Together with machine learning, it presented its new phones as vessels for pioneering software as opposed to radically progressive hardware. Now for the app. You can even use them as headphones on iOS, but you don’t get Google Assistant. Only the best deals on the best products handpicked by our expert editors There’s also the option of an ambient mode, which amplifies external noise to help you hear the outside world when you need to. The Buds Pro ship with a compact, square carry case that remains one of the smallest and most practical I’ve found yet for true wireless buds – perfect for throwing into a pocket or bag without getting in the way.
This is perhaps the Buds Pro’s secret weapon, as Samsung presents the best iteration of this tech thus far. Now: From £21 per month Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide View more prices All of this is controller via the Galaxy Wear app, or through the limited on-device controls. In fact, we even had to contact Google support to even get them to work in the first place, as our review unit required a hard reset straight out the box, with no instructions as to how to remedy this odd error. Only the best deals on the best products handpicked by our expert editors Learn more. This is all before we mention the Buds are connected with a piece of string (yes, string) that also inexplicably act as part of the fitting mechanism.
Now: $599 ($360 off) Note: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site, at no extra cost to you. Now: $599 ($360 off) Let’s cover those first. Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide View more prices Samsung has managed to squeeze a two-way speaker setup into each bud, with an 11mm woofer backed up by a 6mm tweeter. Now: $99.99 ($50 off) Combined, it means that the Buds Pro seem to press against my ears more than most headphones, and have a slight tendency to work themselves loose over time, as their weight isn’t well-balanced. On your phone, your words appear in real time with the text translation into the other language below.
With the release of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, Google showed that it is serious about AI. It helps of course that Samsung has brought back the active noise cancelling from the Buds Live, and together with the tight fit of the buds themselves the result is the best noise cancellation I’ve personally tested on earbuds, blocking out almost everything around you. This is, again, a massive shame as the headline real-time translation feature of the Pixel Buds is excellent – a real ‘wow’ moment in tech that we don’t see all that often. The Galaxy Buds Pro are a premium package, with a decent fit combined with top-notch sound, active noise-cancellation, and smart features that make that ANC seamless to use.
Now: $24.98 ($24 off off) At the same time, the company announced Pixel Buds, the companion wireless headphones that can do real-time language translation. Now: $59.95 ($40 off) Instead, you’ll get five hours of use between charges, give or take, which goes up to eight if you turn off ANC (though you probably won’t). From: Laptops Direct That compactness is also the biggest strength of the design of the headphones themselves.
Aside from poor fit, the other problem with the Buds is connectivity. Sound settings revert after 10 seconds without hearing your voice, which is enough time to stay active during a conversation without being too annoying once it’s done and you want your music back. By Dominic Preston, Deputy Editor | 27 Jan 2021 This is the same price as Apple’s AirPods and not far off the £199 asking price for B&O’s Beoplay H5, a similarly wireless but corded design. Battery life is consistently acceptable at three or four hours on one charge, and the case holds enough power to charge up and keep them going for twenty-four according to Google. Another thing to note is that you only get the full set of features if you have a first or second-generation Pixel.
On Android, the app lets you customise the level of the noise-cancelling and ambient modes, tweak controls, change the EQ, and turn on or off ‘Voice detect’. Now: $24.98 ($24 off off) But we can wear AirPods all day long whereas the Pixel Buds are so badly made we can’t even wear them for an hour. Not on brute specs or sound quality – though they’re more than a match there – but by tying together Samsung’s ecosystem in a pair of headphones that’s designed first and foremost for Samsung phones.
Now: £1,499.97 (£400 off) Now: $99.99 ($50 off) Now: $69.99 ($29.99 off) Using the older Bluetooth 4.2 standard (newer devices use the advanced version 5.0) means we encountered random blips in audio. The sound is very impressive for a unit of this size and with no in-line amplifier. Now: $59.95 ($40 off) If you don’t need ANC you can definitely spend less though. Now: From £21 per month Now: £362.21 upfront or £30.34 p/m (Up to £234.12 off) You can’t skip track though, which is a smaller reminder to the user that Google hasn’t put music playback front of mind when making the Pixel Buds.
