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Earbuds, ANC on: 6 hours
Case and earbuds, ANC on: up to 30 hours
Charging
Google Pixel Buds Pro
USB-C
Qi wireless
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
USB-C
MagSafe wireless
Qi wireless
Audio hardware
Google Pixel Buds Pro
11mm custom dynamic drivers
Pressure relief vents
Wind-blocking mesh covers
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Custom high-excursion Apple driver
Custom high dynamic range amplifier
Pressure relief vents
Wind-blocking mesh covers
Mics and sensors
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Three mics per earbud
Voice accelerometer
IR proximity sensor
Motion detecting accelerometer and gyroscope
Touch capacitive sensors
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Dual beamforming microphones
Inward-facing microphone
Skin-detect sensor
Motion-detecting accelerometer
Speech-detecting accelerometer
Touch control
Spatial Audio with head tracking
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Yes, requires
Google Pixel 6 series or Pixel 7 series running Android 13+
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Yes, personalization requires iPhone running iOS 16+
Noise canceling
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Yes
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Yes
Transparency
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Yes
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Yes, adaptive
Ear tip selection
Google Pixel Buds Pro
S, M, L
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
XS, S, M, L
Colors
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Coral
Fog
Charcoal
Lemongrass
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
White
Release date
Google Pixel Buds Pro
July 28, 2022
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
September 23, 2022
Price
Google Pixel Buds Pro
$199
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
$249

Let’s get the biggest difference out of the way: the Pixel Buds Pro cost $50 less than the AirPods Pro 2. With the Pixel Buds Pro, you get many of the same features as the AirPods Pro 2. Most Android devices can use the Pixel Buds Pro features, whereas the AirPods Pro 2 lock you into Apple devices. That said, you can still connect the AirPods Pro to an Android phone and use the Pixel Buds Pro with an iPhone. Doing so would just prohibit you from accessing many of the following features.

With the Pixel Buds Pro, you can use the Pixel Buds app from the Google Play Store. This lets you customize the tap-and-hold command of the buds, select your listening mode, and toggle automatic wear detection on or off. The AirPods Pro 2 have a similar list of options in the iOS/iPadOS Settings app. Unlike Apple, Google lets listeners create a custom sound profile and connect to two devices simultaneously. Apple’s AirPods Pro 2 lack both of these features.

Google’s five-band EQ came after the earbuds’ launch. Listeners who don’t want to putz around with the custom equalizer bands can use six EQ presets to change the sound instead. In the app, you’ll also find a Volume EQ for the Pixel Buds Pro, which adjusts the bass and treble on the fly. Similarly, Apple has an Adaptive EQ, which is always enabled across operating systems. This adjusts the bass and mids in real time based on your ears. The mechanisms vary, but the goal of Google’s and Apple’s automatic EQs is to reproduce consistent sound quality in various conditions.

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation hand holds earbuds
Lily Katz / Android Authority

Sound quality and noise canceling are a fair bit better with the AirPods Pro 2 than with the Pixel Buds Pro. But again, you can easily adjust how the Pixel Buds Pro sound from most Android devices. Meanwhile, Apple doesn’t even let iPhone owners take control of their earbuds’ sound quality.

As far as design goes, well, it’s like comparing apples to oranges. The AirPods Pro 2 and Pixel Buds Pro don’t look alike. Apple’s buds have the company’s signature stemmed design and force sensors for controlling media playback and calls. In contrast, the Pixel Buds Pro have a stem-free build with standard tap and swipe gestures for controlling playback and such. Both sets of buds support volume controls, which isn’t a given among wireless earbuds. I found the AirPods Pro 2 provided a more comfortable, stable fit than the Pixel Buds Pro. Making volume adjustments on the Pixel Buds Pro loosened the fit, which wasn’t an issue with Apple’s buds.

The Google Pixel Buds Pro have an in-app EQ, while Apple doesn't let listeners customize how the AirPods Pro 2 sound.

Apple and Google’s earbuds share the same IPX4 water-resistance rating, meaning they can endure water splashes from any direction. The cases are both water-resistant, but the AirPods Pro 2 case has an IPX4 rating. This makes it a bit more resilient than the Pixel Buds Pro case’s IPX2 rating.

