Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Updated Mar 10, 2021 at 03:23 pm
Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless Picture
6.8
Mixed Usage
7.1
Neutral Sound
6.7
Commute/Travel
8.2
Sports/Fitness
6.1
Office
5.7
Wireless Gaming
5.6
Wired Gaming
6.4
Phone Calls
Type In-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Truly Wireless
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless are the successor to the Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless but feature a different truly wireless design. Due to their sleek, lightweight design and shallow fit, they're quite comfortable. They also look and feel quite premium, and Android users can pair them very easily by simply opening the charging case near an Android device. Their sound profile is versatile enough for most genres and content, though unfortunately, their selection of sound customization options is rather limited. They don't filter out much ambient noise either.

Our Verdict

6.8 Mixed Usage

The Google Pixel Buds 2020 are okay for mixed usage. They're compact, sturdy, and have a very stable fit, which is great for on-the-go use. While their near seven-hour continuous battery life is longer than advertised, it still might not be long enough to last an entire workday without needing a quick top-up. They also block out very little background noise, so they won't help to give you quiet during your commute or time at the office.

Pros
  • Comfortable and stable fit.
  • Easy pairing with Android devices.
  • Sturdy-feeling IPX4-rated construction.
Cons
  • Poor microphone recording quality.
  • Bad noise isolation.
  • Unremarkable single-charge battery life.
7.1 Neutral Sound

The Google Pixel Buds 2020 are decent truly wireless headphones for neutral sound. They have a well-balanced sound profile that should suit most genres, though their underemphasized low-bass range may bother fans of genres like EDM or hip-hop. Furthermore, they have a closed-off soundstage, though that's fairly normal for closed-back in-ears.

Pros
  • Easy pairing with Android devices.
  • Consistent audio reproduction.
Cons
  • App has few sound customization options.
  • Closed-off soundstage.
6.7 Commute/Travel

The Google Pixel Buds 2020 are okay for commuting and traveling. While they're exceptionally portable and comfortable enough to wear for long periods, they block very little background noise, especially the low engine rumble of buses or planes. Their near seven-hour continuous battery life should be long enough for your daily commutes, but might not be sufficient for overnight flights. On the bright side, Google advertises two hours of playback from a quick 10-minute charge, though we don't test this.

Pros
  • Easy pairing with Android devices.
  • Sturdy-feeling IPX4-rated construction.
Cons
  • Bad noise isolation.
  • Unremarkable single-charge battery life.
8.2 Sports/Fitness

The Google Pixel Buds 2020 are great truly wireless headphones for sports. Thanks to their lightweight design and stability fins, they feel very stable in the ear and don't move or slide around, even with more vigorous head movements. Their IPX4 rating for water resistance makes them a good fit for outdoor runs, though we don't currently test this. They look and feel very well-built and durable, so they should endure a couple of minor drops and bumps.

Pros
  • Comfortable and stable fit.
  • Sturdy-feeling IPX4-rated construction.
Cons
  • Unremarkable single-charge battery life.
6.1 Office

The Google Pixel Buds 2 are passable for office use. They're comfortable enough to wear all day, but their battery may not last long enough to get you through an entire workday. Unfortunately, they don't help much with blocking background noise, but they don't leak much audio, so you can turn your music up without bothering nearby coworkers.

Pros
  • Comfortable and stable fit.
  • Easy pairing with Android devices.
Cons
  • Bad noise isolation.
  • Unremarkable single-charge battery life.
5.7 Wireless Gaming

The Google Pixel Buds 2020 are Bluetooth-only headphones that aren't recommended for wireless gaming. While you can game with them on a mobile device or Bluetooth-enabled PC, their high audio latency makes them less than ideal for this use.

5.6 Wired Gaming

The Google Pixel Buds 2 are Bluetooth-only headphones that can't be used wired.

6.4 Phone Calls

The Google Pixel Buds 2 are mediocre headphones for phone calls. Their integrated mic makes your voice sound thin and muffled, though it does a good job of isolating it from background noise. Their poor noise isolation capability can also make it difficult for you to follow what's being said on a call if you're in a noisy environment.

