And while the Pixel Buds A-series do come in two color options (white and olive green), it’s hard to tell just by looking at the case unless you peep the thin band that runs around the bottom of the lid.
The one main difference with the case is that instead of supporting both wired and wireless charging, the Pixel Buds A-series only feature wired charging over USB-C.
Now I totally get that as part of the process of turning the Pixel Buds (which launched at $180) into something more affordable, difficult decisions had to be made, so I can’t blame Google for axing wireless charging in order to hit that $99 price tag.
But even so, there’s a part of me that wishes Google had managed a way to include Qi wireless charging for convenience sake, because the ability to simply drop your earbuds on a charging pad and know they’ll be fully juiced up when you return is incredibly handy—even more so for earbuds than for phones or watches. While the Pixel Buds A-series live up to Google’s stated claims of lasting around five hours on a single charge (plus three to four more full charges stashed in the case), I find myself wanting just a little bit more in this department too.
However, other wireless earbuds all offer significantly longer runtimes: the Galaxy Buds+ lasts 11 hours per charge; the Galaxy Buds Live lasts 6-7 hours, and Sony’s likely soon to be replaced WF-1000XM3 around six hours.
They’re all more expensive than the Pixel Buds A-series, so the A’s battery life, while not great, isn’t terrible for a pair of $99 earbuds. Aside from just OK battery life, everything else about the Pixel Bids is simple, straightforward, and easy to use.
And if you don’t, the buds will either prompt you to download the app and guide you through setup, or you can simply hold the pairing button in the back until the indicator lights start flashing if you want to do things manually (which you’ll have to do if you’re using an Apple or Windows device).
Critically, Google didn’t mess with the Pixel Buds’ design, with the Pixel Buds retaining the same ear tips and built-in wings that help the buds stay secure even during exercise, while still being overall some of the most comfortable earbuds I’ve ever worn.
(I know that’s not a good habit, but hey, I usually watch a video or two at night to help wind down.)Google even managed to make the Pixel Buds A-series sound the same as their more expensive predecessor, too, which delivered crisp, clear sound similar to Google’s line of smart speakers.
When I listened to Pnau’s “Go Bang,” the buds were more than capable of recreating Kira Devine’s shimmery vocals while keeping highs and mids relatively tight and distortion-free.
However, the nice fit provided by the buds’ ear tips and wings does a good job of passively blocking out sound, with tiny internal vents ensuring that air pressure doesn’t build up uncomfortably, while also letting in just enough ambient noise so you’re still aware of your surroundings.
For city-dwellers like me that have to walk everywhere, that’s a big plus when commuting, with Google also providing a handy Adaptive Sound setting that automatically adjusts the volume to suit your environment.
I would even say the Pixel Buds A-series are more pleasing to wear and use than the original Galaxy Buds, though the 11 hours of battery life you get with the Galaxy Buds+ is tempting, especially for anyone whose biggest priority is battery life.
So even though they’re not flashy or sexy, Google’s newest earbuds are another example of how the company is getting pretty good at making great, simple, affordable tech.