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Bose 700 vs Bose QuietComfort 35 II: Which should you buy?

Bose 700 vs Bose QuietComfort 35 II
(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

In the Bose 700 and the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, one company can claim to produce two of the best noise-cancelling headphones on the market. And another might well be on the way, as the Bose QuietComfort 45 has been spotted in FCC filings.

Does this development make comparing the Bose 700 and QuietComfort 35 II more of an academic exercise? We don’t think so; there’s no other indication as to how far along into development the QuietComfort 45 is, or how close it is to release. In other words, there’s still life in the QC 35 II yet, so let’s see how it stacks up against the more expensive 700 to see which pair is the better buy.

Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Specs compared

Bose 700Bose QC35 II
Price (MSRP)$399.99; $429.95 (with charging case)$299.99
Size8 x 6.5 x 2 inches7.1 x 6.7 x 3.2 inches
Weight8.95 ounces8.2 ounces
Battery life20 hours (ANC on)20 hours (ANC on); 40 hours (ANC off)
Companion appYesYes
Special featuresActive noise cancellation, transparency mode, adjustable ANC and EQ, smart controls, Spotify integration, tri-digital assistant support, multipoint technologyActive noise cancellation, transparency mode, smart controls, audio sharing, tri-digital assistant support, multipoint technology

Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Price and value

Considering the differences between the two, you would be remiss to pass on the Bose 700, even if it is more expensive. The circuitry in these cans alone justifies the high price. The Bose 700 launched at $379, though we’ve seen some retailers drop the price down to as low as $299. You can purchase it in four sharp colors: Black, Luxe Silver, Soapstone, and Triple Midnight.

On the other hand, the QC35 II offers a lot of performance at $299, making the purchase slightly more enticing. We’ve seen the headphones for as low as $189. Color options include Black, Silver, Midnight Blue, Rose Gold, and Triple Midnight.

Winner: Bose QC35 II

Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Design

Fashion or function? That is the big decision you're making here. The Bose 700 are beautifully built and have a classy, ultramodern look, while the QC35 II remain a handsome set of headphones with an identical shine factor, but also better portability. It’s all about your preference.

Bose 700 vs Bose QuietComfort 35 II: Bose 700

Bose 700 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Bose 700 is constructed of sturdy stainless steel and soft-touch plastic. Bose gave the extenders a very avant-garde design, placing them on the outside of the ear cups, although the track holding both pieces together feels flimsy. I appreciate the way the flattened buttons complement the cans' sleek form. The ear cups do swivel, so you can fit the headphones into the carrying case, but they don't fold down for compact storage.

The QC35 II might not look as sexy as its successor, but it’s still a fashionable set of cans suited for business class. The corrosion-resistant stainless steel and glass-filled nylon are an upgrade from the plastic used on the first-gen version. Bose fans will also admire the reflective brand logo on each ear cup. More importantly, the QC35 II folds down, and is easier to stow away.

Bose 700 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose QuietComfort 35 II (Image credit: Regan Coule)

The color options are one of the 700’s biggest strengths. All of the standard colors are easy on the eyes, plus Bose introduced an all-new Soapstone version that is a cool mix of white and rose gold to pair with your new iPhone 12. You’ll find the QC35 II comes in most of the same colors. At one point, the QC35 II was part of Bose’s customization program, allowing owners to create their own colorway, but the program doesn’t seem to be in existence anymore.

Winner: Bose 700

Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Comfort and fit

Despite their heavier frame (a hair under 9 ounces), the Bose 700 are lighter than most in-class models and rests comfortably on the head. Wearing them for 2 to 3 hours a day was a pleasant experience.

Bose 700 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule)

The memory foam ear cups feel plush, and the cushioning on the underside of the headband easily conforms to the skull to achieve a relaxed fit. Bose also did a great job with weight distribution, as the headphones remain stable on the head. The extenders also have a natural feel of movement that adds to the 700's superior comfort.

