The Apple AirPods Pro 2 offer outstanding sound quality and ANC in a small package, with the wingless fit making them comfortable to use for long periods. The fit isn't always secure enough for sport, however, though you can fix this using third-party wings and ear-tips.
Read more in my Apple AirPods Pro 2 review
- Smaller and more comfortable
- Spatial audio
- Less secure fit
- Some features only work with iPhones
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II sound excellent and have the best ANC of any in-ear buds I've tested. They are larger and less comfortable than the AirPods Pro, but the Bose buds' wings make them more secure during workouts.
Read more in my Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
- Best-in-class ANC
- Wings for more secure fit
- Bigger and less comfortable
- No spatial audio
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II and Apple AirPods Pro 2 are exactly the type of products to look out for in the sales. They are excellent buds: I rate them among the best workout headphones, and they are even better for lifestyle use—but usually come at such a high price there is better value to be found in more affordable alternatives like the Jabra Elite 8 Active.
In the sales, however, you can get both the Bose QC Earbuds II and the Apple AirPods Pro 2 for $199. There’s nothing better on the market at those prices for crossover sports/lifestyle use. There’s little between them on features such as sound quality, battery life and ANC, though if you have other Apple products the AirPods Pro 2 offer easy connectivity and smart features, which may swing it, while the Bose buds have a more secure fit for sports.
Head To Head
The AirPods Pro 2 and Bose QC Earbuds II are among the best in-ear buds for sound quality, and I enjoyed both equally on this front. Neither are the bassiest buds, but have enough power and offer exceptional clarity and depth of sound. The Apple AirPods Pro 2 offer spatial audio, which makes for a more immersive listening experience with compatible audio. This is something Bose offers on its QuietComfort Ultra, but not the QC Earbuds II.
I rate both among the best in-ear buds for ANC, though I give the edge to Bose here, with the QC Earbuds II being even more effective in canceling out the sounds of planes and trains in particular. However, it is the AirPods Pro 2 that have the more impressive transparency mode, because it filters out wind better. With the Bose buds I would get wind noise when using the awareness mode on runs and bike rides, which is not a problem with the AirPods Pro 2.
The Apple headphones have handy smart features that kick in automatically. With conversation awareness mode enabled the headphones can detect when you start talking and will turn on awareness mode, reduce the volume of your audio and block sounds from behind you to make talking to someone easier. The adaptive ANC mode also changes the amount of noise filtered out and adjusts the volume depending on your environment.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.