google pixel buds a series vs pixel buds 1
google pixel buds a series vs pixel buds 1


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Google Pixel Buds A series

Google Pixel Buds A-Series Clearly White Render

Original brand

Google Pixel Buds

Google Pixel Buds 2020

Google has brought its Pixel Buds back, only instead of an improved sequel it opted for a cheaper version of its existing Pixel Buds. The A-Series pair leave a few things behind, but the most important pieces are still there, and that is what makes them such an attractive target for your ears.

$ 99 at Best Buy

advantages

  • Same sound quality for less
  • Integration with Android and Google Assistant
  • Lightweight construction and comfortable fit
  • Case of the same size
  • Fast loading

disadvantage

  • No swiping gestures
  • No wireless charging case
  • No change in battery life
  • Still no active noise cancellation

The Pixel Buds were Google’s first attempt at true wireless earbuds, and they managed to strike a good balance between comfort, reliability, and audio performance. This pedigree formed the basis for the newer A-Series, but these are the earbuds that contain everything that is missing.

$ 130 at Best Buy

advantages

  • good sound
  • Wireless charging case and wired USB-C charging
  • Integration with Android and Google Assistant
  • Fantastic media control

Disadvantage:

  • Lacks active noise cancellation
  • Battery life could be longer
  • Comfort may not be for everyone
  • Bass could be better

Whenever two pairs of earbuds are so similar, the differences are either obvious or require manufacturer’s guidance. In this case, it’s a bit of both, because the Pixel Buds A-series are completely based on their more technical siblings, so they only really differ in certain functions. Essentially, the A-Series is meant to complement, not replace, the Pixel Buds, but that may also depend on how you look at the discrepancies here.

Google Pixel Buds A-Series vs. Google Pixel Buds: What makes them stand out?

Google Pixel Buds A series in the test

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central

Take a look at these two on paper and the differences are not at all obvious. Well, yes, there’s the fact that the A-Series has a case that doesn’t charge wirelessly, but the other metrics are the same and have the same expectations for performance. Some of the best wireless earbuds available today include the Pixel Buds, so it stands to reason that the A-series would find their way among them if they were functionally this close together.

Aside from Google making a budget game here, and this could only be achieved by subtracting features that it believes people would be willing to give up in order to get to this cheaper price point. Does it matter to you when you can no longer swipe the outside of the earbuds to adjust volume or other tasks? Will it bother you if the A-series buds don’t pause as quickly when you take one out of your ears?

Google Pixel Buds A seriesGoogle Pixel Buds
durabilityIPX4IPX4
Buds battery life5 hours5 hours
Case battery life24 hours24 hours
Wireless charging caseNoYes
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.0
Support for digital assistantsGoogle AssistantGoogle Assistant
Supported audio codecsSBC, AACSBC, AAC
Speaker size6mm driver6mm driver
Active noise cancellation (ANC)NoNo
Ambient sound modeNot exactlyNot exactly

It almost seems like splitting hairs when you put it that way, but that’s what sets the two apart. It’s the little things Google can afford to remove, and not everything related to audio performance, that might confuse users who expect consistency.

A typical example (pun intended), the A-Series has a charging case with no wireless charging support. You’ll need to use the included USB-A to USB-C cable to fill them up every time. They support fast charging, so plug it in for 15 minutes and you should get up to three hours of playback. The A-Series doesn’t improve battery life, despite removing some hardware features, so neither pair has an advantage. That’s a shame, because up to five hours per charge – without Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) – is quite cumbersome by today’s standards.

Google Pixel Buds A Eries vs Pixel Buds

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central

When the music is playing there is no real difference in the sound of the two. That’s more of a boon to the A-Series because as a cheaper pair, it’s safe to assume they won’t sound any better than the more expensive pair. Therefore, this is not a comparison with an upgrade in mind, but rather a lateral pivot point.

All audio features apply including sound signature, adaptive sound mode, attention alerts, bass enhancement, and transcription functionality. Since the A-Series doesn’t have ANC or Ambient Mode, Adaptive Sound is the next best thing, increasing or decreasing the volume based on background noise. If you take off one of the earbuds they will pause playback and resume when you put them back in, but the more advanced Pixel Buds have two IR proximity sensors compared to the individual A-Series IR sensors.

When the music is playing there is no real difference in the sound of the two.

However, there is still so much meat stuck to the bones. Google chose not to touch the sound at all, which has its ups and downs but also suggests something is coming. If the company does a feature drop, it likely applies to both pairs. So if there’s a newer audio feature or tweak, the A-Series will likely get that as well.

Google Pixel Buds A-Series vs. Google Pixel Buds: Assistant on request

Google Pixel Buds Bader

Source: Daniel Bader / Android CentralPictured: Pixel Buds.

Google also chose not to mess with the built-in assistant, so you get the same hands-free functionality that the previous Pixel Buds already had. It was one of the coolest integrations for any voice assistant and pair of earbuds, and it’s nice to see the A-Series benefit from it as well. This also applies to reading out incoming notifications, which makes the Assistant work in different ways.

You still can’t get either pair to work with Siri or Alexa, but these are clearly geared towards Android and Google users anyway. Not that you can’t use either pairing with iOS devices, just that you don’t get that type of Assistant integration. Google didn’t change the microphone array for the A-Series, so your voice will be recorded exactly the same way.

Google Pixel Buds A-Series vs. Google Pixel Buds: Connectivity Concerns

Google Pixel Buds A-Series vs Pixel Buds

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central

While the Pixel Buds have proven to be fantastic earbuds in many ways, since their release in April 2020 there has been a regular chorus of low volume users complaining about connectivity issues. Two of them are employees of Android Central, Daniel Bader and Ara Wagoner. While the problems usually only occur in areas with significant Bluetooth interference, losing sync between the earbuds themselves or between the earbuds and the phone is a frustrating and daunting experience.

Google says it prevented such interference issues with the Buds A-series due to a higher gain antenna between the headphones and the phone, and redesigned the earbuds to communicate independently with the phone rather than relying on a primary-secondary -Relay system. So far, Android Central’s editor-in-chief Daniel Bader has had absolutely solid connectivity with the Pixel Buds A-Series, even when used in high-density areas.

Google Pixel Buds A-Series vs. Google Pixel Buds: Which one should you go with?

Google Pixel Buds A-Series vs Pixel Buds

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central

If you’re new to Pixel Buds, choosing between these two may be based solely on price. When two couples are this close, it’s the side issues that determine which direction you go. For example, the A-Series comes in two colors: clear white and dark olive, while the Pixel Buds come in Clearly White, Just Black, Quite Mint and Oh So Orange. Remember, it is the earbuds themselves that have these colors. The housing is always the same neutral white.

The A series is affordable enough to be some of the best cheap wireless earbuds out there, which only adds to how compelling they can be. When budget matters, the choice is obvious. However, if you have all the tech features of a product and want to risk potential connectivity issues, the Pixel Buds might be the place for you.

Affordable alternative

Google Pixel Buds A-Series Clearly White Render

Google Pixel Buds A series

A budget version of the same bud

Google’s successor to its Pixel Buds cuts some features but leaves the most important elements intact for greater affordability.

To have everything

Google Pixel Buds 2020

Google Pixel Buds

What the other buds are based on

The Pixel Buds don’t have everything you could want in wireless earbuds, but they’re easy to like for a number of reasons.

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