Google announced a new version of its Pixel Buds, but knowing what we do about them, how do they compare to Apple’s popular Airpods?
With Google announcing the new Pixel Buds, it’s a shot at redemption for the tech giant after their first shot was met with heavy sighs of indifference and outright negativity.
Since the original Pixel Buds came out, the market has intensified with seemingly every brand jumping in with a pair of wire-free earbuds. Apple’s AirPods remain one of the more popular efforts, so if Google’s going to chip away at some of its competitors, it’s got to offer value they don’t.
So, in light of what we’ve gleaned so far, how well do the Pixel Buds fare against the AirPods?
Related: Best Wireless Earbuds 2019
AirPods 2 vs Pixel Buds 2 – Design
The 2019 update to the AirPods are practically identical to the first iteration. With a white finish, extended stem and a silver ring around the earbud; aside from the status light being moved, Apple hasn’t changed much.
The new Pixel Buds resemble their predecessor, but with a few key differences. The most obvious is the removal of the wire that connected each earbud, with Google going truly wireless this time.
From the outside the shape is similar – a large circle with a G for Google in the centre. Google also ditched its AirPod-like shape for what look like rubber tips that will likely offer a more customisable fit.
The Pixel Buds also come in four colours: ‘Oh So Orange’, ‘Clearly White’, ‘Quite Mint’ and ‘Almost Black’. Colour variation is something Apple has neglected so far, so it’s nice to see Google bringing a sense of individuality.
AirPods 2 vs Pixel Buds 2 – Features
In terms of voice assistants the AirPods and the Pixel Buds have Siri and Google Assistant respectively, and we’re all familiar with the qualities of those voice assistants.
Of more interest is the Pixel Buds’ real-time translation. On the original buds it only worked in a limited capacity – if the new iteration lives up to Google’s claims, the Pixel Buds will be able to take live speech and translate on-the-fly, making languages easier to understand.
As far as wireless connectivity is concerned, the AirPods are famously stable. Google has already made bold claims about the Pixel Buds in this regard, claiming they’re capable of maintaining a connection from three rooms away and can stay connected across the length of a football field. As always, we’ll wait and see.
The AirPods’s design makes them less than great for workouts, and they’re neither sweatproof nor water-resistant. This is an area where the Pixel Buds could best them, as they’re sweat and water-resistant, but we don’t know is what IP rating they have.
Apple AirPods 2 vs Pixel Buds 2 – Sound
Sound quality is where the AirPods fall short. While they are a step up from the earphones Apple packages with their devices, improvements weren’t huge with the 2019 AirPods.
The original Pixel Buds weren’t ideal either, with a lack of noise isolation (much like the AirPods) leading to poor sound.
This time Google is promising “rich audio”, with custom-designed 12mm dynamic drivers, as well as clearer voice calls thanks to sensors that detect when you’re speaking and cancel out the noise around you.
Google’s ambient hearing seems more purposeful than the AirPods’s iffy approach to design that lets environmental sound leak in. We’d prefer the choice of letting ambient sound in, and in that case the new Pixel Buds could have the edge.
Related: Best Wireless Headphones
AirPods 2 vs Pixel Buds 2 – Price
We only know US pricing for the Pixel Buds, and it bodes well for Google fans.
At $179 (current currency rates make that £140), the headphones could be cheaper than the original £159 Pixel Buds. That’s far less expensive than the 2019 AirPods which have an RRP of £199.
In this case, if Google aims to undercut both the £160 AirPods and the £200 AirPods, it could prove an enticing option.
AirPods 2 vs Pixel Buds 2 – Early verdict
We don’t know much beyond what Google teased at its event, so to come up with any definitive feeling on how the new Pixel Buds will measure up against the AirPods would be difficult. And who knows, there may be a new version of the AirPods out soon.
But what we do know about the Pixel Buds 2 is at least promising, with Google seemingly learning from its previous mistakes. We’ll find out just how they good they are when they launch in early 2020.