Talking to the Pixel Buds during the long press is pretty seamless, and it works just how you might be used to using Assistant on your phone or Google Home. Dom covers everything that runs on electricity, from phones and laptops to wearables, audio, gaming, smart home, and streaming - plus he's a regular fixture on the Tech Advisor YouTube channel. But - and this is a big but - you can do all of this already on the free Google Translate app, simply using your phone's microphone and speaker. The Buds can annoyingly only be paired to one device at a time, but when they disconnected inexplicably from our Pixel 2 each time they’d been in the case we got pretty annoyed. I said above that the Buds Pro borrow the design of the Buds+, but really that’s only half-true.
Google Translate then auto-opens on your phone and you hold the right bud again and speak in your native language. Large rounded exteriors house the touchpad and microphone on the right ear, but the left lump is merely there for symmetrical reasons. Taking them out after even just 20 minutes use and our inner ears ached with the angular pressure applied by the odd shape. How frustrating, then, that we can’t outright dismiss the Pixel Buds. Other Android phones can use Assistant, but not the translation feature.
They deliver enough bass to cut through the mix in Marvin Gaye or drive a Caribou track forwards, without compromising on mids or trebles or letting it all run together into a muddy mush in the middle of the spectrum. Was: £596.33 upfront or £49.94 p/m And then, the earpieces themselves are horrendously uncomfortable. This doesn't affect our editorial independence. It's not as 'real-time' as the Buds, but leads us to conclude Google is simply dressing up an old feature as a new one. The case itself feels rough and unfinished despite the nice fabric coating, with a plastic and sharp feel to the lip that looks like a cheap choice of materials and finish.
It’s a shame that some of the best features are for Samsung users only, and even more so that at the time of writing the iPhone app doesn’t support the new buds at all, but there’s still enough on offer to make these a compelling choice for Android – and probably the best noise-cancelling true wireless buds on the market right now. Samsung’s own Buds+ are £159/$149 and often on offer, while our top earbuds – the RHA TrueConnect 2 – are only £129/$149. Now: £37 Clubcard Price (£13 off) The Pixel Buds are not a bastion of modern design.
The glossy outer side of each bud is touch-sensitive. Now: £679 (£120 off) The audio profile is broad and balanced, neutral enough to suit most tastes – though the accompanying app includes a few pre-set equalizer options if you want to tweak to your taste. Needing a metallic connection to charge the Buds is at odds with the growing trend for seamless wireless charging in consumer technology. Now: £1,499.97 (£400 off) One oddity is that since it’s triggered by your voice it won’t kick in if someone tries to talk to you, so the first thing you say might still be asking someone to repeat themselves, but it does at least save you from fumbling to pause every time you hit the supermarket checkout. Now: Up to $550 off (With free Galaxy Buds 2) A tap on the right earbud pauses the music (as well as hurting your ear), a swipe forward or back adjusts volume, and a long press activates Google Assistant.
Like those headphones (which themselves took after the original Galaxy Buds) these are small headphones with silicone tips and a rounded, glossy finish – available in silver, black, or violet. Check out our full true wireless chart for more options if you’re not convinced. You can tap for play/pause (which also triggers if you take either bud out of your ear) or touch and hold on either to trigger a customisable control: switch between ANC and ambient mode; activate your voice assistant; change volume; or trigger an automatic Spotify playlist.
The main downside is that controls are a little too sensitive, and thanks to the small size of the buds there’s not much surface area that isn’t a touchpad. Now: £37 Clubcard Price (£13 off) The phone then reads the text out loud for the listener. Now: £679 (£120 off) But with a product as maddeningly unusable as the Pixel Buds, its hiding its excellent software in a hardware product we can’t recommend. The design is ugly, but worse than that, the headset hurts to wear for more than 10 minutes. This doesn't affect our editorial independence.
