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Like it or not, wireless is the future. And apple kicked off that trend when they removed the headphone jack on the iPhone and when they released their AirPods. And its only a matter of time where each phone manufacture has their own wireless ear phones that works best with their own smartphone. Case and point, the pixel buds… although they work just fine with any android phone and they’re still compatible with an iPhone, google has stated that their pixel buds works best with their pixel or pixel 2 smart phone. So lets see how the Pixel Buds perform and lets see how they stack up against some other popular wireless earphones out there.
The Pixel buds currently go for $160 which is very much in line with everything else out there on the market. The Apple AirPods also cost $160, the Beats X retail for $150, the Powerbeats 3 retail for $200 and the Jaybird X3 retail for $130. But the latter 3 can usually be found on sale on amazon. I got the Beats X for $110, the Powerbeats 3 for $130 and the Jaybird X3’s for $99. If you want to pick either of these headphones up I’ll have links in the description below with the best prices and if you click on the links it really helps out the channel.
Unboxing the pixel buds is identical to unboxing the AirPods. You get your carrying case with a built in 630mAh battery, the ear buds, and a USB type C to USB cable. Right off the bat, everybody is going to compare the pixel buds carrying case to the AirPods carrying case. And yes, it is larger it is thicker, and I am genuinely worried that the top lid will eventually wear out or just get ripped off. But the Pixel buds carrying case is still much more manageable than the carrying cases included with the Beats X, Powerbeats 3 or the Jaybird X3. And Google’s design language is very prominent on their Pixel buds, especially with the fabric texture on the case. Yes it does look good and feels great in the hand, but it does cause a minor inconvenience. I’m a guy and I wear jeans on a regular basis, but the fabric texture on the case causes a good amount friction when taking it out or putting it in your pocket. Its not like the AirPods case which is completely made out of plastic and easily glides in and out of your pocket. I know this is a major first world problem, but its something that caught my eye.
Google’s design language is also very prominent on the ear buds them selves. The first gripe is no they are not completely wireless ear buds like the Air pods, they still have a wire connecting them like the Powerbeats 3, Beats X or the Jaybird X3. But unlike the latter 3 which use soft touch covered flat cables, the Pixel buds have a braid cable. Which definitely give it a leg up concerning quality and design. But the design of the buds themselves are also very similar to the AirPods. First off they’re meant to rest on your ear, not inside your ear like the beats X Powerbeats 3 or Jaybirds. They’re also wrapped in silicon which help them stay in place a little better. The wire on the pixel buds also acts like a makeshift ear fin like on the beats X or Jaybird X3. But unlike the beats X or Jaybirds which you essentially have to deconstruct to swap out the ear fins… the make shift ear fin on the pixel buds are much easier to adjust on the fly. And the make shift ear fins on the Pixel buds work just as well as the silicon fins included with the Beats X and Jaybird X3. But if you need something that will absolutely stay in place no matter what, then you’re still better off with the ear hook design of the Powerbeats 3.
Now when it comes to actually putting them on, thats another story. With the AirPods when you put them in they’re good to go on the first try. And they stay in place very well. With the pixel buds you do have to work and find that sweet spot. You might also have to play around with the ear fin. And yet, I do find myself readjusting the pixel buds more often than I do with any of the other ear phones. And the main reason for that is the cable. Its to short. If you move your head a lot the cable will end up pulling on the ear buds. Another thing I want to mention is that the pixel buds don’t create good seal. So a lot of ambient sound still manages to get in compared to the AirPods. Which some people might like and some others wont.
On the back of the case you’ve got your USB type C charing port. In general, when you open the case with the ear buds inside and see a solid green light then the pixel buds are fully charged. If the green light is pulsating then the pixel buds are charging. And if the pulsating light is amber then the battery on the pixel buds is critically low. But if the ear buds are outside of the case then you’ll notice the light is now white. 3 white lights means the battery of the case it self is between 75 and 100 percent, 2 lights means the battery is between 50 to 75 percent, one light means the battery is between 25 to 50 percent and an amber light means put the case on the charger.
