Google hasn’t brought Pixel phones to India lately, but they recently launched a line of earbuds, the Pixel Buds A-series. This is an offer that goes particularly well with Google’s Pixel phones and services like the Assistant. However, in many ways, the buds are rather ordinary. While they offer a reasonable sound, there doesn’t seem to be a really standout feature.
The design is similar to the previous edition, a small plastic case that is more egg-shaped but easy to carry around and light enough. The buds themselves are also extremely light and some of the lightest compared to many others. The biggest advantage of this, of course, is that they can be worn for hours without fatigue.
A good fit
As is common with many earbuds, the A-series earbuds come in three sizes. Since the buds are actually sitting in your ear canal, a good fit is important. Although the material of these buds is mostly plastic, they don’t feel cheap. They are two-tone with gray and white and you also have an option for green. But no other colors.
The buds have a small wing tip, which is comfortable for some and less so for others. Google even suggests that you want to try different sized earbuds for each ear until you find a good seal and comfort. There is no active noise cancellation, only passive isolation. The design is such that you can hear ambient noise without too much trouble and still pay attention to what is playing on the buds.
In terms of sound, the buds appear rather flat with little dynamic range. On a Pixel phone, you can use the EQ settings that make all the difference. I used the Bass Boost and immediately heard the change. A setting for adaptive sound is also interesting: depending on the ambient noise, the volume is actually increased or decreased. This is a response to persistent noise, not a single loud pop or noise. The buds are perfect for the casual listening to music, podcasts, and calls.
For Android phones, you can download the Pixel Buds app which will allow you to manage all of the options including touch controls, EQ and adaptive sound options, and firmware updates. The app also lets you view the battery status of each bud separately, as well as the case. These settings are built into the settings of a Pixel device, so no separate app is required. Unfortunately, there is no app for iOS devices on which these Buds work like any other Bluetooth headset.
The killer function of these buds is using your voice for the Google Assistant. It works really well. You can call the assistant with “Hey Google” or “Ok Google” and it will wake up immediately. You can also touch and hold either bud to read your notifications and wait for additional commands.
Overall, the Buds are sensible headphones, good for calls, occasional listening and podcasts, comfortable to wear for a long time and most importantly integrated into the assistant. But there’s no end to the competition and at 9,999 yen they’re still a bit expensive.