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The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II offer all of the comforts of noise-cancellation in a wireless package similar to the new AirPods Pro 2. Here's how the two flagship earbuds stack up.
Bose introduced its refresh of the QuietComfort Earbuds in September, with the upgraded QuietComfort Earbuds II boasting weight and size savings on its predecessor. It also has similarly improved smarts, including automatic ear calibration and active noise cancellation (ANC) with a couple of Transparency-style modes.
The earlier Bose QuietComfort Earbuds were a direct competitor to Apple's first AirPods Pro. The launch of the second generation is a more direct attempt by Bose to pull away audiophiles from Apple's industry-leading personal audio lineup.
With the two models available to purchase, here's what you need to know about the strengths of each model.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II - Specifications
|Specifications||AirPods Pro (Gen 2)||Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II|
Buy at Amazon
|Dimensions (inches)||1.22 x 0.86 x 0.94||1.2 x 0.68 x 0.88|
|Case Dimensions (inches)||1.78 x 2.39 x 0.85||2.61 x 2.34 x 1.05|
|Case Weight (ounces)||1.79||2.11|
|Battery Life (earbuds)||6 hours with ANC||6 Hours|
|Battery Life (with case)||Up to 30 hours||Up to 24 hours|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.3||Bluetooth 5.3|
|Microphones||Dual beamforming microphones,|
|4 per earbud|
|Sensors||Dual optical sensors,|
|Touch control, |
|Sweat and Water Resistance||IPX4||IPX4|
|Active Noise Cancellation||Yes||Yes|
Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II - Design and Dimensions
The first big difference between the two earbud approaches is the physicality of each one.
Apple opts for its usual stem-based white earbuds, which share many similarities with earlier earbuds from the company. With sweeping curves, the AirPods Pro 2 gently fit into the ear folds, and the silicone earbud goes into the ear canal.
Bose's version is an all-new design from the previous model but with a less curvy design. They're still comfortable to wear, but instead of the AirPods-like dangling stem, a section reaches toward the front of the user.
On size, the AirPods Pro 2 measure 1.22 inches by 0.86 inches by 0.94 inches, while the Bose is 1.2 inches by 0.68 inches by 0.88 inches. The stem of the AirPods Pro certainly impacts the size measurement, but that's not the whole story.
While smaller, the Bose are also heavier, at 0.22 ounces per earbud to 0.19 for the AirPods Pro 2. Apple's earbuds are lighter, but not by much at all.
When you're wearing them, the Bose set feels a little bigger and with a tighter ear canal fit. You can feel the sticking-out section, which gives a sense of the earbuds being more prominent and awkward.
To adjust the fit, Apple includes a set of four pairs of silicone ear tips to match the size of your ear canal.
Bose combines two interchangeable elements, with the first being three pairs of ear tips in different sizes. Accompanying them are three pairs of "stability bands," designed to go around the back and stay in contact with the broader part of your ear.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II - Features
Using a custom high-excursion driver and high dynamic range amplifier, the AirPods Pro offers improved audio quality over the first-gen model, with richer bass and clearer audio. This is assisted by the new H2 chip and new adaption algorithms to process sound specifically for the user's ear shape.
Apple refers to this as an Adaptive EQ, using inward-facing microphones for ANC to monitor what the user hears and to adapt song playback. This results in a more consistent sound.
Bose uses its knowledge to develop similar features to Apple's AirPods Pro additions, starting with CustomTune. Rather than adjusting on the fly, the earbuds send a chime to map the shape of the user's ear when worn, a signal picked up by microphones and processed in half a second.
An adjustable EQ is available via the Bose Music app, with options to control the bass, mid-range, and treble.
Both sets of earbuds offer ANC features via built-in microphones, with Bose using four mics per earbud and Apple going for one inward-facing mic alongside dual beamforming ones.
In each case, the ANC features use data acquired via the ear-tuning feature to fine-tune the effect. Bose says that CustomTune calibrates the noise reduction signal to target typically complex frequencies to reduce, such as nearby voices or screaming children, and adapt the effect to match changes in the environment.
