Surface Headphones 2 vs. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: Which should you buy?

Surface Headphones 2 Black
Surface Headphones 2 Black (Image credit: Windows Central)

It's an incredibly close call, which is impressive considering Microsoft is still a reasonably new name in the headphones space. If noise cancellation is the draw, or built-in Alexa and Google Assistant support, the newest Bose headphones are extremely attractive. But, the significantly lower price of the Surface Headphones 2 cannot be ignored, making them an excellent value.

Two great pairs of headphones

Surface Headphones 2 Black

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

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 Noise Cancelling 700 is the brand's latest take on high-quality ANC headphones, with an updated design that fixes much of what there is to criticize over the legendary QC 35 II.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Surface Headphones 2Bose Noise Cancelling 700
Noise cancellationActiveActive
Battery lifeUp to 20 hours (with ANC, Bluetooth enabled)Up to 20 hours (Wireless)
Charging portUSB-C
Fast charge
AssistantBuilt-in voice featuresGoogle Assistant or Alexa

The two sets of headphones run each other very close on specs and features, with the new Bose 700 integrating more modern ideas than some of its predecessors, like touch controls and USB-C charging. The latter is especially important in modern hardware since phones, tablets, and many laptops are moving to the standard for charging, making it much less annoying to travel and have to take multiple cables.

Both of these are pretty large headphones and have similar wireless battery life with ANC turned on. The Bose ANC is a little better than Microsoft's, but Microsoft makes up for it by edging just on overall sound quality.

Then there's the price. Microsoft knocked it out of the park with the second version of the Surface Headphones, undercutting both its predecessor's launch price and the main competition. In this case, the Surface Headphones 2 are almost $100 cheaper than the Bose Noise Cancelling 700, which is a massive saving for comparable headphones.

Proper voice assistant support from Bose built-in

Bose Nc 700

Source: Bose (Image credit: Source: Bose)

Both sets of headphones have voice built-in, but Microsoft's offering is more limited. Bose, however, 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 wide world, both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are mature assistants, with a wealth of smart integrations and global appeal. It's 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 control your Xbox. The Bose headphones can also fully interact with Google Assistant when paired with an iPhone.

The Surface Headphones 2 can interact with a voice assistant, however, but it's limited to the one on your phone, so the experience isn't quite as fluid. Whether it's Alexa, Google Assistant, or Bixby, you can use your headphones and the built-in microphone to trigger the assistant on your Android phone or Siri on the iPhone. Surface Headphones 2 can also read emails on iPhone thanks to Cortana built into Outlook.

The Surface Headphones 2 do also boast a unique voice feature, but one that's only available to Microsoft 365 subscribers. Voice dictation in apps like Word and Outlook allow you to speak naturally while wearing the headphones and watch your words appear in front of you.

A great all rounder

The Surface Headphones 2 are undoubtedly worthy contenders against the likes of Bose and Sony. The newest version is an excellent refinement of the original, simply making the headphones better rather than radically redesigning anything. And one of the most pleasant parts is the much lower asking price than the first version launched at.

Always a solid recommendation

The Bose Noise Cancelling 700 is an-easy-to-recommend pair of headphones for folks who are prioritizing ANC, perhaps for frequent travel. The price is a significantly higher investment, and so they're certainly not for everyone, but they're still the ones to pick to block out the sound of the outside world.

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at