Google's new Pixel phones ditch the headphone jack to offer $160 wireless buds

Cal Jeffrey

TS Evangelist
Staff member

Google unveiled the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL in San Francisco today. The phones are pretty much what you would expect from any new Android phone (check out our coverage).

One rumor that Google confirmed at the event was that it would follow Apple’s example and eliminate the 3.5mm headphone jack. Of course, both versions of the flagship phone will come with a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter packed in the box and USB-C headphones. However, Google is hoping you’ll spring for its new wireless Pixel Buds instead.

Google's wireless earphones are similar to Apple's AirPods in some respects. They have sightly better touch controls (swipes for volume, tap to play and pause, hold to activate Google Assistant). They also come with a carrying case that serves as a charger. However, unlike AirPods, Pixel Buds are attached by a cloth cord, which serves multiple purposes.

One function of the cord is to prevent the earpieces from getting lost should they fall out. If one earphone slips, it will never hit the floor. If both of them pop out, the cord is going to make them less likely to take a wild hop into an unreachable area like under the refrigerator. They will also be easier to find in the grass or other obscuring materials since the cord will make them more visible. And of course, it is much more convenient to drape them around your neck when not in use than it is to fish the case out every time you need to take them out.

The primary purpose for the cord though is to keep the phones in your ear. Pixel Buds are not your typical earbuds that you jam into your ear and hope that they stay. Instead, they rest on the outside of the ear, and the cord juts out the top of each earphone making an adjustable loop. You adjust this to fit snuggly into the crease of your outer ear (see top picture). So the cord is what keeps the buds in place.

Like Apple’s AirPods, Pixel Buds are not cheap. They will retail for $159, which is the same price Cupertino charges for its wireless phones. The buds will come in three colors – white, gray, and black.

They also come with a cloth covered carrying case that also serves as a portable charger for the headphones. The set can run for about 4 hours before needing to be recharged, and the case is supposed to be good for up to four charges.

Google does not have a specific release date set for Pixel Buds, only saying that they will be shipping in November, but pre-orders are available as of today.

Top Image by The Verge

Permalink to story.

 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Does it ever occur to these makers that people might want BOTH capabilities? The savings on the removal of the jack is minimal so why not just leave it for those that choose to use it? Unfortunately we are not allowed to use the word ***** on here, otherwise I would have!
 

gusticles41

TS Evangelist
Clever design on how they stay in the ear...It might actually work for someone like myself, who has yet to find a non-over-the-ear pair that stays put.

But alas, $159 is steep. I expect them to be sweat/water resistant, too. I have a $30 Amazon pair that have better battery life, are water resistant, and sound great. So I'd be hard pressed to not buy 5 pairs of those before 1 of these.
 

Panda218

TS Evangelist
They look nice, but that price tag is far too high for me when they only get 5 hours of playback. I bought a pair of Anker bluetooth headphones that costs 13 USD and they last about 7.5 hours. It's sad to think I may leave Fi if I can't get a new phone in a year or two that has a 3.5mm jack.
 

IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
Honestly I hate the headphone jack. That being said I like wired headphones at times. I'd like to see USB C headphones. And I would like to start seeing phones with multiple USB C ports, maybe three would be good. Then more devices for phones that are USB C. These are just mini computers why not have some more connectivity on them?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Capaill

Kenrick

TS Evangelist
Where are the no-headphone-jack-apple warriors. lol. So much hate when Apple did this before and now major competitors are following Apple's lead.
 
Last edited:

veLa

TS Evangelist
Just like non-removable batteries, these manufactures keep offering up phones that don't meet my requirements.
 

enemys

TS Maniac
TechSpot Elite
160 for ear-buds? No thank you! Nothing in an ear-bud could possibly cost more than 20 to make.
That's obviously not true, high-quality audio parts, even the smallest ones, can be pretty expensive on their own, not including design, software, battery, BT radio, marketing etc. That said, Pixel Buds' price seems much to high to me - they seem too small to sound amazing and probably provide no sound isolation, which means in most everyday situations you'll get better experience from lower quality, but better sound-dampening headphones.

And the loop... It might be clever, but I'm wondering if they'll be comfortable. I've used some "clever-mounted" earphones in the past and all of them caused ear abrasions for the first couple of weeks, until the ears got used to the shape.
 

enemys

TS Maniac
TechSpot Elite
When you cut out the investors from leaching, come back to me on the price.
Yeah, and what does it have to do with your false statement about "nothing possibly costing more than 20 bucks"? It's a whole different story, not about the possible price of parts, but about economic aspects of the business. You weren't saying "the price is too high, they are probably just greedy and use cheap components" - which might just be true - but something like "it's impossible that any earbud could cost more than 20 bucks to make".
 
