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Google Pixel Buds A-Series Review: Most Comfortable & Natural Sounding TWS Buds
Google has finally forayed into the crowded TWS earbuds market in India with its new pair of truly wireless earbuds. Priced at Rs. 9,999, the Pixel Buds A-Series is the company's second TWS earbuds (Pixel buds- 2020 didn't make it to India) and have some big shoes to fill.
- Comfortable For Long Music Sessions
- Melodious & Natural Sound Delivery
- Always On Hands-Free Google Assistant
- Effective Touch Controls
- IPX4 Water-Resistant
- No ANC
- No Wireless Charging
- Touch Controls Aren’t Customizable
- No Volume Controls Via Gestures
Unlike most similarly priced and even some less expensive TWS earbuds, the Pixel Buds A-Series lacks ANC and wireless charging- two features that have become widely popular in the TWS market.
Instead, Google is betting big on basics, like always, by promising better in-ear comfort, natural sound delivery, and some good-to-have features like Always-On Hands-Free Google Assistant support. The same formula i.e. 'less bells & whistles, but uncompromised basics' has worked for the Google Pixel-series phones' cameras but does it for the TWS Earbuds? Let's find out.
Pixel Buds A-Series Design & Build Quality
The Pixel Buds A-series reflects Google's hardware design philosophy that largely focuses on minimal aesthetics and ease of usage. The egg-shaped tiny case has a soft matte finish and stays free of smudges and fingerprints. Weighing 52.9 grams and measuring 63x47x 25mm, the case is extremely lightweight and portable.
A Type-C charging port sits at the bottom and an LED blinks at the front when you open the lid. Google has also added a physical function button at the back that allows for a smooth pairing process. Surprisingly, there's no visible Google branding on the case, instead, the buds have Google's logo on the touch-sensitive areas.
Case & Buds- Durable Build Quality
You won't need two hands to open the lid as a slight thumb pressure does the job. As far as the build quality is concerned, the case is durable enough to handle some pressure and dents. A hard fall on the concrete floor couldn't do any harm to the plastic or the matte pain job of the case. The lid is also pretty solid and has a very assuring spring mechanism.
Sadly, the case lacks the IP rating for protection against water damage; something offered on the first-generation Pixel Buds that never made it to the Indian market. Also, Google should have launched both the Dark Olive color variant in India too. For now, you can only buy the Pixel Buds A-series in ‘Clearly White' color.
Google Pixel Buds A-Series In-Ear Fit
I am so glad to finally find a pair of truly wireless earbuds that can be worn for long music sessions. The Pixel Buds A-series is by far the most comfortable TWS earbuds I have come across.
The OnePlus Buds Pro is also very comfortable to wear but they don't feel as secure as the Pixel buds. The Pixel A-series buds come with soft-fit ear tips and have a very unique design element- a fin that keeps them intact in your ear cavity.
Google calls it ‘Stabilizer Arc' and they gently tuck in the ear and secure the buds at their spot so that they don't pop out even when you are running, cycling, or doing cardio in the gym. The earbuds can be customized with three different tip sizes to help you find the perfect fit. The buds are IPX4 water-resistant and can withstand some water damage. Just don't let the case face any of that water because it's not water-resistant.
I also must mention how good these buds look in action. Unlike most TWS earbuds, the Pixel Buds A-series have a unique disc-like outer casing with a minimal yet elegant outlook. They also sit almost flush with no stem hanging out from the ears. Overall, Google's effortless design philosophy is on point with the Pixel Buds A-series.
Touch Controls & Hands-Free Google Assistant Support
Like most TWS earbuds, the Pixel Buds A-series also supports gesture controls; however, you can't customize them via the Pixel Buds smartphone app. Moreover, these premium buds come sans built-in volume controls, which is a big disappointment. Most premium truly wireless buds and even some affordable ones offer volume controls via gestures.
- Tap your earbud once to play/pause music.
- Tap twice to skip the track.
- Tap three times to go to the previous track.
- Touch and hold either earbud to invoke Google Assistant
Hands-Free Voice Commands
And while there's no gesture support for volume controls on the Pixel buds, Google Assistant can come in handy to increase/decrease volume levels. You can either use the touch & hold feature to launch Google Assistant or can just use voice command to control volume, ask for directions, weather, etc. provided that you have set up the virtual assistant for the buds.
