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Google Pixel Buds A Series 2 wishlist: All the features I want to see

The updated Google Pixel Buds A Series 2 will need more than seamless Android integration to stay competitive.
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Published onJanuary 18, 2024

A hand holds the open case of the Google Pixel Buds A-Series in front of a beach.

Google is relatively new to the wireless earbuds game when pitted against more notorious audio brands. For example, it has only released four earbuds over the past seven years. The company’s first edition, the Google Pixel Buds, launched in 2017. These host a bulky design, a high price tag, and an impractical charging case. However, Google’s latest iteration, the Pixel Buds Pro, offer users a broader mix of high-end features. The Google Pixel Buds A Series are the company’s first attempt at affordable earbuds. These buds fix many of the connectivity issues of the original Pixel Buds. Given the Pixel Buds A Series launched in 2021, it seems an appropriate time to get excited about the Google Pixel Buds A Series 2.

However, if Google wants to compete with Apple, Sony, Jabra, and Bose, there are some improvements it will need to make to the Google Pixel Buds A Series 2 before their anticipated release later this year. Here are all of the upgrades I want to see.

Active Noise Canceling

A chart showing the mediocre isolation performance of the Google Pixel Buds A-Series
Isolation is fairly average with the Pixel Buds A-Series, but it’s not bad.

Let us face it — we all enjoy a level of privacy on our commutes to work. Thankfully, the Google Pixel Buds Pro prove that the company can implement decent active noise canceling (even if there is a notable hiss from evasive street sounds.) Nevertheless, I hope the company will bring ANC to Google’s updated A Series buds. This would be especially welcome, given the original Pixel Buds A Series struggle to isolate frequencies below 4kHz. It would also allow Google to do away with its proprietary Adaptive Sound technology. This is a distracting and imperfect feature of the original A Series buds. Including ANC would make the Google Pixel Buds A Series 2 a member of a select few budget earbuds that host active noise canceling.

It is also worth remembering that ANC is more than just a nice-to-have feature. Blocking out external sounds helps users play back audio at lower volume levels. This protects users’ ears from noise-induced hearing loss over the long term. It also makes it far less likely that you will suffer from ear fatigue over long listening sessions. Considering virtually all new earbuds include ANC technology, I expect the Google Pixel Buds A Series 2 will adopt it.

The aptX Bluetooth codec

A phone displays Bluetooth codecs with the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 and Google Pixel Buds Pro.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
You can force Bluetooth codecs through the Android Developer Settings.

Given the Google Pixel Buds A Series are targeted so heavily toward Android, it is a significant misstep not to include the aptX Bluetooth codec. SBC works fine as a reliable backstop, and AAC provides good-quality audio for iOS. However, the lack of aptX means Android smartphone owners miss out on high-quality wireless connectivity. The updated A Series buds will need the aptX Bluetooth codec from day one to be a competitive choice.

Notably, there are not many budget earbuds that currently support aptX connectivity. The Google Pixel Buds A Series 2 could stand above the rest, providing Android users up to 352kbps, 48kHz/16-bit audio streaming. It is also a more reliable connection than SBC and AAC. This is especially true when pairing via the latter with an Android device.

A dust-resistant IP rating

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series are sitting on a piece of driftwood at a beach.
Super lightweight, the Google Pixel Buds A-Series has a design that invites you to take it anywhere.

More and more earbuds are wearing water and dust-resistant designs. Based on Google’s previous iteration, it is almost certain the Google Pixel Buds A Series 2 will adorn an IPX4 water-resistant rating. However, I hope the company will also include a dust-resistant IP rating. Wearing a more robust design would make the next-gen buds more appealing to athletes and the workout-conscious. In particular, those who enjoy beach sports and climbing walls stand to benefit the most. It would also make Google’s next budget buds more suitable for use in countries with drier weather.

A custom EQ

A hand holds a smartphone showing the Pixel Buds app.
Using the Pixel Buds app is the only way to adjust EQ modes and toggle the Adaptive Sound setting.

