Which buds are best for you?

Google recently released the first pair of ANC earbuds in the Pixel Buds Pro. The new earbuds come alongside Google’s last pair of earbuds, the Pixel Buds A-series, rather than replacing them. Compared to the $200 Buds Pro, the A-Series is a solid, less expensive earbud option for just $99. But if you can’t guess from that price gap, they are very different products. Interested in trying a pair of Google buds but not sure which? We’ve got you covered.

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Google Pixel Buds Pro vs Google Pixel Buds A series: Hardware and battery

The Pixel Buds Pro share a clear resemblance to the Pixel Buds A series — they’re both very Google, There are no sharp angles and interesting details like the recessed G logo on each earbud. But the Pixel Buds Pro are much larger than the lightweight A-series. In our subjective experience, the Pixel Buds Pro are still comfortable to wear, but they’ll be farther away from your ears than the A-series.

While the Pixel Buds A series have what Google calls spatial vents to help relieve in-ear pressure and let some external sounds into your ears, the Pixel Buds Pro ditch that feature for a more enclosed design. Instead, the Buds Pro have a transparency mode that uses the microphones on the earbuds to transmit sound from the environment to your ears along with the media. (Google also says the Pixel Buds Pro monitors the pressure in your ears to keep them at a comfortable level, but doesn’t elaborate on how that process works.) The Pixel Buds Pro also ditched the stabilization fins of the Pixel Buds A series, which Might mean that the Buds Pro don’t fit well in some ears.

The Pixel Buds A series only come in two colors: dark olive and pure white. The Pixel Buds Pro are available in Charcoal, Fog, Lemongrass or Coral.

The battery life on the Pixel Buds A-series is a bit of a pain, with just 5 hours of playback at a time — keep in mind that these earbuds don’t have active noise cancellation. The Pixel Buds Pro make huge strides here, with 7 hours of battery life on a single charge with ANC and up to 11 hours without ANC. Both pairs of buds can be obtained from their chests for about two additional charges. Both cases charge using USB-C, but only the case for the Pixel Buds Pro supports wireless charging.

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs Google Pixel Buds A series: Audio and features

The $99 Pixel Buds A-series beats their weight in sound quality, with clear, full sound and more bass than you might expect thanks to its slim design. The $200 Pixel Buds Pro also sound good, but the overall quality isn’t much better than the Pixel Buds A-series. Both pairs support AAC and SBC codecs, but not higher bitrate standards like aptX or LDAC. If you’re primarily streaming audio through Spotify or YouTube Music, it won’t matter to you, but if you’re in the market for audiophile-grade sound, know that neither pair of headphones fits the bill.

There have been reports of poor quality Bluetooth connectivity in the Pixel Buds A-series, including audio skips, static, and outright disconnects. Our review unit has experienced some of these as well.In our experience, connectivity is usually OK, But if you’re listening outside with your phone in your bag or back pocket, it can get risky. While Google says that not everyone can hear static, it’s not always easy to ignore if you can. The Pixel Buds Pro don’t seem to have any of these issues.

One of the great things about the Pixel Buds Pro, aside from the improved basics like battery life and connectivity, is its feature set. Both A-Series and Pro support Quick Pair on Android and both have optional always-on hey google Listen for hands-free assistant access. But the Buds Pro have many desirable features not found on the A-series, including active noise cancellation and Bluetooth multipoint, which lets you connect them to two audio sources (like your phone and laptop) at once. The Buds Pro’s case also charges wirelessly, while the A-series’ case is only USB-C.

The Pixel Buds A-series has a feature that automatically lowers the volume when it detects certain sounds, such as a dog barking or breaking glass. The Pixel Buds Pro don’t currently have a similar feature. We do know, though, that Google intends to add additional features to the Buds Pro with the update, including support for spatial audio, a type of virtual surround sound.

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs Google Pixel Buds A series: Which should you buy?

The Pixel Buds A series cost $99; the Pixel Buds Pro are more than double the price of $200. Audio quality alone doesn’t justify the price increase; if you just need a good-sounding pair of earbuds and don’t care too much about bells and whistles, the A-Series might be for you.

But the Pixel Buds A series aren’t as universally useful as more traditional true wireless earbuds due to their unique vented hardware. The space vent design may be good for ear comfort and situational awareness, but it means you’ll hear outside sound leaking all the time, not just when you want it. And since the A-Series doesn’t have ANC, the only option to drown out more of your surroundings is to crank up the volume. If you want the earbuds to be worn exclusively in noisy environments, consider the Pixel Buds Pro. Not only do they have ANC and an excellent transparency mode to switch between the two, but their significantly better battery life, advanced features like Bluetooth multipoint, and a more stable connection really help justify their price.

Buy the Pixel Buds Pro if…

  • You often wear earplugs in noisy environments
  • you wear earbuds for more than a few hours at a time
  • Nice features like multipoint connectivity are worth the money

Buy the Pixel Buds A-Series if…

  • $200 is more than you’re willing to spend
  • You won’t get much use out of Active Noise Cancellation
  • you prefer smaller earbuds

Buy Pixel Buds Pro

Amazon $200 Google $200 Best Buy $200

Buy the Pixel Buds A-Series

Amazon $99 Google $99 Best Buy $99

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