It looks like Google’s next pair of true wireless earbuds will be the Google Pixel Buds A — not the Pixel Buds 3 as originally rumored.
Thanks to various leaks and document filings, we already have an idea of the Pixel Buds A’s key specs, and even how it will likely look. And, if devices like the Google Pixel 4a and upcoming Pixel 5a are any indication, we could be looking at a lower-priced pair of earbuds compared to the Pixel Buds 2.
That could be a major advantage for the Pixel Buds A ahead of a possible Apple AirPods 3 launch this year.
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Google has yet to announce the Pixel Buds A officially, so for now, here’s everything we know so far about the incoming earbuds.
Google Pixel Buds A release date
Judging a release date window for the Pixel Buds A requires some extrapolation, but there are some hints to work with. For starters, Google teasing the Pixel Buds A in an email newsletter suggests that an official reveal could happen sooner rather than later.
Those FCC documents also include a confidentiality agreement on included images, meaning the FCC won’t show any product designs until September 2021. It’s therefore reasonable to conclude that Google would want to release its new earbuds before then.
A late Spring release seems most likely right now. This would also give the Pixel Buds A a timing advantage over the AirPods 3 as well as a pricing one, as the consensus among leakers is that Apple’s earbuds won’t release until the second half of 2021.
Google Pixel Buds A price
A 9to5Google report confidently claims that these earbuds are in fact the Google Pixel Buds A. Google has never said either way what its next pair of headphones would be called, though the “A” is a pretty strong hint that it will follow the Pixel 3a and Pixel 4a formula: similar features as before, but with a more affordable price.
Since the Pixel Buds 2 costs $179, that could see the Pixel Buds A land somewhere in the $100 to $150 range. While that’s not quite within outright budget buds territory, a cheaper pair of Pixel Buds could easily undercut the AirPods 3, which by most accounts is likely to launch at a higher price than the current Apple AirPods in exchange for more advanced features.
Google Pixel Buds A design
Google itself may have leaked the Pixel Buds A design, showing a dark green-colored set of Pixel Buds in a recent email to Google Nest mailing list subscribers.
As spotted by 9to5Google, the design shown in the email uses a darker shade of green than the Quiet Mint color option of the Pixel Buds 2, even though the buds and case otherwise appear identical. Could this simply be a new colorway for the existing model? Perhaps not: 9to5Google’s original report specifically detailed a dark green version of the Pixel Buds A, along with a hereto unseen all-white version.
An even earlier leak, of FCC certification documents, seemingly detailed two new pairs of Pixel Buds with very similar dimensions to the Pixel Buds 2. At the time this looked liked it could be the Pixel Buds 3, but with the emergence of the Pixel Buds A, the FCC could have certified the latter instead. This would also explain why the product design in Google’s email is so similar to that of the Pixel Buds 2: the Pixel Buds A simply is simply copying it and adding new color options, similarly to how the Pixel 3a and 4a resemble the Pixel 3 and Pixel 4.
Google Pixel Buds A features
Logically, the Pixel Buds A would have a similar feature set to the Pixel Buds 2, perhaps with some of the latter’s higher-end features cut to keep the price down. We don’t know this for sure, of course.
That said, 9to5Google did specifiy that the Pixel Buds A will keep the touch controls of the Pixel Buds 2. And if the design is similar, that would mean removable ear tips as well — though the tip design can’t be seen in the Google email image, so that remains to be seen.
The FCC documents actually hinted at a potential upgrade for the Pixel Buds A: it apparently uses the same wireless band as the Pixel Buds 2, but has a higher power output. This might be an attempt on Google’s part to address the existing model’s issues with Bluetooth connection dropouts.
Also of potential note is Google’s recent, if very quiet, acquisition of 3D audio startup Dysonics. As reported by Protocol, this could see future Pixel Buds with their own version of the AirPods’ spatial audio surround sound tech. However, Dysonics-made spatial audio finding its way into the Pixel Buds A specifically seems like a long shot: the acquisition only took place in December, which wouldn’t leave much time to develop transformative new tech for a pair of headphones that’s heavily leaking in April.
Besides, considering the Pixel Buds A is reportedly intended to be a cheaper alternative to existing Pixel Buds, adding this high-end new feature would bump the price up — not knock it down.
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