Now: £649 (£150 off) This is available on both Android and iOS, but the iPhone version hasn’t been updated to include the Buds Pro yet – so Apple users will still miss out on a few features. The shape is their own though, and the design here has been tweaked from previous Buds – not always for the better. Yes, really - they're akin to the babel fish from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
You’ll also get voice-controlled access to Bixby, but none of us want that anyway. Like the Pixel phones, this is at the expense of hardware design. The Pixel Buds are on sale now for £159 from Google, though at the time of writing, there’s no stock in the UK.
Their bulk does at least help create a good noise seal (unlike on the bean-shaped Buds Live), while the IPX7 waterproof rating is among the toughest yet in true wireless earbuds, making these a great choice for exercising so long as you can get past the worry that they might fall out. The Galaxy Buds Pro are a premium package, with a decent – if not quite perfect – fit combined with top-notch sound, active noise-cancellation, and smart features that make that ANC seamless to use. The inevitable comparisons are with Apple’s AirPods, but Google hasn’t aimed to replicate them.
Google Pixel Buds review
p>By Henry Burrell, Contributor | 28 Nov 2017 That audio expertise has helped recent Samsung headphones punch above their weight, and that continues here, in a pair of headphones that really do feel like an evolution of what’s come before. We found ourselves charging the case about every three days after continuous use. Now: $69.99 ($29.99 off) Like previous Galaxy Buds, these are emblazoned with both the logos of Samsung and audio brand AKG – itself a Samsung subsidiary. Now: £362.21 upfront or £30.34 p/m (Up to £234.12 off) Samsung’s fourth pair of Galaxy Buds are the best yet, pairing the in-ear design of the Galaxy Buds+ with the active noise-cancelling of the Buds Live to great effect. It simply doesn’t work, with the user needing to make a little loop to fit into your ear to help with fit.
These features may be enough to tip the Buds Pro from good to great for many users, and they’re clearly aimed at replicating the smooth, frictionless experience Apple provides with AirPods. From: Laptops Direct I’ve already mentioned that none of the app support is available on iPhone, but frustratingly some of the Buds Pro’s best features are also exclusive to Samsung devices – and recent ones too, as they’ll need to be running OneUI 3.1. More than any other bud style headphone we’ve used for some time, the Pixel Buds hurt to wear. It’s not a constant problem, but it does mean that any time you want to adjust the fit - or even just fiddle about a bit while you put the buds in – you're liable to pause, play, or trigger the Google Assistant when you don’t mean to. Only requiring one Pixel phone and one set of Pixel Buds, you tap and hold the right bud for Assistant and say, for example, "help me speak French".
Now: £899.90 (£100 off) £200/$200 is about what you’ll end up paying anywhere for good ANC earbuds, and in fact Samsung’s are cheaper than the closest comparable rivals from Sony and Bose too. Google is aggressively promoting the benefits of buying into its ecosystem with this choice, though Apple is the same. I haven’t managed to test every single one of those numbers, but in my experience it’s pretty close – using ANC on high I can get through most of a workday, but not quite all the way, and I’ve only felt the need to top the case up every few days. You do get basic Siri integration which is good to see (and somewhat surprising), but Siri is not as useful as Assistant, and you can’t access the translation feature.
It helps that in addition to USB-C charging, Qi wireless charging is once again included – a welcome extra convenience if you already own charging pads, or have a phone that supports reverse wireless charging. Now: $499.99 ($50 off) More worryingly, the Buds wouldn’t stay connected to a device once we’d returned them to their charging case and then took them out again. They can then tap a button on-screen and speak back directly into the phone, with the translation coming in correctly back to you through real time text, and audio into the headphones.
From: Virgin Media They sit awkwardly at odds with how an actual ear is shaped, and it hurts to push them in for an elusive better fit. How Google could have got the basic ‘must not hurt’ part of the Pixel Buds so wrong is indicative about how relentlessly they are pursuing intelligent software. At £219/$199 the Buds Pro aren’t cheap, but they still comfortably undercut the similarly specced AirPods Pro at £249/$249.
