AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Which noise-cancelling earbuds should you buy?

Round 2 between Apple and Bose is underway, as we compare the AirPods Pro 2 and QuietComfort Earbuds 2 to determine the better investment.

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Which noise-cancelling earbuds should you buy?

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The last few weeks have brought us two huge true wireless releases: the AirPods Pro 2 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2. Sequels to some of the best noise-cancelling earbuds ever created, both models package enhanced active noise cancellation (ANC) and refined audio into similar designs. However, each has their own special set of skills that differentiate one from the other.   

Apple brings Adaptive Transparency, Find My (AirPods) integration with the MagSafe charging case, and Personalized Spatial Audio into the fold with the AirPods Pro 2, while also welcoming back numerous performance hallmarks from the original AirPods Pro.

The QuietComfort Earbuds 2 build on Bose’s class-leading ANC, which employs proprietary technologies that calibrate sound and noise cancellation to one’s hearing, delivering premium wireless performance for interruption-free music listening and voice/video calls.   

It’s safe to call these two of the best wireless earbuds that money can buy. As for which is the better option, our breakdown of the AirPods Pro 2 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 will set the record straight.

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Price

Apple sells the AirPods Pro 2 for the same starting price as the original: $249. Meanwhile, Bose has released the QuietComfort Earbuds 2 at $299 – a $20 markup from the first-gen entry.

Neither comes cheap, but when accounting for features and what’s more attainable, then Apple’s buds convincingly win this round.

Bookmark our best AirPods deals and best headphones deals pages to stay notified of the latest wireless earbuds sales.

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Specs compared

AirPods Pro 2 Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2
Price $249.99 $299.99
Wirelesw charging Yes No
Battery life 5.5 hours (Spatial Audio and Head Tracking on) 6 hours (ANC on); 7 hours (ANC off); 30 hours (charging case with ANC on); 34 hours (charging case with ANC off) 6 hours; 24 hours (charging case)
Processor H2 Apple Silicon Not stated
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.3 Bluetooth 5.3
IPX rating IPX4 (buds and case) IPX4 (buds only)
Size and weight (buds) 1.22 x 0.86 x 0.94 inches (per bud); 0.19 ounces (per bud) 1.2 x 0.68 x 0.88 inches (per bud); 0.21 ounces (per bud)
Size and weight (charging case) 1.78 x 2.39 x 0.85 inches (charging case); 1.79 ounces (charging case) 2.61 x 2.34 x 1.05 inches (charging case); 2.1 ounces (charging case)
Special features ANC, adaptive transparency mode, adaptive EQ, personalized spatial audio, automatic switching, Ear Tip Fit Test, physical volume controls, audio sharing, announced messages with Siri, Find My (AirPods), “Hey Siri” voice-activated assistance, Live Listen, MagSafe charging case with built-in speaker, Apple Watch charging, lanyard loop support Adaptive active noise cancellation, ambient listening mode, ActiveSense, customizable EQ, CustomTune technology, digital assistant support, Eartip Fit Test, quick charging, Self Voice

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Design

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Which noise-cancelling earbuds should you buy?

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

If it isn’t already evident upon first look, Bose redesigned their flagship buds to look more like the AirPods. We’re not the biggest fans of long-stem wireless earbuds, but the QuietComfort Earbuds 2 is a sleeker and more significant upgrade from the wide, protruding QC Earbuds. Plastic remains the primary material used to construct these buds and its more durable than what’s used on the AirPods Pro 2. The mixed glossy and matte finishes are nice touches. We also like the smaller, more travel-friendly charging case. You’ll achieve a decent fit, thanks to Bose’s new ear tip kit and accurate-performing EarTip Fit Test. For a product that emphasizes comfort in its moniker, the QuietComfort Earbuds 2 doesn’t provide much of it, pressing up against the concha after a short amount of time.

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Which noise-cancelling earbuds should you buy?

