Do Microsoft Surface Earbuds work with iPhones and iPads?

iPhone X
iPhone X (Image credit: Al Sacco | Windows Central)

Do Microsoft Surface Earbuds work with iPhones and iPads?

Best answer: Yes, Microsoft Surface Earbuds will support iPhone and iPad devices. However, some features are accessible exclusively to Android and Windows 10 devices due to the closed nature of iOS.Preorder today: Microsoft Surface Earbuds ($200 at Microsoft)Best iOS alternative: Apple AirPods with Charging Case ($129 at Amazon)

Do iPhones and iPads support Microsoft Surface Earbuds?

Surface Earbuds bring a new truly wireless in-ear accessory to Microsoft in-house hardware, promising everyday cable-free listening for mobile and PC. Connected over Bluetooth, an open wireless standard, both iPhones and iPads pair and play over the earbuds.

All core Microsoft Surface Earbuds features translate when used via an iPhone or iPad, including audio from calls and entertainment. Their integrated touch panel also serves natural gestures for fingertip control over playback. Tapping jumps between pause and play, swiping up and down tweaks volume, and horizontal moves skip tracks. Gestures are expected to function on iPhone and iPad devices. Microsoft has also promised support for various assistants, including native compatibility with Apple's own Siri voice companion.

However, Microsoft's Android investments have scaled in recent years alongside Windows 10, recently shipping deep cross-platform integration, even launching the Android-powered Surface Duo in 2020. Microsoft Surface Earbuds continue this trend, with various compatibility differences, due to limitations of the iOS operating system.

Surface Earbuds also ride on voice and touch experiences tied to Microsoft's pool of services. Microsoft Office integration promises capabilities to navigate Outlook emails, control PowerPoints while transcribing speech, and provide other productivity enhancements. The earbuds will also pack real-time translation for over 60 languages. Surface Earbuds even support "Play My Emails" in the Outlook mobile app, reading emails aloud from your phone, and currently exclusive to iOS.

Where Surface Earbuds fall short with iOS

Microsoft Surface Earbuds

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Microsoft has already set expectations, outlining Android-exclusive features, including direct Spotify integration. It enables a simple triple-tap to launch Spotify from your locked mobile, using machine learning to select songs from your library.

Microsoft promises a fast-pair system, too, cutting out formal processes with a sleek setup. The system ties into Windows 10 PCs and will also leverage Google's Fast Pair standard if running Android 7 Nougat or higher. Apple's closed strategy for iOS prevents a seamless solution unless using its H1 chip found in AirPods.

With Microsoft Surface Earbuds set to launch on May 12, we'll understand the final scope of features on iPhone and iPad. As we learn more about the earbuds' relationship with Apple, we'll update this breakdown.

Should you buy Surface Earbuds for iPhone and iPad?

When looking to buy wireless earbuds, Microsoft's latest endeavor pitches a distinct premise, especially for those deeply rooted in its productivity services. The premium identity of Surface transpires here, backed by gestures and cloud features. For everyday work and play, the Microsoft Surface Earbuds meet your needs and beyond.

When used with iPhones and iPads, you'll be getting the lesser experience, but only by the smallest of margins. Android and Windows 10 draw the best, with one of such devices recommended in your life for deeper integration.

For those without Android or Windows 10, Apple AirPods may better fit the bill. Tight control over iOS has cemented AirPods as the best overall iPhone and iPad experience, with streamlined features and seamless pairing via Apple's H1 headphone chip. Despite their mid-range quality, they're ideal for convenient, portable audio — and a fair amount cheaper.

Like Microsoft Surface Earbuds, Apple AirPods feature two truly wireless buds and an accompanying charging carry case. You'll also secure up to 24 hours of playback, basic touch controls, and Siri support.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.