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If it weren’t for ‘Oh So Orange’ I might’ve gotten this Pixel 4 color

Abner Li writing for 9to5Google

Despite how much I love the Oh So Orange Pixel 4 that I have, I would be very tempted to pick up this gray (grey?) variant. This is especially true considering that you can get the XL variant for a few hundred dollars off from various retailers right now.

But for the time being, I’ll stick with my standard Pixel 4 and it’s woefully awful battery life. Because, money and that camera is still AMAZING on the smaller phone.

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Thoughts

Pixel Buds first impressions – Could these be Google’s AirPods?

When it comes to tech, I have my feet in both camps in many regards. While my primary setup includes a MacBook Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro, I also have a custom-built Windows PC along with a Pixel 4. For reasons that I cannot figure out, there’s just something about having access to all kinds of technology that makes me excited.

Along with my love for tech in general, I have a bit of an obsession with headphones. So when I saw that Google announced the Pixel Buds (2), I was instantly sold. And then the wait happened. Months passed and Google continued to hang back on releasing its new headphones.

The time finally came where Google opened up pre-orders, and I jumped at 12:01PM I placed my pre-order. Then, I had to wait for FedEx to get it together and deliver them to my doorstep.

Pairing process

Pixel Buds Setup Screen

As soon as I could, I paired them with the Pixel 4, took a few pictures, and stuck them in my ears. It’s clear that Google took a page out of Apple’s book and made the pairing process easier than ever. You don’t need to go into the Bluetooth menu, wait for the Buds to appear, and then pair them. Nope. Instead, you are greeted with a pop-up after the Pixel recognizes that these headphones are nearby.

After going through the different splash screens to enable things like Google Assistant Voice Match, you’re ready to go. This process also shows you some of the nifty gestures that you can take advantage of.

That’s right, instead of relying on buttons (Jabra Elite) or a touch-sensitive stem (AirPods), the surface of the Pixel Buds are touch sensitive. Swiping forward turns the volume up, swiping back turns it down, a double tap skips the song while a triple tap goes to the last song or starts the current song from the beginning. And a single tap can play or pause.

Decide which apps you want Spoken Notifications for

But there’s even more than that, as you now have Google Assistant in your ear. As notifications come through you are notified, and then can touch and hold on the surface to have the messages read to you. But what’s even more awesome than this is that you can go into the Pixel Buds settings and set up which apps have access to this. No, I don’t want to know when a game is bugging me, let alone to have all my emails in my ear all the time. Google did a great job with this one.

Usage and impressions

By no means is this a “scientific” test, and this was just on the first run, but here’s how the first listening session played out:

  • 3:30PM paired and started listening to music
  • Turned on Spotify and listened to a few bass-heavy playlists (more on this later)
  • Ear Fatigue started around the 3-hour mark
  • Pixel Buds officially turned themselves off at 7:52PM.

So that’s almost 4.5 hours of battery on the first listening session. The ear fatigue came and then went, and it’s important to note that I left the “medium” ear tips in. But Google does include both a large and small option in the box. I might end up trying to pick up some Comply foam tips, but these worked fine.

Pixel Buds in Notification Shade

When each bud reached 15% left, a notification popped up on the Pixel and there was a unique sound in each bud. This just lets you know that you’re getting close to the end. The “sound” also repeats at 10% and 5% remaining.

There’s more to come

I am nowhere near the point of coming to a full “conclusion” about the Pixel Buds just yet. It would be dumb to give some type of decision after just one listening session. But my early impressions are that Google really did a great job with these.

While you can’t customize the EQ, I might try and dive into the Play Store to see what I can find. Plus, I could just use Spotify to customize the EQ, but that would only work in that app. Nonetheless, there are already rumors that Google could be planning a solid update to give you “attention alerts”. We’ll see what happens, but things are looking good so far.