Google Pixel Buds A-Series Review: Is It Worth it?

Google’s Pixel Buds A-Series an affordable alternative to the original Pixel Buds. Priced at just $99 these earbuds offer most of the same fantastic features as the original, along with a few drawbacks. Over the past week, I’ve had the opportunity to test out the A Series true wireless earbuds, and I’m excited to share my review.

Design and Comfort

Design and Comfortability

If you decide to get yourself a pair of the Pixel Buds A-Series, you’ll have a choice between two attractive colors: White or Dark Olive. The design hasn’t undergone significant changes compared to the original Google Pixel Buds, maintaining their unique and eye-catching appearance.

Once again, these earbuds feature flexible rubber wings designed to securely anchor in your ears, and they perform this task admirably. To test their durability, I even conducted a waterproof test. Each buds weighs a mere five grams, ensuring a lightweight and comfortable fit for extended use. However, it’s crucial to ensure you’re wearing them correctly; I noticed some ear fatigue when the wingtips weren’t positioned precisely right. You should aim to wear them almost horizontally, rather than at a slight angle.

Furthermore, these earbuds boast an IPX4 water and sweat-resistant rating. This feature makes them ideal for a wide range of activities, whether you’re hitting the gym, going for a run, or participating in any fitness routine

Setup and Connectivity

Setup and Connectivity

They have Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, and I must say, connecting them to your smartphone is a breeze. Just flip open the lid, and any Android smartphone will promptly display a notification via NFC, inviting you to pair with the Pixel Buds. A quick tap, and you’re ready to roll. If, for some reason, you’re using an iPhone or the notification doesn’t pop up on your smartphone, no need to fret. There’s a discreet button on the back of the case. A simple press, and the buds enter pairing mode.

In my testing, I was pleased to find that the connection remained robust and stable at all times. This reliability held true even when I was in bustling environments like a busy high street or a school playground.

Controls and Volumes

The Google Pixel Buds A Series continues to support automatic detection, a handy feature. When you remove a single earbud while listening to music, a podcast, or any other audio, it will pause playback automatically until you reinsert the bud. Once the bud is back in place, your music will resume. This feature generally functions very well, although there might be a bit of confusion if you quickly remove and reinsert a bud. However, in 99% of cases, it works smoothly.

These buds also come with convenient touch controls. The controls are the same for both earbuds, 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, which 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, When connected to a Pixel phone, the highest volume was perfectly fine, delivering an ear-shattering intensity with clear and robust audio. Unfortunately, the peak volume was noticeably lower when 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.

Noise Isolation

Similar to the original Pixel Buds, the A Series also incorporate special vents designed to allow some external noise to filter in. The purpose behind this design is to prevent the closed-off sensation that many people experience when using true wireless earbuds. This feature does a commendable job, enhancing your awareness of your surroundings while you’re on the move. However, it may not be ideal when you’re strolling down a bustling street, attempting to enjoy a quieter podcast or audiobook. In such situations, the surrounding traffic noise and people’s conversations can seep through, causing interference with your listening experience. I often found myself needing to turn the volume up to the maximum level just to hear what was being said on my podcast. Clearly, this is not a great practice for your hearing.

Additionally, Google has included its adaptive sound feature once again. This feature can automatically adjust the volume based on your surroundings. However, it doesn’t prove as helpful when you’re trying to listen to a podcast or an audiobook, as you still typically need to manually increase the volume to catch all the content. In such cases, you often end up raising the volume just to follow the conversation.

Google Assistant Support

As I mentioned earlier, you can easily summon the Google Assistant by simply saying ‘Hey Google.’ You’ll hear a confirmation sound, and then you can voice your query, with the Assistant responding directly in your ears. Moreover, you’ll receive notifications when a message arrives in your WhatsApp chat or a similar platform. For instance, you can press and hold one of the earbuds to have the Google Assistant read the message aloud if you’d rather not take out your phone. You can also press and hold again after the message is read to respond. It’s important to note that this functionality works only with supported apps.

Another noteworthy feature is the hands-free Google Translate integration. All you need to do is say something like ‘Help me speak Japanese,’ and the earbud will confirm with a sound. Once confirmed, it will pick up whatever is being spoken around you. Another sound will signal the end of the speech, followed by the translation in your ears. Google Translate has made significant advancements in recent years, and it seems to work very well on the Pixel Buds. However, the experience is somewhat 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 the need to pause and say, Wait, hang on, just give me a second.

Read Also: Google Pixel 6A Review

Audio Quality

Google Pixel Buds A Series Audio Quality

The audio quality of the Pixel Buds A-Series is crucial, and fortunately, it doesn’t disappoint. Inside these earbuds, you’ll find 12-millimeter dynamic drivers, which are similar to the ones used in the existing Buds. I found the audio quality to be robust, offering good clarity, especially at higher volume levels. However, for those who are bass enthusiasts, even with the bass boost feature, you might find the experience less satisfying. If you’re truly seeking that deep bass sensation, I’d recommend considering a proper pair of over-ear headphones. Alternatively, if bass is a priority for you, the Powerbeats would be a solid choice, as they excel in that department.

Aside from the bass consideration, I have no complaints. I didn’t encounter the strange hissing noise that I experienced. Additionally, the microphone quality is impressive. The dual beamforming microphones, much like those in the original, effectively capture your voice even in noisy environments, whether you’re on a phone call or engaging with the Google Assistant.

Battery life

The Pixel Buds A-Series promise around five hours of continuous playback on a single charge, and I found this to be mostly accurate. At maximum volume, I managed just a bit under five hours, which aligns with the average performance of true wireless earbuds from 2021. Other brands like Samsung Galaxy Buds, Jabra Elite series, and similar models tend to offer a similar range. Some competitors, like the Huawei FreeBuds 4i, even lasted a couple of hours longer on a single charge, despite having active noise cancellation, a feature not present in the Google Pixel Buds A-Series. However, one notable advantage is they recharge quickly when placed back in the case. Just about 15 minutes in the case can provide you with a few hours of playback, which is quite convenient.

The case itself can fully recharge the empty earbuds about four times before needing its own recharge. You can power it up using a USB Type-C cable, but unfortunately, there’s no support for wireless charging, a feature that was present in the original Pixel Buds but omitted from the A-Series. Nevertheless, given the significant price drop, the A-Series offers excellent value for money. The compact and lightweight design of the case makes it easy to slip into your pocket. The charging indicators on the case provide a rough idea of the remaining power level. Moreover, you can check the exact percentage of battery left in both and the case through the app. You can also simply ask Google, How much battery do I have left in my buds? and she will provide you with a precise percentage.

Final Thought

My only concern regarding the case itself is that the hinge feels a bit delicate. Applying too much pressure could potentially lead to it snapping off, although I haven’t experienced this issue so far.

To sum up my comprehensive review of the Google Pixel Buds A-Series, priced at $99, they offer a commendable value for your money. However, it’s worth noting that they lack active noise cancellation, a feature found in some competitors within the same price range. If your primary goal is to block out external sounds, particularly in noisy environments, you might want to explore alternative options. However, if you’re someone who dislikes the feeling of claustrophobia when wearing traditional true wireless earbuds, the Pixel Buds A-Series could be a good choice to consider.

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