Which Google Pixel Buds model should you buy?

At Google I/O, its annual developer conference, Google announced a new pair of true wireless earphones, the Pixel Buds Pro, which will be available for pre-order on July 21 and in stores on July 28. The new Buds Pro offer more features than last year’s Pixel Buds A series, however, at $199, they’re also double the price. So are they worth the extra cost or should I stick with the entry-level $99 Pixel Buds A-series?

To help you answer this question, we’ve compared the features and specs of the two models so you can find the one that’s right for you. Note that while we’ve reviewed the Pixel Buds A series, we haven’t tested the Pixel Buds Pro. Hopefully we’ll get some hands-on time before the earbuds launch this summer.

The Pixel Buds Pro have more colors than the Pixel Buds A series.
Image: Google

Audio and Voice

Price aside, the Pixel Buds Pro offer active noise cancellation, while the Pixel Buds A series don’t, which is probably the most notable difference between the two sets of earbuds. So you can use Buds Pro to cancel background noise—a feature that can help you focus while working from home, or allow you to cancel ambient noise while commuting. Given that we found the Pixel Buds A-series to offer little in terms of passive noise isolation, this might be a welcome change for some.

The Pixel Buds Pro also have an optional transparency mode, which is something the Pixel Buds A-series lacks when you want to hear what’s going on around you or chat with someone. Additionally, Google says the Pixel Buds Pro will support spatial audio head tracking later this year. The upcoming update will make listening to selections even more immersive, as the feature recreates an experience similar to a surround sound setup without the need for multiple speakers. The two earbuds also share some audio features, such as a volume equalizer, where the volume automatically adjusts based on your environment.

On paper — according to Google — the Pixel Buds Pro should perform well on calls. Google says your voice should be clear no matter where you are, thanks to features like noise suppression for background distractions like traffic and features like a windscreen grille. Each earbud of the Pixel Buds Pro also comes with three microphones. The Pixel Buds A-series only offer dual beamforming microphones in each, however, we found that they performed well on calls even in noisy environments.

The Pixel Buds A-series can also connect to Android phones via Quick Pair.
Chris Welch/The Verge

connectivity

Multipoint Bluetooth connectivity is also a feature only available on the Pixel Buds Pro. This means the earbuds can automatically switch between your last two connected devices, including laptops, TVs, tablets, and Android and iOS phones. However, no matter which product you buy, Quick Pair is shared, so you can easily pair your Bluetooth device with supported Android products. For the uninitiated, Quick Pair turns on headphones near the device and pairs with a simple tap on the notification that pops up. While both earbuds are also available for iOS, they are best used with Android devices, which can take advantage of their many features. That’s partly because there’s no Pixel Buds app for iOS that allows Apple users to adjust settings like EQ, no matter which pair you buy.

Battery

Battery life is another area where the Pixel Buds Pro outperform Google’s Pixel Buds A series — at least on paper. Google claims the Pixel Buds Pro charge wirelessly via the included charging case and offer up to 11 hours of continuous listening with active noise cancellation disabled or 31 hours with the case. However, with ANC enabled, you still get 7 hours. By contrast, the case that comes with the Pixel Buds A-series lacks wireless charging capabilities, relying instead on USB-C. The latter earbuds also only offer up to 5 hours of listening time, and in this case only up to 24 hours of listening time.

Pixel Buds Pro offer IPX4 water and sweat resistance.
Image: Google

Design and Fit

No matter which one you buy, you can choose from three sizes of ear tips (small, medium and large), which all come in the box for a better fit. On paper, however, the Pixel Buds Pro appear to offer more features to improve comfort. Google says it’s adding new sensors to measure and relieve pressure on your ear canal for increased comfort, a claim we haven’t tested yet. The earbuds are also positioned deeper than the Pixel Buds A series.

In terms of weight and size, the Pixel Buds Pro are slightly heavier at 6.2 grams, while the Pixel Buds A series weigh 5.02 grams. The new earbuds are also slightly larger (22.33 x 22.03 x 23.72 mm) compared to the Pixel Buds A-series (20.7 x 29.3 x 17.5 mm).

If color is important to you, the Pixel Buds Pro are available in more variety, including black, blue, green, and red. In contrast, the Pixel Buds A series are only available in white or green. While they look similar, the Pixel Buds Pro also seem to offer more microphone entry points on the outside. However, neither offers forward/backward swipe gestures for controlling volume, meaning you have to tap to do so, something we didn’t like when we reviewed the A-Series.

In terms of durability, both the Pixel Buds Pro and Pixel Buds A series offer IPX4 water and sweat resistance, which will come in handy if you work out a lot. Both also allow for hands-free “Hey Google” voice commands, so you don’t need to touch your phone with Google Assistant to get directions, set reminders, or access music and messages.

Google Pixel Buds Pro and Google Pixel Buds A series

Of course, this comparison is just an overview of some of the key differences between the two pairs of true wireless earbuds. If you’re curious about the original specs and want to dig deeper, you can explore some more details in the table below.

Google Pixel Buds lineup

Specification Pixel Buds Pro Pixel Buds A-Series
Specification Pixel Buds Pro Pixel Buds A-Series
price $199 $99
color black, blue, green or red White green
Active Noise Cancellation yes Do not
transparent mode yes Do not
Spatial Audio with Head Tracking Later in 2022 Do not
Battery Up to 11 hours of listening time, up to 7 hours with Active Noise Cancellation
On, 31 hours (with case without ANC)
Up to 5 hours of listening time or 2.5 hours of talk time using only earbuds.Listen up to 24 hours with charging case, or talk time up to 12 hours
Google Assistant support yes yes
connectivity Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
multipoint connection yes Do not
Waterproof certification (earbuds) IPX4 waterproof IPX4 waterproof
Waterproof certification (charging case) IPX2 waterproof not any
microphone Three microphones in each earbud Dual beamforming microphones in each earbud
speaker Custom designed 11mm dynamic speaker drivers 12mm dynamic drivers with passive noise cancellation
earbud size 22.33 x 22.03 x 23.72 mm 20.7 x 29.3 x 17.5 mm
Shell size 25 x 50 x 63.2 mm 63 x 47 x 25 mm
earbud weight 6.2 grams 5.06 grams
box weight 62.4g with earplugs 52.9g with earplugs
Wireless charging yes Do not
Including charging cable Yes, USB-C Yes, USB-C to USB-A
Three sizes of ear tips are included in the box yes yes
custom chip Custom 6-core audio chip pending
Availability July 28 stock available

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