Review/Rant: Google Nexus Headphones Suck

Nexus headphones

 That’s right. No way I’m burying the lead on this one. If you are thinking of buying the Google Nexus headphones, save your coin and don’t. Google has finally released a Nexus branded product that honestly, truly, sucks.

#NexusFail

I will be the first to admit that I’ve been known to drink the Android Koolaid from time to time. Especially when it comes to Nexus products. So when Google released a Nexus branded set of headphones I decided to give it a shot. The Nexus  brand hadn’t let me down so far, so I was confident with the purchase. Boy was I wrong.
My first warning should have been that Google once again had issues taking my order. They canceled my order almost immediately after I purchased it.  I tried again and was once more canceled  I tried a third time and I was hit with an ordering limit by Google’s servers. Calling customer support revealed to me that my account had been blocked from ordering for 48 hours due to the aforementioned ordering report. Google said the problem wasn’t on their side and I should call the my bank. 
My bank told me that they had authorized the transactions and had begun the process of sending money to Google but that it was Google that canceled my order. What the heck? In retrospect I’ve come to realize this was fate warning me that I should avoid these headphones. Did I listen? Noooo.
My second warning should have been the packaging. Whereas the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 devices have nice attractive packaging, the Nexus headphones have a nice box but come in a little plastic baggy. That is the entirety of the box. No nice packaging, just the headphones in a baggy. Bah!

Nexus headphones close-up
Nexus headphones are not worth the money.

Fit & Finish

The Nexus headphones are made well enough considering the price (more on that later). The cord is a flat “tangle-free” design. It’s pretty stiff and about 3 feet long. The one-button remote is on the cord for the left earbud and houses the microphone. 
The earbuds themselves are a dark silver metallic color with the iconic Nexus ‘X’ in the end. One would think that since they are Nexus branded there would be a modicum of quality control. Nope. Mine has a little curly detail that looks like a worker’s eyelash got stuck to the earbud driver housing before it got painted. Kinda gross if you ask me. I was able to buff it out. Turns out it was a bubble of some kind. 
The one redeeming quality of this is that the ridged ear tips that come on the earbuds fit well in my ears and are fairly comfortable. 

Sound Quality

Considering these are a $20 set of earbuds, the sound quality is ok. It’s a bit better than my cheap $7 JVC earbuds that I keep at work but not by much. Honestly I’ve heard better sound coming out of a $15 set of Skullcandy earbuds. The sound is muddled top-to-bottom and the bass and lower mid range is pretty weak. 
Then again what can one expect from a $20 set of earbuds?
My biggest gripe stems from the plug itself. It is an angled plug which is a good thing. However, every time the plug turns left or right in the headphone jack in my Nexus 4 there is a crackling noise. I’ve tested this with several other sets of headphones I have and this doesn’t happen with any of them. Just the Nexus headphones. Strangely, the crackling isn’t present when I hook the headphones to my Nexus 7. 
One the plus side, the noise isolating eartips that come with the headphones actually work pretty well. They keep outside noise out and vice versa.  And like I mentioned before, they are pretty comfortable. If it wasn’t for the occasional crackling noise, I could easily forget that they are there.

Remote and Microphone Control

The inline remote is a one button affair. Long press brings up voice command functions. A quick tap while in the music player will play/pause music and two quick taps skips ahead. The button mostly worked for answering calls. The sound quality on the microphone was described by people I talked to as weak and that it sounded like I was on speakerphone. 

Value 

While they might cost $19.99 in the Play Store, you are stuck with $5.99 two-day shipping making these headphones a $26 money waster. There are better headphones you can buy on Amazon or your local electronics store. Like I said, save your money and skip these headphones.

Conclusion

I also discovered one thing while reading the LG Optimus G Pro review on Technobuffalo. Take a look in the slideshow and eventually notice the photo of the headphones. They are exactly the same minus the color as the Nexus headphones! Also, LG has the decency to include these headphones in the box which is exactly what Google should have done. These would be excellent headphones to include with the Nexus 4. Apple has the iconic white earbuds that come with the iPhone 5, why doesn’t Google do the same thing?

Either way, Google is likely making a killer margin on these headphones. It is completely possible that I received a bad pair but I kinda doubt it. Save yourself the hassle and spend your money on something else.

Kenny Larson
Onetime Apple/Android/Windows fanboy. Now a firm agnostic when it comes to OS. They all suck in their own special way.

"Be excellent to each other."
--Bill & Ted

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