If you have 10,000 bucks to spend on a pair of wireless earbuds, I generally blindly recommend the Oppo Enco X. It sounds great and with ANC’s basic service, you have enough to please your ears as well as the logic-loving part. But the technology doesn’t stand still and after OnePlus goes with the Buds Pro, Google brings its Pixel Buds A-series to try to grab some stake in this space. Also read- JioPhone Next base model may cost Rs 500: Report
The Pixel Buds A-Series is priced at Rs 9,999, making it the most affordable Pixel branded product that you can buy in India. Staying true to the Pixel lineup’s design philosophy, the Buds A-series looks cute as a button, and it banks heavily on Google Assistant to make a case for itself. But does this combo of smarts work, at least in the feature-packed earbuds environment of the Eastern world? Also read- You Can Now Check COVID-19 Vaccine Availability on Google Maps: Here’s How
There is only one way to find out. Also read- Pixel 6 sales may start from October 28, but no information on launch date yet
Google’s product team has the ability to build some of the most unique looking hardware; Be it Pixel phones or Nest speakers, they know how to make something fun. The same idea has been carried for the Pixel Buds A-Series. From egg-shaped charging cases to button-shaped earbuds, this one stands out.
The matte-white case exterior is more resistant to the subtle scratches that dominate the face of my Enco X’s glossy surface. The case feels sturdy, and I’m sure the hinges will survive the years to see more of my life’s journey. There’s a USB-C port for charging and while Google omits any kind of wireless charging here, it does provide a meter-long USB-C to USB-A cable in the box. Nice!
The earbuds don’t have protruding stems but do have silicone hooks to secure themselves in the ears. I can attest to a stable in-ear fit, even during my outdoor walk sessions. However, the ear hooks proved uncomfortable for my ears for long sessions and I wish Google had made them adjustable. After all, one size does not fit all. Your ears may receive them differently.
White color looks alluring but in sweaty Indian conditions, you have to keep wiping them off to maintain the look. As is normal, you get three additional eartips in the package.
Google promises rich audio quality in the Pixel Buds A-Series with custom 12mm drivers. Is this just a marketing gimmick, or an ounce of truth? My answer leans towards the latter but it’s still no Oppo Enco X in terms of fine balance.
Similar to the standard AirPods, the Pixel Buds A-Series are designed to go for a flat audio signature; One that is more neutral towards all audio frequencies. There’s no noticeable distortion in the high frequencies while the mids are strong. The lack of bass is noticeable but I saw good low-end frequency reproduction. If you care about those complicated instruments working in the background, these earbuds will be highly gratifying.
That said, compared to the Oppo Enco X, I found the Pixel Buds A-series to put more emphasis on the low-end frequencies. Plus, turning on “Bass Boost” from the Pixel Buds app brings more energy to the audio, boosting that thumping bass without distorting the balance. If you’re in the mood for some rock music or EDM, I recommend turning it up.
There’s no active noise cancellation, but the passive system is decent, especially for a quiet home/office environment. With these passive systems, you have to rely on volume adjustments to reduce ambient noise, which is where the “Adaptive Sound” feature starts. Turning it on automatically adjusts the volume based on surroundings—it dials in when there’s a barking dog nearby and locks it in a quiet room. Don’t worry, you can still adjust it manually as per your convenience.
Of course, you can use your priced Pixel Buds A-series to take calls and it doesn’t disappoint there. None of my callers ever complained about a drop in voice quality or a glitch in volume levels. This is impressive because the mics are not extended near the mouth by means of a stem. Google’s dual beamforming mic seems to be working in the background as advertised.
But you need to keep an eye on the distance between your phone and the earbuds. Within my 1000-square-foot apartment, the Pixel Buds A-series often struggled to grab a connection when the phone was in one room and I was on the balcony.
Google Assistant is one of the major selling points of the Pixel Buds A-series, and none of those advertised features are gimmicks. When paired with an Android phone, these earbuds extend the benefits of the assistant to your ears. A simple “Ok Google” command will allow you to check for alarms, or set reminders, or even check notifications. Yes, the Google Assistant reads notifications from your phone.
You can (and will have to) ask Google Assistant to adjust volume levels, skip to the next track, and even search for certain audio tracks. If you have some smart lights and connected devices, you can command them from the earbuds as well. It has a live translation feature that allows the earbuds to listen to the speaker and translate in real-time. Sadly, it doesn’t support Indian languages yet.
Touch controls are responsive and easy to understand. I wish Google had found a way to offer volume adjustment with some unique gestures; The entry-level TWS earbuds allow you to do this with intricate gestures. Relying on Google Assistant to turn up the volume in public areas gets unwanted attention. i also like bass boost Activation directly from the earbuds.
Google gets its right again with the pairing process, where the Pixel Buds app is involved. The setup process is easy initially as the app registers it to your Google Account and lets you configure the Assistant however you like. Of most of the companion apps from other manufacturers, this one is the easiest to use. All the main settings are easily accessible. You can also use Google’s “Find My Device” service to check the last known location of your earbuds; Helpful in case you lose your earbuds easily.
You will also need the app to have an official software update from Google. Pay attention to this statement.
Because the biggest weakness of the Pixel Buds A-series is its compatibility. You get to enjoy all the smart features and quirks of the Pixel Buds A-Series on the new Android phone (Android 6 and above). As soon as you connect to an iOS device, about 90 percent of those features are turned off. With no companion app on iOS, the Pixel Buds A-Series are another pair of dumb wireless earbuds.
This no. translates into bass boost mode no more adaptive sound on iPhone. You can invoke Siri only but for on-device replies. There is no option to customize gestures (this is also a problem for Android users). And, when Google releases any kind of firmware update for bug fixes or improvements, you may not get any update on your iPhone. You need to have an Android phone to get the most out of these earbuds.
Like most wireless earbuds in this price range, the Pixel Buds A-Series are a weeknight earphones. If you average two hours of music and a few calls per day, you’ll need a charger by the end of the week (provided you start with a full charge). The earbuds themselves are good enough for up to five hours, and they refill quickly once you put them back in the case. For the case, you will need to leave it on the charger for an hour until the power indicator changes from orange to amber (fully charged).
It is clear that Google has designed the Pixel Buds A-series for a specific category of users and hence, those who want the most value can look to the OnePlus Buds Pro. Oppo Enco X. The Pixel Buds represent the alternative fashion of the A-Series wireless earbuds; One that focuses on next-generation smartness rather than audio finesse.
That’s not to say that it frustrates music lovers. Pixel Buds A-Series looks and feels good with bass boost When turned on, you can expect pleasant moments with your favorite audio track. The in-ear fit is good and with the responsive controls, the practicality factor is enhanced.
However, you can check out the Pixel Buds A-Series for its smart features, which is where Google Assistant plays an important role. As the world slowly opens up, popping these earbuds while traveling on subway trains, or wearing them in your jogging session can bring you a lot of convenience. And where Google services have no presence, the Buds feel no different than the A-series Nothing Ear (1) or the OnePlus Buds Pro (iPhone users should consider the Apple AirPods).
At Rs 10,000, the Pixel Buds A-Series establishes a smart earbuds category that is all about enhancing the hands-free experience. Unless you crave balanced audio and a pro level of ANC, the Pixel Buds A-Series are an interestingly refreshing experience that you need to try.
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