Pros
  • Easy pairing with Android devices.
  • Microphone helps separate your voice from background noise.
Cons
  • Poor microphone recording quality.
  • Bad noise isolation.
  • 6.8 Mixed Usage
  • 7.1 Neutral Sound
  • 6.7 Commute/Travel
  • 8.2 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.1 Office
  • 5.7 Wireless Gaming
  • 5.6 Wired Gaming
  • 6.4 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Mar 10, 2021: Updated review for accuracy and clarity.
  2. Updated Sep 18, 2020: Verified a new firmware update that adds a 'Bass Boost' feature.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Google Pixel Buds 2020 are premium-looking headphones with a minimalist style. They're compact, sleek, and don't feature much in the way of flashy branding or accents. Unlike the first-generation Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless, they're now truly wireless headphones with an in-ear fit. We tested the white version, which have a mix of matte white and black on both the earbuds and the case. They're also available in black, orange, or green, though the case is the same for all color options, and the black part of the earbud remains unchanged.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.02 lbs
Clamping Force
0.0 lbs

The Google Pixel Buds 2020 are comfortable. They're very lightweight and don't put much pressure inside your ear canal. They also have a fairly shallow fit, and using their touch-sensitive control scheme doesn't force them any deeper into your ears.

6.9
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Great
Feedback Good
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

The Google Pixel Buds 2020 have okay controls. Each earbud has a touch-sensitive surface so you can make commands without having to push the headphones further into your ear. They're very easy to use, and you can issue all commands on either ear, which can be handy if your hands are full. One tap pauses and plays media, two taps skips forward, and three taps rewinds the track. Swiping forward or backward increases or decreases volume, respectively. A long press turns on your phone's voice assistant. There's a fair bit of feedback in the form of beeps for playback adjustments, though there are no audio cues for volume changes except for once you've reached the minimum or maximum increments. Unlike the older Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless, which were prone to erroneous inputs, we didn't have this issue with these headphones.

9.3
Design
Portability
L 1.4 "
W 1.5 "
H 1.0 "
Volume 2.1 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required No

Like most truly wireless in-ears, the Google Pixel Buds 2 are very portable. They should be easy to store in your pocket, and their case is small enough to be tossed in a pouch or bag with little concern.

8.5
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 2.5 "
W 1.7 "
H 1.0 "
Volume 4.3 Cu. Inches

The Google Pixel Buds 2's case is amazing. It looks and feels very premium, with an unusual rounded-off shape, and supports Qi wireless charging as well as conventional cable charging over USB-C. While there's an indicator light on the outside, it only tells you when the case itself is charged. You need to open the lid to see the interior indicator light that shows whether your earbuds are finished charging or not, which can be a bit annoying.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The Google Pixel Buds 2 look and feel well-made and durable. They're made from dense high-grade plastic and have a matte finish that feels fairly scratch-resistant. They feel like they should be able to withstand a few accidental drops or bumps without sustaining any damage. They're rated IPX4 for water resistance, though we don't test for this.

8.0
Design
Stability

The Google Pixel Buds 2 feel very stable in the ear. Once you achieve a proper seal with their included selection of ear tips, they shouldn't loosen or fall out of your ears, even with vigorous shakes of the head.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Google Pixel Buds 2 headphones
  • 3x ear tips
  • Charging case
  • USB-A to USB-C charging cable
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-3.53 db
Treble Amount
-2.66 db

The Google Pixel Buds 2020's sound profile is fairly well-balanced. While they're lacking some low-end bass out-of-the-box, which may displease fans of EDM or hip-hop, vocals and lead instruments should still sound full-bodied, present, and clear.

Note 09/17/2020: These headphones received a firmware update that adds a 'Bass Boost' feature within their companion app. When turned on, this feature adds quite a bit more bass, which is great if you find their default sound to be a bit light on thump and rumble.

9.1
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.18 dB

The Google Pixel Buds 2020's frequency response consistency is excellent. Once you achieve a proper fit and seal with the included ear tips, audio delivery should remain fairly similar on separate listening sessions.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
7.3
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.36 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
89.8 Hz
Low-Bass
-5.83 dB
Mid-Bass
-3.15 dB
High-Bass
-1.55 dB

The Google Pixel Buds 2020's bass accuracy is decent. Low-bass is quite recessed, resulting in a lack of thump and rumble. This may not be too noticeable with all music, but fans of EDM or dubstep are likely to be disappointed. They also lack a bit of kick and body, which is noticeable with most genres. On the bright side, their bass doesn't sound boomy, cluttered, or overpowering.

9.3
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
0.95 dB
Low-Mid
0.17 dB
Mid-Mid
0.31 dB
High-Mid
0.4 dB

The Google Pixel Buds 2020's mid accuracy is outstanding. Most of the range is even and well-balanced. This ensures instruments and vocals that are clear and present without sounding cluttered or thin.

