Microsoft

Surface Headphones vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II: Which headphones should you buy?


Microsoft’s first headphones are incredibly impressive, with a superb design and sound, a built-in voice assistant, and with the added bonus of seamless use with multiple devices.

$350 at Microsoft

Pros

  • Great build quality and sound
  • Very comfortable
  • Great sound
  • USB-C with fast charge
  • Works with multiple devices

Cons

  • Average battery life
  • Large carry case
  • Noise cancellation isn’t great

The Bose QuietComfort became popular for its noise cancellation and it’s still hard to top this pair of headphones if that’s high on your list of priorities.

$350 at Amazon

Pros

  • Available with Alexa or Google Assistant
  • Great noise cancellation
  • Very comfortable

Cons

  • No EQ
  • Flat sound profile
  • Micro USB charging

It’s an incredibly close call, which is impressive considering we’re talking about Microsoft’s first attempt at headphones. If noise cancellation is the draw, though, the Bose headphones are still the top dog.

Two great pairs of headphones

Whichever you choose, you’re getting a great pair of headphones. Microsoft is the newcomer in the space, but with the Surface team behind it, there was never a doubt the Headphones would be a quality product.

Bose is one of the class leaders with good reason. It has a legendary reputation for quality, and the QC 35 II is just another notch on that belt.

Both cost the same and on paper, at least, are very similar in terms of specs, so which one is right for you?

Surface Headphones Bose QC 35 II
Noise cancellation Active Active
Battery life Up to 15 hours (with ANC, Bluetooth and Cortana enabled) Up to 20 hours (Wireless)
Charging port USB-C
Fast charge
Micro USB
Assistant Cortana Google Assistant or Alexa
Price $350 $350

There are a couple of notable differences, however. Naturally, Microsoft has baked Cortana into the Surface Headphones, but the Bose works with either Google or Amazon powered assistants, depending on your preference. You’ll also get better battery life on the Bose, at the expense of having to carry the old hat micro USB cable to charge them with.

By contrast, the Surface Headphones will charge likely using the same cable as your smartphone, and with fast charge, you’re back up and running much quicker.

Three different assistants

Both sets of headphones have a virtual assistant baked in. Microsoft has its own Cortana and Bose uses either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. If you’re not interested in using an assistant at all, you can skip ahead.

It’s no secret that in the wider world, both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are far more mature assistants, with a wealth of smart integrations and a more global appeal. It’s absolutely possible that without using your phone or a connected speaker, you can use your Bose headphones to turn on your lights, adjust your heating, or even in the case of Alexa, control your Xbox.

Cortana is, by contrast, less widely available as more than just the basic assistant you find in Windows 10. In the U.S. there are smart home integrations, but aside from controlling your music with your voice or asking some quick questions, adding items to to-do lists and such, there’s less for Cortana to do here.

The key thing at least is that access to all three assistants is possible on any Android phone or the iPhone, and only Google Assistant can’t be used on a Windows PC.

Bose has superior ANC, Microsoft takes it on sound quality

Which you choose should ultimately hinge on what you’re looking for from your headphones. If you want the best noise cancellation peformance, then the Bose wins hands down. Microsoft did a decent job, but it falls a fair way short of what you get from Bose.

However, the Surface Headphones, perhaps surprisingly, edge it on sound quality. The Bose lacks an equalizer and have a decidedly flat sound profile. The Surface Headphones have an all-round richer sound.

A great all rounder

The Surface Headphones are certainly worthy contenders against the likes of Bose and Sony. For a first attempt, they’re excellent, and whether you’re going to use Cortana or not, you have a high-end pair of ANC headphones to use with any device.

Brilliant debut


Surface Headphones

A great first set of headphones from Microsoft.

While the battery life and ANC falls behind Bose, the Surface Headphones make up for it in a number of other areas, not least sound quality and comfort.

Easy to recommend

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is an easy to recommend pair of headphones for folks who are prioritising ANC, perhaps for frequent travel. The sound may not be ultimately as pleasing as the Surface Headphones, but they’re still the ones to pick to block out the sound of the outside world.

ANC king


Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Still the best choice for noise cancellation.

The sound may be a little flat compared to the Surface Headphones, but if you’re hunting for the best noise cancellation, you found it with the Bose.

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