The QC35 II share many of these positives, but have a looser fit. Unless you have a small head and you set the extenders at a secure setting, the headphones will slip off, especially when you're rushing through crowds. Other than that, they feel gentle on the ears and head, and you can wear them for hours without feeling fatigued.

Winner: Bose 700

Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Controls

After a year of testing, I still consider the 700’s touch panel to be one of the most intuitive and responsive out there. The ability to use slide gestures up and down (to control the volume) and left to right (to skip forward or back) for music playback on the panel is convenient when you're on the go, as is the ability to perform tap gestures like double-tap (to play/pause/answer) and tap and hold (to decline calls).

Bose 700 vs Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule)

The physical buttons have great tactility and are simple to operate. You use the lone button on the right ear cup to cycle through ANC levels. The button on the top of the left ear cup is for the power and pairing, and the one on the bottom enables the digital assistant.

The QC35 II keeps functionality simple with a three-button module on the right ear cup to manage calls and playback. Bose is also one of the first audio brands to integrate a dedicated Google Assistant button. A power/pairing switch is located on the front of the right ear cup, and it produces a nice recoil effect when pushed. The learning curve here is elementary, but the 700 are just more exotic. 

Bose 700 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule)

Both pair of headphones grant access to all three major digital assistants: Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa. You can use a voice command to trigger Alexa. The 700 handled speech recognition much better than the QC35 II, accounting for every syllable. I was particularly impressed by how fast Google Assistant responded to my inquiries. It was also useful to have notifications (e.g. Gmail, Facebook and incoming calls) available at the touch of a button. The QC35 II operate similarly, but voice commands are not as fluid as they are on the 700.

Winner: Bose 700

Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Active noise cancellation 

Comparing the noise cancellation in the Bose 700 and Bose QC35 II may seem unfair, but that’s only because of the numerous upgrades Bose integrated into the latest flagship model. The company revamped its adaptive microphone technology for the 700, giving the headphones a major advantage over their predecessor. 

Underneath the 700's svelte design are eight mics, six of which are designed to hush your surroundings, and they perform incredibly well. It took several loud, simultaneous distractions to disrupt my Spotify vibes. The 700 couldn't completely mute the noise from a nearby  construction site with dump trucks speeding over potholes, but the rest of the racket went unnoticed. I didn't hear a peep when commuting on the train during rush hour or when blasting my living room speakers with Avengers: Endgame playing in the background. Notably, the 700 blocked all that noise with the ANC adjuster at Level 8 (the highest setting is 10) via the mobile app.

Bose 700 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule)

When they launched, the QC35 II demonstrated industry-leading noise cancellation, and don't disappoint to this day. I will always appreciate these headphones' ability to drown out airplane engines and provide solitude for listening to music at home. Nevertheless, after testing both models, I noticed that the QC35 II let in certain high-frequency noises, like air horns and police sirens, into the soundstage. These sounds won't throw you completely off-track, but I preferred the 700 for the task.

Both sets of headphones also have an ambient listening mode, which lets you remain aware of your environment when listening to music. The 700's extra mics, primarily the four that work together to amplify vocals when you're speaking, helped me communicate clearly with my barista without having to take off the headphones. I managed to eavesdrop on my wife’s Zoom work chats on occasion, too. On the QC35 II, this feature isn't as polished and created muffled dialogue.

Winner: Bose 700

Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Audio quality

Bose headphones won't give you the loudest, boom-filled sonics that the Sony WH-1000xM4 or Jabra Elite 85 offer. Instead, you get well-balanced, spacious sound that gives life to detailed lows, mids, and highs. The 700 and the QC35 II are prime examples of this, but surprisingly, I found the QC35 II have a more finely tuned soundstage.

Bass has more kick on the QC35 II, which made listening to hip-hop and rock tracks joyous. Even with more thump coming out of the drivers, these cans delivered great instrument separation, placing the spotlight on background instruments. You'll also get a great feel for ambiance when playing live recordings. Listening to Nirvana's MTV Unplugged album, I felt near-total immersion, as though I were in the audience.

