Bose just released its newest and most impressive set of true wireless headphones – the Bose QuietComfort headphones. We put them in the studio and compared them to Apple’s flagship AirPods Pro. Apple offers AirPods and AirPods Pro, but the latter is within $ 30 more than the Bose QuietComfort headphones are worth and also offers active noise cancellation. That is why we decided to compare those two specific models. Today we bring the AirPods Pro vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds comparison.
There’s no getting around it – the Bose QuietComfort earbuds are significantly larger than the AirPods Pro. This is true of the case, as well as the earbuds themselves. Just looking at them, the Bose can be three times the volume of the AirPods Pro case. This makes a huge difference in something meant to be portable and that you carry with you all day.
They both have a flip top, but the Bose has a nice feature that we sometimes wish the AirPods would adopt. There is a physical button that must be pressed before the top opens. We love the design and size factor of the AirPods case, but if you’ve ever dropped it, you’ll know those individual earbuds fly away. A locking mechanism stops that.
If we look at the headphones, very few have copied the iconic look of the AirPods (apart from the knockoffs on the market). Most choose to go their own way, as Bose has done. The Bose QuietComfort headphones are much more like a traditional set of headphones. They are decently large and have wings that fit over the ear, as well as an oval tip that goes into the ear canal.
When wearing them, they are extremely comfortable. Even though they are larger and heavier than the AirPods Pro, due to the large size and dispersion of weight on the ear, we had no problems with hearing fatigue and were comfortable for hours on end. They have a more secure fit compared to the AirPods Pro, just because of the wings on the back.
AirPods Pro don’t fit badly, they fit perfectly. But due to their shank and design, they can fall off more easily than Bose.
As for the controls, Apple uses Force Stems on AirPods Pro while Bose uses a touch gesture. Both are a bit tricky, but we prefer the Force Stems because it’s a little easier to do. Bose has more options, although favorites are assigned to the left and right ears for playback controls.
Battery and power. AirPods Pro vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Both original wireless earbuds have Qi-enabled charging cases, allowing you to turn them on wirelessly. If you prefer to use a cable, you must use a Lightning cable for AirPods Pro and a USB-C cable for Bose.
The battery life for these is a mixed bag. Bose wins by using a single charge, with six hours net. AirPods Pro only gets four and a half hours, although that can be extended to five if you disable ANC and transparency mode. But AirPods Pro wins in total usage time, with an additional 19 hours in the case for a total of 24 hours. Bose only gets 18 total hours with 12 hours in the case.
This was surprising to us considering how big the Bose case is. With its large size, we fully anticipate a much longer total time. When you travel with your ANC headphones, you may not have the opportunity to continue charging, and that total time can be important.
Both have a fast-charging feature, with Apple touting one hour of use after just five minutes of charging, while Bose claims two hours of use after 15 minutes.
Bose is using Bluetooth 5.1 and Apple is still using Bluetooth 5 for the AirPods Pro, but Apple is using its H1 wireless chip, which gives it a huge advantage. The H1 chip uses Class 1 Bluetooth audio, which consumes more power and creates a more robust signal than typical Class 2 audio used in industry.
Because of that H1 chip, the AirPods Pro have a massive 100-foot range, while the Bose is limited to the industry-standard 30 feet.
That H1 chip is also what allows AirPods Pro to automatically sync with all of your Apple devices after initial setup effortlessly. AirPods Pro appear immediately on your Apple TV, Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac.
Unique features. AirPods Pro vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Before we get to the top ANC and audio quality comparisons, we want to look at the unique characteristics of each set of headphones.
AirPods Pro Features
As mentioned, the way AirPods Pro spreads across all your Apple devices is magical. It’s easy to pair just by opening it close to your iPhone, and they have very tight integration with Apple operating systems. The ANC and transparency mode can be toggled directly from the Control Center on your Apple Watch, iPhone or iPad. Even on macOS Big Sur.
Battery life is also displayed in the Apple Watch Control Center and in the battery widget on your iPhone and iPad. Siri can also be useful, as it lets you know where your AirPods are, what the battery life is, and to control ANC.
When setting up AirPods Pro, Apple has a unique fit test that lets you try different tips to determine which one best seals your ears. Adaptive EQ uses the inward-facing microphone to adjust the audio equalizer to sound better in your own ears.
With iOS 14, AirPods Pro got new features like automatic switching that moves you between devices as needed without you having to pair or unpair and spatial audio that recreates Dolby Atmos-like 3D audio. Developers can also use it in their games and applications for a more immersive experience.
Audio Share is another cool feature that allows multiple AirPods Pro games to connect to your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV at the same time.
Bose QuietComfort headphones
Bose is unique in offering 11 levels of noise cancellation. If you go to zero, it will let all the noise from the outside world into your ears, while 11 blocks all the outside noise. This is much more adaptive than turning AirPods Pro on or off. Because there are 11 levels, Bose lets you assign your three favorite ANC settings to the left earbud to toggle.
For example, you can set your favorites to zero, five, and 11, and touch to go between each one.
There is also a neat setup that allows you to automatically answer a phone call each time the right earbud is inserted. When a call comes in, you don’t even have to touch your phone, just put on a headset and the call will be answered.
All of this can be controlled from the Bose Music app. Shows headphone volume, ANC level, firmware, and other settings.
While size, connectivity, and other unique features are worth considering, what should be the deciding factor is audio quality and ANC capabilities.
With that, we can firmly say that Bose wins. Bose QuietComfort headphones sound much bolder and fuller with more powerful bass. As Apple already has the Beats brand with distinctive sound and rich bass, it set out to design AirPods and AirPods Pro to be more neutral. The bass is not too heavy, the overall sound is very clear, and the mids are particularly nuanced.
Even then, Bose, which is clearly larger in size, puts out a more impressive sound. The soundstage is bigger, the bass louder, and generally better.
Calls were good between the two, with the AirPods Pro beating the Bose by just a hairline thanks to its multiple beamforming microphones.
Decision moment: which is better? AirPods Pro vs Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Based on noise cancellation and audio quality, the Bose QuietComfort headphones are the clear winners. They sound better and have superior noise cancellation capabilities.
They also have features like a lockable case, a separate app, and a 25% longer battery life.
At the same time, we recognize the ineffable qualities of the AirPods Pro that make them adored by all who wear them. They work seamlessly and integrate into the Apple ecosystem like no other can.