You get spatial audio and head tracking with either set of earbuds when paired to a compatible device. For the Pixel Buds Pro, that means using the earbuds with a Pixel 6 or Pixel 7 series phone running Android 13 or later. For the AirPods Pro (2nd generation), accessing personalized spatial audio with head tracking requires an iPhone with iOS 16 or later. To take advantage of these buds’ spatial audio capabilities, you need to stream compatible content from sources like Disney Plus.

Pixel Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro 2: Noise canceling

For the best active noise canceling (ANC) performance between these two earphones, we recommend the AirPods Pro 2. Apple’s ANC edges out Google’s. Low frequencies will sound a touch quieter with the AirPods Pro 2 than the Pixel Buds Pro. When reviewing the AirPods Pro 2 and Pixel Buds Pro, I could tell that Apple’s ANC canceled more neighboring construction compared to the Pixel Buds Pro.

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation comparison chart noise caneling attenuation isolation

We can dig into the noise canceling details with the comparison chart above. The cyan line represents the Pixel Buds Pro, and the dashed pink line represents the AirPods Pro 2. The higher each line, the more noise the earbuds’ ANC blocks out. As you can see above, the AirPods Pro 2 line is consistently higher than the Pixel Buds Pro line.

When it comes to noise canceling and isolation, the 0-2,040Hz range is what you want to pay the most attention to. If your earbuds can’t block out this frequency range, you may notice poor audio quality in loud spaces. As a reminder, the Pixel Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro 2 noise canceling comparison chart shows the earbuds’ ANC with an ideal fit. You may experience sub-optimal performance if your earbuds fit loosely, so it’s important to use the earbuds’ respective ear tip fit tests.

Pixel Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro 2: Sound quality

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation mobile apps
Lily Katz / Android Authority

Out of the box, the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) sound much better than the Google Pixel Buds Pro. Apple’s sound profile works well with all music genres. The AirPods Pro 2 handle busy choruses well. The earbuds’ bass response still allows vocals and higher-pitched instruments to sound clear. This isn’t the case with the Pixel Buds Pro.

Apple's earbuds sound better than Google's, but you personalize the Pixel Buds Pro's sound profile.

By default, the Pixel Buds Pro boost the bass and treble a lot more than the AirPods Pro 2. When testing the Pixel Buds Pro and AirPods Pro 2 side by side, I found the Pixel Buds Pro made cymbal hits sound far too loud. The song I Am America by Shea Diamond was difficult to enjoy with Google’s buds. The AirPods Pro 2, on the other hand, made handled this song much better.

As discussed in the specifications section, the custom equalizer is a major perk of using the Pixel Buds Pro with an Android device. Listeners can affect how the Pixel Buds Pro sound and tailor it to their preferences. Meanwhile, with the Apple AirPods Pro 2, you’re at the mercy of Apple’s admittedly good tuning.

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation comparison chart frequency response
Lily Katz / Android Authority

To dive deeper into our Pixel Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro 2 sound quality comparison, check out the chart above. This visualizes how these sets of earbuds sound different from one another. The cyan line represents the Pixel Buds Pro, and the yellow dotted line represents the AirPods Pro 2. The pink line represents the SoundGuys Target Curve; SoundGuys is our audio-focused sister site.

The Pixel Buds Pro deviate much more from the Target Curve than the AirPods Pro 2. As I heard while testing the buds, treble frequencies will sound up to two times louder through Google’s earphones than Apple’s. While individual preferences may stray from the Target Curve, this is our reference for what most listeners will deem good sound quality.

Pixel Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro 2: Microphone quality

In ideal conditions, both microphone systems are very good and relay clear audio. The AirPods Pro 2 make voices sound a bit louder than the Pixel Buds Pro. Toward the end of the AirPods Pro 2 microphone demo below, audio cutouts accompany that extra volume boost.

Google Pixel Buds Pro microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Like the ideal microphone demos, the AirPods Pro 2 relay louder audio than the Google Pixel Buds Pro in our office conditions mic demos. The AirPods Pro 2 suppress more background noise than the Pixel Buds Pro, which is a good thing. Yet, the tradeoff is that the AirPdos Pro 2 also suppress the speaker’s voice on occasion. The Pixel Buds Pro don’t block as much background noise, which may be distracting at times, but the upside is Google’s buds never drop the speaker’s voice.

