It feels like forever since Google announced its first true wireless earbuds, the Pixel Buds 2 (which Google is simply calling the Pixel Buds), but the wait may soon be over. Despite the fact that Google’s own product page still encourages people to sign up to be notified about the Buds, for a brief moment today, online retailer B&H was displaying a Pixel Buds page with a pre-order option and a price tag of $179, according to 9to5Google.
This marks the first time we’ve seen a pre-order option for the new Pixel Buds, which Google has said will launch sometime this year. We think there’s a good chance that this means we’ll soon be able to buy them, although B&H has since removed the pre-order page.
We don’t know if Google had always intended to finally bring the true wireless Pixel Buds to market now, but given that Samsung is about to start selling its Galaxy Buds+ for $150, it would make sense for Google to fast-track its retail plans.
But even if Google starts taking pre-orders soon, the new Pixel Buds could have a hard time gaining any traction with buyers. The true wireless earbud space is insanely competitive right now. Features like extra-long battery life and active noise cancellation have become part of peoples’ expectations, especially for higher-priced earbuds.
The Pixel Buds, announced in October 2019, are beginning to look antiquated even before they go on sale. Their battery life is claimed to be 5 hours. That’s good enough to compete with Apple’s AirPods and the AirPods Pro, but it’s a far cry from the $180 Jabra Elite 75t’s 7.5 hours, and miles away from the Galaxy Buds+ absolutely killer 11 hours.
The Pixel Buds will come with a wireless charging case, but again, so do the Galaxy Buds+ (and the AirPods if you’re willing to shell out $199).
About the only feature that really lets the Pixel Buds stand out from the crowd is hands-free access to the Google Assistant. Like Apple’s earbuds and the Amazon Echo Buds, you’ll be able to get help from the Google A.I. just by asking. It’s a convenient feature, but is it enough to get folks to spend $30 more than the price of the Galaxy Buds+?
Perhaps it will come down to sound quality. Google hasn’t let the media listen to the new Pixel Buds yet, but our short hands-on time with the Galaxy Buds+ suggests they’re going to sound decent. We should have a full review of these true wireless earbuds soon.
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