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AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort Buds 2: Which wireless buds will best rock your world?

There’s a long list of wireless earbuds out there for you to choose from. But finding the right ones for you can feel like finding a needle in a stack of needles. But if you’re looking for premium earbuds, the choices get slimmer but your decision gets much harder.

Also: The best earbuds of 2023: Expert tested and reviewed

Last year, Apple and Bose released the second generation of their flagship earbuds, the AirPods Pro 2 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, respectively. Both earbuds offer industry-leading sound and noise-canceling technology, making your buying decision more complicated.

Right now, both Apple and Bose’s premium earbuds are on sale at retailers like Amazon and Best Buy, so you’ll want to jump on this deal while it lasts.

Before you make your decision, here are a few features that set both pairs of earbuds apart from each other.

Specifications

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen)

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Sound features

Personalized Spatial Audio, ANC, and Transparency Mode

ANC, Aware Mode, custom EQ settings

Connectivity

Bluetooth 5.3

Bluetooth 5.3

Durability

IP54

IPX4

Battery

Up to 6 hours of playback (30 hours with charging case)

Up to 6 hours of playback (18 hours with charging case)

Chip

H2

5 Series Qualcomm chip

Price 

$199

$199


You should buy the AirPods Pro 2 if…

AirPods Pro 2 case full view with earbuds showing sensors

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

1. You value standard audio mode

Apple’s Transparency Mode and Active Noise Cancelation are arguably the best in the game. Transparency Mode is a must-have for commuters and people who want to hear their surroundings without pausing the music, while noise canceling is great for people who want to stay in their own world.

Review: Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen)

But many people want something in the middle — a standard audio mode, if you will. With the AirPods Pro 2, this mode is an option. However, with the Bose QuietComfort Buds, there’s no way to turn off ANC and Aware modes; you must toggle between the two.   

2. You are invested in the Apple ecosystem

As always, Apple devices work best with other Apple devices. AirPods Pro 2 can connect seamlessly with your Apple TV, MacBook, iPad, and iPhone. Additionally, when connected to these devices, your AirPods offer Personalized Spatial Audio, which is an exclusive feature for Apple users.

So, if you have a number of Apple devices and are looking for a pair of earbuds, you’ll probably want the AirPods Pro 2.

The AirPods Pro 2 feature Apple’s most advanced audio chip to supply features like noise-canceling, transparency mode, and seamless integration with your Apple devices.

You should buy the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 if…

Describe what's shown in the image.

Christina Darby/ZDNET

1. You don’t like traditional earbuds design

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 sport a unique bud shape. The head is angled like the AirPods Pro 2, but the Bose QuietComfort buds have a much shorter stem where touch controls are located. Additionally, the Bose QuietComfort buds are available in three colors: Triple Black, Eclipse Gray, and Soapstone.

Review: Step aside, AirPods. There’s a new ANC champion in town

If you prefer earbuds with shorter stems, a more ergonomic design, and more colorways, the Bose QuietComfort buds are the way to go.

2. You frequent more than one operating system

There are plenty of people who have an iPhone but use a Windows laptop or a tablet that runs on Android’s operating system. If you have a mix of device operating systems, the Bose QuietComfort buds may be a better fit for you.

AirPods can connect to all devices no matter their operating system via Bluetooth, but they work best with Apple devices. That means AirPods connected to a Chromebook won’t offer all the same features you could get with AirPods connected to a MacBook.

Also: The best earbuds: Sony, Bose, Apple and more compared

The Bose Music companion app allows you to control ANC, EQ settings, and device updates without relying on compatibility with your device’s operating system. 

Bose’s QuietComfort II earbuds offer noise-canceling and interoperability with your devices, no matter their operating system.

Alternatives to consider

A hand holding up the Beats Studio Buds Plus in Ivory

BEST AIRPODS ALTERNATIVE

Beats Studio Buds

The Beats Studio Buds Plus offers unique colors and high-quality sound for both Apple and Android users.

JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds in case with ZDNET logo

BEST BOSE ALTERNATIVE

JBL Tour Pro 2

The JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds offer a touchscreen case and advanced user controls for a lower price than the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2.


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