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Google Pixel Buds A could cut this feature to keep an AirPods-beating price

Google Pixel Buds 2
(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

Most Google Pixel Buds A leaks have focused on the wireless earbuds being a cheaper successor to the Pixel Buds 2 — as well as a more affordable rival to the upcoming Apple AirPods 3.

However, it’s been mostly unclear how the Pixel Buds A would find the cost savings to reach such a significantly lower price. One possibility, according to 9to5Google, is that the Pixel Buds A will lose the swipe-based volume controls that previous Pixel Buds have enjoyed.

9to5Google investigated a recent Pixel Buds app update that appears to include strings preparing for the Pixel Buds A’s eventual release. These include “type_one” and “type_two” identifiers, which seem to refer to the Pixel Buds 2 and the Pixel Buds A respectively.

Where it gets interesting is that code relating to the Pixel Buds 2’s volume swipe controls, like the “swipe_forward” and “swipe_backward” strings, are absent from the “type_two” file. This is certainly an indication, though not confirmation, that the Pixel Buds A won’t let you adjust volume by swiping on the earbud’s touch sensors.

It could therefore be likely that Google will put a more basic touch sensor into the Pixel Buds A, assuming it will support touch inputs at all; only being able to control the earbuds from your phone remains a remote though technically possible alternative. Either approach would help save costs and drive the Pixel Buds A price down, though we’d hope that you’d at least be able to raise or lower volume through repeated taps.

The same APK teardown also hints at a charging case with the battery status LED on the outside — on the Pixel Buds 2 case, it’s positioned in-between the earbud sockets, so is only visible when opening the case. Notably, the possible Pixel Buds A design Google itself included in an email newsletter shows a white LED on the outside of the case.

We don't yet know when the Pixel Buds A will be released — in fact we don't have official confirmation then they're even real — but we expect a late Spring or Summer launch. If that's the case, we shouldn't have to wait too long before we find out exactly what they'll offer — and whether they'll be a contender for our best wireless earbuds list. Watch this space either way.