Near the end of 2019 Apple released what has become the de facto gold standard for wireless earbuds: the AirPods Pro. The AirPods Pro addressed what many saw as shortcoming of the original AirPods–the biggest improvement being active noise cancelation (ANC).
- AirPods Pro – $249.00
- Surface Earbuds – $199.99 via Microsoft Store
- Quick Verdict: For functionality and features, Apple’s AirPods Pro are still the #1 option to go for out of these two wireless earbuds options. AirPods Pro are $50 more expensive, but you get active noise cancelation (ANC) for the extra cash. If you have an iPhone, AirPods Pro are a no-brainer as well because they integrate seamlessly with iOS.
But in 2019 another tech giant also released their own wireless earbuds. Longtime Apple rival Microsoft released the Microsoft Surface Earbuds, so named after Microsoft’s line of popular tablets and laptops. But how do Microsoft’s buds compare to Apple’s? Let’s find out.
- AirPods Pro – The AirPods Pro improves on the AirPods’ iconic design by having both a shorter stem and they also include three rubber tips to give users a better fit.
- Surface Earbuds – The Surface Earbuds feature a radically different design. They can be likened to a cork stop with a broad fly surface on top. You basically look like you’re wearing a flat white coin in your ears.
Winner? AirPods Pro – Their design is more beautiful and practical than the Surface Earbuds. They’re tiny works of art.
Audio & Connectivity
- AirPods Pro – The AirPods Pro include dual beam-forming microphones, dual optical sensors, a motion-detecting accelerometer and a speech-detecting accelerometer. They also connect over both Bluetooth and Apple’s H1 chip, which makes connecting them to an iPhone effortless. However, they have a MAJOR leg up on the Surface Earbuds because they support active noise cancellation.
- Surface Earbuds – The Surface Earbuds feature dual microphones and connect over Bluetooth, too. The do not have any kind of active noise cancelation.
Winner? AirPods Pro – They’ve just got more tech packed into each bud, which together make for a better listening and wearing experience. And that active noise cancelation can’t be beaten.
Battery & Charging
- AirPods Pro – The AirPods Pro gets you 4.5 hours of use when active noise cancellation is engaged. When active noise cancellation is turned off, you’ll get 5 hours of use. The AirPods Pro also comes with a wireless charging case as standard, which gets you over 24 hours of use.
- Surface Earbuds – The Surface Earbuds get you 8 hours of use and their case gets you 24 hours in total. However, the Surface Earbuds only offer a wired charging case.
Winner? Surface Earbuds – 8 hours of usage on a single charge is pretty impressive.
- AirPods Pro – The AirPods Pro support hands-free “Hey Siri” commands as well as giving you full access to all of Siri’s capabilities.
- Surface Earbuds – The Surface Earbuds offer app-specific assistant features. For example, you can reply to emails in Outlook on some smartphones and use the touch controls to advance PowerPoint slides on others.
Winner? AirPods Pro – Siri is all-around more useful than app-specific features.
- AirPods Pro – $249.99
- Surface Earbuds – $199.99
Looks, it’s not even a contest. The AirPods Pro destroys the Surface Earbuds. Why? Though the AirPods Pro are $50 more, for that fifty bucks you get a wireless charging case and active noise cancelation. The ANC alone is well worth the $50.
The one place the Surface Earbuds do outshine the AirPods Pro is in the battery life department. Eight hours on a single charge is insane–and that’s what the Surface Buds offer. However, most people aren’t going to have an earbud in their ears for longer than a few hours at a time, not to mention eight. The ANC is something most users would find more useful, not longer battery life.
Apple’s AirPods Pro (2019) vs Microsoft’s Surface Earbuds (2020): Full Specs
Here are the specs for the AirPods Pro:
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, H1 chip
- Wireless charging: Yes
- Battery Life: 4.5 hours AirPod use, 24+ hours with charging case
- Sensors: Dual beam-forming microphones, Dual optical sensors, Motion-detecting accelerometer, Speech-detecting accelerometer,Force sensor
- Voice assistant support: Siri
- Noise Cancellation: Yes
- Sweat and water resistant: Yes
And here are the specs for the Surface Earbuds:
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- Wireless charging: No
- Battery Life: 8 hours Surface Earbuds use, 24 hours with charging case
- Sensors: Dual microphones, Touch
- Voice assistant support: App specific
- Noise Cancellation: No
- Sweat and water resistant: Yes
But what about other wireless earbuds? Want to see how Apple’s AirPods compare to Amazon’s Echo Buds? Check out our Apple’s AirPods vs Amazon’s Echo Buds here!
And also be sure to also check out our Apple’s AirPods Pro vs Amazon’s Echo Buds comparison!
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.