We have been waiting for them for some time and finally here they are: after the launch on the market of the new Pixel 6a – of which you can find our review here – just a week ago, the new earphones of the house, the Pixel Buds Pro, also arrived. From today both devices are on sale on Amazon and on the Google Store.
The Pixel Buds Pro pick up the legacy of the Pixel Buds 2 launched in 2020, the first true wireless earbuds of the Mountain View house with an iconic design in the shape of Mentos, and in fact replace them in the price list. From now on, in fact, the alternatives for those who want to buy Google brand tws earphones will be two: either the Pixel Buds A-series launched last year, which contain all the basic functions of the product in a price below 100 euros, or the Pixel Buds Pro launched today, which represent the top of the range proposal.
In the face of a conservative design, the main novelties are the arrival of active noise cancellation and multipoint connection, but Google also promises improvements on the functionality front thanks to the solutions developed by its team specialized in audio, from variable equalization based on volume to spatial audio coming later this year. Will these innovations be enough to justify the sale price of 219 euros?
ERGONOMICS AND DESIGN
The design of the previous editions was certainly right in its round originality, and even the Google team must be of the same opinion, because it has re-proposed a very similar one also for the new Pixel Buds Pro, always two-tone but in new color variants. What happened to us for the test is the smoke gray, which I found very elegant.
The case, white with a matte plaster-colored finish, is only a little wider than the previous ones, but otherwise it takes up all the appreciable elements, from the solid zipper to the magnetic closure. We find the excellent build quality, the front LED that indicates the battery charge level and the button for Bluetooth pairing on the back. On the bottom the usb-C port for charging, which however can also take place wirelessly (in this regard, there is no cable in the package).
While those of the Pixel Buds 2 and Pixel Buds A were practically overlapping, the earbuds of the newcomers are a bit more elongated than the previous ones and therefore changes the way you wear them. There is no longer the rear fin that held them still leaning against the auricle, and so the feeling is that they should be threaded a little deeper and “obliquely” than before, although a slight rotation backwards is always necessary.
The feeling – which obviously depends on the very subjective shape of everyone’s ears – is that they are a little less firm, but in practice they have never fallen for me, even putting them to the test with a jog. Among the three available ear tips I chose the smallest size, because with the average the earphones protruded too much and were less stable (to understand the correct size you can do a wearability test in the app).
They have IPX4 certification (while the IPX2 case), so you can safely take them with you during training even in the rain, keeping in mind that obviously when wet the touch controls become a little less precise; fortunately, if you have enabled the Google assistant you can ask it to change tracks directly by voice, without having to touch the earphones.
TOUCH APPS AND CONTROLS
The application is the usual Pixel Buds that for Android devices you can download from the Play Store, while on Pixel smartphones it is already included within the system and can be accessed by tapping the drop-down that signals the use of headphones. Given its “system” nature it is not particularly appealing from a graphic point of view and almost looks like a menu; from his it certainly has clarity.
The home shows the charge level of each headset and then allows you to configure the Google assistant, find the earphones by making them sound and see their last position, activate or deactivate the ANC, the multipoint connection and the touch controls. The latter are the same for both earphones and allow you to:
pause or resume music playback and answer calls (one tap)
go to the next song or end a call (double tap)
go to the previous song (triple tap)
adjust the volume (swipe forward or backward; functionality that I particularly appreciate, already present on the Pixel Buds 2 but not on the Buds A).
Long press, which by default allows you to switch from ANC to transparency mode, is the only command that can be customized on a single headset to evoke the Google Assistant. Overall, a combination of controls that allows you to manage all your needs without ever having to put your hand to the smartphone: very convenient.
A novelty that I appreciated is the introduction of a multipoint connection similar to that of the AirPods, which allows you to switch from one device to another automatically based on what you are using; a switching technology that is based on the Fast Pair function, which allows you to automatically connect your BT earbuds to your smartphone or tablet and save them to your Google Account so that you can synchronize them on all connected devices. The function is activated in the “Device details” settings via a special switch and for the moment works between Android devices.
This means that, for example, if I’m watching a movie on a tablet and my phone rings, the audio goes directly from the movie’s to the call. In addition to this audio switch between Android devices, the Pixel Buds Pro also support classic multipoint, which allows you to connect to two devices at the same time (for example the smartphone and the PC with Windows on board) and choose which one to listen to: to switch from one to the other just stop playing on the first and start it on the second and the audio will follow.
As for the iPhones, the story is quite different: it is not possible to download the app and therefore you have to be content to associate them through the button on the back and use them in a more basic way without the possibility of customization and obviously without support for Siri. The touch controls work with the default settings, which are the same for both earbuds.