In this article, we have Google’s Pixel Buds A-Series, which is a budget-friendly version of the original Pixel Buds. They are almost half the price, in fact, at just $99. These earbuds boast pretty much all of the same great features as the original Pixel Buds, along with some of those not-so-great aspects. I’ve had these A Series true wireless earbuds in my ears for the last week. And, here’s my review of the Google Pixel Buds-A Series knowing about Controls, Audio Quality, Noise cancellation, battery life and sharing my final thought.
Read Also: Google Pixel 6A Review
Now, if you grab yourself a pair of the Pixel Buds A-Series, you have a choice of two different colors. You can choose either the White variant or the Dark Olive option. The design hasn’t changed much at all from the original Google Pixel Buds, they still maintain a funky appearance. Once again, we have flexible rubber wings that help keep the Pixel Buds A series securely in your ears. They indeed do their job well. To demonstrate their durability, I conducted a waterproof test. Each Pixel Bud weighs around five grams, making them comfortably lightweight for extended wear. However, you must ensure you’re wearing them correctly. I found that I experienced ear fatigue if the wingtips weren’t positioned just right. You need to wear them almost horizontally, rather than just slightly angled.
And also these earbuds are IPX4 water and sweat-resistant. This feature makes them suitable for various activities, whether you’re hitting the gym, pounding the pavement, or engaging in any fitness regimen.
Setup and Bluetooth
The Pixel Buds A Series features Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, I discovered that connecting them to your smartphone was a piece of cake. Simply flip open the lid and any Android smartphone will display a little message via good old NFC, asking if you’d like to pair with the Pixel Buds. Just a quick tap and you’re good to go. Alternatively, if you’re using an iPhone for whatever reason, or if the message doesn’t pop up on your smartphone, no worries. There’s a discreet little button on the back of the case. Press it, and the buds will enter pairing mode. In my testing of the Google Pixel Buds A-Series, I found that the connection remained strong and stable at all times, even when I was in a busy area, such as a bustling high street or a school playground.
Controls and Volumes
The Google Pixel Buds A Series once again support automatic detection. If you remove a single bud while playing music, a podcast, or any other audio, it will automatically pause the playback until you reinsert the bud. Once the bud is back in place, your music will resume. I found that this feature generally works very well, although there might be a bit of confusion if you quickly remove and reinsert a bud. However, in 99% of cases, it functions smoothly.
You also have convenient touch controls on these buds. The controls are the same for both buds, regardless of which one you touch. A single tap will pause the audio, and another tap will resume it. A double tap allows you to skip forward to the next track, while a triple tap lets you skip back to the previous track. I found that these controls worked flawlessly almost all the time.
However, unlike the original Google Pixel Buds that allowed volume adjustment by swiping up and down, this functionality has been removed for the Pixel Buds A-Series. But don’t worry; you can still adjust the volume without needing to take out your phone. Simply command the Google Assistant to change the volume. For example, you can say “Hey Google, set the volume to maximum,” and your request will be fulfilled. However, I did encounter some volume issues with the Google Pixel Buds A Series. When connected to a Pixel phone, the highest volume was perfectly fine, delivering an ear-shattering intensity. The audio was clear and robust. Unfortunately, the peak volume was noticeably lower when I connected to other Android smartphones, such as a Xiaomi device. It certainly wasn’t powerful enough to shake you to your core. I’m not quite sure what the issue is, but it’s a bit disappointing.
The A series buds, like the original Google Pixel Buds, feature special vents designed to allow some external noise to enter. The purpose is to prevent the kind of claustrophobic feeling that many people experience with true wireless earbuds. This feature works well, making you more aware of your surroundings while you’re out and about. However, it’s not ideal if you’re walking down a bustling high street, trying to listen to a podcast or an audiobook that’s quieter than music. The traffic noise and people chatting around you seep through, interfering with what you’re trying to listen to. I found myself having to crank up the volume to maximum levels just to hear what was being said on my podcast. Obviously, this isn’t great for your hearing.
Furthermore, Google includes its adaptive sound feature once again. This feature can automatically adjust the volume based on your surroundings. However, it doesn’t help much when you’re trying to listen to a podcast or an audiobook, as you still generally have to manually increase the volume to make out the content. In such cases, you often end up raising the volume to hear what’s happening.
