Google stumbled out of the gate with its first attempt at wireless earbuds (which still came with a wire), but since 2017, Pixel Buds have been slowly improving. Now, for the first time, they’re getting a pro model with active noise cancellation, although it pushes Pixel Buds to their highest price point yet.
Revealed today during Google’s I/O conference keynote address, the Pixel Buds Pro feature a more bulbous design than older models and do away with the built-in wing nubs that helped the Pixel Buds A-series stay more permanently perched in a user’s ears. Google is also going back to the two-tone color approach for the new buds, reminiscent of the Pixel Buds from 2020. The base and silicone ear tips are black, with a colored accent on the end in one of four options: Charcoal, Fog, Coral, and Lemongrass—but the colors aren’t carried through to the Pixel Buds Pro’s egg-shaped charging case.
Wireless charging is back—a feature that Google removed from last year’s Pixel Buds A-series, presumably to help them hit a $99 price point. On a single charge, the buds will stay powered for as 11 hours with fancy features turned off, or up to seven hours with ANC on, but that can be extended when occasionally popped back into the charging case. On just a five minute charge in the case, the Pixel Buds Pro will slurp enough power to run for another hour.
Battery life drops to about seven hours on a single charge with the biggest reason for users to upgrade activated: active noise cancellation. Powered by a custom processor, algorithm, and speakers that Google developed, the Pixel Buds Pro will finally help you tune out unwanted sounds either in an office environment or when stuck on a long flight. They can also be used to tune out unwanted background noises during a call, by focusing on the user’s voice through a combination of beamforming mics protected by wind-blocking mesh covers and bone conduction that detects jaw vibrations.
Complementing the ANC is a transparency mode that boosts ambient sounds to make the user more aware of their surroundings while wearing what are essentially electronic ear plugs. The Pixel Buds Pro also introduce multi-device connectivity, with intelligent automatic switching between devices when a call comes in on a smartphone—whether it’s running Android or iOS—or when a video starts playing on a connected laptop. And while we haven’t had a chance to ears-on yet, we’re also excited for a feature Google calls Volume EQ, which automatically increases the bass frequencies of what you’re listening to with the volume turned down so it doesn’t sound flat at lower decibels.
The new Pixel Buds Pro will be available for pre-order starting on July 21, and released a week later on July 28. Because they’re branded as a “Pro” offering, the price is now $200, which makes these the most expensive Pixel Buds to date. They’re still cheaper than competitor’s products like Apple’s $249 Air Pods Pro, but are $50 more expensive than Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 and twice the price of the $99 Nothing ear (1) buds. Will they sound twice as good? We’ll let you know once we get a chance to try them out.