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Bose 700 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II: Which Is Better?

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Bose QuietComfort 35 series not only has some  of the best noise-cancelling headphones out there; for a long time, it stood as an industry standard. The original QC35 was a wireless revelation that introduced best-in-class active noise cancellation (ANC) and great performance across the board. Its sequel, the hugely popular QC35 II, upped the ante by combining dynamic audio and smarter features with the company's patented sound-silencing technology, keeping this model atop the ANC throne over the past year.

MORE: Best Wireless Headphones 2019

Several tech heavyweights — including Sony, Jabra and Microsoft — stepped up to challenge the Bose QC35 II, and each one fell short. However, a newcomer has stepped into the ring, looking to claim the No. 1 spot, and it's one of Bose's own creations: the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

With an updated design, noise-cancelling circuitry and unique controls, the Bose 700 boasts the specs to knock down its critically acclaimed sibling. So, does it? We've pitted the two ANC titans against each other to determine the better noise-cancelling headphones.

Additionally, check out our Best Bose Headphones roundup if you're looking for some other prime options.

Bose 700 vs. Bose QC35 II: Specs Compared

Bose 700Bose QC35 II
Price$399$299
ColorsBlack and SilverBlack, Silver, Midnight Blue, Rose Gold and Triple Midnight
What's in the BoxAux cable, carrying case and USB-C cableAux cable, carrying case and micro-USB cable
Battery Life20 hours (NC on)20 hours (NC on); 40 hours (NC off)
Size8 x 6.5 x 2 inches7.1 x 6.7 x 3.2 inches
Weight9 ounces8.2 ounces

Design

Fashion or function? That is the deciding factor here. The 700 is beautifully built and has a classy, ultramodern look, while the QC35 II remains a handsome model that offers the same shine factor but better portability. It’s all about your preference.

Bose 700

Bose 700

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The 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. Although the ear cups do swivel so you can fit the headphones into the carrying case, they don't fold down for compact storage.

Bose 700 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule)

The QC35 II might not look as sexy as its successor, but it's still a fashionable set of headphones suited for business class. Its 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 important, the QC35 II does fold down and is easier to stow away.

The color options are one of the QC35 II's biggest strengths. The headphones are part of Bose's customization program, which allows owners to create their own colorway; the 700 has yet to be added to this program. All of the standard colors are easy on the eyes, especially the limited-edition Triple Midnight. The 700 comes only in signature Bose colors: black and silver.

Winner: Draw

Comfort

Despite its heavier frame (9 ounces), the 700 is 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

Bose 700

(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.

Bose 700 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule)

The QC35 II shares many of these positives, but it has 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 Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700

Controls

I haven't tested a touch panel this intuitive or responsive since the Sony WH-1000XM3. The ability to slide the touch panel up and down (to control the volume) and left to right (to skip forward or back) for music playback is convenient when you're on the go, as is the ability to use simple tap gestures like double-tap (to play/pause/answer) and tap and hold (to decline calls).

Bose 700 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose 700

(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

Bose 700 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule)

The QC35 II keeps its 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 is just more exotic. 

Winner: Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700

Active Noise Cancellation 

Comparing the noise cancellation in the Bose Noise-Cancelling 700 and the Bose QC35 II seems somewhat unfair. However, Bose revamped its adaptive microphone technology for the 700, giving these 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

Bose 700

(Image credit: Regan Coule)

For many months, the QC35 II has demonstrated industry-leading noise cancellation and has never disappointed. I have always appreciated the headphones' ability to drown out airplane engines and provide solitude for listening to music at home. And you shouldn't overlook the wind resistance on these bad boys, either. Nevertheless, after testing both sets of headphones, I noticed that the QC35 II lets certain high-frequency noises, like air horns and police sirens, into the soundstage. These sounds won't throw you completely offtrack, 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 you're 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, too. On the QC35 II, this feature isn't as polished, creating muffled dialogue.

Winner: Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700

Audio

Bose headphones won't give you the loudest, boom-filled sonics that the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the 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 to 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 listening to live recordings. When listening to Nirvana's MTV Unplugged album, I felt near total immersion, as though I were in the audience.

MORE: What’s the Best Music Service for You?

The 700's audio sounds great 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, neither set of headphones showed much need for wired listening. The QC35 II maintained its bass and volume, whereas the 700 took a slight dip in both areas. 

Winner: Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700

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 when I saw that the company launched a new app, called Bose Music, made specifically for the 700. But I wasn't complaining, as the free Bose Music has a sleeker interface and a few more features that enhance the listening experience. 

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Bose 700 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule)
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Bose 700 vs. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Regan Coule)

In Bose Music, you can adjust the ANC and set up your three preferred levels. 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 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. But the best feature by far is the ability to adjust between the 10 ANC levels.   

The 700 and QC35 II 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 operates similarly, but voice commands are not as fluid as they are on the 700.

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 how well the cans communicated with the two devices at the same time. 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 operates 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 Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700

Call Quality

Bose is adept at creating earbuds and headphones with great call quality. Thanks to Bose's updated mic system, the 700 stands out as the company's best headset 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.

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 Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700

Battery Life 

Bose programmed 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 the ANC on. That was enough for me to get a full week of Spotify streaming and some cross-country in-flight entertainment. 

In my use, the QC35II sometimes surpassed their advertised battery life, getting up to 22 hours of use on a charge. They also allow for up to 40 hours of wireless listening with the ANC on, whereas the the 700 remains at a 20-hour max regardless of the ANC's level, according to Bose. Moreover, I wasn't thrilled that the 700 was charged to only 30% out of the box; I recall the QC35 II being at 70% upon first use.

In addition, the battery-life indicators for the 700 were often inconsistent. Several times, I received notifications stating that the headphones were at 0%, while the mobile app suggested there were 6.5 hours of play time left. 

Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700

(Image credit: Bose)

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

Winner: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Value

We're not going to lie: These are two of the most expensive models of noise-cancelling headphones on the market. Thankfully, both are money well spent. 

The QC35 IIs have recently gotten a significant price drop at $299, which is $100 cheaper than the 700s. 

Bose 700 Headphones
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, BlackView Deal

Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones with Noise-Cancelling, SilverView Deal

However, when you consider the differences between the two, you would be remiss to pass on the Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700. The circuitry in these cans alone justifies the high price. 

Winner: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Overall Winner: Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700

The Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Headphones are the truth. They set a new standard, with 11 levels of active noise cancelation that effortlessly silence rumblings across the frequency spectrum. Advantages in call quality and the companion app make the 700 the noise-cancelling king.

Bose 700Bose QC35 II
Design (10)88
Comfort (10)87
Controls (5)43
Active Noise Cancellation (25)2523
Audio (25)2322
Apps and Special Features (5)43
Call Quality (5)54
Battery Life (10)78

The QC35 II is still a top performer, 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.