Google’s original Pixel Buds came at a time when the company was still finding its feet as a hardware maker. They shipped in 2017 alongside a Pixel 2 XL with a bad screen and that very strange Clips camera. Despite launching after AirPods, Google stubbornly ignored the industry shift toward truly wireless earbuds, and the fabric cable between the Pixel Buds became a chore whenever you wanted to put them away. There was some good in there — mainly the deep integration of Google Assistant — but it wasn’t enough to make up for a “meh” overall package.
With its new second-generation Pixel Buds, Google has done an impressive job correcting course. At $179, they’re now fully wireless, have improved sound quality, and are the first truly wireless earbuds to offer hands-free Google Assistant voice controls. But these Pixel Buds face even more competition than the originals, and while Google has made excellent progress, there are still flaws to be found that put them a bit behind the competition. Namely, there are frequent connection issues that other earbuds at this price don’t exhibit.