Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs. Google Pixel Buds Pro

Are the AirPods Pro 2 upgraded enough to compete with Google Pixel Buds Pro? We broke down the differences between the two stellar pairs of earbuds. …

Apple has finally upgraded the original AirPods Pro, launching the second generation of their flagship true wireless earbuds during their big “Far Out” Apple Event in September. The upgraded buds look almost exactly like their predecessors but sport the new and more powerful H2 chip, improved noise cancellation and transparency mode, better battery, and more. Are these upgrades enough to beat out the Google Pixel Buds Pro?

We break down the differences between AirPods Pro 2 and Google Pixel Buds Pro to see which buds are worth your investment.

Further AirPods Pro 2 reading

Design and comfort

The AirPods Pro 2 eartip sizes.

For the design, both the AirPods Pro 2 and the Pixel Buds Pro look just like their predecessors. Thankfully for them both, they’re still comfortable and unobtrusive earbuds, and there are no huge changes design-wise. The Pixel Buds Pro come in four colors: fog (light gray with a tinge of blue), charcoal (not-quite-black), lemongrass (Gatorade yellow/green), and coral (reddish-orange). There are no such color options in the AirPods Pro 2 — just white, as per usual. You do get to customize your AirPods Pro 2 case with engraved emojis, names, initials, or numbers to make them feel more unique and personal.  

A huge element that may affect your listening experience, however, is how the buds fit. The AirPods Pro have traditionally been some of the most comfortable earbuds around, and our review of the second-gen AirPods still holds true with this assessment. The good fit means you can still work out in them, and this latest model even offer a new “extra-small” ear tip for users with narrow ear canals. There’s also an ear-fit test you can perform to ensure you’re getting the best fit possible.

The Google Pixel Buds Pro are also a very comfortable pair of earbuds, and fit comparably well to the first generation of AirPods Pro, as assessed in our review by Simon Cohen. For those who have a sensitivity to earbuds that fit with too much of a pressure feeling inside the ear canal, the Pixel Buds Pro have a vented design that “actively measures the pressure in your ear canal so the earbuds can relieve it and stay comfortable,” Google says. So if this is an issue you have, you may want to consider the Pixel Buds. It’s also worth noting that the Pixel Buds don’t offer as many ear tips as the AirPods Pro. Overall, though, we feel that these set of earbuds are too close to call when it comes to comfort and fit.

Winner: Tie

Controls and connections

Apple AirPods Pro 2 sitting beside iPhone 14 and charging case.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Users will be happy to know that the AirPods Pro 2 have finally introduced physical button controls, so now you can adjust the volume by sliding your finger up and down on the stem. You also get a confirmation tone so you know for sure if the volume has changed. The second-generation AirPods Pro also retain their predecessors’ squeeze-to-click gestures that let you play/pause and answer/end a call. 

The Google Pixel Buds Pro have excellent touch controls as well. You get similar volume adjustment controls and the confirmation tone is present here too, and the Pixel Buds also let you use the Google Assistant on command, so you can do several tasks hands-free. A simple long-press also switches you from ANC to transparency mode and vice versa. 

The biggest difference here comes from the connections. The AirPods Pro 2 still don’t support Bluetooth Multipoint, so, unfortunately, you can’t connect more than one device at once. However, users of multiple Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Watch can take advantage of Apple’s own automatic switching, which Cohen says is good, but not perfect. We’re still going to give this one to the Pixel Buds Pro for supporting Bluetooth Multipoint for both Android and iOS devices.

Winner: Google Pixel Buds Pro

Sound quality and ANC

Infographic of the AirPods Pro 2 specs.

At the end of the day, you’re buying earbuds for listening, so sound quality matters the most. Fortunately, both the AirPods Pro 2 and the Google Pixel Buds Pro offer excellent sound.

