Google’s first generation of Pixel Buds proved a decent offering, but they paled in comparison to the likes of Apple’s AirPods. Now, Google has announced a new take on its smart earbuds with the Pixel Buds (2nd gen).

With the second generation of Pixel Buds, Google is making some crucial changes to the product. Gone is the wire connecting the two earbuds and instead, a truly wireless design just like Apple’s AirPods, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds, and a host of others.

The new Pixel Buds come with a lot of the same core design ideas as the original, but they make changes in several important areas. For one, the design is now more like traditional earbuds with a rubber tip that “seals” your ear canal. However, the most clever part of Google’s entire design is that that doesn’t actually seal you off from the rest of the world.

There’s a “spatial vent” on the earbud which lets the noise around you in, but only to a certain degree. This doesn’t help with noise cancellation, but it does get rid of that sealed-in feeling that most headphones with this design have. I won’t lie, I wanted to stand up and clap when Google announced this at its event because it’s been one of my biggest issues with other earbuds.

pixel buds

Moving from one great thing to another, there’s the new carrying case. Just like the previous offering, it has USB-C which is nice, but everything else is totally different. The outer material is now a matte finish which feels excellent in the hand, and the contrast of the white outside to the black inside is a great look to me.

The real win for Google here, though, is the size of that case. While the likes of the Galaxy Buds and every other AirPods competitor has a huge case that’s uncomfortable to hold in your pocket, Google has crafted one that’s just about the perfect size. It’s only a bit bigger and a bit thicker than the AirPods case which is simply impressive to me.

pixel buds 2nd gen vs airpods

Another nice addition Google has made is that the case works with wireless charging.

Really, looking at the whole package, there’s no big negative to the Pixel Buds (2nd gen). They have a truly wireless design with a very clever design, a decent price at $179, 5 hours of battery life, and all of the Assistant features we loved from the original – now with “Hey Google” support too. As it stands, I think Google has won the war on wireless headphones, with one asterisk.

pixel buds

Google says it custom-engineered the audio from these headphones. Because they won’t be on sale until next year and don’t have FCC approval yet, I wasn’t able to try out the sound quality, but Google is making big promises in that department. If it lives up to its claims, I think the new Pixel Buds will be unreservedly the best wireless headphones on the market.

Until that time, I’ll be begrudgingly continuing to use AirPods with my Pixel and sit on the Google Store’s waitlist.

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Ben Schoon

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