MORE: Spotify Free vs Premium: Should You Pay to Play?

The 700's soundstage is great too and lends itself well to many music genres, but you need to be selective with what you play. Melodic tracks, like The Dream's "Fancy," sounded airy and crisp, allowing the serene production to flourish. To enjoy punchy sonics, you need songs with serious bass content, such as Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" or Kanye West's "Monster," because Bose toned down the low end on these cans. In addition, I noticed hissing in Spotify songs and a minor lag on YouTube videos.

Regarding auxiliary cable, performance is equally fine, though neither set of headphones shows much need for wired listening. The QC35 II maintain their bass and volume, whereas the 700 takes a slight dip in both areas. 

Winner: Bose QC35 II

Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Apps and special features

Bose already had a free mobile app, Bose Connect, for its current lineup of audio products, including the QC35 II. So, I was taken aback after seeing the company launched a new app, called Bose Music, made specifically for the 700. But I’m not complaining, as the free Bose Music app has a sleeker interface and more features that enhance the listening experience. 

You can manually adjust the ANC and set up your three preferred levels, plus the latest software update introduces an adjustable EQ to fine-tune bass, mids and treble. Other notable features include a power-saver function, playback/volume controls, the voice assistant selection and Self Voice mode to manually adjust how loud your voice sounds on calls. All of these functions worked properly, and I really loved how the app made it simple to connect the headphones. 

Bose 700

Bose 700 (Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

Bose managed to add an adjustable EQ for the 700 via Bose Music update. There are three fields you can adjust – Bass, Mid, and Treble – each one reaching a max level of 10. The latest update presents even more audio customization in the form presets. There are four to choose from: Bass Boost, Bass Reducer, Treble Boost, and Treble Reducer. Instant access to Spotify is also another feature that was recently added and can be assigned to the Shortcut button.

Bose Connect has its own set of useful options, including High and Low noise-cancellation options and a Music Share feature (available only on the QC35 series) to hear music on two sets of Bose wireless headphones. A Standby Timer and the ability to swap out Action Button commands are still available. 

MORE: Best Gadgets with Google Assistant

I've tested a number of Bluetooth 5.0 headphones, but I can't recall any that have offered such instantaneous connectivity as the 700. It was a breeze to link these cans to my MacBook Pro and the Google Pixel 3XL at the same time by pressing the Pair Mode button. More impressive was the multipoint technology, which allowed pairing to two devices simultaneously; this is also available on the QC35 II and works well. I was playing iTunes on my laptop and controlling playback through the Bose Music player, hiccup-free, and at a solid range (35 feet). The QC35 II operate on the outdated Bluetooth 4.1, but it still provides a strong connection between devices and a quality range of up to 32 feet.

Winner: Bose 700

Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Call quality

Bose headphones are known for their great call quality. In fact, you’ll find both the 700 and QC35 II on our best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls.

Thanks to Bose's updated mic system, the 700 stand out as the company's best headphones for calls. Four of the eight mics block out ambient noises while also amplifying your vocals during calls. When I used the 700 for a call with my parents, the sound was so loud and clear that they thought I was speaking directly from my phone. Even when I was talking in crowded areas, like a corner in midtown Manhattan and a busy tavern, the calls were audible on both ends.

Bose 700 vs Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

For those looking to increase their productivity, Bose released the 700 UC, a newer version of their flagship headphones designed for enhancing video chat performance. The only real difference between the 700 and 700 UC is that the latter is designed to work with specific video conferencing services (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom) and comes with the Bose USB Link accessory.

I've always appreciated the QC35 II's ability to quiet background noise on calls in rowdy environments. If only it offered better wind resistance. Callers often complained that my voice sounded muffled when I was chatting in drafty conditions. 

Winner: Bose 700

Bose 700 vs Bose QC35 II: Battery life 

Bose granted the 700 and the QC35 II with the same battery life: 20 hours with the ANC on. The two sets of headphones performed similarly on a full charge, giving me about 17.5 to 18 hours of use with noise cancellation enabled. That was enough for me to get a full week of Spotify streaming and some cross-country in-flight entertainment. 

