Google Pixel Buds A-Series
For an encore, Google didn't overhaul its Pixel Buds. It just tweaked them, gave them new coats of paint, and made them more affordable. To get there, the A-Series cut out a few things, but so much of the originals stay where they are, and that's why they're an intriguing choice among other earbuds.
Google Pixel Buds A-Series
Doing it again
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
Samsung gave the Galaxy Buds 2 a slimmer profile, making them even more comfortable to wear than their predecessors were. Adding in active noise cancelation and better audio drivers puts these earbuds onto solid ground, even if they are fairly delicate in how you have to handle them.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
These two earbuds come with similar objectives when looking at what these companies wanted to achieve. The Pixel Buds A-Series are simply a variant of the same Pixel Buds, albeit with a focus on affordability. The Galaxy Buds 2 are now Samsung's entry-level earbuds, having replaced the now discontinued Samsung Galaxy Buds+. Under these auspices, both of the pairs in this face-off have value in mind and become interesting alternatives to their more expensive alternatives because of it.
Google Pixel Buds A-Series vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds 2: What sets them apart?
At first glance, the Galaxy Buds 2 look like they come out ahead. They have bigger drivers, a charging case supporting wireless charging, and more varied voice assistant support. There's more to that story, and part of it depends on what makes earbuds good for you when you wear them. For instance, the Buds 2 are even less durable than the Pixel Buds A-Series are.
Google's earbuds are also easier to pair and maintain because of their tighter integration with Android. Those who appreciate quick pairing and access will like how the Pixel Buds A-Series work that way. But to get to a lower price, something had to go. In this case, Google cut out wireless charging, swipe gestures on the earbuds themselves, and longer lag when pausing audio once you remove one of the earbuds.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Google Pixel Buds A-Series||Samsung Galaxy Buds 2|
|Bud battery life||5 hours||5 hours|
|Case battery life||24 hours||20 hours (29 without ANC)|
|Wireless charging case||No||Yes|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0||Bluetooth 5.2|
|Digital assistant support||Google Assistant||Bixby, Google Assistant, Siri|
|Supported audio codecs||SBC, AAC||SBC, AAC, Scalable|
|Speaker size||6mm drivers||11.5mm drivers|
|Active noise cancelation (ANC)||No||Yes|
|Ambient sound mode||Not exactly||Yes|
Samsung's earbuds veer a little further away from true budget territory because they've been equipped with features carried over from the more premium Galaxy Buds Pro. However, they still hold up well with the best wireless earbuds and can just as easily find themselves on the same list as the Pixel Buds A-Series.
To be fair, five hours of battery life isn't all that great for a pair of earbuds, even if that number only reflects how the Galaxy Buds 2 play when active noise cancelation (ANC) is always on. Also, the case supports wireless charging, whereas Google stripped that from its A-Series buds. Samsung put in three extra charges, while Google managed to eke out a total of four for its case.
Since the Pixel Buds A-Series doesn't have ANC to muffle background noises, passive isolation is your only retreat. The tighter the seal, the better the overall sound. Google saw both praise and complaints about how the previous Pixel Buds fit, yet the A-Series is of the same mold. If you're in the camp that finds them to be a nice fit, you will likely have little to complain about because they feel feathery and efficient. If you weren't in that camp, these aren't likely to fit any better.
The Galaxy Buds 2 are among the most comfortable earbuds available, subjective as that may sound. The smaller frame serves you well when nestling them in your ears to get the kind of passive isolation that would help make ANC work more efficiently. Their lightweight design lends itself well when listening for longer periods.
Unlike the Pixel Buds, the Galaxy Bud 2 have some audio customization through the Galaxy Wearable app. Though limited to six equalizer presets, the variance is at least enough to alter the sound closer to your liking. Other than Bass Boost, Google's buds don't offer the same level of audio tweaking. They also don't have a dedicated ambient mode as the Buds 2 have. The closest you get is Adaptive Sound mode, which increases or decreases volume based on how much background noise you're dealing with.
Both offer auto-pause when you remove the earbuds, except it's more consistent with the A-Series. The Galaxy Buds 2 tend to do it more when you remove both earbuds, rather than just one, as with the A-Series. For call quality, Samsung had improved that further in the Buds 2, whereas Google already had a good thing going with the Pixel Buds.
Google Pixel Buds A-Series vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds 2: Keep talking
One of Google's selling points is that Google Assistant works so seamlessly with the Pixel Buds A-Series. Hands-free functionality that works purely by voice, without ever touching the phone. There's no doubt the convenience is attractive, especially if you use the voice assistant a lot. And that only gets better when it reads out incoming notifications, giving you less of a reason to reach for your phone when something new comes in.
Samsung continues to promote Bixby in much the same way with its Galaxy Buds 2, though its resident voice assistant struggles to make a lasting impact. You can use Google Assistant as an alternative. Only you don't get the same level of integration. In that regard, they really aren't any different from other earbuds that can do the same thing.
Google Pixel Buds A-Series vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds 2: Which one should you go with?
Part of your choice here may come down to ecosystem. For example, if you own a Pixel phone, you might lean toward the Pixel Buds A-Series, whereas a Samsung phone might tilt you toward getting the Galaxy Buds+. Even so, that doesn't have to be the determining factor since you could use either pair with either type of phone. Unless aesthetics and comfort are more your concern. The Pixel Buds A-Series come in two colors: clearly white and dark olive. The Galaxy Buds 2 come in white, graphite, olive, and lavender.
The Pixel Buds A-Series could fall into the best cheap wireless earbuds category, but both can certainly fit in among the best wireless earbuds as well. Given how close they are in so many ways, you probably won't go wrong either way, but chances are, Google will continue to update the Pixel Buds A-Series through firmware updates.
The same Buds for less
Google's follow-up to its Pixel Buds trims a few features, leaving the most important elements intact for greater affordability.
Still a deuce
Samsung takes its latest entry-level true wireless earbuds up a notch by focusing on a solid combo of performance and comfort.
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Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar. Often times, that will be with a pair of headphones or earbuds playing tunes. When he's not testing something, he's working on the next episode of his podcast, Tednologic.