Google took the wraps off the Pixel Buds 2, its true wireless update to the original Pixel Buds, at its Pixel hardware event on October 15. While more of an announcement than a launch — the Pixel Buds 2 won’t be available until 2020 — we still got a good sense of how these new earbuds differ from the first version, and how they compare to other choices on the market. Of particular interest to Android users is how the Pixel Buds 2 measure up to Samsung’s Galaxy Buds, one of the first true wireless choices built to take full advantage of Android.
So, how do they compare? We don’t yet know all of the details surrounding the Pixel Buds 2, but here’s where things stand at the moment.
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When the Samsung Galaxy buds debuted earlier in 2019, they were notable for several reasons, and chief among them was the price. At $129, they’re less expensive than many other true wireless earbuds, including Apple’s AirPods ($159) and the Google Pixel Buds (also $159). With the announcement of the Google Pixel Buds 2, Samsung’s edge on pricing just got bigger: Google said consumers can expect to pay $179 for the Pixel Buds 2 when they go on sale in 2020.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds
The Samsung Galaxy Buds are very small and are among the best-fitting true wireless earbuds we’ve ever tried. They fit snugly into the ear canal and stay there, thanks to the tiny earfins that are integrated into the main housing. The included charging case is also very compact — not quite as tidy as the one that comes with Apple’s AirPods, but still very portable.
The Google Pixel Buds 2 appear to be bigger, with the outer section of earbud occupying more room. They come with earfins built-in, which suggests they need extra support to stay put. This wouldn’t surprise us, as the original Pixel Buds had significant challenges when it came to feeling snug and secure. The charging case might just have an edge in the size department — its highly curved shape certainly looks like it will be easy to carry.
Without trying the Pixel Buds 2, it’s hard to say how well Google has addressed the question of design and fit, so we’ll withhold judgment for now, but Samsung has set the bar very high.
Winner: To be determined
This category may simply come down to how you plan to use your earbuds. The Samsung Galaxy Buds clock in at a very respectable 6 hours of continuous use, besting the AirPods and the original Pixel Buds. However, its charging case only gives you an additional 7 hours, for a total of 13. If you own a Samsung Galaxy S10, you can recharge the case wirelessly from your phone, which will certainly help — it might even get you through a full day.
The Pixel Buds 2, on the other hand, only offer 5 hours between charges, but their charging case serves up an additional 24 hours of playtime. That’s a pretty big discrepancy, and we think it has to be accounted for.
Winner: Google Pixel Buds 2
Dan Baker/Digital Trends
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds have some impressive features, like an adjustable awareness mode that lets you bring outside sounds into your ears via the microphones, and a fully adjustable set of EQ controls from within the companion app. The app also lets you choose between Samsung’s own Bixby A.I. or Google Assistant when you long-press one of the earbuds. If you misplace one or both earbuds, there’s a handy “find my earbuds” feature too.
With an IPX2 rating, the Galaxy Buds are certainly sweatproof, but you probably want to keep them away from any real sources of water.
The Pixel Buds 2 are no slouch in the features side of things either. They maintain the real-time translation feature from the original Pixel Buds, and they throw in the convenience of hands-free access to Google Assistant. While they don’t possess any kind of noise-cancellation or an adjustable ambient mode, they do have a “spatial port” that lets some ambient sounds in to help maintain situational awareness.
Google claims that the Pixel Buds 2 are sweat- and waterproof, but stopped short of claiming a specific IPX rating for these buds.
For now, we believe the Galaxy Buds offer a more useful set of features, but we may change our tune when we get a chance to try the Pixel Buds 2.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Buds
Still to come
You can’t compare things like usability, comfort, or sound quality without actually trying both products, so we won’t address these right now. However, it’s worth noting that the Samsung Galaxy Buds scored extremely well in our review, which means the Google Pixel Buds 2 will have to turn in a very good performance to become the overall winner in this comparison. That’s especially true of sound quality. While the Galaxy Buds did not blow us away, they’re certainly as good or better than the AirPods, something we could not say of Google’s original Pixel Buds.
Plus, at $50 more expensive than the Galaxy Buds, the Pixel Buds 2 will have to work harder to justify such a price difference.
Which true wireless earbuds will ultimately take the crown as our preferred choice? Check back with us in the coming weeks. As soon as we get the Pixel Buds 2 in our ears and can provide you with a better sense of how they stack up, we’ll update this comparison.