And google claims the pixel buds are good for 5 hours of playback time when fully charged and the case should be able to fully charge the pixel buds about 4 times. So battery life on the Pixel buds is pretty much identical to the AirPods… but with one major exception. The pixel buds don’t have quick charging. And for ear buds that are meant to be used all day and ready to go at a moments notice… thats a problem.
The AirPods, Beats X, and Powerbeats 3 all have quick charging. Which I feel is super important these days. If you put the AirPods in the case for 15 minutes they’ll get you 3 hours of battery, charge the beats x for 5 minutes and they’ll get you 2 hours, and if you charge the Powerbeats 3 for 5 minutes they get you one hour.
And since quick charging is so important to me I decided to do a few tests. I placed the pixel buds in their case for 15 minutes a few times and recorded their battery percentage. Placing the pixlebuds in at 5% battery for 15 minutes got it up to 33%. Placing them in at 19% for 15 minutes got them up to 25%. Placing them in at 13% got them up to 19%, and placing them in at 5% again for 15 minutes got the battery up to 25%. And its also worth noting that 25% battery on the pixlbuds will only really last you about 20 minutes of continuous playback time. And charging the pixel buds from 5% to full took almost 2 and half hours. I can look past the pixle bud’s flimsy and clunky case, but not having quick charging is a major deal break for me.
But when it some to sound quality, thats where the pixel buds shine. For the most part the AirPods, Powerbeats 3 and Beats X all perform the same. They all have a lot of bass and the mid and vocals are a little recessed. But the Beats X don’t have as much punch in their bass like the AirPods or Powerbeats. And the highs on the AirPods aren’t as sharp as the powerbeats. And the jaybird X3 which are universally loved for their sound quality perform very well and you can easily adjust their EQ through their App. But the pixel buds have a flat sound signature and they also have a much wider sound stage and thats what all of these other ear phones are lacking. Personally, I think the pixel buds are the best sounding ear phones here.
Now lets talk about the capacitive touch pad on the right ear bud. Whether you’re on apple or android if you tap once you’ll play or pause your music and if you swipe front or back you’ll adjust the volume one step at a time. And if you press and hold you’ll activate your voice assistant. Obviously google assistant on android and siri on iPhone. And what google is trying to do is give you quick access to your voice assistant so you can get more done quicker with your voice. We got a taste of this with the Bose QC35 Series 2.
And although having quick access to google assistant is great if you’re a power user of google assistant… the track pad on the pixel buds is not great. I find that its just too sensitive. You get a lot of false positives. Most of the time I take the pixel buds out of the case and put them in my ear my phone starts playing music in the background or google assistant gets activated. If you go to adjust the ear bud a bit chances are they’ll put in some type of command. They’ll either pause your music or change the volume. But the most important thing to take note of is since the track pad on the pixel buds is capacitive, they don’t work if you have gloves on. Something I learned while I was out shoveling after the bomb cyclone. Where as the AirPods which use an accelerometer so doubling tapping on either bud will activate Siri regardless of what you’re wearing. And if you’re a power user you can map double tapping on one ear bud activate siri and doubling tapping the other to do another command. regardless, neither the AirPods or pixel buds have the perfect solution to controlling your music playback without relaying on your voice assistant to some extent, an in line controller like on the powerbeats 3, beats x or jay bird x3 is still far superior for controlling your music playback with out having to relay on your phone.
So whats the verdict on the pixel buds. The touch controls on the pixel buds are very accurate and useful, but you have to be mindful of them. Having quick access to google assistant is great especially if you use it a lot like I have been lately. But what really sets the pixel buds apart is their sound quality. I think they sound great for wireless ear buds. But not having quick charging and the large flimsy case is a major deal breaker for me. I feel that these type of wireless ear buds should have quick charging so they can keep up with you day in and day out. Whether google decides to get rid of the cable and make their pixel buds truly wireless ear buds, their top priority right now has to be to shrink their charging case, change the material to plastic (preferably with a matte finish) and introduce quick charging to the pixel buds. And I know I didn’t touch on the Google translate feature cause it only works with a pixel phone and quite honestly theres no point to it.