7.2
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.74 dB
Low-Treble
-0.56 dB
Mid-Treble
-4.23 dB
High-Treble
-10.82 dB

The Google Pixel Buds 2020's treble accuracy is decent. Vocals and instruments are detailed and well-articulated thanks to their well-balanced low-treble. Their mid-treble range is also somewhat recessed, which can make sibilants sound somewhat dull and lispy.

8.5
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.06 db
Dips
0.65 db

The peaks and dips performance is excellent. A small rise in the low-treble range can give a slightly harsh quality to vocals and lead instruments. The adjacent dip and peak in the mid-treble range makes sibilants, like cymbals or S and T sounds, alternatively dull and piercing, though this shouldn't be too noticeable for most listeners.

8.5
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.11
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
1.7
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.62
Weighted Phase Mismatch
1.62

The Google Pixel Buds 2020's imaging performance is excellent. The weighted group delay falls beneath the audibility threshold, resulting in a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. The L/R drivers are well-matched, resulting in accurate placement of instruments and objects, like voices and footsteps, in the stereo image. However, these results are only valid for our unit, and yours may perform differently.

2.0
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
6.0
Acoustic Space Excitation
2.7

The Google Pixel Buds 2020 have a bad passive soundstage. An expansive soundstage relies on interaction with the outer ear, which in-ears like these bypass. Sound is perceived as though it's coming from inside your head as opposed to in front of you. That said, their slightly more shallow fit yields a marginally more open listening experience than alternatives like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Truly Wireless.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No
7.2
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.504
WHD @ 100
0.170

The Google Pixel Buds 2020's weighted harmonic distortion performance is decent. They tend to distort a bit more in the treble range at both moderate and high listening volumes, but it's still mostly within good limits and shouldn't be too noticeable to most people.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
225
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 4.2
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Silicone (small)
Microphone
Integrated

These are the settings used to test the Google Pixel Buds 2020. Our results are only valid when listening using these settings.

Isolation
3.9
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-8.98 dB
Bass
-0.51 dB
Mid
-6.73 dB
Treble
-20.18 dB

The Google Pixel Buds 2020's noise isolation is bad, and they passively block a lot less noise than most in-ear headphones. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless, which have an ANC system, they block almost no low-frequency noises, like the low rumble of bus or plane engines. They also do a poor job of filtering out background chatter, and only do a mediocre job at higher-frequency sounds like fans or AC units.

7.6
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
35.89 dB

The Google Pixel Buds 2020's leakage performance is good. Most escaping audio originates from the low to mid-treble range, making it sound fairly thin and harsh, though this should be lost beneath the ambient noise of an average office.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
5.3
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
630.82 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
3.87 dB
HFE
3272.31 Hz
Weighted THD
5.814
Gain
2.73 dB

The mic's recording quality is poor. Recorded speech sounds thin, muffled, and slightly distorted. Thankfully, your voice is still fairly easy to understand.

8.5
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
34.13 dB

The microphone's noise handling is excellent. In moderately noisy environments, the person on the other end of the line should have no problem hearing you, though you may have trouble being understood if you call from an especially loud setting, like a subway car.

Active Features
5.9
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
6.7 hrs
Additional Charges
5.0
Total Battery Life
40.2 hrs
Charge Time
1.0 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port USB-C

The battery performance is only sub-par overall. They provide over six and a half hours of continuous playback, which outlasts their advertised claim of five hours but still falls short of the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless's 13-hour-plus single charge runtime. That said, it's worth noting that real-world battery consumption can vary with usage habits. On the bright side, their charging case holds around five additional charges, which is excellent. Google also advertises two hours of playback from a ten-minute charge, though we don't test this.

6.5
Active Features
App Support
App Name Google Pixel Buds
iOS No
Android Yes
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

The app for the Google Pixel Buds 2020 is only satisfactory. It doesn't offer too many customization options and has no EQ settings at all, which is a shame. On the bright side, you can use it to help find your earbuds' last known location if you misplace them, which is helpful. These headphones also have a 'Bass Boost' feature to this companion app. When turned on, this feature adds quite a bit more thump and rumble to their sound profile.

