What you need to know
- Google's second, but first truly wireless, Pixel Buds are finally available 6 months after being announced.
- Launching first in white only, with other colors to come later, for $179.
- Pixel Buds offer auto-adjusting audio, 5 hours of playback and a wireless charging case.
I wouldn't be surprised if you had forgotten that Google announced a follow-up to its Pixel Buds headphones back in October 2019. These second-generation headphones are a named successor to the Pixel Buds from 2017, though they have little resemblance. The new Pixel Buds are truly wireless, ditching the cord that made the originals a bit odd, and use a small hard-plastic case instead of the quirky fabric case from before.
But the goal is now, just as then, to be the Google equivalent of Apple's AirPods. These aren't just Bluetooth headphones, they're smart headphones — with seamless pairing to Android devices, beamforming microphones, automatically adjusting audio, hands-free "Hey Google" commands, language translation and many more features focused on delighting you. The cost, of course, is in the upper end of what we expect to pay for these sort of true wireless earbuds: $179. That's the same price as the Jabra Elite 75T, and between the standard Apple AirPods and AirPods Pro.
Battery life is rated at a solid, not spectacular, 5 hours, with the charging case providing another 19 hours — and Google says just 10 minutes spent in the case can provide the buds with 2 hours of use. That case is dramatically slimmed down from the original Pixel Buds, falling in line with the high-end competition. The case has Qi wireless charging, too, so you can toss it on any charging pad or the back of certain phones — namely not Google's own Pixels, but the last two generations of Samsung Galaxy S and Galaxy Notes will work, for example.
One upside of waiting so long after announcement is that the Pixel Buds are available right away at several retailers. The price is as announced, $179, from the Google Store, Best Buy, Walmart, Target (in early May), AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and US Cellular. Sadly, that several-month runway didn't give Google enough time to have its variety of fun colors available — you can only get the Pixel Buds in white, with an unspecified delay before we see Almost Black, Quite Mint and Oh So Orange.
Excellent true wireless earbuds, with traditional Google bonuses.
The new Pixel Buds have a fantastic case design, nice-sounding earbuds and lots of neat little features that elevate the whole listening experience. They're worth the money, even with their limited configurability and average battery life.
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Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.