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Google Pixel Buds Pro vs. Apple AirPods Pro 2: Which premium earbuds should you buy?

Google and Apple re-released their flagship earbuds this year with upgraded software features. But which one brings the better listening experience? Here's the scoop.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
A comparison photo between the Google Pixel Buds Pro and Apple AirPods Pro 2
Jada Jones/ZDNET

Both Google and Apple rereleased their flagship premium earbuds this year to include up-to-date software while offering small but mighty hardware design tweaks. Depending on a few factors, one pair of earbuds will suit your needs better than the other.

Also: Every product unveiled at the Made by Google event

From internal audio components and device interoperability to external durability and price, Apple's AirPods Pro (2nd gen + USB-C) and Google's Pixel Buds Pro have many similarities but a few distinct differences. Here's a guide to help you decide which one you should buy.


Google Pixel Buds Pro

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen + USB-C)

Sound features

ANC, Conversation Detection, Transparency Mode, and Spatial Audio

Personalized Spatial Audio, ANC, Conversation Awareness, Adaptive Audio, and Transparency Mode


Bluetooth 5.0 (compatible with Bluetooth Super Wideband)

Bluetooth 5.3


Earbuds: IPX4; Case: IPX2



Up to 11 hours of playback (up to 31 hours with charging case)

Up to 6 hours of playback (up to 30 hours with charging case)


Custom six-core audio processor





You should buy the Pixel Buds Pro if...

Pixel Buds Pro laid on a coral colored background

1. You have an Android or mixed-device ecosystem

Google's Pixel Buds Pro are equipped with Multipoint connectivity, which allows the buds to connect to two Bluetooth-enabled devices at the same time. So, you can listen to music on your laptop with Pixel Buds Pro and take calls on your smartphone without having to reconnect your earbuds.

Review: Google Pixel Buds Pro: AirPods Pro, but for Android

If you have devices that use different operating systems, such as an iPhone and a Chromebook, Multipoint allows you to seamlessly connect to and switch between both devices.

2. You prefer rounded earbuds

Pixel Buds Pro sport a rounded form factor, similar to Sony's WF-1000XM5 earbuds. Google's buds omit a traditional earbud-and-stem design, leaving the touch controls on the outer surface of the earbuds.

Additionally, the Pixel Buds Pro have silicone ear tips, combining my two favorite design features from Apple's AirPods Pro and Sony's flagship earbuds: A rounded design and silicone ear tips. With these two features, the round shape allows Pixel Buds Pro to mimic your ear shape to deliver deeper bass and more effective noise-canceling, while the silicone tips help them to stay snug in your ear.

If you enjoy this ergonomic and efficient design, the Pixel Buds Pro may be for you.

3. You frequently change EQ settings

If you like to change your earbuds' EQ setting based on the media you're consuming, you'll enjoy Pixel Buds Pro. You can toggle their EQ settings on a five-band equalizer from your phone and now from a compatible Chromebook.

In comparison, AirPods Pro do not have native EQ settings, and Sony's WF-1000XM5 earbuds' EQ settings can only be changed from the Sony Headphones Connect app, which is not available on desktop.

You should buy the AirPods Pro if...

AirPods Pro 2 against a yellow background
Christina Darby/ZDNET

1. You don't venture far outside of Apple's ecosystem

It's no secret that Apple devices work best when used in tandem with other Apple devices. As a result, you'll get the most out of your AirPods Pro if you have an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV. Additionally, AirPods don't have Multipoint connectivity but can seamlessly switch between more than two Apple devices.

Review: AirPods Pro: Noise cancellation and improved design are valuable additions

So, if you have an iPhone and a Chromebook, you'll have to manually connect your AirPods to your Chromebook any time you want to use them. It's a small luxury, but it definitely makes your life easier.

2. You sometimes get down and dirty

After Apple rereleased the AirPods Pro to sport a USB-C port, the company also upgraded the earbuds' IP rating. A device's IP rating measures the amount of water and dust that can penetrate the device's crevices and affect its functionality.

AirPods Pro with USB-C charging now have an IP54 rating for both the earbuds and charging case, meaning your Apple buds will be further protected from dust and dirt. On the other hand, Pixel Buds Pro have an IPX4 rating, and the charging case has an IPX2 rating.

The "X" means Google did not formally test Pixel Buds Pro for dust and dirt ingress, so you'll want to keep them away from heavily dusty environments, and the "2" means the case is only protected from drops of water. However, the Pixel Buds' "4" rating means they are protected from water splashes, making them sweatproof.

3. You want all the latest audio technology

AirPods Pro run on Bluetooth 5.3, the most recent iteration of Bluetooth. Bluetooth 5.3 allows devices to stay connected via a Bluetooth connection for longer distances and stream higher-quality audio and video content.

Conversely, Pixel Buds Pro operate on Bluetooth 5.0 but are now compatible with Bluetooth Super Wideband and a special audio codec called Low Complexity Communication Codec (LC3). These two technologies increase the Pixel Buds Pro audio quality while using less data. AirPods Pro (with Lightning or USB-C port) are compatible with LC3 and Bluetooth 5.3 but do not support Bluetooth Super Wideband.

Alternatives to consider

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