The hottest trend in tech right now is probably Wearables. This is the category of devices we wear on our bodies (as opposed to carrying in our hands, as we do with smartphones. But while most people hear “wearables” and think “smartwatches”, the largest device category in the wearables market is actually wireless earbuds.
Naturally, Apple is the leader here. It’s AirPods revolutionized the wireless earbud industry when they launched five years ago. Since then, however, most other large tech companies have gotten into the market–including Google. Matter of fact, Google just released its much-anticipated Pixel Buds 2.
How do they stack up to Apple’s AirPods (2019)? Let’s find out…
Apple’s AirPods vs Google’s Pixel Buds
- AirPods – Apple’s AirPods are made to be as tiny and fashion-conscious as possible. It’s a minimalist device that doesn’t even have any physical buttons. And their white body is virtually iconic by now.
- Pixel Buds – 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 – Their design still outshines the Pixel Buds. They’re tiny works of art.
Audio & Connectivity
- AirPods – The AirPods include 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.
- Pixel Buds – The Pixel Buds also feature beam-forming microphones and a voice accelerometer, as well as connecting over Bluetooth, too. The Buds also have “Adaptive Sound” that automatically raises or lowers the volume based on your surroundings.
Winner? Draw – Neither have active noise cancelation and while the Pixel Buds do boast “adaptive sound” most people aren’t going to notice a difference between the quality of the audio in either one.
Battery & Charging
- AirPods – The AirPods come in a wired charging case and wireless charging case option. One charge gets you five hours of use and a full case charge gets you over 24 hours of use.
- Pixel Buds – The Pixel Buds get you 5 hours of use and their case gets you 24 hours in total. However, the Pixel Buds ship with a wireless charging case.
Winner? Pixel Buds – They include a wireless charging case as standard.
- AirPods – The AirPods support hands-free “Hey Siri” commands as well as giving you full access to all of Siri’s capabilities.
- Pixel Buds – The Pixel Buds support hands-free Google Assistant. Right there, they beat the AirPods’s Siri.
Winner? Pixel Buds – Google Assistant is a much better assistant than Siri.
- AirPods – $159.00 (wired charging case) or $199.00 (wireless charging case)
- Pixel Buds – $179.99
From a design perspective, the winner is clear – the AirPods. However, when looking at audio quality, the two sound virtually identical. But two areas where the Pixel Buds beat the AirPods are with the included wireless charging case and with its Google Assistant support.
However, each earbud is really designed to work with their respective phones, so the AirPods with an iPhone and the Pixel Buds with a Pixel phone. So your best earbuds option probably boils down to which phone you own.
Apple’s AirPods (2019) vs Google’s Pixel Buds (2020): Full Specs
Here are the specs for the AirPods:
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, H1 chip
- Wireless charging: Optional
- Battery Life: 5 hours AirPod use, 24+ hours with charging case
- Sensors: Dual beam-forming microphones, Dual optical sensors, Motion-detecting accelerometer, Speech-detecting accelerometer
- Voice assistant support: Siri
- Noise Isolation: No
- Sweat-resistant: No
And here are the specs for the Pixel Buds:
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- Wireless charging: Yes
- Battery Life: 5 hours Pixel Buds use, 24 hours with charging case
- Sensors: Beam-forming microphones, Voice accelerometers, Touch
- Voice assistant support: Google Assistant + Translation
- Noise Cancellation: No, but Adaptive Sound feature will raise and lower the volume based on outside noise
- Sweat and water-resistant: Yes
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.