A year after introducing its entry-level wireless earbuds, the Pixel Buds A-series (review), Google has forayed into the premium segment in India with the Pixel Buds Pro. These are late arrivals, but good things come to those who wait. On offer is a long list of features, including active noise cancellation and wireless charging, complemented by snug fit, ease of use, and uniformity across Android devices that lift the user experience a notch above other wireless earbuds.
Contributing to the experience is the simple but practical design of the earbuds and charging case. Starting with earbuds, these are oval-shaped units with sloped circular heads on the top side (facing outward) and angled in-ear tips at the bottom on the backside. The earbuds look big, but they fit accurately in ears and do not look like mushrooms coming off ears. Moreover, the earbuds are light in weight and offer a snug and secure fit for comfortable experience even after extended use.
Like the earbuds, the charging-cum-storage case has a simple but functional design. It is a pebble shaped-unit made of plastic with matte texture, which is good for grip and thus aids handling. On the front, the case has an LED that blinks when the buds are in a pairing mode or the case is open. The LED light turns orange if the case is running low on battery. It doubles up as a charging indicator and shows white colour when the case and earbuds are fully charged. Speaking of charging, the case has a USB-C port at the bottom for wired charging. The Pixel Buds Pro supports wireless charging, which takes significantly longer time (about four hours) to charge the case and buds compared to wired charging (about ninety minutes). Nevertheless, it is a meaningful addition to the mix, especially for those who use smartphones with reverse wireless charging feature.
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The design is good, but it is the audio performance and ease of use that the Google Pixel Buds Pro has going for it. Starting with audio performance, the earbuds’ default sound signature is balanced with deep bass, clear vocals, and fine treble. Importantly, the audio signature does not change with active noise cancellation enabled or disabled. Speaking of ANC, it is good but not the best. Complementing the earbuds, however, is the transparency mode–the ambient noise does not get unnecessarily amplified or filtered. Instead, it sounds clear and natural, thus, delivering a novel experience.
The Pixel Buds Pro are good for listening to music, and so for attending voice calls. With ANC, the voice call experience is top-notch even in noisy ambient environments. Irrespective of the ambient noise conditions, the microphones pick voice with clarity and on no occasion struggle to deliver quality experience.
Coming to ease of use, it is enabled by Google Assistant. Just say ‘Ok, Google’ and the earbuds are ready to take voice command. The earbuds even read back notifications. This is something that makes life easy, especially if you are part of the Google product ecosystem. Besides Google Assistant, it is the intuitive touch and gesture controls on the earbuds that add to the convenience. Tap your earbud once to play/pause audio or to answer calls, twice to move to the next audio track or to reject call, or thrice to go back to the previous audio track. Along with tap, there is tap and hold touch control which is customisable – toggle ANC or talk to assistant. Besides these, there are gesture controls for volume – swipe forward and backward to raise and lower the volume, respectively.
Rounding up the package is a modest on-battery time of about five hours with ANC enabled and nine hours with ANC disabled. Not exceptional, but it is on par with the best ANC wireless earbuds in its segment.
Priced at Rs 19,990, the Google Pixel Buds Pro is a well-rounded package with most of the features one expects in a premium active noise cancelling wireless earbuds. However, the earbuds get nothing novel from Google to innovate the segment. Moreover, their arrival seems late with competition from established brands such as Samsung, Sony, OnePlus, OPPO, et al, already pushing the boundaries beyond fundamentals with features like adaptive ANC, customisable sound profiles, and Dolby Atmos. What works for the Google Pixel Buds Pro, however, is the smooth experience and ease of use. Besides, these are among the few wireless earbuds that deliver uniform experience across Android devices. Smooth experience and ease of use are two factors to consider the Pixel Buds Pro. Otherwise, the segment has better propositions on offer for the price.