Only the best deals on the best products handpicked by our expert editors Only the best deals on the best products handpicked by our expert editors Bass response is good considering these do not form a good seal in the ear canal, with clear mids and trebles representing our music and podcast collections excellently. From: Virgin Media The body is larger than on previous models, and lacks a silicone fin on the top to hold the headphones in place. If your phone is compatible, that will unlock 360 audio driven by Dolby, intelligent switching between devices (though they’ll all need to be Samsung, so you’d better be invested in that ecosystem), the option to simultaneously pair two pairs Buds Pro, and the option to use the SmartThings app to find them if they go missing. There’s no doubt Google is onto a good thing with its vision of an AI-first world.
Assistant can also read your notifications out if you want, which is more useful than you might think, if slightly intrusive and could be overwhelming for some. Each bud has two pin connector points where the units charge in their case, but because this is the part that touches your inner ear it makes them feel unrefined Otg Chargers and is an odd design choice. Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide View more prices To charge, you place each bud in its little dock in the fabric case, and wrap the string around the outside and tuck it in before closing the case. Note: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site, at no extra cost to you. The case delivers a little over twice that again, for roughly 18 hours total with ANC, and 28 hours without.
Sound quality is frustratingly decent, and while they are a surprisingly different product to the AirPods, they are better in this respect than Apple’s buds. They may be bigger than Samsung’s previous efforts, but they remain dinky by true wireless standards, and sit snugly in the ear with no bits that dangle or protrude to get caught on bag straps, hair ties, or anything else. This means the crux of the matter is these are £160 headphones that are so badly designed we can’t even comfortably listen to a whole album on them without wanting to tear them out and massage our poor bruised ears.
Now: Up to $550 off (With free Galaxy Buds 2) The Pixel Buds can do this very well, but everything else about them is badly thought out. It turns on ambient mode and lowers music volume when it detects your voice – but not other people’s - making it possible to have a conversation without running the risk of ruining your audio just because someone near you on the bus is talking too loudly. More than that though, they’re Samsung’s attempt to match Apple’s AirPods Pro.
So, it’s a shame that we are in mild physical pain while wearing the Buds. Unfortunately, the Pixel Buds are a much worse product so maybe it should have. The Pixel Buds are a curious failure. At times the sound stage feels a little cramped – these have none of the open sonics of the Buds Live – but there’s enough space to place specific instruments, and the end result is nothing if not immersive. It is a useful tool if you travel lots and can’t be doing with a dog-eared phrasebook, but you'll have to fork out for a Pixel phone too for the privilege.
Now: $499.99 ($50 off) Now: £899.90 (£100 off) Now: £649 (£150 off) The string is also there to let you hang the Buds round your neck when not in use, and to help you avoid losing them. The Buds connected easier with our resident Pixel (first-gen), but it’s unacceptable for a £160 set of headphones to constantly disconnect and baffle the user each time you put them in your ears and expect them to work. Learn more. Samsung has once again delivered solid battery life here, though can’t quite match the lofty highs of the Buds+’s 11 hours of playtime. They have one of the most joyfully genius features of the last few years in their real-time translation, but that is totally contradicted by their ugly, pain-inducing design and the fact it's already a feature hidden in the Google Translate app that you don't need the headphones to access.
Was: £596.33 upfront or £49.94 p/m This is largely useless, and the Pixel Buds always feel like they are going to fall out. It’s close to magic, and genuinely works. Still, the Buds Pro hold their own even without these extras – I've been testing with a non-Samsung Android phone (ignore the photos - that S21 went to someone else to review!) and I remain largely impressed.
That means the Galaxy Buds Pro are at their best if you’re pairing them with a recent Galaxy phone – though they’re still a pretty compelling choice on other Android devices, though iOS users will find less to love.