EVERY tech manufacturer now has its own brand of wireless, in-ear 'buds'. Increasingly, it's getting more difficult for each brand to introduce something different. Active noise-cancelling? Done. Sweat resistant? Plenty of options. But Google's edge has always been rooted in the software. So for its new Pixel Buds 2, there's a combination of virtual intelligence and audio power that's genuinely impressive.
Arguably the most notable element is its real-time translation. Say "Hey Google, help me to speak Spanish" and, as long as you have an Android 6 phone, it will start translating what you say into Spanish.
This isn't a brand new feature, but it's the first time it's been integrated so seamlessly into a pair of wireless in-ear headphones. The new Buds 2 also does a good job of adjusting the noise depending on where you are. While it doesn't have active noise cancellation on board, it does still interpret what you're listening to, to improve your own audio experience.
But the biggest plus to the Buds 2 is the audio quality. I'm slightly taken back by just how good they are at the thing you're really buying them for.
They sport 12mm dynamic speaker drivers, but I'm not sure that this is what's doing it. It may just be good engineering on the physical rubber tips and Buds themselves. In my ears, which often don't play well with in-ear headphones, they sit neatly and don't budge.
Once you twist them in properly, the audio quality is simply superb (relative to umpteen other in-ear headphones I've tried over the last year).
The bass is comparatively rich and warm with voices completely clear. The only quirky thing that some people might experience is an odd airlocked feeling within the ear, given that the rubber tips seal it up so completely.
The Pixel Buds 2 are very easy to set up: the minute you take them out their case, they're ready to pair. I did it with both an iPhone and Android phone and experienced zero problems.
Like almost all such buds headphones, they come in a pill-style recharging case which gives them at least three or four hours of battery life per Buds charge, up to around 20 hours before you need to charge the case (via USB-C). That white case is elegantly designed and, I found, is relatively scuff-proof.
Call quality is also good and it has no problem picking up your voice clearly.
Lastly, the Buds are somewhat rain and sweat resistant, although you wouldn't want to be out for a while in a deluge.
Overall, these are well worth buying and will provide serious competition for both Apple's AirPods and AirPods Pro.