This also impacts the Transparency features, where some audio from the outside world is hearable by the user, which Bose calls Aware Mode with ActiveSense. Under the mode, the QuietComfort Earbuds II passes through audio from your surroundings, much like Apple's Transparency.
Both versions have been improved by a software feature that minimizes the intensity of sudden loud noises, such as power tools or a siren, via onboard processing. In the case of AirPods Pro 2, the H2 chip makes a check adjusts 48,000 times per second.
Apple and Bose both rely on touch sensing to control each earbud, with taps and slides along the main exposed areas of each earbud managing features like media playback, volume, and calls.
You can use each to summon Siri, with the AirPods Pro able to do so verbally. For the Bose, you must set up a shortcut beforehand, enabling a touch-and-hold action to do so manually.
One trick that AirPods Pro 2 offer that the Bose does not is Spatial Audio with Head Tracking, which creates a 3D soundscape for the user for supportive songs. Using onboard sensors, the audio position can change depending on how the user shifts the position of their head.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II - Cases and Battery Life
Each set of earbuds is sold with a recharging case. Of the two, Bose produces the bulkier case at 2.61 inches by 2.34 inches by 1.05 inches versus 2.39 inches by 1.78 inches by 0.85 inches on Apple's side. As well as being physically larger, Bose's case is also heavier, at 2.11 ounces to 1.79 ounces.
You would think that the Bose case would provide some extra capacity, given its size, but it doesn't. Bose claims its QuietComfort Earbuds II can manage up to 24 hours of total listening time. Meanwhile, Apple's AirPods Pro II can do up to 30 hours of passive listening or 24 hours of talk time.
Both sets of earbuds can get up to 6 hours of battery life from a single charge. Apple also adds that the 6 hours reduces to 5.5 hours with Spatial Audio enabled and up to 4.5 hours of talk time.
As for recharging the earbuds, Apple claims a 5-minute charge in the case can provide the AirPods Pro 2 with around an hour of listening time. Bose says its earbuds can get up to 2 hours of charge in 20 minutes, which equates to about 30 minutes of listening for a five-minute charge.
The charging case for the AirPods Pro II can be recharged in a few ways, including wirelessly via MagSafe or a Qi charger and the Lightning port. Bose includes a USB-C port for recharging.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II - Connectivity and Other Details
Apple moved up from Bluetooth 5 to Bluetooth 5.3 with the second-generation AirPods Pro, which promises increased range and stability of the wireless signal. Bose boasts Bluetooth 5.3 support, with a consistent signal possible within a 30-foot range.
Since it directly controls its operating systems, Apple has included deep integration with iOS and others in its ecosystem. In practice, you'll find dedicated controls in the Settings app for the AirPods Pro II, as well as instant pairing and other benefits of a close connection.
Bose does allow the QuietComfort Earbuds II to connect plainly over Bluetooth, but you can get more control over the earbuds using the companion app. This includes adjusting the EQ, the ANC modes, and manually triggered software updates, unlike the AirPods.
This isn't as effortless as the tight integration AirPods benefits from, but it still represents a fair amount of customization for the Bose earbuds.
Apple and Bose both rate their respective earbuds at IPX4 for sweat and water resistance. Either pair should survive light rain and intensive workouts but not submergence.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II - Pricing
Apple sells the AirPods Pro Gen 2 for $249. While sold just in white, you do have the option to engrave the case.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II sell for $299. It is available in two colors: Triple Black and Soapstone.
Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II - What to buy
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II have a lot going for them, including fantastic audio quality and ANC. If you're going for just audio quality alone, Bose narrowly wins.
However, the AirPods Pro 2 are also great in their own right, so while Bose may be better, the AirPods won't disappoint either.
The problem for Bose is that you can look at practically any other feature, and it's either a dead heat or an Apple win. The extremely high integration with Apple's operating systems, the smaller overall size, the Find My functionality, and the battery life all make the AirPods Pro 2 better.
Then there's the price. You're saving $50 if you opt for the AirPods Pro 2 over the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II.
If audio is the priority over all else, and you can live without the AirPods niceties, then the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II is the better pick. Otherwise, save $50 and go for the AirPods Pro 2.