During testing, the QC35 II often surpassed its advertised battery life, getting up to 22 hours of use on a charge. The headphones also allow for up to 40 hours of wireless listening with the ANC on, whereas the 700 remains at a 20-hour max regardless of the ANC's level, according to Bose. Moreover, we weren’t thrilled about the 700 coming charged at only 30% out of the box; we recall the QC35 II being about 70% upon first use.

Bose 700 vs Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

In addition, the battery-life indicators for the 700 were inconsistent during my initial testing. Several times, I received notifications stating the headphones were at 0%, while the mobile app suggested there were 6.5 hours of play time left. It’s not a situation I have encountered when downloading the latest firmware update, but still worth noting.

Bose does sell a charging case for the 700 for $80, and it provides 40 additional hours of use. FYI: The case doesn’t come charged.

Bose 700 vs Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

One major difference between the two models is the charging connections. The 700 use a USB-C port, whereas the QC35 II have a micro-USB port. Fast charging is available on both models, but the 700 get more charge within a 15-minute frame: 3.5 hours versus 2.5 hours on the QC35 II. 

Winner: Bose QC35 II

Overall Winner: Bose 700

The Bose 700 headphones win out, setting the standard for active noise cancellation on Bose headphones with 11 adjustable levels to effortlessly silence rumblings across the frequency spectrum. Access to an all-new app with awesome features is a major bonus, plus the possibility of more features via future firmware updates is promising. Advantages in call quality and comfort also deserve recognition.

Bose 700Bose QC35 II
Price and value (5)45
Design (10)87
Comfort (5)43
Controls (5)43
Active Noise Cancellation (25)2523
Audio quality (20)1718
Apps and Special Features (15)1311
Call Quality (5)54
Battery Life (10)68
Total (100)8682

The QC35 II are still a fine choice, but it was only a matter of time before Bose outdid itself and released a superior noise-canceller. These cans are still a great starter for newbies who are curious about noise-cancelling headphones. They are also a slightly cheaper alternative with great sound and battery life to match their strong ANC performance. 

If you already own the QC35 II, I don't believe you need to upgrade immediately. But if you're a noise-cancelling lover who wants to make the switch to Bose or you have the cash to splurge on the best, you won't find a better option than the Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700.

Alex Bracetti

A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.

  • Pdoumas
    Funny, I thought I read this exact article a month ago! but it says 4 days, must have updated it? Anyway I have a couple of points I would love for you to consider adding. I bought the QC35 II before Christmas and really liked them. However, because of a lack of a couple functions, I thought I would return them and try the nc700 instead. While what you say about the 700 is mostly true (good sound quality, powerful noise cancelling, style, etc) there are a couple issues you might want to consider adding to your article so people who are relying on your thorough review aren’t missing these important details.

    For one thing, you list transparency mode (or aware mode or conversation mode) as a feature that the QC35 II has. Unfortunately it does not have this function, stupidly. (Is this Bose’s way of making sure we buy the 700???)

    I also have noticed that the QC35II, in “low” NC mode, is FAR better at managing windy conditions than the nc700 in any of its NC modes. Not sure why this is and it is a very disappointing aspect of the nc700 headphones. I really wish they were better at wind because they’d be truly superior if they were.
    Additionally, the Bose Music app is actually pretty buggy. It spazzes out when opened and sometimes relentlessly forces the nc700 into full cancelation when it was set to a different level on the headphones with the button. There are some other strange behaviors I have encountered too because I have also found the headphones themselves to suffer from some bugs, although I actually phoned Bose and they said the older manufacturing date model might have had a defect, so they have agreed to replace them. Perhaps the bugs are affecting its ability to ignore wind too? I’ll update you when I have tested the new pair.
    However, it’s a huge mistake that you list the QC35II as having a conversation mode. I searched and searched and checked the full manual and they do not do it. =


    Reply