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The only visible changes between the AirPods Pro 2 and AirPods Pro (1st gen) are the skin-detect sensors, which were carried over from the AirPods 3. Details like the mic grille and aluminum accents are identical, along with size and weight. The MagSafe charging case is different, now featuring a built-in speaker for specific notifications (more on that later) and a lanyard loop. Comfort is still pleasant, with Apple’s new tips and Ear Tip Fit Test allowing for optimal fit. 

Note that both models are IPX4 sweat and water-resistant, though the AirPods Pro 2’s case is also IPX4-certified.

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Controls

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Which noise-cancelling earbuds should you buy?

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The AirPods Pro already had the category’s best control scheme, courtesy of Apple’s flawless Force Sensor input and “Hey Siri” voice activation. Now, the Force Sensor lets you adjust volume via slide gestures, and the function works extremely well. Activating commands like play/pause (single press), skip track (double press), previous track (triple press), and cycling through listening modes (long press) are effortlessly executed. Siri continues to steal the show with exceptional speech recognition and swift responses. The digital assistant function won’t work on any non-Apple devices.

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Which noise-cancelling earbuds should you buy?

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

A full suite of media controls is available on the QuietComfort Earbuds 2 that can be enabled through single/multi-tap, long-press, and slide gestures (for volume). The latter seems to be most responsive, with all other input methods struggling at times to execute intended functions. Wear detection works well, but it operates more quickly on the AirPods Pro 2. One advantage Bose gives users is multi-digital assistance, which is on point and picks up every voice command precisely, no matter your phone’s native assistant (Siri, Google Assistant, Bixby, Alexa).

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Active noise cancellation

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Which noise-cancelling earbuds should you buy?

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Apple’s updated noise cancellation is great. The AirPods Pro 2 is engineered to block out twice as much background interference as the previous entry, and it shows. These buds completely silence low and mid frequencies, putting a kibosh on everything from engine roar to loud TVs to talkative pedestrians. They even manage to minimize high frequencies better than most rivals, though your ears will still pick up on blaring sounds. Wind resistance is surprisingly strong too. Adaptive Transparency is the more impressive part of Apple’s enhanced ANC mode, keeping listeners aware of their surroundings, while reducing harsh environmental noise. 

Apple also gives you two extra features that serve as ambient listening alternatives. The first is Conversation Boost, which emphasizes vocals better during chats, and Listen Live to transform your iPhone into a live mic that picks up incidental sounds and sends them to your AirPods.

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Which noise-cancelling earbuds should you buy?

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Is Apple’s ANC technology better than Bose’s? No. The QuietComfort Earbuds 2 uses CustomTune technology to tailor ANC to your hearing, mapping the contours of your ear canal for more effective noise neutralization. What you wind up with are buds capable of cancelling out nearly 95 percent of distractions across the frequency spectrum. Quiet Mode is perfect for dealing with low and mid-range frequencies. You’re given the option to create your own ANC profile and adjust between the 10 ANC levels; this is the best solution for dealing with high frequencies (set ANC to max). Aware Mode automatically tweaks ambient listening, though performance is much better when toggling the ActiveSense feature, which allowed us to hear music and ambient noise equally well. 

Neither Apple, nor Bose’s ANC modes compromise audio quality when turned on.

Winner: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Audio Quality

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Which noise-cancelling earbuds should you buy?

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

More audio customization tools are available on the AirPods Pro 2, giving it an edge in sound quality. You can still change the EQ in the iOS settings or let the adaptive EQ fine-tune audio based on how the buds fit in your ears. There’s also the new low-distortion audio driver and custom amplifier that pump out richer bass and cleaner mids. Features like Headphone Audio Customization can tailor audio to your hearing preferences, while Headphone Accommodations tunes audio for balance, range, or brightness, as well as boost or decrease the presence of soft sounds. Lastly, there’s Personalized Spatial Audio that creates your own personal 3D listening profile using iOS 16 and the iPhone’s TrueDepth camera, delivering an optimized, immersive surround sound experience with dynamic head tracking.

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Which noise-cancelling earbuds should you buy?

