Google just released its Pixel Buds 2, the long-awaited second generation of their maligned Pixel Buds that came out a few years ago. The original Pixel Buds were slammed due to design and audio issues.
In the meantime, Google’s arch competitor’s wireless buds, the AirPods, have become the de facto gold standard in wireless earbuds. Apple’s most recent AirPods, the AirPods Pro is the cream of the crop thanks to their sleek design and their active noise cancelation.
But has Google finally struck back with its new Pixel Buds 2? Let’s take a look at how the earbuds stack up.
Apple’s AirPods Pro vs Google’s Pixel Buds 2
The AirPods Pro sports Apple’s flower-like “stem” design. It’s a design many people love, though to each their own. The AirPods Pro also comes with three interchangeable tips so you can get the best fit for your ear. One downer is the AirPods Pro only comes in white–so take it or leave it.
Google’s Pixel Buds 2, on the other hand, comes in four color options: Clearly White, Almost Black, Quite Mint and Oh So Orange, Personally, we’re not a fan of the colors (too pastel), but some people love them. The Pixel Buds 2 also feature a snail-like design. If that turns you off, we don’t blame you. But then again, if you hate the AirPod’s Pro “stem” you might like the snail.
- AirPods Pro – The AirPods Pro improves on the AirPods’ iconic design by having both a shorter stem and they also include three rubber tips to give users a better fit.
- Pixel Buds 2 – The Pixel Buds, on the other hand, feature a less-sleek design, but it’s not a bad one. They’re a little more cartoonish looking, but feature a cool stabilizer arch to help keep them in your ears.
Winner? AirPods Pro – Their design still outshines the upcoming Pixel Buds 2. They’re tiny works of art.
Audio & Connectivity
When it comes to audio features, the two buds radically differ. That’s because the AirPods Pro features active noise cancellation (ANC), which uses hardware and software to stop the noise from the outside world from passing through to your ears. ANC is a godsend in such a little pair of earbuds–and they sound phenomenal.
The Pixel Buds 2 do not have any kind of true ANC. Instead Google’s device has “adaptive sound” technology that automatically raises or lowers the volume of your earbuds based on the outside sounds around you. Honestly, this doesn’t seem like a great feature. Who wants the music they are listening to to become louder or quieter on its own?
- AirPods Pro – The AirPods Pro includes dual beam-forming microphones, dual optical sensors, a motion-detecting accelerometer, and a speech-detecting accelerometer. They also connect over both Bluetooth and Apple’s H1 chip, which makes connecting them to an iPhone effortless. Another major advantage? Their incredible active noise cancellation (ANC).
- Pixel Buds 2 – The Pixel Buds also feature beam-forming microphones and a voice accelerometer, as well as connecting over Bluetooth too. But when it comes to audio quality they can’t compete with the AirPods Pro as they don’t feature any ANC. The Buds to have “Adaptive Sound” that automatically raises or lowers the volume based on your surroundings, but it’s no ANC.
Winner? AirPods Pro – The AirPods Pro has active noise cancellation. Because of that, it’s not even a contest.
Battery & Charging
When it comes to battery life, you need to look at the per-use life and the case’s life. The per-use life refers to how long the buds will last in your ear without putting them in the case to recharge them. for the AirPods Pro, that’s 4.5 hours. For the Pixel Buds 2, that’s 5 hours.
The reason the AirPods Pro gets you 30 minutes less battery life? That incredible active noise cancellation. But losing 30 minutes of battery life for ANC is totally worth it.
As for the case’s battery life, the AirPods Pro case will get you an additional 20 hours of charges. The Pixel Buds 2 case will get you another 19 hours. All-in-all, then, the battery life on both sets of buds works out to be about the same.
- AirPods Pro – The AirPods Pro gets you 4.5 hours of use when active noise cancellation is engaged. When active noise cancellation is turned off, you’ll get 5 hours of use. The AirPods Pro also comes with a wireless charging case as standard, which gets you over 24 hours of use.
- Pixel Buds 2 – The Pixel Buds get you 5 hours of use and their case gets you another 19 hours in total.
Winner? Draw – The battery life on both are identical.
With the AirPods Pro, you get the Siri voice assistant. Siri has improved remarkably in recent years…still, it’s no Google Assistant. That’s the voice assistant you get with the Pixel Buds 2.
- AirPods Pro – The AirPods Pro supports hands-free “Hey Siri” commands as well as giving you full access to all of Siri’s capabilities.
- Pixel Buds 2 – The Pixel Buds support hands-free Google Assistant. Right there, they beat the AirPods Pro’s Siri.
Winner? Pixel Buds 2 – Google Assistant is a much better assistant than Siri.
- AirPods Pro – $249.99
- Pixel Buds 2 – $179.99
From an audio and design perspective, the winner is clear –the AirPods Pro. Their active noise cancelation can’t be beaten here. It especially can’t be beaten because the Pixel Buds 2 don’t even offer ANC.
However, if you don’t use your earbuds mainly for music and instead use them for interacting with your phone’s assistant, then the Pixel Buds are a great choice because they support Google Assistant. Google Assistant blows Siri away any day of the week.
Apple’s AirPods Pro vs Google’s Pixel Buds: Full Specs
Here are the specs for the AirPod Pro:
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, H1 chip
- Wireless charging: Yes
- Battery Life: 4.5 hours AirPod use, 24+ hours with charging case
- Sensors: Dual beam-forming microphones, Dual optical sensors, Motion-detecting accelerometer, Speech-detecting accelerometer, Force sensor
- Voice assistant support: Siri
- Noise Cancellation: Yes
- Sweat and water resistant: Yes
And here are the specs for the Pixel Buds:
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- Wireless charging: Optional
- Battery Life: 5 hours Pixel Buds use, 24 hours with charging case
- Sensors: Beam-forming microphones, Voice accelerometers, Touch
- Voice assistant support: Google Assistant
- Noise Cancellation: No, but Adaptive Sound feature will raise and lower the volume based on outside noise
- Sweat and water resistant: Yes
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does AirPods Pro work with Google Pixel?
They do–to a degree. Because the AirPods Pro connects via Bluetooth, then can be used with most Android phones that have a Bluetooth connection. However, you’ll lose on some of the software features of AirPods Pro, like Siri, which requires an iPhone.
Q: Are AirPod pros worth it?
We think so. We consider them the best wireless earbuds on the market. The biggest killer feature? That active noise cancellation (ANC) most other wireless earbuds lack.
Q: Do AirPods Pro fall out?
Generally, no. The cool thing about the AirPods Pro is that they come with three interchangeable tips. This means you can fit the AirPods Pro to the shape of your ear. If you choose the right fit the AirPods Pro should stay snuggly in place–even when running or doing jumping jacks.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.