Google has just announced that's release a new lower-priced version of the Pixel Buds, called the Pixel Buds A-Series. They'll launch at £99/$99, and while they're available to pre-order in the US right now from the Google Store (opens in new tab) for delivery before May 18th, elsewhere we're just promised a launch later in 2021.
Google Australia hasn't revealed a price or release date just yet, but you can join the waiting list (opens in new tab) to be notified when they do.
While you're waiting, you can at least get excited for what promises to be one of the best-value earbud releases of the year. Google says "Custom-designed 12 mm dynamic speaker drivers deliver full, clear and natural sound, with the option for even more power in those low tones with Bass Boost."
Crucially, Google is also specifically mentions how important fit is to clear audio. "We’ve scanned thousands of ears to make Pixel Buds A-Series fit securely with a gentle seal. In order to keep the fit comfortable over time, a spatial vent reduces in-ear pressure."
That last bit sounds very similar to what Apple did with its AirPods Pro, and it makes a real and noticeable difference there, and is the thing here that most excited me, weirdly. If Google's audio engineering for the driver is on, this is the exactly the kind of feature that could elevate it above the best wireless earbuds, which is just getting more and more crowded.
A feature that's less exciting than it sounds is the 'Adaptive Sound', which basically just monitors the outside noise and increases or decreases volume, depending on the ambient levels around you. It sounds nice, but it's a far cry from have active noise cancellation in the loud environments. After all, Amazon's Echo Buds only cost a little more, and have Bose noise reduction tech in.
For a stable fit, the new Pixel Buds A-Series include a 'stabiliser arc' – an extra fin, basically, of the kind you often see on the best running headphones. Again, this should help keep the audio quality up because it'll keep a better seal, and might just help people who are new to true wireless buds feel like it's not going to fall out.
Google is promising five hours per charge, with 24 hours in total including the charging case, and a 15-minute charge can give three hours of listening. You also get all the Pixel Buds smarts you'd hope for, including 'Hey Google' and real-time translation.
They're also IPX4 rated for water and sweat resistance, so should be fine for working out or getting caught in the occasional shower.