You do not have to be an audiophile to want more control over how your music sounds. However, while many other earbud brands have nailed the implementation of custom EQs, Google continues to miss the mark with the Pixel Buds A series. To this day, users can only customize the bass response of their Pixel Buds A Series. The Pixel Buds Pro are the only Google earbuds to host a five-band custom EQ.

The Google Pixel Buds Pro also include a handful of EQ presets within the app. These include Default, Light Bass, Heavy Bass, Balanced, Vocal Boost, Clarity, and Last Saved. I hope Google will provide its Pixel Buds A Series 2 with a custom EQ and list of presets at launch. This is especially important, given that the original A Series buds’ default frequency curve is better suited for speech than music.

A louder and more bassy sound profile

This is the frequency response for the Google Pixel Buds A-Series.
Through the mids the A-Series does a solid job, but gets a little wobbly in the highs.

Most workout buds lay claim to a bass-heavy sound profile. However, the Google Pixel Buds A Series substantially lack volume below 400Hz. Additionally, treble frequencies past 3kHz undulate and sound unnatural. The mids also lack volume, resulting in an overall sound profile that lacks oomph. This is presumably a consequence of Google’s Adaptive Sound feature. The problem is that increasing the volume to hear more bass and mids also increases the treble. This is not such a handy feature for what are otherwise good all-around earbuds.

I expect that Google will up its game with the release of the Google Pixel Buds A Series 2. In particular, I would prefer a frequency response that more evenly follows our target curve above. That means producing more volume below 750Hz and rolling back some treble frequencies around 5kHz and 9kHz.

What would you like to see Google bring to the Google Pixel Buds A Series 2?

70 votes

Will there be a Google Pixel Buds A Series 2?

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series on driftwood with a smartphone.
The Pixel Buds A-Series looks nearly identical to the standard Pixel Buds.

Google is a leading player in the smartphone space thanks to Android and its own Pixel line of phones. Subsequently, I see no reason why the company will let its foot off the gas with its complementary wireless earbuds. While there’s been no official announcement from Google yet, I fully expect to see the Google Pixel Buds A Series 2 release in early-to-mid 2024. Google launched its most recent flagship earbuds, the Pixel Buds Pro, as recently as July 28, 2022. While they serve as a decent pair of mid-tier buds, they lack some high-end features. They are also tailored heavily toward Android users. With other brands offering more for less, Google will want to remain competitive by updating its affordable Pixel Buds A Series with a feature-rich upgrade.

There’s no word on whether or not they will be called the Pixel Buds A Series 2. We could perhaps see a shift to a Pixel Buds 2a branding to match the equivalent A series of budget Pixel phones.

  • Google Pixel Buds (2020) — April 27, 2020
  • Google Pixel Buds A Series — June 17, 2021
  • Google Pixel Buds Pro — July 28, 2022

Google tends to favor spring and summer releases for launching its earbuds brands. For example, the Google Pixel Buds (2020) came to market in the spring of 2020. The Google Pixel Buds A Series and the recent Google Pixel Buds Pro launched during the summer. The Google Pixel Buds (2020) were discontinued shortly after the release of the Google Pixel Buds A Series during the summer of 2021.

Google enjoys a minimum two-year window before updating its earbuds. For example, the Google Pixel Pro were released two years and three months after the Google Pixel Buds (2020). By that metric, it seems likely that we will see the Google Pixel Buds A Series 2 come to market sometime in early 2024. However, there was no mention of the Google Pixel Buds A Series 2 at CES 2024. In that case, we may have to wait until mid-2024 or later.

Should you wait for the Google Pixel Buds A Series 2?

The Google Pixel Buds A-Series case is being put in a chest pocket of a shirt.
The compact case fits discreetly in any pocket.

The original Google Pixel Buds A Series remain on sale at the time of writing and stand proud as some of the best wireless earbuds for under $100. However, given that the next-gen upgrade are expected to cost more at launch than their predecessor, it is reasonable to question whether the Pixel Buds A series 2 will be worth it.

