Google Pixel Buds Review Roundup: The Good—and the Ugly
Last month, Google showcased its new Pixel 2 smartphone, its answer to the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, with more powerful components than last year’s model. But it was the company’s new wireless earbuds, which were unveiled at the same time, that may have generated more buzz.
The Pixel Buds, which started shipping this week, cost $159. But if you want to order them, you’ll have to wait because they have sold out.
The wireless earbuds come with a built-in microphone for making calls, fast-charging to keep them powered throughout the day, and a Google Translate feature that lets you easily communicate with people in other languages.
While those features might sound compelling, are the Pixel Buds actually a good deal? Several critics tried them out recently and shared their thoughts.
Here’s a roundup of their Pixel Buds reviews:
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Ryan Waniata at Digital Trends gave Google’s Pixel Buds a score of 6 out of a possible 10. He was pleased with the Pixel Buds’ real-time translation features—the Pixel 2 and Pixel Buds can quickly play translated audio of what someone says—and was impressed by how loud the volume could be cranked up. But he found that the Pixel Buds failed to fit well in his ears and were uncomfortable.
“Unless you’re a Pixel phone owner who travels abroad on a regular basis, we’d recommend looking elsewhere,” Waniata wrote in his review.
The Verge’s Sean O’Kane wasn’t so forgiving when it came time to score the Pixel Buds. While he liked the earbuds’ long battery life (Google says they last 24 hours) and called the sound “acceptable,” O’Kane didn’t like the carrying case the Pixel Buds came in (he said the case was too small for his liking) and was similarly displeased with how they fit in his ears. He ended his review by giving the Pixel Buds a score of 5 out of 10.
“The Pixel Buds tease some really fantastic ideas that I hope Google will someday deliver on,” he wrote. “But this is a first-generation product in the bad kind of way, and it looks even worse when you compare it to Apple’s growing success with the AirPods.”
Wired reviewer David Pierce gave the Pixel Buds a score of 6 out of 10. Pierce was impressed by the Pixel Buds’ Google Assistant integration, which allows users to search the Web and get information with voice commands. He also liked their design. But he thought the Pixel Buds were “way, way too hard to use” and at $159, were too expensive.
“I can’t figure out the Google Pixel Buds,” he wrote. “That’s a strange thing to say about headphones, I know. You stick ’em in your ears, they play music—what’s so complicated? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.”
Adam Clark Estes at Gizmodo let the world know his view of Pixel Buds in his review headline: “Google’s Pixel Buds aren’t even close to being good.” In fact, he was the harshest of the reviewers, saying that while the earbuds’ Google Assistant integration was nice, he disliked “basically everything else.” He didn’t give a numeric rating.
“The Pixel Buds suck, but they shouldn’t,” he wrote.
Axios’ Ina Fried also didn’t assign a score to the Pixel Buds, but that’s not to say that she liked the earbuds. While Fried liked the real-time translation features, she cautioned that they’d be best for Pixel 2 owners because the Translate feature is only available with Google’s smartphone. Just about everyone else, though, might find a better option elsewhere.