S

senketsu

Honestly I hate the headphone jack. That being said I like wired headphones at times. I'd like to see USB C headphones. And I would like to start seeing phones with multiple USB C ports, maybe three would be good. Then more devices for phones that are USB C. These are just mini computers why not have some more connectivity on them?
so can I assume the reason you hate the headphone jack is that it takes space that could be used for more/different connectivity?
I like the idea of headphones with USB-C and multiple ports, but many headphones do not have interchangeable cables. For the cost of most ear buds tho it would be easy to make USB-C models. Expensive headphones I've seen have changeable cables....standards...sigh
 

Adhmuz

TechSpot Paladin
$160 for some terrible sounding tiny speakers? Nope, earbuds are damn near designed to be disposable, having them wired is just fine, really no need for them to be wireless, oh wait you have no 3.5mm jack, I guess that changes things just a little.

Where are the no-headphone-jack-apple warriors. lol. So much hate when Apple did this before and now major competitors are following Apple's lead.
I posted my rant on the phones actual article, this one is just about the Bluetooth headphones so posting a rant about the phone they go with is a little out of place. My point about forcing you to over use the USB C port is moot when talking about Bluetooth headphones as well.

I like the idea of headphones with USB-C and multiple ports, but many headphones do not have interchangeable cables. For the cost of most ear buds tho it would be easy to make USB-C models. Expensive headphones I've seen have changeable cables....standards...sigh
You like the idea of having headphones you can only use with a single device and will be rendered obsolete as soon as the next new USB port comes out? If interchangeable connectors was a viable option I'd be for it, but that'll never happen, because again, USB C will be phased out eventually making the whole practice pointless. Do any of those expensive headphones with interchangeable cables offer USB C yet?
 

p51d007

TS Evangelist
Google, going the way of OVERPRICED stuff (Apple). 160 bucks for BT ear buds? Considering some of the music I hear on the radio, and passing cars....pass ;)
 

Badvok

TS Evangelist
Google are just copying Apple over and over again these days, same stuff at same price but lacking any USP to differentiate.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kenrick

ikesmasher

TS Evangelist
Where are the no-headphone-jack-apple warriors. lol. So much hate when Apple did this before and now major competitors are following Apple's lead.
most of us don't bother reading or commenting on phones without headphone jacks.

I don't really care about the demise of the headphone jack but bluetooth in its current revision is NOT the replacement. Inconsistent performance between devices, off-sync with videos on half of my devices, and definitely out of the question for gaming. Until they fix all this, or actually create a decent market with decent options for USBC headphones, I wont be using any devices without a headphone jack. and it'll be years before anyone gets there. I mean, look how close they are to phasing out USB 2.0 (as in, not close).
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

TS Evangelist
Just like non-removable batteries, these manufactures keep offering up phones that don't meet my requirements.
Removable/replaceable batteries in mobile devices. Yeah, I remember them, vaguely. Didn't they used to be quite a popular thing a few decades ago?
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

TS Evangelist
I probably would've also been crying like a baby about the loss of the 3.5 mm jack if I hadn't figured out a while back that BT earphones are simply a far better and more convenient solution than wired ones but $160 for these things? Like hell!
 

IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
so can I assume the reason you hate the headphone jack is that it takes space that could be used for more/different connectivity?
I like the idea of headphones with USB-C and multiple ports, but many headphones do not have interchangeable cables. For the cost of most ear buds tho it would be easy to make USB-C models. Expensive headphones I've seen have changeable cables....standards...sigh
I don't like them because they are delicate and easy to break, and they only serve one purpose. USB C could handle everything needed for your typical pair of buds, microphone, and medial controls. I would just like to have more flexibility with phones and USB C offers a lot of flexibility. Three fully functional USB C ports on the bottom of my phone would be wonderful, particularly if there are lots of USB C accessories that would work on a smartphone. Secondary display anyone? Dock you phone with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse? External cameras, including already existing thermal imaging devices (Seek Thermal, FLIR One, etc.), external sensors, the possibilities are endless.

Smartphones are so powerful yet we really limit them. Wireless connectivity can only do so much, not to mention the security concerns.
 
  • Like
Reactions: senketsu