Just say 'Ok Google, turn up/down the volume' to increase/decrease volume levels. Additionally, Google Assistant on the Pixel buds can also read notifications for you and can offer real-time language translation by using Google's Translate app (40 languages).
It can come in handy if you are traveling to a foreign country. Both gesture controls and hands-free voice commands work effectively on the Pixel Buds A-series. The touch-sensitive on the buds area never failed to register any input.
It is worth mentioning that features like the Google Assistant, Fast Pair, Find my Device, Adaptive Sound, etc. work on all Pixel and Android devices running Android 6.0+.
Audio Performance- Immersive & Melodious
A pair of premium truly wireless buds without active noise cancellation sounds odd in 2021; however, Google has aced the audio part by simply getting the basics right. These include- big 12 mm dynamic drivers, a good in-ear fit for effective passive noise cancellation, and a finely tuned sound signature. The combination creates an immersive listening experience wherein you will be greeted with a warm and musical signature with a slight boost to lower audio ranges.
Bass instruments sound expansive and have a definite depth to them. Tracks like ‘Sol by Alef' with a constant rumbling bass and companion guitar tunes sounded extremely musical on the Pixel buds.
Bass felt tighter and precise. I prefer this clean dissipation of low frequencies and the Pixel buds did just that. The OnePlus buds Pro just goes overboard with the low frequencies but will serve you better if you are a true bass head. The OnePlus also sound slightly more powerful than the Pixel Buds.
This doesn't mean you can't experience deep bass on the Pixel buds. The smartphone app lets you customize the sound profile to some extent. You can enable Bass Boost if you prefer bass-heavy music. Google has also added an Adaptive profile that optimizes the sound delivery basis on the outside noise. These two sound features take some extra juice from the buds' battery cells.
No ANC, No Problem
Moving on, tracks with heavy vocals and complex instruments are also handled very well. The Pixel buds beautifully handled the complexities of different frequencies in tracks like Bombay Dreams by KSHMR and Sail Awolnation (Unlimited Gravity Remix). Coke Studio's Jaan-e-Baharaan by Ali Zafar sounded super engaging and melodious, especially after 5:10 when the track picks up the beat.
Did I miss ANC? Not actually because these buds get decently loud and the good in-ear fit and seal offer the required isolation to shut loud outside noises. The only time I felt the need for ANC was in the gym where the music is blasting at full volume and the floor is super noisy.
Overall, the Google Pixel Buds A-Series makes everything sound melodious and enjoyable, something audiophiles look for while buying audio gear.
Battery Life & Connectivity
Coming onto the battery life, the Pixel Buds A-series lasted for about 4.5 hours on one full charge with AAC. The battery life can vary with volume levels, the number of calls attended, gesture control, and Google Assistant usage.
The case can add another four to five charge cycles. The Pixel Buds A-series support fast charging that allows for up to 3-hours of music playback with 15-minutes of charging. Overall, the Pixel Buds won't disappoint you with the battery life.
As for the connectivity, the Pixel Buds A-Series supports Bluetooth 5.0 and not the latest Bluetooth 5.2 standards. It's a slight bummer but thankfully, I didn't experience any connectivity issues with multiple smartphones and Windows PCs I paired the buds with.
These buds connect to the smartphone in a jiffy and maintain a good wireless connection. You get AAC codec support Google fast pair support that allows for seamless connection to Android devices by linking these buds to your Google account.
The competition in the TWS buds market is stiff and rivals aren't hesitating in throwing trendy features to make their truly wireless earbuds offering unique. Take for example the recently launched Nothing Ear 1 and the OnePlus Buds Pro. However, features alone don't make for good performance. You can throw all those fancy features but if the buds don't rest comfortably in your ear cavity and aren't finely tuned for music, they are mostly useless.
That said, the Google Pixel Buds A-Series gets the basics right. These buds have proved to be the most comfortable truly wireless earbuds in our testing. Sound delivery is excellent and important features like touch controls, wireless connectivity, companion app, etc. also work very well. The Pixel Buds A-Series is priced at Rs. 9,999 and can be purchased from Flipkart, and offline retailers like Reliance Digital and Tata Cliq.