In the third attempt, Google presents a Bluetooth earbud that does nothing outstanding, but almost everything is good. The biggest strength is the price.
The bad news: Google added a letter to the Pixel Buds A-Series but dropped features. The good news is that the new Pixel Buds are half the price of the Pixel Buds 2, making them a better choice for most people. The predecessors could be described in one word: solid. Headphones that do nothing outstanding, but do almost everything well. Ditto for the stripped-down A version – only value for money moves from a weakness to its greatest strength. Few competing products offer as much bang for the buck as Google’s $99 Buds.
Audiophiles will not be happy with the Pixel Buds. But they use wired over-ear headphones anyway. If you want maximum dynamics and details, you have to spend significantly more or choose a different design. Google only carefully turns up the bass control, which pleases people who value a neutral, balanced sound. Bass boosting can be activated if desired, but the mids then suffer. However, the function is always good for listening to music in noisy environments or during sports.
Most other features the A version inherits from its predecessors, and that’s good news. Of course, Google has integrated the in-house language assistant again and installed a technology that suppresses the step reverberation that many other Bluetooth plugs annoy with when walking. Anyone who makes a call does not mutate into a robot and is easy to understand for the other party. The Pixel Buds can wick sweat and water, making them viable sports headphones. The small silicone arches also contribute to this, which improve the fit and stabilize the plugs in the ear. You don’t have to push the pixel buds as far into the ear canal for them to hold. As with all in-ear headphones, wearing comfort depends on the anatomy – some people’s ears hurt after five minutes, others can wear them for days.
At least if the battery doesn’t give up. The Pixel Buds last around five hours on one charge. In the case, they can be charged four times before it has to be plugged into the socket. Unlike the big brother, a cable is required for this, and wireless charging has been eliminated. The second victim of the price reduction is the swipe gesture with which the volume can be adjusted independently of the smartphone. “Hey Google, turn it down”, but it also does. For 100 euros less, that’s a good compromise.