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

Many of Google's Pixel smartphones supports the aptX Bluetooth codec. So too should the Google Pixel Buds Pro 2.
By

Published onMay 4, 2024

The Google Pixel Buds Pro case is open with the lid propping the case up, revealing the buds.
Jasper Lastoria / SoundGuys

When Google released the Pixel Buds Pro in 2022, fans were delighted to find the company had brought much-needed improvements to the brand. For example, gym enthusiasts could utilize an improved IPX4 water-resistant rating. Likewise, active noise canceling (ANC) allowed commuters to enjoy their music uninterrupted when journeying to work. Sure, the Google Pixel Buds Pro are not the best wireless earbuds for everyone. However, few will find a better companion for their Google smartphone. It has been nearly two years since the Pixel Buds Pro launched. Now seems a good time to get excited about the Google Pixel Buds Pro 2.

There has been no official word from Google about a feature-rich Pixel Buds upgrade. Nevertheless, trusted industry sources report that the Google Pixel Buds Pro 2 are coming. Read ahead for all the rumors and everything I want to see from the Google Pixel Buds Pro 2.

Support for the aptX Bluetooth codec

The Google Pixel Buds Pro lays on a wooden table with a Google Pixel 6 behind it.
The matte plastic touch sensors are pretty hard to miss.

An increasing number of headphone manufacturers are ditching wired connectivity for wireless. This has many pros and cons depending on who you ask. Regardless, the main benefit of ditching analog audio is a less fiddly listening experience. Pairing two modern wireless devices requires the use of Bluetooth. This connection transmits data via different formats, known as Bluetooth codecs. SBC is the default, providing up to 320kbps, 16-bit/ 48kHz audio sampling. Unfortunately, it is prone to significant data loss and temperamental signal strength.

If you own an iPhone, the AAC codec is your greatest companion for listening wirelessly. However, it works less well when paired with certain Android devices. Consequently, those running Android phones are best served by Qualcomm’s aptX Bluetooth codec. This provides up to 352kbps, 48kHz/16-bit LPCM audio data. It also has a much more stable connection than SBC and retains greater audio detail. Given Google phones, including the latest Pixel 8 Pro, support the aptX codec, it is a wonder why the Pixel Buds Pro do not. These earbuds only support the SBC and AAC codec, meaning Android users are stuck with lossy audio or an unpredictable listening experience over AAC. The Google Pixel Buds Pro 2 would better serve Google and Android users more generally if they included the aptX Bluetooth codec.

A better fit

On a wood surface the Google Pixel Buds Pro case is open with the buds out, and the two spare sets of ear tips.
The Google Pixel Buds Pro look much like previous earbuds in the Pixel line.

Quite rightly, comfort scores highest on most peoples’ list of desirable earbud features. Securing the right fit allows for longer listening sessions without suffering ear fatigue. It also plays an integral role in isolating your audio stream from intrusive incidental noises. Even the best active noise canceling features require a robust seal to work optimally. Users can purchase third-party foam and silicone ear tips to meet their needs when headphone manufacturers fall short.

The Google Pixel Buds Pro are reasonably comfortable and adorn a Mentos-shaped design. They also come packaged with three different ear tip sizes. These come in the form of small (11mm,) medium (12mm,) and large (13mm.) Unfortunately, some users have complained of a consistently loose fit. Others, especially those with smaller ear canals, may find the buds fall out entirely. This is strange, given none of Google’s other earbud models have suffered from this design flaw. For example, the Google Pixel Buds A Series are revered for their superior comfort and antennae-shaped ear wings. Google should fix the design issues when the Pixel Buds Pro 2 come to market.

A lower price tag

A man faces right with a dark background and a bright monitor. He's wearing the Google Pixel Buds Pro.
The fit feels fine for working at a desk, or sitting, but requires adjustments if you go out for a walk or jog.

Google has a history of hightailing the price of its products soon after launch. For example, its Pixel phones often launch at one price before being cut back by hundreds of dollars months later. This is true not just of its phones but of its headphones as well. The Google Pixel Buds Pro initially hit shelves for $199.99. However, they have seen frequent price drops, falling to roughly $120 during the holiday season.

While a $200 price tag is not excessive nowadays, it is worth weighing up if such a cost is warranted. Industry-leading earbuds, like the Sony WF-1000XM5, cost more at $299. However, users gain world-class noise canceling, LE Audio and LDAC codec support, and nearly 10 hours of battery life. By comparison, the Google Pixel Buds Pro have limited Bluetooth codec options, last just over seven hours on a single charge, and host uneven noise canceling. For just $99, the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC offer Bluetooth 5.3 with the LDAC codec, nearly 10 hours of battery life, and up to 39dB of noise canceling. The Google Pixel Buds Pro 2 must provide better value for money at launch.