Google Assistant Support
As I mentioned before, you can summon the Google Assistant at any point simply by saying ‘Hey Google.’ You’ll hear a little ding, and then you can speak your query, and the Assistant will respond directly in your ears. Additionally, you’ll receive a notification whenever a message arrives in your WhatsApp chat or a similar platform. For example, you can press and hold one of the buds to have the Google Assistant read the message aloud if you don’t want to pull out your phone. You can also press and hold again after the message is read to respond. However, this functionality works only with supported apps.
Another feature is the hands-free Google Translate. You just need to say something like ‘Help me speak Japanese,’ and the bud will respond with an affirmative sound. Following the sound, whatever is being spoken around you will be picked up. There will be another ding when the speaking stops, and then you’ll hear the translation in your ears. Google Translate has made significant advancements in recent years, and it seems to work very well on the Google Pixel Buds. However, the experience is quite stop-and-start. You say a sentence, wait for the translation to process. I’m hopeful that eventually, it will advance enough to provide real-time translation, allowing for seamless conversations without needing to pause and say, ‘Wait, hang on, just give me a second.
The Pixel Buds A-Series wouldn’t be worth much if the audio quality was subpar, but fortunately, that’s not the case. Inside, there are 12-millimeter dynamic drivers, similar to the existing Pixel Buds. I found the audio quality to be strong, with good clarity, especially at higher volumes. However, for bass enthusiasts, even with the bass boost, the experience might not be satisfying. If you truly want to feel the bass, I’d recommend upgrading to a proper pair of over-ear headphones. Alternatively, you can’t go wrong with the Powerbeats, which excel in the bass department. Apart from that, I have no complaints. I didn’t encounter the strange hissing noise that I experienced with the original Google Pixel Buds. Also, the microphone quality is solid. The dual beamforming mics, much like those in the original Pixel Buds, can effectively capture your voice even in noisy environments, whether you’re on a phone call or interacting with the Google Assistant.
Just like the original Pixel Buds, you should get a full five hours of continuous playback from a single charge on the Pixel Buds A-Series, and I found that to be mostly accurate. I managed just a tad under five hours at top volume, which is quite average for true wireless earbuds from 2021. Brands like Samsung Galaxy Buds tend to offer around that range, as do the Jabra Elite series and similar models. Some rivals, like the Huawei FreeBuds 4i, lasted a couple of hours more from a single charge, even with active noise cancellation (a feature not present in the Google Pixel Buds A series). However, the Pixel Buds A series do recharge swiftly when placed back in the case. Roughly 15 minutes in the case will grant you a few hours of playback, which is quite convenient.
The case itself can offer about four full recharges for the empty buds before needing its own recharge. It can be powered up using a USB Type-C cable, but unfortunately, there’s no wireless charging support for the case. This was a feature present in the original Google Pixel Buds, but it’s one of the few features omitted from the A series. Nonetheless, considering the substantial price drop, the A series offers great value for money. I quite like the compact and lightweight design of the case, which easily fits into a pocket. The charging indicators on the case give you a rough idea of the remaining power level. Additionally, you can check the exact percentage of battery left in both the Pixel Buds and the case through the Pixel Buds app. You can also ask Google, ‘How much battery do I have left in my buds?’ and she will provide you with a percentage figure.
My only concern about the case itself is that the hinge feels a bit fragile. Applying too much pressure might potentially cause it to snap off, although this hasn’t happened so far. That concludes my comprehensive review of the Google Pixel Buds A series. Priced at $99, they offer solid value for money. However, they lack active noise cancellation, a feature found in some competitors at this price point. If you’re seeking to block out external sounds, especially in noisy environments, you might want to consider alternatives. However, if you’re bothered by the feeling of claustrophobia while wearing traditional true wireless earbuds, the Pixel Buds A series could be worth a shot. If you’re interested in noise-canceling true wireless earbuds, I’ve reviewed several, such as the galaxy buds and the Huawei FreeBuds, which I mentioned earlier.
Setup and Bluetooth8
Controls and Volumes7