Technophile

Review: Say OK Google to the Pixel Buds A Series

Kishore Bhargava | Updated on September 08, 2021

Simple earbuds with strong Assistant integration and good sound but no ANC

Google hasn’t brought any Pixel phones into India of late, but they recently launched a set of earbuds, the Pixel Buds A-Series. This is an offering that goes particularly well with Google’s Pixel phones and services like the assistant. In many ways, though, the buds are rather ordinary. While they do offer reasonable sound, there doesn’t seem to be any real standout feature.

The design is much like the previous edition, a little plastic case that is rather egg-like in shape but easy to carry and light enough. The buds themselves are also extremely light, and when compared to many others, they did come out amongst the lightest. Of course, the biggest advantage of that is that they can be worn for long hours with little to no fatigue.

As is standard with many earbuds, the A-Series come with three sizes of ear tips. Since the buds actually sit in your ear canal, getting a good fit is important. While the material used on these buds is mainly plastic, the buds don’t feel cheap. They are dual-tone with grey and white, and you have an option for green as well. But no other colours.

 

The buds have a little wing tip that is comfortable for some and not so much for others. Google even suggests that you try different size ear tips for each ear till you find a good seal and comfort. There is no active noise cancellation, just passive isolation. The design lets you hear ambient sounds without too much trouble and yet pay attention to what is playing on the buds.

In terms of sound, the buds seem rather flat with not much by way of dynamic range. On a Pixel phone, you can use the EQ settings, which do make a substantial difference. I used the Bass Boost and immediately heard the change. There is also a setting for adaptive sound, which is quite interesting: it increases or decreases the volume based on the ambient sound. This is a response to sustained noise rather than a one-off loud bang or noise. The buds are perfectly suited for casual music listening, podcasts and calls.

 

For Android phones, you can download the Pixel Buds app, which lets you manage all the options, including the touch controls, the EQ and adaptive sound options and, of course, firmware updates. The app also lets you see the battery status of each bud separately as well as that of the case. These settings get integrated into the settings of a Pixel device, so no separate app is needed. Sadly, there is no app for iOS devices on which these buds just work like any other Bluetooth headset.

The killer feature of these buds is using your voice for Google Assistant. It works really well; you can invoke the assistant with just the “Hey Google” or “Ok Google” it wakes up instantly and responds. You can also touch and hold either buds, and it will read your notifications and wait for additional commands.

Overall, the buds are a reasonable pair of headphones, good for calls, casual listening and podcasts, comfortable to wear for long durations, and integrated with the assistant. But there’s no end of competition around, and at ₹9,999, they’re still a bit expensive.

Pros: Lightweight, Google Assistant integration, comfortable

Cons: Expensive, no active noise-cancellation, competition has better options

Price: ₹ 9,999/- (introductory price of ₹ 8,999/-)

Published on September 08, 2021

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