Following weeks of speculation, Google has announced its latest true wireless earbuds. The Google Pixel Buds A series is the third generation in the Pixel Buds series, and continues where Pixel Buds (2020) left off.
As the name of the ‘A-Series’ suggests, the new wireless earbuds are a more budget-friendly version of Pixel Buds, just like Google’s cheaper Pixel phone variants, which include Pixel 3a and Pixel 4a.
The price difference is quite strong; The Google Pixel Buds A-Series costs just $ 99 / £ 99.99 (about $ 130), making them far cheaper than the previous Pixel Buds ($ 1
To keep costs down, Google has done away with some of the more premium features that were boasted of the previous Pixel Buds, including wireless charging and swipe controls. However, despite the lower price, you still get hands-free access to Google Assistant, real-time translation and IPX4 water resistance.
So if you are trying to decide which Google earbuds are best for you, there are many things to consider. Do you choose the cheaper model and make some concessions when it comes to premium features, or are you splashing money on 2020 Pixel Buds?
Although we have not yet tested the new Pixel Buds A-series for ourselves, we are very familiar with the previous Pixel Buds, and that means we can help you make an informed decision before our complete Pixel Buds A-Series review.
Here’s all you need to know about the latest Google Buttons and how they compare to their predecessors.
Price and availability
The new Google Pixel Buds A-Series costs just $ 99 / £ 99.99 (about AU $ 130), making them far cheaper than the previous Pixel Buds ($ 179 / £ 179 / AU $ 279). They are also cheaper than what is without a doubt the most popular real wireless earbuds on the planet, Apple AirPods.
You can buy the new earplugs from June 17, but you can join a waiting list now in the US and UK. You can also join the waiting list if you are in Australia, although the price is still to be confirmed in this region.
It is worth remembering that Pixel Buds (2020) can be discounted now that it is a new model – especially since Prime Day deals will come in June 21-22.
The new Pixel Buds A-Series looks very much like its predecessors, with flat, circular housings and an egg-shaped charging case that looks elegant and modern. They come in a variety of colors, including white, gray and a new, pretty picky, olive green hue.
The earplugs themselves have a new ‘stabilizer arch’, which is designed to hold them in place and ensure a good seal against the ear canal. They also come with ventilation openings to prevent the feeling of ear pressure that often comes with earplugs. Otherwise, there is not much difference between the A-Series and the previous generation Pixel Buds in terms of appearance.
The charging bag is largely unchanged, and retains the rounded edges and lid. However, there are no wireless charging features like with Pixel Buds (2020), so you will need to connect a standard USB-C cable to charge the battery.
Another difference between the two models is that the Pixel Buds A-Series does not come with volume sweep controls like its predecessors, but you can still call in Google Assistant using your voice and ask it to adjust the volume for you. There are also some touch controls; for example, you only need to press an earplug once to play / pause, twice to skip the track, and three times to rewind.
While the new Pixel Buds A-Series is significantly cheaper than the previous generation of Pixel Buds, it does not look like many corners have been cut in design. Sure, you lose wireless charging and swipe controls, but these are premium features that we do not necessarily expect from knobs of this price.
Without testing the Pixel Bud A series for ourselves, we can not make a complete assessment of the sound quality you get if you buy them – but since the earplug’s sound technology has not changed significantly, we can use our knowledge of the previous Pixel buttons for at least to risk guessing.
Inside the Pixel Buds A-Series are the same 12mm dynamic drivers found in its predecessors – and you can access the Bass Boost feature in the Pixel Buds app (or, of course, in the Pixel phone’s settings, as long as it runs Android 10 or higher), to make the lower frequencies appear.
If the new Pixel Buds sound like their predecessors, you can expect a real focus on midrange and treble frequencies, with a low-end that can make bass heads want more. We found that the previous Pixel Buds delivered a generally light sound, which sometimes fluctuated on sibilant – although they offered sublime light-right separation and good details.
Another feature that will return for the Pixel Buds A-Series is Adaptive Sound. This allows the earplugs to increase or decrease the volume of your music based on your surroundings; so if you go down a busy street, Pixel Buds automatically increase the volume.
Neither the A-series nor Pixel Buds (2020) offer active noise reduction – because you have to look at models like the Sony WF-1000XM3 or Apple AirPods Pro.
For phone calls, Pixel Buds A will use its radiant microphones to record your voice, which Google says will help you sound crystal clear on calls even in noisy conditions.
With the previous earplugs, we found that the microphone was just like we had some issues with phone calls with friends and family, but it will be interesting to see how Google has addressed these concerns with the Pixel Buds A-Series.
Battery life and connection
The battery life of Google Pixel Buds A-Series and Pixel Buds (2020) is exactly the same, coming in at five hours from the earplugs themselves, with an additional 19 hours provided by the charging case.
It’s a shame that Google has not made any improvements here – although we appreciate that concessions had to be made to keep costs down, budget wireless earbuds like the Lypertek PurePlay Z3 have proven that long battery life is possible from cheaper earbuds.
The new Pixel Buds also support fast charging; 15 minutes of charging in the case gives you up to three hours of listening time, and one hour gives you full charge – which means you do not have to worry if you forgot to charge them before a flight.
When it comes to connectivity, the Pixel Buds A-Series uses Bluetooth 5 as its predecessors, and supports Android’s Fast Pair technology, so you should find that connecting to your Android phone is a breeze.
Despite the lower price, the Google Pixel Buds A-Series still gives you all the great Google Assistant features you got with the previous model.
One of these features is Google’s Live Translation feature, which can facilitate a conversation between two different languages. All you have to do is give one of the earplugs to the person you are talking to and ask Google Assistant to translate from one language to another.
We found that this feature did not work seamlessly with Pixel Buds (2020), but we claim that Google has improved the service since then – at least we can not wait to try it with Pixel Buds Series-A, as it is a so cool concept.
Other than that, you have access to just about every Google Assistant feature you can think of. Using your earbuds, you can ask your voice assistant for weather updates and directions, set calendar reminders, and even check smart devices.
While we are not yet going to test the Google Pixel Buds A-Series for ourselves, it seems that choosing between them and the older Pixel Buds (2020) is going to be a key thing: the budget.
The newer Pixel Buds A-Series is a cheaper version of the wireless earbuds, and as such you do not get all the premium features you got from its predecessors, such as wireless charging and swipe control.
However, the concessions are few and far between. The design, but largely unchanged, has been slightly upgraded to give a (hopefully) more comfortable design, and the new olive green color really stands out from other real wireless earbuds on the market.
You also get the same sound quality, battery life and Google Assistant features, all at a lower cost. The only thing you do not get is active noise reduction, but that feature did not come with Pixel Buds (2020) anyway – and the adaptive sound function can help you block the sound from your surroundings at least.
We will be able to give a more decisive verdict when we have fully tested the Google Pixel Buds A-series, but at this stage we would recommend saving money and choosing the newer model, unless wireless charging is an absolute dealbreaker for you.