Google Pixel Buds Pro microphone demo (Office conditions):

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Office conditions):

Pixel Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro 2: Battery and charging

The Google Pixel Buds Pro have an official standalone battery life of seven hours with ANC. The charging case provides an extra 13 hours of ANC music listening. According to Apple, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) last six hours with ANC, and the case provides an extra 24 hours of battery life.

We ran standardized tests on the Pixel Buds Pro and AirPods Pro 2. After subjecting each set of buds to constant music playback peaking at 75dB (SPL), the battery results are as follows:

  • AirPods Pro (2nd generation), ANC on: Five hours, 43 minutes.
  • Pixel Buds Pro, ANC on: Seven hours, six minutes.

Unlike the Google Pixel Buds Pro, the AirPods Pro 2 have battery optimization to extend the life of the AirPods’ battery cells. This feature prevents the buds from charging past 80% until you need to use them. To use this feature, you need a device running iOS 15+ or iPadOS15+. It will take some time for your iPhone or iPad to learn your listening habits.

In our testing, we found the Pixel Buds Pro had slightly better battery than the second-gen AirPods Pro.

Fast-charging Google’s or Apple’s earbuds for five minutes will net one hour of playtime. The Pixel Buds Pro and AirPods Pro 2 cases support Qi wireless charging, but Apple takes it a step further by making its case MagSafe-compatible. For wired charging, you’ll need a USB-C cable with the Pixel Buds Pro and a Lightning cable with the AirPods Pro (2nd generation).

Pixel Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro 2: Price

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation earbuds size
Lily Katz / Android Authority
  • Google Pixel Buds Pro: $199
  • Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation): $249

The Google Pixel Buds Pro cost $199, making them $50 cheaper than the second-gen AirPods Pro. Google’s flagship buds go on sale around holidays like Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. We’ve seen the Pixel Buds Pro promotional pricing go as low as $149, but you may also see them for $169.

The Pixel Buds Pro and AirPods Pro 2 are similar products that cater to different audiences.

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) have a $249 price tag. While this is expensive, Apple’s earbuds aren’t the priciest flagship buds around. The Sony WF-1000XM4 ($278 at Amazon) and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 ($179 at Amazon) original prices are higher than the AirPods Pro 2 by $30 or more. Like Google’s earbuds, the AirPods Pro 2 go on sale around the holiday season. We’ve spotted them on promotion for $199, matching the Pixel Buds Pro retail price.

Pixel Buds Pro vs AirPods Pro 2: Which earbuds should you buy?

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation hero
Lily Katz / Android Authority

If you own an iPhone, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) are a better option than the Pixel Buds Pro. Pairing the AirPods Pro 2 with an iPhone makes for a powerful, smooth experience. Software features like battery optimization and personalized spatial audio aside, the AirPods Pro 2 have better ANC than the Pixel Buds Pro. Further, the sound quality is much better out of the box. Apple’s stemmed design may not be for everyone, but I much prefer it to how the Pixel Buds Pro fit.

That said, if you own an Android phone, the Pixel Buds Pro are a better value than the AirPods Pro (2nd generation). With the Pixel Buds Pro, you can use almost all of the earbuds’ features on most Android phones and tablets. Sure, Google’s ANC isn’t quite as good as Apple’s, but it comes close. Another win for Google: the company lets you customize the sound.

Which earbuds would you rather own?

255 votes

In the end, the Google Pixel Buds Pro and AirPods Pro are very similar products that cater to different audiences. If you own an Android phone, the Pixel Buds Pro make far more sense for your needs. By the same token, the AirPods Pro 2 make far more sense for iPhone owners. You get similar performance from each set of earbuds; they just come in different form factors.

See price at Amazon
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Impressive ANC
Comfortable fit
Wireless charging
See price at Amazon
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Active noise-cancelling
Android integration
Google Assistant features

FAQs

No, you cannot submerge the Pixel Buds Pro or AirPods Pro 2. These earbuds are water-resistant though. The Pixel Buds Pro and AirPods Pro 2 both merit IPX4 ratings, meaning they can withstand water splashes from any direction.

The AirPods Pro 2 case works with Qi wireless and MagSafe charging pads.

Yes, you can connect the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with Android phones for media playback, but you miss out on some features. When connecting the AirPods Pro 2 to an Android device, you can’t use spatial audio, switch between devices, or customize the sound.

Yes, the Pixel Buds Pro support multipoint connectivity. Go to the Pixel Buds app > Multipoint > On.

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