The Pixel Buds A-series earbuds are of a different kind, in a good way. They do not have a long list of features, and they cut corners even on the most obvious ones like active noise cancellation. But the product shines through when it comes to user experience. Made by Google, these earbuds have built-in Google Assistant for hands-free operations. Besides, they boast identical touch controls on both earbuds. Both these features alone make the Google Pixel Buds A-series an easy-to-use pair of wireless earbuds. But do they justify their price tag? Let’s find out:
Starting with design, I liked how Google has kept everything simple here. The earbuds look like baby mushrooms with circular heads and rather elongated tails with in-ear tips at the end. While the in-ear design helps them latch on to the ears, the added stabiliser arc helps them stay put securely and comfortably even in situations like exercising, when many others would come off easily.
Like the earbuds, the charging-cum-storage case has a minimal design. It is a pebble shaped-unit of a plastic build with matte finish. Its small and pocketable size makes it slide easily in most cramped spaces like coin pockets in jeans. The case has an LED light on the front that blinks when the buds are in a ‘pairing’ mode and shows the case and earbuds’ battery status. The case’s USB-C charging port is at the bottom, and the pairing button is on the lower back side.
Design details aside, the Pixel Buds A-series works well because of its audio performance and easy-to-use features. Speaking of audio performance, the buds are tuned for neutral output – flat equalisers. While I found the buds lacking in energy at first, the sound signature they offered slowly grew on me and convinced me they were comfortable for extended usage.
On a side note, you can boost the bass performance using Pixel Buds, the Pixel Buds A-series supplementary app for Android smartphones. The buds are good for answering calls, too. However, the lack of active noise cancellation ruins the show at times, especially if you answer the calls in busy and loud neighbourhoods.
As for user experience, the Pixel Buds A-series is simple and easy to use. With Google Assistant built in, you can simply say ‘Ok, Google’ and the earbuds are ready to take voice command. This is something that makes life easy, especially if you are part of the Google product ecosystem. The identical touch controls on both earbuds are another element that adds to the convenience. Tap your earbud once to play/pause, twice to skip, or three times to rewind. Unfortunately, there is no touch control gesture for volume. But you can ask Google Assistant to change the volume level.
The earbuds’ on-battery time is modest. On a single charge, the buds work for about four hours. There is an additional battery in the case to charge the buds at least twice, but that does not compensate for the buds' otherwise weak on-battery time.
The Google Pixel Buds A-series would have made an impeccable pair of wireless earbuds for its price (Rs 9,999) if it was launched in 2020. This year, these wireless earbuds from Google would find it difficult to compete with the likes of the OPPO Enco X (review) and OnePlus Buds Pro (review). Both these earbuds cost about the same but offer an all-round experience. Then there are earbuds like the Nothing ear (1), which cost almost half as much but deliver a better performance rounded off by better features. That said, you might still like to consider the Google Pixel Buds A-series for their ease of use, simplicity, and fine audio performance.