Google Pixel Buds are Google’s answer to a wireless audio life for the regular folks who just want something easy to pair with your device, convenient to use, and practically impossible to mess up. It’s a great no-brainer wireless earbuds that go from unboxing to music listening in under forty-five seconds—possibly lesser if you are adept at jabbing your screen quickly and deftly.
It comes in four signature Google colour conventions; Oh So Orange, Clearly White, Quite Mint, and Almost Black. As of today, only Clearly White is available at the online store, which means one less thing to have to decide. Options? Pfft! We don’t know her.
Without getting too technical, the Pixel buds are designed to have the best of in-ear and earbuds style. So what you get is slight noise isolation but without the stuffy feeling of being completely cut out from your external environment. In terms of fit, your mile may vary especially when everybody’s ear canals are built differently.
I’ve been testing these for the past five days, but I’m still unsure about how this can best fit into my ears. Turns out, my right ear canal is smaller than my left but thanks to the included ear tips that come in three sizes, I’m now that weirdo walking around with a size M ear tip in my right and a size S one in my left.
Android users will be familiar with the trusty Google Assistant—always around to answer the most mundane of questions. The Pixel Buds elevate that experience into a hands-free one which means that you can ask for the time while mid-run or the translation of “How much further to 4km, please?” to French while breathless and listening to the dulcet tone of Krista Tippet’s podcast.
Simply say “Hey, Google” anytime. Hands-free.
Like many self-respecting earbuds, the Pixel buds have simple gestures you can utilize so that your phone can stay in your pocket where it belongs. Tap to play, pause, and answer calls. Double tap to skip track or reject calls. Triple tap to rewind.
Swiping forward or backward makes the volume louder or softer. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
I’m no audiophile, which is short for I’ll buy whatever comes in the daintiest of cases at the most competitive price. But, if an earphone can pick up the distinct sound of the shaker in Amy Winehouse’s live performance of Valerie and keep it above her powerful vocals, there’s close to nothing it cannot do.
Podcasts? Get ready to hear the sound of breath between words. Classical? Listen out for the vibrato of strings as the bow glides across the violin. Also, the music pauses automatically when either earbud is removed. It’s efficiency at the highest levels.
Slightly buggy. During testing, there was no discernible difference I could make out between the sound levels in Coffee Bean versus that of the bus. Is it because both are equal in noise levels?
Would this have been made better with the inclusion of Active Noise Cancelling? Perhaps. And at this price point, should it have ANC? For sure.
On paper, this feature is futuristic. Upon the “Hey Google, help me speak (insert foreign language)” command, Google Translate opens up on your phone. With the help of AI, you can ask your German roommate to please pass the salt, in English, and have the app translate it into his native tongue.
But its efficacy is questionable especially when the default downloaded language list does not have Malay on it (which I wanted to test), but when it’s finally set, the Malay sound pack is not available for the app to vocalise the translation. It’s all slightly confusing for now.
Listen to my voice recording above. Even in a noisy environment like Parkway Parade’s Coffee Bean, my voice floats to the foreground which gives me comfort as I have an interview coming up in two days that I must take in between appointments. So, prospective employers can hear my brilliant responses, all the while thinking “Wah, he’s so busy that he has to take this call in the middle of the day, outside. So hardworking. Must be a good hire.”
At this point of innovation, all earbuds have a roughly similar battery life expectancy which is around 4 to 5 hours on a single charge with an additional 24 hours when charged in the case. There hasn’t been a time when I run out of juice mid jog or mid-movie, and I hardly think you’ll experience that either unless you’re running for close to 5 hours (in which case, give your poor ears a break please) or you’re watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy back to back (in this case, perfectly understandable).
It also comes with wireless charging so you can plonk it on your wireless charging pad and go about daily life. Plonk and go. What could be better?
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