Small, round design that vaguely recalls the shape of the Mentos: after being launched in the U.s. last April, the Google Pixels Buds 2 are you finally arrive in Italy, ready to be tried.
The headphones true wireless Google are a highly-anticipated product: in theory, according at least to the name, would be the ideal continuation of the first Pixels Buds dated 2017, but they have very little in common with the previous ones, and that they had even the connection cable between the earphones.
And then, between things, notes and other all to find out, here’s the outcome of my test in preview: I tested a few days coupled with my Pixels 3a.
- DESIGN AND COMFORT
- TOUCH CONTROLS
- INTEGRATION WITH The ASSISTANT on GOOGLE
- APPS AND SPECIAL FEATURES
- SOUND QUALITY
- THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ANDROID AND IOS
- PRICES, COLORS, AVAILABILITY
The first thing that leaps to the eye is without doubt the aspect of these headphones powered by Google: set in a case very nice, with a good magnetic closure, and made of a plastic material, pleasant to the touch, there are two earphones true wireless, from the shape, very unusual, kept in place by a magnetic mechanism which facilitates correct insertion and then loading.
The feeling is of having to do with a solid product, well built: the rounded shape of the case allows you to slip it easily in your pocket, and the matte finish protects it from signs of wear and tear. As soon as you open the case, turn on two leds: one front-mounted and external, indicates the charge level of the case; the other, on the inside, indicates the charge level of the headset.
In the back there is a button for Bluetooth pairing, and the bottom is the USB-C charging, but it can also be done in wireless mode. The headphones are very light – they weigh 5,3 grams each and measure 20.5 x 19.5 x 18.2 mm, while the enclosure weighs 56.1 g (without headphones inside) and measures 63 x 47 x 25 mm.
The headphones have undoubtedly a peculiar form: round on the outside, are in-ear but also equipped with a curious “headband” in the rubber is not removable, which improves the stability. Once worn, are to be arranged in and rotating clockwise until you find the position “lock”, and from the outside are quite simple; personally, a design which I much appreciated.
With regard to the comfort, the feeling is subjective, so much so that Google claims to have scanned thousands of ears to find a form as universal as possible.Surely the presence of the bow is very effective to keep them in their place, and can be used for sports, having the certification IPX4 splash water. I I found them quite comfortable: only after a couple of hours of uninterrupted use, I started to feel some discomfort.
The Pixels Buds 2 are equipped with touch controls that allow you to control the music playback, calls, and the built-in features of assistant Google with some simple gesture, very intuitive, the same for both headsets.
- with a single touch you can stop or resume the music playback and answer calls
- with two taps you switch to the next song, or you can close or reject a call and silence the assistant Google
- with three touches to return to the previous song
- with a long tap it evokes the narrator.
Always on both headphones you can also adjust the volumeboth of the music that calls: simply slide your finger forward to increase it and backwards to decrease the volume.
One of the strengths of the new Pixels Buds 2 is undoubtedly the integration with the assistant Google, that works well thanks to the voice recognition and allows you to perform a number of actions that are of interest without even touching any of the headphones: simply say the hotword “Ok Google” to ask for information on the weather, add and manage events in Google Calendar, take a selfie, start Spotify, and read notifications.
At the beginning of the process is a bit slow, because you have to learn to know and respect the turns of speaking with the assistant. Once in harmony, however, things proceed much more quickly, especially if you give it a little time to Voice-Match to recognize your voice and the way you speak.
Starting from notifications, it is also possible to replicate to the received messages, dictating to the assistant to the own answer, but also send new messages by specifying the application you want to use. The functionality in fact is active for both WhatsApp for Telegram, even if it is not possible to directly send voice messages.
For the moment, you still can’t use it with Messenger, send mail with Gmail or write notes on Keep, even if such improvements could be introduced through updates. On the other hand, Google has ensured that the Buds 2 will be supported just like smartphones Pixels, with frequent updates, and continuous with the so-called “feature-drop”, or the ability to obtain new features and not simple bug fix.
At the beginning of June, for example, has released the update firmware 296 to solve a slight hum reported by some users after the launch of the headphones to the United States. To install it, you need to check for updates via the app Pixels Buds, and then store the headphones in the case waiting for the update; it may take some time, because, unfortunately, it is not possible to manually force an update forced.
On the Pixels Buds 2 came back that that was, at the time, exclusive of the first generation headphones, Google home, or the translation (almost) in real-time during a conversation with a person who speaks another language. To use it, you need to download the app Google translate from the Play Store and choose the conversation mode from the screen of your smartphone.
Alternatively, you can also activate it by simply the narrator with a request along the lines of “Ok Google, help me to speak in Russian”.