A more tempered bass and treble response

The frequency response of the Google Pixel Buds Pro set against the SoundGuys ideal shows hyped treble and bass.
That’s a dose extra treble and bass, but it’s in the same spirit as the A-Series Bass Boost mode.

Most gym goers and music fans enjoy a little extra bass. This provides additional “oomph” for busting through a tough workout and makes kick drums sound louder. Boosting upper-midrange and treble frequencies also makes hi-hats and cymbal shimmers more prominent. Generally speaking, most users enjoy this “U-shaped” frequency curve when listening to music. However, too much boosting can create distortion and uncomfortable sibilance.

The Google Pixel Buds Pro fall foul of this, amplifying sub-bass frequencies below 70Hz by 6dB above our target curve. When pitted against the mids, some fundamentals like vocals and guitars sound comparatively quiet. Similarly, the 10dB boost to frequencies between 4-8kHz makes “s-” sounds somewhat ear-piercing. This is especially true when taking phone calls and listening to tracks with many fricatives. The Google Pixel Buds Pro 2 would benefit from a flatter frequency response. This would reproduce music more pleasingly and closer to how the artist intended.

More Pixel Buds app features at launch

A hand holds a Google Pixel 6 displaying the Google Pixel Buds Pro controls in the Settings app, with the true wireless earbuds on a wooden table in the background.
If you’ve got a Pixel phone, the Pixel Buds Pro control options are in the Bluetooth settings. Otherwise, you need to install an app.

Many of the best headphone features are confined to the walled gardens of companion apps. Those sporting smartphones with one operating system often work best when paired with headphones from the same ecosystem. For example, the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) work seamlessly with iPhones but less well with Android. Likewise, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro do not support the Galaxy Wearables app on iPhones.

Like Samsung, there is no Google Pixel Buds app available on iOS. Even so, the application arrived as a bare-bones tag along to the Pixel Buds Pro even for Android users. For example, the headphones initially came to market with Google’s proprietary Volume EQ instead of a custom EQ. The Pixel Buds Pro only introduced spatial audio with head tracking with firmware update 4.30. Another recent addition is Google’s hearing wellness feature which alerts you to the duration and volume level of your listening session. Unfortunately, iPhone users miss out on all of these features, as well as normal listening mode access, Google Translate, and an ear tip fit test. The Google Pixel Buds Pro 2 will need a more comprehensive and OS-agnostic companion app to compete with Sony and Bose.

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

216 votes

Will there be a Google Pixel Buds Pro 2?

A hand holds the Google Pixel Buds Pro with the case open in front of a wood surface.
The earbuds have pressure-relief vents to mitigate any discomfort while wearing them.

Google’s Pixel Buds line of earbuds have received a mixed reaction since their inception. While they serve Google phone owners well, they still lack desirable high-end features. As there is no Pixel Buds app on iOS, iPhone owners even miss out on the basics like vital firmware updates. If you exist outside the Google ecosystem, you’d be forgiven for questioning if the Google Pixel Buds Pro are for you. Nevertheless, the headphones’ small and dedicated fanbase appears to be growing over time. While Google will likely follow up with a next-gen audio product, the company does have a history of axing devices that don’t perform as expected.

However, any doubt about the Google Pixel Buds Pro 2 coming to market may be laid to rest. Trusted industry analyst Abner Li of 9to5Google reports that the Pixel Buds Pro 2 are in development. This news falls alongside suggestions of a 45mm Pixel Watch 3. Similarly, Sai Krishna of 91mobiles spotted certifications for the Google Pixel Buds Pro 2 charging case on the UL Demko and Safety Korea. According to these listings, the case will own model number GH8tQ and use a Li-ion battery with a capacity of 650mAh. For comparison, the original Google Pixel Buds Pro case had a capacity of 620mAh and delivered up to 31 hours of playtime without ANC. Unfortunately, neither Li nor Krishna provides a launch date for Google’s updated earbuds.

  • Google Pixel Buds Pro — July 28, 2022

While information is sparse, we can surmise a plausible release window from Google’s previous iterations. For example, the company launched its original Pixel Buds headphones in October 2017. The company followed this up two years and six months later with the Google Pixel Buds (2020) on April 27, 2020. This brought improved wireless connectivity and fixed many of the issues of their predecessor. Since then, Google has launched its mid-range Pixel Buds A Series on June 17, 2021, and the Google Pixel Buds Pro on July 28, 2022.

Considering this release pattern, Google may bring a new audio product to fruition in 2024. This should be given some credence, especially as the company refreshes its products roughly every two years. We may even see the Google Pixel Buds Pro 2 launch alongside the Pixel Buds A-Series 2, Pixel Buds 3, or some other Pro variant. I am hopeful the Google Pixel Buds Pro 2 will land in summer 2024. However, a 2025 release may be more likely.

Should you wait for the Google Pixel Buds Pro 2?

