Google has announced the Pixel Buds Pro at its I/O and inevitably, everyone is wondering how it compares to other headphones. That is the reason why you’re on this page, right?
So we’ve decided to compare what we know of the Pixel Buds Pro with another true wireless that has the ‘Pro’ name – the AirPods Pro.
They’re not really in direct competition, of course, one is built for Android, the other for iOS, but nevertheless, how do they match up? We’ve created this early guide comparing the two based on our current knowledge of the two’s specs and experience using the AirPods Pro. We’ll update this page with our definitive verdict when we’ve had the Pixel Buds Pro in for review.
The AirPods have been out since 2019, but their price hasn’t dropped much since they first came out. The RRP was $249 / £249 in 2019 and they’re available now for $249 / £239. That is from the Apple website, shop around and you can find them for as low as £169 in the UK.
The Pixel Buds Pro will sell for $199 when they go on sale. We don’t yet know how much they’re priced in other regions, but we have asked Google for confirmation. Right now the AirPods Pro can be found for less, but they have been out for quite a while.
The stem design was popularised by Apple’s AirPods, and the AirPods Pro have a smaller version of the one seen on the cheaper models. The force sensor at the bottom of the stem supports playback and call operation. The Pro are the only mode to come with silicone ear-tips for a better fit, with three sizes available – small, medium and large.
There’s also a vent to equalise pressure and reduce the discomfort and they’re rated up to IPX4 for protection against sweat and rain.
The Pixel Buds Pro hit the same details, well, apart from the stem. They are more traditional in appearance but do feature sensors that measure pressure in the ear and look to alleviate any discomfort when it arises. It matches the IPX4 rating and come with three ear-tip sizes. It’s almost as if Google has ripped much of its design from the Apple textbook.
Where they differ is in the range of colours. The Pixel Buds Pro come in four variants such as Coral, Lemongrass, Fog and Charcoal.
Both cases support wireless charging, although the Apple model supports MagSafe while the Google headphones can be charged by the Pixel Stand.
The AirPods Pro use the H1 chip and this facilitates hands-free Siri interaction and reduced audio latency. Battery life is 5 hours at most, 4.5 hours with noise cancellation on 3.5 hours when using it for voice calls.
The Transparency Mode gives users the option to listen to their music and hear what’s in the surrounding environment, but like the noise cancellation, it is not adjustable, so you can’t change how much noise you can hear (or not hear).
Another feature the AirPods Pro have is the Ear Tip Fit Test, which examines the quality of the seal and tells you whether you need to adjust the earbuds.
The Pixel Buds Pro also boasts noise cancellation and a transparency mode, but battery life with ANC on is much improved at 7 hours. However, overall battery life is less than its AirPods rival, 20 hours in total compared to the AirPods Pro’s 24 hours. The A-Series Pixel Buds didn’t have an ear tip fit test but we wouldn’t discount it from making an appearance on the new model.
The AirPods Pro are the best-sounding AirPods true wireless model so far, sounding good across several music genres, showcasing deeper bass, improved detail and improved clarity. The soundstage is wider than the standard models with a warm sound that aims for a rich bass performance.
Of course, the Pixel Buds Pro are still a few months away from launch, so we don’t know how they will sound. All we have to go are Google’s tuning with its previous models. The A-Series were one of the better-sounding cheaper true wireless, offering a balanced and smooth presentation, with a clean and detailed mid-range performance.
Bass did lack impact – the Volume EQ on the new model may rectify this – and we did find the earbuds sounded on the safe side. Here’s hoping Google’s more adventurous with its sound quality, it’s up against some strong competitors.
There’s no way of coming to a conclusion at this stage since the Google Pixel Buds Pro aren’t out yet, and won’t be for a few more months. What we do know is that they are similar in what the offer in terms of features and share some design traits, but the audio performance we won’t know until we’ve had the opportunity to compare them in closer quarters.
In truth, they’re not really in direct competition with each other. The AirPods Pro are built for integration with iOS, as will the Pixel Buds Pro be for Android. If you’re considering a purchase of a smartphone in either ecosystem, then these noise cancelling earbuds are likely to be one of the main headphones options to consider.