Google's USB-C Earbuds are Basically Wired Pixel Buds

By Tom Pritchard on at

There were plenty of rumours regarding Google's slate of announcements last night, among them one claiming Google would be launching a refreshed pair of Pixel Buds. That would have been a welcome update, because Pixel Buds were pretty terrible, but unfortunately nothing was mentioned. As it turns out, Google's new USB-C earbuds are essentially wired versions of the Pixel Buds - with many of the same features and questionable design choices.

The Pixel earbuds offer access to Google assistant and the same Assistant-based real-time language translations as the Pixel Buds. The key difference, aside from the long USB-C cable, is the fact that they don't have the same touch controls as the Pixel Buds. Instead all the controls come from the in-line mic, similar to those you'll find on any set of wired headphones. There's a round black button you can press and hold to call up Google Assistant, volume controls, and an option to listen to your notifications without having to touch your phone. Simply press and hold the 'volume up' button and you're good to go.

The earloops are also adjustable, just like last year, and they still seem to have that same daft earbud design. You know the one I mean, the design popularised by Apple that was clearly drawn up by someone who's never seen a human ear before.

The new earbuds are included with the Pixel 3 and 3 XL (alongside a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle), but if you want to buy a pair without the phone (for whatever reason) they're available from the Google Store for £30 a pop. That's significantly cheaper than the £159 Pixel Buds, though without the benefits of wireless audio. According to the store page they're compatible with laptops, tablets, and phones with a USB-C port, but "work best with Pixel".

If they're anything like the Pixel Buds all those fancy Assistant features will be exclusive to Pixel devices anyway, so you're probably better off spending your money on something else.