I tried Google's Pixel Buds Pro – are they worth buying? Here are my pros and cons

Google's top-tier Pixel Buds Pro cost £179, but is that a price worth paying? Here are my first impressions

Google Pixel Buds Pro review
(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

As the Google Pixel 6a phone arrives into the world for all to buy, it's flanked by Google's top-tier earbuds: the Pixel Buds Pro. I've been using these best true wireless earbuds to explore their pros and cons.

The Pixel Buds Pro introduce Google's Apple-a-like Audio Switching feature, meaning quick and easy hand-over between any Android phone and tablet on which you're signed into your Google account. No, that doesn't include laptops as part of that feature, but you can pair Pixel Buds with two devices simultaneously via Bluetooth so that's no issue anyway. 

But what else is on offer and are these earbuds worth their £179/$199/€219 asking price? Here are my Pixel Buds Pro first impressions...

Do the Pixel Buds Pro sound good?

These are earbuds first and foremost so it's all about sound quality. Fortunately, I think the Buds Pro sound pretty good, as you'd hope from their lofty 'Pro' name. Google doesn't provide the specific frequency response on the official Buds Pro specs page (opens in new tab), but the bass is deep and the treble sparkly enough. 

I feel the Pixel Buds Pro are largely about their design, though, which in the Coral finish I've received to review (photos on this very page) look visually striking. They wear well, although I personally find them a little uncomfortable in the ear canal after not a particularly long period of time – there are three included eartips in the box though (but no charging cable whatsoever, which might be a problem if you don't possess a USB-C charger).

Pixel Buds Pro: is noise-cancelling effective?

A big part of the sound is down to the Buds Pro's combination of sound isolation and active noise-cancelling (ANC) tech. The latter can be easily toggled on or off with a tap-and-hold on either one of the earbuds (this can also be customised as you wish during setup to handle other functions, such as Google Assistant instead). 

The ANC in the Buds Pro is generally effectively, clearly cutting out higher-end hiss and helping to mitigate surrounding ambient noise. However, I find it's got some areas where it doesn't function so well: mid-to-upper frequencies aren't dialled out entirely, so you'll still be able to hear various sounds (think Velcro on shoes territory) quite clearly. 

Furthermore, the ANC gives that 'locked in' feeling, but as the Pixel Buds Pro are lodged into your ears by design this means you'll hear anything from your mouth amplified: grind your teeth and you'll know about it; eat some crunchy cereal and it's fed right into your brain, which the best over-ear ANC headphones don't do at all. 

Pixel Buds Pro price and competition

Google Pixel Buds Pro review

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

So to the main question at hand: are Google's Pixel Buds Pro worth their asking price? In the UK that opening sum is £179; it's €219 in Europe; or you'll pay $199 in the USA. 

Crucially that's cheaper than the Apple AirPods Pro, which is clearly the kind of grade that Google wants to establish itself again. For me, however, the comfort isn't as good as Apple's earbuds (perhaps down to physical size), and the active noise-cancelling isn't quite as refined either. 

However, there's a big win under Google's belt: the battery life per charge is pretty astounding, at around 7 hours per charge. That's, like, almost double the AirPods Pro's talk time equivalent. The Pixel Buds Pro's case adds a further two charges, too, so you'll get around 20 hours all in, or over 30 hours if you don't use ANC.

Elsewhere on the market, however, there's all manner of options to consider. Sony's expert earbuds, the WF-1000XM4, which feature better noise cancelling, cost barely any more at present. They don't offer Audio Switching, granted, but as you can connect to two devices that may not matter too much to too many people just yet.

So are the Pixel Buds Pro worth it?

Google Pixel Buds Pro review

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

So do I think the Google Pixel Buds Pro are worth it? There's the start of some exciting stuff here. The Audio Switching feature will, I presume, only continue to improve. The customisation is great. The swipe controls work pretty well and react to gentle touches. There's even spatial audio being added towards the end of 2022. 

But I do think you can get a more comfortable fit and better active noise-cancelling elsewhere in the true wireless earbuds market. Perhaps not for a more agreeable price than what Google is asking, however, and given that these earbuds undercut Apple's AirPods Pro that's something that'll make this Android option appealing for many in my opinion.

Mike Lowe
Tech Editor

Mike has been writing about consumer technology for 15 years and is T3's Tech Editor. As a phones expert he's seen hundreds of handsets over the years – swathes of Android devices, a smattering of iPhones, and a batch of Windows Phone products (remember those?). But that's not all, as a tech aficionado his beat for T3 also covers tablets, laptops, gaming, home cinema, TVs, speakers and more – there's barely a stone unturned that he's not had a hand on. Previously the Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint for a full decade, he's also provided work for publications such as Wired, The Guardian, Metro, and more. In addition to his tech knowledge, Mike is also a flights and travel expert, having travelled the globe extensively. You'll likely find him setting up a new mobile phone, critiquing the next MacBook, all while planning his next getaway... or cycling somewhere.