The AirPods Pro 2 have made huge upgrades in this department, so you get a much better listening experience. The new H2 chip powers what Apple says is twice the ANC, as well as a new Adaptive Transparency feature that actively monitors for loud sounds and adapts accordingly while still maintaining environmental awareness. New drivers and amplifiers mean that you also experience richer bass and clearer mids and highs so you can enjoy the finer nuances of your favorite songs, and the inclusion of Apple’s 3D-sound Spatial Audio feature is pretty great if you want it.   

The Google Pixel Buds Pro, on the other hand, sound really good too, but they don’t match up to the AirPods Pro 2. The Google Pixel Buds Pro are lacking their predecessor’s Bass Boost option and don’t support high-bitrate codecs such as LDAC. And while Google has promised spatial audio later this year, so far we haven’t seen it. Cohen also found the Pixel Buds Pro aren’t great at cutting out wind noises that the AirPods Pro excel at. 

Winner: AirPods Pro 2 

Call quality 

Man wearing Apple AirPods Pro 2.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The Google Pixel Buds Pro aren’t our number one pick for calling. While they are quite good at taking calls inside in more noise-controlled environs, we noticed they don’t maintain a clear voice when you’re taking calls outdoors — when sounds start to get louder and compete more with your voice, your voice can lose detail and get garbled a bit, as the noise canceling algorithms kick in. This may be a deal-breaker for users who frequently join meetings and attend conferences outside their homes.  

The AirPods Pro 2 are just as good, if not better, than the first-generation in this area. As with the Pixel Buds Pro, indoor calls are excellent, but once you step out in loud settings, the call quality goes down because of weird noise cancellation effects, with Cohen stating that “The price for all of the magic noise suppression is a slightly muffled voice quality, but it’s only an issue in loud, outdoor settings.” Overall, though, the call quallity is slightly better on the AirPods Pro 2. 

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

Battery life

Pixel Buds Pro in coral color with the extra eartips.
Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

Don’t you hate it when your earbuds run out of charge right when your favorite song comes on? You can reduce this by investing in earbuds with good battery life. The AirPods Pro 2 claim to offer six hours of listening time on one charge with 30 hours of listening time with the charging case while the Pixel Buds Pro offer about seven hours of listening time on one charge with 31 hours of total listening time with the charging case. The AirPods Pro 2 have an improved battery life compared to their predecessors, but it still falls short of the Pixel buds. 

Winner: Google Pixel Buds Pro

Water resistance 

Apple AirPods Pro 2 sitting beside iPhone 14 and charging case.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

If you’re used to sweaty workouts, you probably want water-resistant earbuds. Fortunately, both the AirPods Pro 2 and the Pixel Buds Pro are IPX4 water-resistant and come in water-resistant cases for added protection so a little splash here and there won’t damage your earbuds. The AirPods Pro 2 offers more protection, though, with an IPX4-rated water-resistant case compared to Pixel buds’ IPX2 case. 

Winner:  AirPods Pro 2

Price

If you’re someone who looks at the price tag first, the Pixel buds are an obvious winner, considering they’re $50 cheaper. AirPods Pro 2 launched at $250 while you can get your hands on the Google Pixel Buds Pro for $200 with some retailers offering more discounts. The price doesn’t tell the full story though. We’d recommend making a decision based on the features you get for that price.

Winner: Google Pixel Buds Pro

The bottom line

AirPods Pro resting on an iPhone with open charging case nearby.
The Average Tech Guy/Unsplash

Going strictly by the number of categories won, the AirPods Pro 2 and Pixel Buds Pro are in a dead heat, which means that you’re going to get a great pair of earbuds no matter which you pick. If price is your main concern, the $50-cheaper Pixel Buds might be the way to go. You get slightly better battery life from them as well. Apple users will obviously get to take advantage of being in Apple’s walled garden and have access to some features Android users will not — like the automatic device switching. Both set of earbuds offer great sound, but with the AirPods Pro 2 nudging ahead with its spatial audio experience and the addition of their new stem functionality, they are pretty hard to beat. 

Editors’ Recommendations

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