Microsoft Surface Earbuds are here: Price, features and specs

Microsoft Surface Earbuds
(Image credit: Microsoft)

After first being unveiled late last year, the Microsoft Surface Earbuds are finally ready for primetime. Microsoft's first wireless earbuds sport a uniquely large design built to deliver a ton of intuitive control options at the tap of a finger in addition to deep integration with Surface devices and Windows 10 apps.

The Surface Earbuds promise immersive audio via what Microsoft calls "Surface Omnisonic" sound, and are built to pair instantly with Surface PC devices. And since this is a Microsoft product, the Surface Earbuds can work with Microsoft 365 apps like PowerPoint and Outlook to let you do things like swipe through slideshows or listen to mail messages without having to touch your phone or PC.

That's a lot of interesting tech, but can the Surface Earbuds take on the likes of the Apple AirPods and Google Pixel Buds 2? Here's everything you need to know about Microsoft's new buds.

Microsoft Surface Earbuds release date and price

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds release on May 12 for $199, and come in a single off-white Glacier color. Microsoft's buds are relatively expensive considering their lack of noise-cancelling, as the $159 Apple AirPods, $149 Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus and $179 Google Pixel Buds 2 are all cheaper.

Microsoft Surface Earbuds specs

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Size0.98 x 0.78 inches (per earbud), 2.96 x 1.31 x 0.98 inches (charging case)
Weight0.25 ounces (per earbud), 1.4 ounces (charging case)
Frequency Response20 - 20kHz
Speakers13.6mm driver
Battery life8 hours from earbuds, up to 24 hours with charging case
WaterproofingIPX 4
CompatibilityWindows 10 or later, Android 4.4 or later, iOS 9 or later, Bluetooth 4.1/4.2

Microsoft Surface Earbuds features

The first thing you'll probably notice about the Surface Earbuds is that they're big — and that's for a reason. The earbuds sport four anchor points designed to rest securely in your ear, and also pack three sets of swappable ear tips so you can find the perfect fit. But the real draw here is the sheer amount of surface area (no pun intended) that these buds offer for touch controls, allowing you to tap and swipe your way through songs, calls and even work presentations.

Microsoft Surface Earbuds

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Surface Earbuds are optimized to work with a variety of Windows 10 apps. For example, you can use them to add live captions to a PowerPoint presentation complete with real-time translation, or to swipe through a set of slides without touching your PC. You can also use the Surface Earbuds to listen to and sort through Outlook emails using only touch and voice, meaning you can go through your inbox in the morning without pulling your phone out.

Microsoft is promising rich sound quality via the Earbuds' "Surface Omnisonic" sound, which comes from custom drivers tuned to match the quality of live music venues. The buds feature Spotify integration, allowing you to instantly pull up songs from the popular music service with a quick triple-tap. And you'll get a microphone on either bud built to block out background chatter during calls.

The Surface Earbuds work on iOS, Android and Windows 10, but it seems like they'll especially shine on Surface PC devices. With the Swift Pair feature, you can instantly pair the Surface Earbuds to a device like the Surface Pro 7 by simply placing the charging case near your PC.

In our Microsoft Surface Earbuds hands-on review, we found the buds to be impressively comfortable, and offer solid sound quality. We found the buds' touch gestures a bit sensitive at first, but it wasn't long before we were opening up Spotify and summoning Cortana with just a quick series of taps.

Microsoft Surface Earbuds battery life

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds promise 8 hours of battery on a single charge, and about 24 hours with the charging case. That's a higher rating than the Apple AirPods 2019 (5 hours on a charge, 24 with case), but not quite as colossal as the 11 hours of single charge you'll get from the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus. We look forward to seeing how the Surface Earbuds' battery life holds up in real world use in our full review. 

Microsoft Surface Earbuds outlook

Microsoft Surface Earbuds

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds are shaping up to be one of the most unique sets of wireless earbuds we've seen yet, with a large design built for comfort and a plethora of PC-specific features. The buds' ability to interact with Windows 10 apps and instantly pair to Surface PCs is compelling, but may also make them a bit niche compared to the likes of Apple's AirPods.

There's also the issue of price. $199 is a lot to ask for a pair of buds without active noise cancellation, especially since the excellent Sony WF-1000xM3 can be found for around that price or less. But if you're a hardcore Surface or Windows 10 user that wants a pair of earbuds that work seamlessly to your laptop or tablet, the Surface Earbuds just might be for you.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.