A hand holds the Pixel Buds Pro and WF-1000XM5 earbuds.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The Pixel Buds Pro have a more circular shape than the WF-1000XM5.

Google fans have much to gain from the seamless integration of the Pixel brand. From vital firmware updates to a much-needed custom EQ, Android users benefit from handy features. The Google Pixel Buds Pro are available from the company’s website and most major retailers. Those eager to get their hands on a pair of accompanying Pixel Buds are likely better off purchasing a pair of Pixel Buds Pro than waiting for an upgrade. While I expect the updated Google Pixel Buds Pro 2 will launch in 2024, there is no set release date.

The Google Pixel Buds Pro cost ($199 at Amazon) and provide handy features for the productivity-minded. In particular, Google Translate and Google Assistant work seamlessly with Google phone owners. Downloading the Pixel Buds app for Android begets five equalizer presets and a bare-bones five-band custom EQ. Those with a recent Pixel phone running firmware version 4.30 can enjoy watching movies using spatial audio with head tracking. More pedestrian features like firmware updates, limited control customization, and an ear tip fit test are also available through the app. Unfortunately, those sporting an iPhone get a heavily stripped-down experience, as the Pixel Buds app isn’t available on the Apple store. ANC is applied unevenly, and the earbuds accentuate bass and treble frequencies too much for most genres. Nevertheless, the headphones provide over seven hours of playtime and yield 60 minutes of listening time from a five-minute top-up.

A compelling alternative for Android users are the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro ($179 at Amazon.) These headphones have a more pleasing frequency response out of the box than the Pixel Buds Pro. Bass and treble are more tempered, and you receive a host of dedicated EQ presets to hone your sound. The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro also attenuate bass and sub-bass frequencies more powerfully, quelling low rumbles by as much as 51dB. Samsung’s headphones wear an IPX7 water-resistant rating capable of enduring a drop in the pool. The charging case supports USB-C and wireless charging, with the buds profiting nearly five hours of listening time. Samsung phone owners can enjoy the Samsung Seamless Codec for up to 512kbps, 16-bit/44.1kHz audio sampling. However, those outside the Samsung bubble must connect via SBC or AAC. Like Google, Samsung does not provide an iOS-friendly companion app.

A hand holds the Pixel Buds Pro and WF-1000XM5 earbuds.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The Pixel Buds Pro have a more circular shape than the WF-1000XM5.

Those sporting iPhones will find no better headphone companion than the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) ($239 at Amazon.) These buds own Apple’s upgraded H2 chip to bring Adaptive Transparency mode, battery optimization, and improved noise canceling. The case hosts the company’s U1 chip and integrated speaker to help you locate it from the Find My app. The charging case and buds wear an IPX4 water-resistant rating, and second-iteration cases sold after September 2023 support USB-C charging. Those with smaller ears will enjoy the inclusion of extra small ear tips out of the box. The AirPods Pro 2 have above-average battery life, falling just shy of the company’s official six-hour mark. Under the hood, Apple fans can enjoy a list of iOS-exclusive features including an ear tip fit test, control customization, Audio Sharing, and spatial audio with head tracking.

High-quality Bluetooth codec seekers should consider the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 ($169 at Amazon.) These headphones run Bluetooth 5.2 with support for the aptX Adaptive, aptX, AAC, and SBC Bluetooth codecs. Like their predecessor, the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 have very pleasing sound quality. In particular, the earbuds closely follow our target preference curve in the bass and mids. However, a slight underemphasis in the treble range makes some hi-hats and cymbals sound quieter than expected. Thankfully, the company’s Smart Control app hosts a three-band custom EQ to fiddle with. The app also allows users to automatically customize ANC and EQ settings with the company’s Sound Zones tool. This tracks your location and adjusts these parameters to your specifications on the fly. The buds last over five hours on a single charge and gain 22 hours of playtime from the case.

Google Pixel Buds ProGoogle Pixel Buds Pro
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Active noise-cancelling • Android integration • Google Assistant features
MSRP: $199.00
The Pixel Buds Pro introduce ANC to the series
The Google Pixel Buds Pro are the first in the line to offer active noise canceling. Obviously, they also have tight integration with Android and tons of support for Google Assistant commands, including the popular translation features.

FAQs

Yes, the second-generation Google Pixel Buds were discontinued shortly after the announcement of the Google Pixel Buds A Series on June 3, 2021.

Google has remained tight-lipped about any next-generation earbuds. Nevertheless, Abner Li of 9to5Google reports that the Pixel Buds Pro 2 are in development. We will have to wait for an official announcement from Google for concrete details.

The second iteration of the Google Pixel Buds launched on April 27, 2020.

The Google Pixel Buds Pro 2 have not been released yet. However, if they share the same IP rating as their predecessor, we can expect the Pixel Buds Pro 2 to wear an IPX4 water-resistant rating. This protects from omnidirectional water splashes, but not from complete submersion in water.

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