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Sound has also been enhanced on the QuietComfort Earbuds 2. The active EQ and CustomTune technology calibrate ANC and the sound frequency profile to the unique properties of your ear for punchy, sharp audio. Frequency range is solid for the most part, though the low end tends to get overzealous on super bass-heavy tracks. Bose’s three-band EQ can be manually adjusted, plus it comes with four presets that are split between bass and treble adjustment. These buds don’t support 3D audio.

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Special features and app

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Which noise-cancelling earbuds should you buy?

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

When it comes to extended functionality, the AirPods Pro 2 crushes most rivals, and that’s without a companion app. Several favorites return, including automatic switching, audio sharing, announced messages with Siri, Ear Tip Fit Test, “Hey Siri,” Headphone Accommodations, Headphone Levels, and Live Listen. Then there are newcomers like Adaptive Transparency, Personalized Spatial Audio, and Precision Finding that works hand in hand with Find My (AirPods) to pinpoint the location of your lost charging case. Apple also added a dedicated section for the buds in the Settings menu, offering quick access to adjust device preferences. 

Bose isn’t known for stocking their headphones and earbuds with tons of features. The QuietComfort Earbuds 2 isn’t any different. Most of what’s offered has already been accounted for: Quiet (ANC)/Aware mode, ActiveSense, EQ, Eartip Fit Test, and Shortcut. Self Voice is the last major feature, adjusting how loud your voice sounds on voice and video calls. A future update that brings independent single bud use is planned for the end of year. Bear in mind that Bose Music app currently suffers from connectivity issues.

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Which noise-cancelling earbuds should you buy?

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Both sets of buds run on Bluetooth 5.3 and provide steady connectivity with lengthy range. However, Apple has designed all AirPods to seamlessly connect with all their devices, making the pairing process instantaneous, but only with Apple devices. The QuietComfort Earbuds 2 is more platform neutral and connects easily to both iOS and Android devices, whereas the AirPods Pro 2 experiences connection issues with MacBooks and Google-operated smartphones.

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Battery life

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Which noise-cancelling earbuds should you buy?

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Apple finally beats a rival in battery life. The AirPods Pro 2 has longer playtimes than the original, stretching between 5.5 to 7 hours, depending how you use the buds. You get between 30 to 34 hours extra from the charging case when fully powered. Lightning charging generates 1 hour of use in 5 minutes. Furthermore, you have more ways to charge the product: Lightning cable, Apple Watch charger or wirelessly via MagSafe/Qi-enabled charging pad.

The QuietComfort Earbuds 2 stays capped at 6 hours per charge. It also doesn’t boast wireless charging, won’t let you turn off ANC, and comes with some of the weakest quick charging at its price point (20 minutes = 2 hours of playtime). At least the charging case gives you a little more portable power this time around – 24 hours to be exact.

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Call quality

AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: Which noise-cancelling earbuds should you buy?

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Like their previous versions, the AirPods Pro 2 and QuietComfort Earbuds 2 remain the two best truly wireless calling headsets. If we must choose, we prefer Bose’s buds for its slightly better noise neutralization during chats and the Self Voice feature. It’s great having Personalized Spatial Audio available for conference FaceTime calls, and vocals do come in loud and clearly, but the mics can only take so much noise and wind.

WinnerBose QuietComfort Earbuds 2

Winner: AirPods Pro 2

The AirPods Pro 2 has much more to work with for the price. Upgrades to ANC, battery life, and sound quality, specifically Personalized Spatial Audio, are essential to the model’s success. Even low-key additions like the built-in touch volume controls and Precision Finding for finding the charging case quickly are greatly appreciated. There’s more value investing in Apple’s latest wireless earbuds.

AirPods Pro 2 Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2
Value (5) 4 3
Design (15) 13 12
Controls (10) 10 8
Active noise cancellation (20) ? 20
Audio quality (15) ? 13
App and special features (15) 15 11
Battery Life (10) 8 7
Call quality (10) ? 10
Total Score (100) 84

Bose continues to improve on what is undeniably the best noise cancellation in the category. Nothing tops the QuietComfort Earbuds 2’s ANC and call quality. Audio is fine-tuned to give music a dynamic presence. The redesign also improves operation and fit. We only wished that the buds provided better comfort and had more features to play with.

Alex Bracetti

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