The app translation will open and, while holding down the headset during your turn of the word, your sentences will be translated in the desired language: they will appear on the screen of your smartphone and will also be read by the synthetic voice of the translator, so that your partner can listen to them. The feature is available for over 40 languages, provided that there is a good connection to the internet.
Another interesting feature is Find My Devicethat allows you to find the headset in the case in which, for example, can not remember where you left them. Turning it on via the app Pixels Buds on the smartphone it is possible to play each of the two headsets, if you are close by.
The app Pixels Buds, only available for Android, allows you to manage the permissions of the assistant Google, search for updates, check the charge level of each headphone, display the controls of the gesture (but not customize them), and enable or disable features such as the detection of in-ear, which the wise if the earphones are worn (and if not, pauses the playback) and the sound adaptive, that – thanks to the presence of an accelerometer, which detects the movements of the mandible, and two microphones on each headset – detect if you are talking about in terms of environmental noise; if so, it intervenes by turning up the volume.
The sound quality is good, both in-call and during music playback. Headsets mountain dynamic driver diameter of 12 mm. After having tested with different genres of music, I can say that mids and highs are good, while bass is not particularly deep; in addition, it is not possible to customize the equalization, and the supported codecs are only AAC and SBC, probably with a view to saving energy.
In addition to the functionality of sound adaptive described above with regard to the contrast of the ambient noise, it must be said that the Pixels Buds 2 does not have a system of active noise cancellation. It is, rather, of a cancellation, passive and almost “mechanical”, because the surrounding noise is muffled by the perfect slot of the in-ear headphones inside the ear, also thanks to the presence of the bow in the rubber; the presence of a “breather” allows you to not feel a pressure of annoying in the ear canal.
So it is a good level of isolation, but not total, enough to not hear the noises that surround us, but not to cut out the low frequencies and continuous as those, for example, that you feel on the plane while you are flying.
Connectivity, with Bluetooth 5.0, it is good: if you have an Android device 6.0 and later, simply open the case and you will get a dialog box with the app of the headphones.
Definitely the ideal companion of the new headphones Google is a smartphone Pixels, where the app Pixels Buds is an integral part of the operating system, so much so that it can be accessed from the menu settings connectivity, but also for other Android smartphone compatibility is perfect.
Just download the app from the Play Store, activate the Bluetooth and the game is made: it is sufficient to open the housing of the headphones to activate the Fast Pair and access all the features of the app, from assistant to Google the translation in real time, by the sound processing adaptive to the sound of the headphones.
Different is the speech for iOS devices, for which things are a bit more complicated: to make the coupling you will need to use the Bluetooth button on the back of the case, in most are missing the functions related to the server Google and to application Pixels Buds, including also the translation in real-time. Headphones, then, do not work with Siri.
Chapter important, the battery: the recommended shelf life, as confirmed by the test in the field, is five hours of music playback and two and a half hours of calls to each headset; a performance in media that, while not being burdened by the presence of active noise cancellation, however, must cope with the many functions related to the narrator, especially if you choose to activate them all.
The earphones also you download in a non-uniform way: it seems that the right consumption slightly more than the left, which could be due to the fact that the two deal with different features to maximize the performance of the battery. In any case, to save the situation intervenes in the housing, which ensures that the other 19 hours of charging both headsets, for a total of 24 hours of music playback to keep comfortably in your pocket (or 12 hours of calls).
In addition, there is a function that allows you to earn two hours of playback with just ten minutes of charging. In addition to the USB-C, there is also the possibility of wireless charging.
The new Pixels Buds 2 will be launched on the Italian market today, at a price of 199 euros. At the moment in our Country the only coloration available is white (Clearly White) that you see in the article, but in the United States have also been proposed other three variants of color: Oh So Orange, Quite Mint and Almost Black.
The packaging is essential: it contains the headphones, a case, three pairs of ear tips headphones, the charging cable from the USB-C to USB-a and a quick guide.
Like other companies of high caliber, also Google is focusing a lot on services and the ecosystem. These Pixels Buds 2 are the proof: represent an element within the world of devices on offer from Mountain View, in an attempt to create a range as much as possible, interconnected, and based on the voice assistant.
Maybe not will make the difference from the hardware point of view, as the proposals of the Sony and Sennheiser, the more you focus on the audio quality of their products (starting with the active noise cancellation), but they have a series of advantages related to the deep integration with the world of Android, and with Google Assistant.
In my case they have given a sense to the voice assistant of Google, which so far I have used very little, and that coupled with the headphones has taken on a completely different utility, especially the ability to read notifications and respond to messages without even having to put his hand to the smartphone.
That said, it is a good product, robust, distinctive design and with a series of functions that are definitely attractive with regard to the assistant. Is the one that is right for you? As always, it all depends on what you are looking for.