Google Pixel Buds Pro review

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7.3Expert Score
Google Pixel Buds Pro review: Not pro enough

Google’s pro-grade earbuds add active noise cancellation and transparency modes, but trouble with fitting and unexceptional audio quality disappoint.

Design
7
Performance
7.5
Pros
  • Noise cancellation works well
  • Good battery life
  • Amazing for Google Translate
Cons
  • Hard to get a good fit
  • Slippery design
  • Limited control customisation

Google’s Pixel Buds Pro true wireless headphones are one of the best reasons so far to put Google in your ears. As long as you can get them to fit, that is. 

The fourth generation of Pixel earbuds have dealt with a lot of the problems that plagued previous versions of Pixel Buds. The design is simple, the Bluetooth connection stable and the audio quality is solid.

Being “Pro”-grade earbuds, you also get features like noise cancellation and the ability to connect to two devices at once.

But while Google has done a lot to improve the quality of its own product, it is a few steps behind the best wireless earbuds on the market. 

Design

Google Pixel Buds Pro review earbuds on concrete

Despite the “Pixel” moniker, there’s not much of a design connection between the Pixel smartphones and the Pixel Buds Pro. 

The earbuds come in a range of colours, for a start, while the texture of the case is a smooth plastic that doesn’t sync with the materials on the Pixel 6a or the Pixel 7.

The case itself is taller than it is wide, but not to the point it’s awkward in a pocket. The lid flips open with a satisfying click, and is easy to manage with one hand.

The case is charged via a USB-C port at the bottom or wireless charging. The only other notable point is the button for syncing at the bottom back of the case.

The earbuds themselves sit a little too deep in the case for my liking. I found that my fingers often slipped while trying to get them out of the case.

More of an issue though is that I had to rotate each earbud beyond the point of comfort to easily put back into the case. On more than one occasion, I dropped the earbuds as I tried to put them in the charging slot, because it wasn’t naturally aligned with the way I removed them from my ear.

That sounds like a minor quibble – and it is – though not something I had to deal with when using the Jabra Elite 85t or the original AirPods Pro.

Fitting challenges

Nick Brougahll wearing the Google Pixel Buds Pro for the review

Of more significant concern was the fact that no matter how long I spent shoving, twisting or jamming the earbuds into my ears, I could not get a comfortable or secure fit.

Google walks you through the setup process on a Pixel phone quite nicely, including a fitting test that told me I should increase the right earbud’s ear tip size.

While it definitely felt like an improvement, my ongoing sensation while wearing these earbuds for the past month is that they are always going to fall out. 

It’s worse during a walk or a run. I have to push them in every few seconds, hoping that I can manage not to have them fall out without pausing or skipping a track, or activating the Google Assistant.

Performance

Google Pixel Buds Pro review in the case

These earbuds have “Pro” on the box, so I expected impressive immersive sound. I expected to be impressed by a wide soundstage, with deep, thumping bass and crystal clear trebles.

Instead, they sound fine.

The bass is inoffensive, the mid-range sounds clear and the trebles are reasonably well-balanced.

But I would still argue that my old AirPods Pro sound better than the Google Buds Pro, despite being a few years older.

Particularly when you factor in other developments Apple offers like Spatial audio. 

The good news is that the noise cancellation works pretty well. With it switched on, low-level background noise like air conditioners or traffic fades to disappear.

I could still hear a neighbour mowing the lawn, and any loud sounds still seep through at lower volumes, but it’s still good.

The flip side of the noise-cancelling coin is transparency mode. This also works quite well.

You don’t quite get as much pass through as Apple’s AirPod Pro offers.

The touch controls on each earbud are noteworthy for the ability to control volume, switch between ANC and transparency modes and activate the Google Assistant. 

It’s a little temperamental, though. Sliding along the tiny bud to adjust volume had a tendency to knock them out of my ears. 

Google Assistant

One thing that the Pixel Buds Pro does really well is the Google Assistant integration.

While it’s definitely still weird to talk to yourself saying “hey Google” on a crowded street, it’s definitely easier than pulling out your phone. And it works well, too.

I asked Google to check my calendar for an appointment, asked it what song was playing on Apple Music at the time, and replied to messages effortlessly.

The integration with Google Translate was also exceptional. Unlocking the Pixel 7 and opening the translation app, I could press and hold the left earbud (which is the shortcut to the assistant) while speaking English, and it would translate to any other language on the phone. 

When someone spoke back holding the microphone button (in French for my test), it effortlessly translated back through my earbuds for me in clear, concise English.

It’s an impressive example of the technology’s potential. If you need to translate often, it could even be a key selling point.

Google Pixel Buds Pro review in the case open

Battery life

When it comes to battery, the Pixel Buds Pro go for hours. I managed to spend almost a full workday listening to music with ANC on.

Of course, normally you would stick the buds back into the charger between listening sessions, so you could happily get through the entire day without having to worry about not having earbuds for the commute.

The case itself holds about 20 hours worth of music playback, though the fact it can charge wirelessly meant I would leave it resting on a Qi charger next to my computer while working, so it was always good to go.

Verdict

With the Pixel Buds Pro, Google has managed to create a good pair of true wireless earbuds. 

Good. Not great.

In a market where you are spoiled for choice, with incredible offerings from Sony, Sennheiser, Beats and Apple, Google needed to bring something remarkable to the table.

Challenges with comfort and fitting, plus unremarkable audio quality, mean that these don’t quite live up to expectations for a Pro-level pair of headphones.

There is a solid groundwork here, but in most cases you will be better served by a different pair of wireless earbuds.

Buy the Google Pixel Buds Pro online

Product disclosure

The product for this review was supplied by Google.

Author

  • Nick Broughall

    Nick is the founder and editor of BTTR. He is an award winning product reviewer, who has spent the last 20 years writing, editing and publishing technology and consumer content for brands like Finder, Gizmodo and TechRadar.

    View all posts
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