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HOME / Audio / Apple AirPods vs Bose SoundSport Free
The Apple AirPods and Bose SoundSport Free are two of the most talked about true wireless earbuds. Each are great options, but there are some distinct differences. In this post, we are going to focus on those differences. If you want the full details on these earbuds, make sure to to check out our full reviews:
We think the Apple AirPods are just more convenient than the Bose SoundSport Free. What do we mean by that? There’s a couple factors. First, the setup process is mindless for iOS users. Just enable Bluetooth on your phone, open the nifty little charging box and you will be prompted to pair the earbuds. Next, they are very lightweight and comfortable – much lighter than the Bose earbuds. The AirPods don’t really fatigue your ears at all, so they are much better for prolonged listening sessions.
The AirPods have the slight edge over the Bose SoundSport Free when it comes to battery life. Both earbuds actually offer similar playback time – expect to get around 4.5 – 5 hours with each. However, Apple distances themselves from Bose with their portable charging case and quick charge feature. The charging case for the Apple AirPods offers an additional 24 hours of juice while the Bose charging case only offers 10. Then there’s the quick charge feature – thanks to Apple’s W1 chip, you can pop the AirPods back in the case for 15 minutes and you’ll get 3 hours of playback. With Bose, 15 minutes gets you 45 minutes of playback.
Impressive Quick Charge Feature With The AirPods
The AirPods are quite a bit cheaper than the Bose SoundSport Free. They have an MSRP of $160 [see on Best Buy].
Compare that to the $250 MSRP of the Bose SoundSport Free [see on Amazon]. Almost a cool $100 cheaper – easy winner here.
AUGUST 2018 UPDATE: The price of the SoundSport Free earbuds have dropped by $50. Click the link above to check the current price.
Yes, the price is an issue with the Bose SoundSport Free. No getting around that, but they do offer a few key advantages over the AirPods.
Bose wins on audio quality, period. I don’t think that statement shocks many people. After all, the AirPods offer pretty much the same audio quality as the old Apple EarPods (you know, the wired headphones you got with your iPhone). The Bose SoundSport Free earbuds have very clear, crisp sound. Bass is decent and the highs are pretty good. Sometimes it can sound a little raspy, but for the most part the audio quality is solid. If you’re an audio snob, go Bose.
First, the SoundSport Free have a more secure fit. They come with three different size ear tips/fins so you can find the right ones for you. The AirPods are naked – no ear fins or wings. And the Bose earbuds do a good job of staying in your ear. Even if you wiggle or shake your head pretty hard, the earbuds don’t fall out. With the AirPods on the other hand, if you shake your head you can feel the earbuds moving around. The Bose earbuds are also IPX4 rated, meaning they are water and sweat resistant – the AirPods are not. So a more secure fit combined with the sweat resistance factor makes the Bose SoundSport Free more ideal for working out and running. However, I would add that since the actual Bose earbuds are large and heavy, they’re not the best for running. I would stick to lifting and light gym sessions with the SoundSport Free.
Pretty Secure Fit With The Bose SoundSport Free
Track Management / Volume Controls
Perhaps my biggest gripe with the AirPods is the lack of on-ear track management and volume controls. By default, with the AirPods you have to use Siri for everything. Whenever you want to skip a track, turn the volume up or down, etc. you have to double tap the earbud and ask Siri. It can get quite annoying. The Bose SoundSport Free on the other hand have a multi-function button located on the right earbud where you pause/play music, skip tracks, take/end calls and access Siri. There’s also separate volume up/down buttons on the right earbud as well. Overall, they’re just a lot easier to use than the AirPods.
Update – with iOS 11, you can now turn off the auto-pause feature of the AirPods and customize tap controls for each earbud.
We Like The Track Management and Volume Controls With The Bose SSF
No Auto-Pause Feature
This might be a polarizing subject but for me I think it’s a positive that the Bose SoundSport Free do not have an auto-pause feature. With the AirPods, each earbud has a built-in proximity sensor so every time you take the earbuds out or even just fidget with them, the music will pause. This can get annoying, especially when you just take them out momentarily to talk with someone. The SoundSport Free just keep playing – I’d much rather have that but I guess at the end of the day it’s a personal preference thing. Again, this is kind of a moot point now since you can turn off the auto-pause feature on the AirPods with iOS 11.