Surface Headphones 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II: Which headphones should you buy?

Surface Headphones 2 Black
Surface Headphones 2 Black (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / 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, though, the Bose headphones are still the top dog, but the lower price of the Surface Headphones 2 certainly cannot be ignored.

It's worth highlighting, too, that Black Friday is on the horizon, and it's always a good time to get a new pair of headphones. The Bose QC 35 II are some of the best noise-canceling headphones oyou can get so any discount would be a winner for all parties. And both Bose and the Surface Headphones had decent discounts at Prime Day so it's worth keeping an eye on.

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 QC 35 II is just another notch on that belt.

Both are very similar in terms of specs, so which one is right for you?

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Surface HeadphonesBose QC 35 II
Noise cancellationActiveActive
Battery lifeUp to 20 hours (with ANC, Bluetooth enabled)Up to 20 hours (Wireless)
Charging portUSB-C
Fast charge
Micro USB
AssistantBuilt-in voice featuresGoogle Assistant or Alexa

There are a couple of notable differences, however. Naturally, Microsoft has voice support in the Surface Headphones 2, but the Bose supports either Google or Amazon powered assistants built into the headphones, depending on your preference. You'll also get equal battery life on the Bose, at the expense of having to carry the old hat micro USB cable to charge the QC 35 II with.

By contrast, the Surface Headphones 2 will charge likely using the same cable as your smartphone or laptop, and with fast charge, you're back up and running much quicker.

Proper voice assistant support from Bose built-in

Bose QC35 II headphones

Source: Joe Maring / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Windows Central)

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.

Bose has superior ANC, Microsoft edges it on sound quality

Surface Headphones 2 Black

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

Which you choose should ultimately hinge on what you're looking for from your headphones. If you want the absolute best noise cancellation performance, then the Bose wins. Microsoft did a fantastic job, but it falls short of what you get from Bose.

However, the Surface Headphones 2, perhaps surprisingly, edge it on sound quality. The Bose lacks an equalizer and have a decidedly flat sound profile. The Surface Headphones 2 have an all-round richer sound, and through the Surface Audio companion app, you have access to equalizers to tweak it even further.

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.

Easy to recommend

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is an easy to recommend a pair of headphones for folks who are prioritizing ANC, perhaps for frequent travel. The sound may not be ultimately as pleasing as the Surface Headphones 2, 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