Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II vs AirPods Pro 2: Which should you buy?

It’s been a great two months for wireless headphone enthusiasts. The Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones and AirPods Pro 2 — officially called AirPods Pro (2nd generation) by Apple — came out of nowhere last month and could, in all likelihood, become the best wireless headphones of the year.

While having too many great options isn’t usually a problem, it can present a tough challenge for people looking to buy a new pair of noise-cancelling headphones for travel, study, or back to the office.

Not sure which headphones to choose and need more information to make the right choice? You have come to the right place. Although the AirPods 2 haven’t been officially released yet, we had the chance to meet them at Apple’s latest hardware event and compare them directly to the award-winning Bose QuietComfort II headphones.

Buckle up, it’s a battle of titans.

AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) vs Bose QuietComfort II headphones: Price and value

So, let’s get the facts straight first. The Bose QuietComfort II headphones are the more expensive of the two true wireless headphones at $299 / £279 / AU$429. The AirPods Pro (2nd Gen), meanwhile, will retail for $249 (AU$399) when released on September 23, the same as the original AirPods Pro launched in 2019.

If price is the only factor for you, the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) are the cheaper option.

Winner: AirPods Pro (2nd generation)

Airpods Pro 2

(Image credit: future)

AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) vs. Bose QuietComfort II headphones: design

While the Bose QuietComfort II headphones have undergone a major overhaul, the AirPods Pro (2nd gen) look a lot like the previous generation.

Here’s what our reviewer had to say about the new design:

“Bose says it has reduced the size of the QuietComfort 2 headphones by 30%, which is a significant redesign that makes the 2 headphones more convenient and attractive. The exterior plastic is superior to the original, so you can expect these buds to survive the hard knocks and trials of regular use. The black headphones in this review mix glossy and matte finishes, which feels great, while the IPX4 rating ensures they’re protected from sweat and water.

As for the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen), our hands-on tester thought:

“There’s not much difference in design for the new AirPods Pro. The buds themselves are pretty familiar, with visible hardware and touchpads in the same place. Multiple ear tips are still included and are pretty easy to exchange and evaluate with the ear tip fit test.

So basically, you should like the new AirPods if you were a fan of the old design but maybe needed a smaller tip. Go for the Bose if you’re looking for something smaller, more practical and attractive… just pay attention to the fit:

“Ads suggest wearing QuietComfort 2 headphones like AirPods with the ‘stem’ positioned vertically. The companion app says differently, stating that the buds should face backwards so they point towards your mouth. This is supposed to provide a “seal of comfort”. I do not agree. Not only did the recommended technique loosen up, but I could feel the cavity pressing against the concha. Those with high pain thresholds may experience some discomfort after about two hours of wear.

Winner: Bose QuietComfort II headphones

Close-up image of reviewer wearing Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

AirPods Pro (2nd generation) versus Bose QuietComfort headphones II: audio quality

Take this section with a grain of salt. Although we heard about the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation), it was during a very crowded Apple event.

Still, our tester had some positive things to say: “AirPods Pro 2 feature a new low-distortion audio driver and custom amplifier, which promote richer bass and clearer overall sound. Listening to a sample track, the AirPods Pro 2 bass has a noticeably better weight.

Likewise, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II have some nice upgrades that also make music sound better: “Bose uses a new proprietary technology called CustomTune that automatically calibrates the ANC and sound frequency profile based on the unique properties of your ear. The overall effect is positive, giving the QuietComfort 2 headphones a punchy, crisp soundstage.

Until we can put the two sets of wireless headphones against each other on an equal playing field, all we can definitively say is that both sound better than their predecessors.

Winner: Tie (at least for now)

Airpods Pro 2

(Image credit: future)

AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) vs. Bose QuietComfort II headphones: specs

The main attraction of both headphones is the inclusion of active noise cancellation. The previous two generations had some of the best noise cancellation we’ve ever seen, so it’s going to be a very tough match between the two flagship buds.

For the Bose headphones, our reviewer said they had “best-in-class noise cancellation,” while our Apple tester said they saw decibel levels “halved” when wearing the headphones while listening. Apple event. We’re skeptical of Apple’s earphones’ ability to rival the Bose on the company’s signature feature, so for now it looks like Bose is the one to beat.

That said, active noise cancellation isn’t the only feature these headphones bring to the table. Both headphones also have an Aware mode, ActiveSense, EQ and an ear tip fit test. Both can summon smart assistants, however, the AirPods can summon Siri hands-free.

The one area where the AirPods will outright beat the Bose right now is spatial audio. The former has some of the best 3D spatial sound of any pair of headphones, while the latter does not currently support spatial audio formats. It’s a huge difference.

The Bose may have the strongest active noise cancellation, but without any spatial audio support, we have to give the best features award to the AirPods.

Winner: AirPods Pro (2nd generation)

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 pace a stone surface and next to a smartphone playing music

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) vs Bose QuietComfort II headphones: Battery life and charging case

You can’t compare headphones without talking about battery life – and that’s another area where you’re going to see some real similarities between the two headphones.

Both earbuds promise six hours of battery life on a single charge, but the AirPods Pro 2 can hold more charge in its case. According to Apple, the case can provide 30 hours of playtime while the Bose QuietComfort II headphones can only achieve around 24 hours.

Those two numbers are more than enough for two to three days of listening, but the AirPods can probably last an extra day before needing to be recharged.

Winner: AirPods Pro (2nd generation)

Airpods Pro 2

(Image credit: future)

AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) vs. Bose QuietComfort II headphones: Verdict

While we’re hesitant to claim a winner here without fully testing the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) in our own homes, they seem to have the best battery life, the best features, and the best price. That doesn’t mean the Bose QuietComfort headphones are the worst headphones, as there was a tie in the all-important sound quality section. At this point, however, we think the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) will be a better fit for most people, especially if you’re an iOS user.

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