The new Pixel Buds 2 are here but, like Apple’s ultra-popular AirPods, they have one core problem, battery life…
Google has just released its brand new and updated Pixel Buds 2, the follow-up to the company’s ill-fated Pixel Buds which launched a couple of years back now.
Google has updated the design of the Pixel Buds 2, making them cleaner-looking whilst still retaining that distinct Google design language. But one area where Google could have made a name for itself appears to have been neglected.
Google Pixel Buds 2 Battery Life (Not Great, Sadly…)
Battery life on the Pixel Buds 2 is rated at 5-hours; however, most users will probably get far less. The Pixel Bud 2’s charging case will carry an additional 19 hours of charge, but that’s no good once your earbuds have already died – no one likes waiting, after all.
Although 10 minutes inside the charging case will net you 5 hours of battery life. For a full charge, the Pixel Buds 2 need to sit inside the charging case for 60 minutes. The Pixel Buds 2 are also Qi-certified, so they’ll work with any wireless charging accessory you might have around your home.
And then there’s the price. The Google Pixel Buds 2 retail for $179.99, or basically exactly the same amount of money as Apple’s AirPods. Middling battery life, at this price point, especially without Apple’s blinding brand power, will undoubtedly make life difficult for Google’s new earbuds.
You can get cheaper earbuds from third parties that will work just fine on Android with significantly better battery life for way less money; the RedMi Buds spring to mind here. There’s no active noise cancellation either, though you do get native Google Assistant support.
Pixel Buds 2 Specs:
- Price: $179
- Color: Clearly white (more colors are coming though)
- Battery Life: 5 hours
- Voice assistant: Google Assistant
- Water and sweat-resistant: Yes
- Active noise cancellation: No
Pixel Buds 2 Comfort
During the development of the Pixel Buds 2, Google scanned thousands of ears in a bid to design the perfect earbud. The company says all this data helped make the Pixel Buds 2 extremely comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time (even though you’re limited to 5 hours).
The Pixel Buds 2, while large-looking in photos, sit fairly flush to your ears and are designed to worn during exercise too. Google says that once inserted into your ears, they’ll stay put – even during vigorous exercise like running and swimming.
The Pixel Buds 2 earbuds are clearly superior to their predecessor (the original Pixel Buds were truly awful). They look better, have more functionality, are not being mis-sold as real-time translators, and they’re more comfortable. I just cannot fathom why Google didn’t pay more attention to battery life?
If it had made a pair of wireless earbuds with 10-12 hours of battery life, even at this price point, it would have turned a lot of heads. The Pixel Buds 2 don’t necessarily need active noise cancelation, but it certainly would have helped. I mean, if I can get a pair of over-ear headphones with ANC and better battery life for less, then why wouldn’t I?
You can’t make a name for yourself in a hugely competitive niche simply by doing like-for-like features. You need something truly different. You need to differentiate somehow. That can be done via pricing, on battery life, with new, innovative features, or a combination of these elements.
I cannot see any reason to buy the Pixel Buds 2 over, say, a pair of Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus earbuds. Had Google offered something like “all-day” battery life or ANC for less than half the price of Apple’s AirPods Pro we’d be having a different conversation right now.
But it didn’t; it just kind of fixed the original Pixel Buds, tweaked the design and added some new design elements. It didn’t add anything magical or impressive to the mix, so why would anyone go and buy these over the Galaxy Buds Plus or a pair of decent over-ear headphones like the more-expensive-but-infinity-better Bose QC35 IIs?
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.