Using the Google Pixel Buds A-Series with the iPhone was a better experience than I expected, but it’s not as good as using AirPods. This should be expected given that they are made by Apple’s biggest competitor. But Google’s Pixel Buds A are great wireless headphones with a perfect fit and decent sound. In short, they represent a blameless value compared to standard AirPods, although you have to make a few compromises.
Fit and shape of the ears
Google’s Pixel Buds A are in-ear style headphones rather than universal headphones like standard AirPods. Generally, the universal fit of AirPods works best for me. AirPods Pro have always been finicky for me despite their incredible sound. None of the ear tips fit perfectly, so I’ve always thought that if Apple can’t do it right, no one else can. I was wrong. Google’s Pixel Bud design fits my ears a lot better than the AirPods Pro ever did. Unlike AirPods Pro, they don’t move around too much in my ears and never feel like they’re going to fall. The ear tips are comfortable, soft, but not too soft. Pixel Buds A also come with multiple ear tip sizes so you can choose the one that best fits your ears.
The only caveat I have with the design is the lack of any sort of shank or bend to easily tear the headphones out of my ears. The stems of the AirPods might look awkward, but the Pixel Buds A’s flat circular design requires a bit more work to be removed. Despite this, the circular design is really attractive and understated.
Headphones and cases design
A nice advantage of the flat circular design is that it acts as a capacitive button. The button is not too sensitive, but just sensitive enough to be reliable. You can tap once to pause, tap twice to skip to the next song, or tap three times to skip to the previous one.
The charging case for Pixel Buds A is very similar to standard AirPods, but it has a very nice soft-touch coating rather than a glossy finish. It is more comfortable to hold in your hands and almost looks like a pebble. The standard and more expensive Pixel Buds have wireless charging, but the Pixel Buds A. This isn’t a big deal since the battery life has been really good. I didn’t have to load them much at all. And when I need to charge them, there’s a handy USB-C port at the bottom.
Compatibility with iOS
Now let’s talk about how they actually work when connected to an iPhone. First of all, these obviously don’t offer any sort of quick pairing when used with an iPhone or iPad. They connect to your Apple devices like any other legacy Bluetooth accessory. Open Settings, go to Bluetooth and select the Pixel Buds A. They will automatically connect when you put them in your ears like AirPods and disconnect when placed in the case. Since they don’t have access to Apple’s more advanced pairing technology, they won’t automatically switch between devices. You will need to manually pair the Pixel Buds A with your other Apple devices.
The battery widget has been a very useful tool for keeping track of your paired accessories. Fortunately, the Pixel Buds A do show up in the battery widget. So, like AirPods, you can make sure they are charged when you need them. The only problem is that you don’t see the battery life of each individual Pixel Bud.
Pixel Buds A also pause audio when you remove one from your ear. That’s a huge plus over the Beats Studio Buds Apple just released, and the Pixel Buds A are $ 50 cheaper. While the Pixel Buds A don’t offer active noise cancellation, they do sound great. So their price tag of $ 99 makes them great value for money. Another thing to note is that these won’t work with the “Hey, Siri” command, but you can press and hold an earpiece to start talking to Siri manually.
No software update
There is a significant downside to using Pixel Buds A with an iPhone or iPad. That’s the lack of a Pixel Buds app for iOS and iPadOS. Like Apple, Google regularly releases software updates for the Pixel Buds to improve performance and connectivity. If you have an Android device, you can connect Pixel Buds A to it to perform software updates. But you’re out of luck if you don’t. The headphones do have good connectivity, however. Sometimes there are issues, but otherwise I haven’t had enough issues to say it’s a problem.
I would really like Google to release a Pixel Buds app for iOS. Microsoft offers one for its Surface headphones if you use them with an iOS device.
If you are using Android
Our friends at 9to5Google have already reviewed the Pixel Buds A-Series and how they work with Android devices. I highly recommend you go there to read Ben Schoon’s review. Ben said in his review that:
There just isn’t a deal breaker with the Pixel Buds A-Series. They nail down the experience in just about everything for a reasonable price without giving up anything important from regular Pixel Buds.
I have the white Pixel Buds A, but Google also offers them in a sage green color. I really like the all-white design, they look stylish both in the ear and in the case. You can order Pixel Buds A directly from Google or pick them up at your local Best Buy store. Pixel Buds stock has been questionable at Best Buy stores, so be sure to check before you visit your store.
I think the Pixel Buds A-Series are totally worth their $ 99 price tag. I would say they offer better value for money than the base AirPods which haven’t been updated since early 2019 and still cost $ 159 without the wireless charging case. I would also recommend these new Studio Buds from Beats above. While these offer noise cancellation, they lack features like device sync and pause when you take them out of your ears. Long story short, yes, you can save money, use them with your iPhone, and have a great experience.
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