Connectivity
6.6
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
156 ft
PC Latency (SBC)
291 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
230 ms
Android Latency
165 ms

These in-ears have alright Bluetooth connectivity. They don't support NFC or multi-device pairing, which is a little annoying if you want to stream music from your phone while remaining connected to your computer. While you can pair them with any Bluetooth device like normal, when you open the case near a compatible Android device, it automatically recognizes them, making pairing very easy. This is advertised as working with any device running Android 6.0 or newer, and while it worked with our Samsung Galaxy S10e, we can't verify which other devices are compatible. They have somewhat high latency on Android, but it's even higher on PCs as well as mobile iOS devices, which could be quite disruptive while streaming videos. However, it's worth noting that apps and devices seem to compensate for this differently, so your experience may vary in the real-world.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
No
Detachable No
Length N/A
Connection No Wired Option
Analog/USB Audio Latency
N/A

These headphones can't be used wired. They come with a USB-A to USB-C charging cable for their case.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC/PS4 Analog
No
PC/PS4 Wired USB
No
PC/PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No

These headphones offer full audio and microphone compatibility with Bluetooth-enabled PCs, though their latency is likely too high for them to be used for gaming. They aren't compatible with PS4 consoles.

Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
2.2
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
Charging Case
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
Yes
Power Supply
USB-C

Like most truly wireless headphones, the charging case doesn't have any inputs. It feels quite well made and supplies roughly five additional charges. It also has a USB-C port for charging and supports Qi wireless charging.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Google Pixel Buds 2020 come in four color variants: 'Clearly White', 'Almost Black', 'Oh So Orange', and 'Quite Mint'. We tested the 'Clearly White' model, but expect the other variants to perform similarly overall.

Let us know in the discussions if you come across another variant, so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

Comparison picture

The Google Pixel Buds 2020 are the successor to the Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless but now have a truly wireless design. They look and feel premium, and can easily pair with newer Android devices by simply opening the charging case near your device. They're as comfortable as the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless and the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless, but unfortunately, unlike the Apple, they don't have ANC and block very little background noise. Check out our recommendations for the best truly wireless earbuds, the best wireless earbuds, and the best wireless earbuds for Android.

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless

The Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless are better truly wireless headphones than the Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless. The Samsung have a better-balanced sound profile, block a lot more background noise, and have a much longer battery life. On the other hand, the Google pair to Android devices almost instantly, and have a better control scheme that's very easy to use.

Jabra Elite Active 75t Truly Wireless

The Jabra Elite Active 75t Truly Wireless are better truly wireless in-ears than the Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless. The Jabra have a higher IP rating for water and dust resistance and physical buttons that offer more functionality. They also block way more background noise, have better microphone recording quality, support multi-device pairing, and have a much better app with access to a graphic EQ and presets. On the other hand, the Pixel's case holds more charges, and can fully charge your earbuds much faster. They also pair instantly with Android devices.

Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are much better truly wireless in-ears than the Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless. The Apple block significantly more background noise, thanks in part to their excellent ANC feature. They also have a slightly better-balanced sound profile with a bit more bass. On the other hand, the Google last longer off a single charge, and have an easier-to-use control scheme.

Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless

The Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless are better wireless headphones than the Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless but with a different design. While the 2017 model have a wire connecting each earbud, the new Pixel Buds 2020 are truly wireless. Other than that, the 2020 Pixel Buds are more comfortable, have a much better-balanced sound profile, and have a longer single-charge battery life. On the other hand, the 2017 Pixel Buds can be paired to two devices at once, though the newer model now has instant pairing with Android devices.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live Truly Wireless and Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless have different strengths and weaknesses. The Samsung block out more ambient noise, provide a longer continuous runtime, have more customization options in their companion app, and have far lower wireless latency on mobile devices. Meanwhile, the Google in-ears are comfier, have a more comprehensive control scheme, provide a more consistent listening experience, and leak less noise. Their integrated mic also does a better job of isolating speech from background noise.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless are better truly wireless headphones than the Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless. The Galaxy Buds have a better-balanced sound profile and isolate much more background noise. On the other hand, the Pixel Buds pair to Android devices almost instantly, and have a much easier-to-use control scheme. Their companion app is also compatible with both Android and iOS, though it doesn't offer much in terms of customization options.

Microsoft Surface Earbuds Truly Wireless

The Google Pixel Buds 2020 Truly Wireless are much better truly wireless headphones than the Microsoft Surface Earbuds Truly Wireless. The Google are more comfortable and have a better control scheme that's much easier to use. They also feel more stable in the ear and have a much better-balanced sound profile that's much more consistent between different users. They also last longer off a single charge, and their case holds a lot more full charges. On the other hand, some people may prefer the fit of the Microsoft as they don't enter the ear canal nearly as deeply. Their companion app also gives access to a graphic EQ and presets

+ Show more