That said, the Google Pixel Buds A Series ($94 at Amazon) have proven themselves to be an excellent and affordable set of earbuds. Not only are they comfortable, but the addition of ear wings helps the buds remain secure during exercise. The buds also offer an IPX4 water resistance rating for sweatier workouts and the “Hey Google” voice assistant works seamlessly with Android to control your listening experience. If you are already part of the Google ecosystem, then the Pixel Buds A Series are a great choice. However, if you use an iPhone, you’ll miss out on important updates and features. These include Google Assistant, bass boost, and in-ear detection. The inclusion of only SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs also leaves those looking for a more stable and higher-quality connection in the lurch.

If budget buds that house ANC are at the top of your agenda, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 ($99 at Amazon) play equally nicely with Android as the Google Pixel Buds A Series. These buds also offer Samsung’s Scalable codec for up to 512kbps, 96kHz/24-bit audio streaming. The battery will last five hours with ANC activated and also supports wireless and fast charging.

For those looking for solid isolation and the aptX Bluetooth codec should look no further than the Jabra Elite 4 ($79 at Amazon). These earbuds also boast Bluetooth Multipoint, Spotify Tap, sidetone, a five-band EQ in the Sound+ app, pleasing sound quality, Fast Pair, and Swift Pair features. However, a major negative for iPhone users is the lack of support for the AAC Bluetooth codec. That means those on iOS will have to default to the backstop SBC Bluetooth codec instead, which has questionable signal strength.

Those embedded in the Apple ecosystem with a bit of extra cash should consider the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) ($195 at Amazon). For the added money, users gain access to Apple’s H1 chip for spatial audio with head tracking, Adaptive EQ, an IPX4 water-resistant rating, MagSafe wireless charging, Find My AirPods, seamless device switching, and over six hours of battery life. However, the buds don’t host ANC and aren’t particularly effective at isolating your audio stream from environmental sounds. The fit is also fairly flimsy and the sound quality isn’t anything to shout about.

Google Pixel Buds A-SeriesGoogle Pixel Buds A-Series
Google Pixel Buds A-Series
Terrific Android integration • Low price • Multiple fun colors
MSRP: $99.00
The core features of the Pixel Buds Pro at a lower price
If you like the Pixel Buds line but think they are too pricey, the Pixel Buds A-Series should be on your radar. They have the core features you need at a price you'll love.

FAQ

Yes. Google discontinued the Google Pixel Buds (2020) shortly after the release of the Google Pixel Buds A Series ($94 at Amazon) on June 17, 2021. The latter are seen as an affordable improvement upon previous Pixel Buds releases. They also fixed many of the connection problems that were present with earlier models.

The original Google Pixel Buds launched in 2017 and hosted some significant design flaws. One major issue was connection stability, which proved unreliable. The design was also bulky, the buds were overpriced, and the charging case was impractical. The Google Pixel Buds (2020) fixed many of these issues. However, as of June 17, 2021, these updated earbuds are discontinued.

The Pixel Buds (2020) made improvements upon Google’s original Pixel Buds. However, the Pixel Buds A Series and Pixel Buds Pro are seen as much better and more up-to-date earbuds. In particular, the Pixel Buds A Series wears a workout-friendly design, an IPX4 water-resistant rating, and excellent Google integration. While these are features also present with the Pixel Buds (2020), they cost $80 more at launch than the Pixel Buds A Series and wireless connectivity is unreliable. The Pixel Buds (2020) are also now discontinued.

If you are looking for a set of affordable earbuds that integrate well with Android devices, then the Google Pixel Buds A Series are worth it. The inclusion of the “Hey Google” voice assistant and easy-to-use touch controls make these earbuds a great choice. This is especially true if you are already a member of the Google ecosystem. However, if you own an iPhone, you’ll miss out on many of the features that make these buds worth it. This includes losing access to important firmware updates. The Google Pixel Buds A Series are also quiet and reproduce a sound profile that lacks bass and mids. Those looking for a pair of bass-heavy workout buds should consider the Jabra Elite 4 ($79 at Amazon) instead.

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