Microsoft's Surface Earbuds vs. AirPods

Back in October, Microsoft decided to get into the wire-free earbuds market with the debut of the Surface Earbuds, designed to compete with Apple's AirPods, Google's Pixel Buds, and Samsung's Galaxy Buds.


We picked up a pair of Microsoft's Surface Earbuds to check out the feature set and see how they measure up to Apple's AirPods.

Priced at $199, the Surface Earbuds have a design that's rather... unique. There's an AirPods-style earpiece that fits into the ear, along with a circular exterior portion that's rather large and noticeable, designed primarily for touch gestures. The Surface Earbuds are not low-key, hard to see headphones -- it's obvious when you're wearing them.

surfaceearbuds7
When it comes to fit, the Surface Earbuds are relatively comfortable. The AirPods kind of rest on the outside of the ears, while the Surface Earbuds are designed to fit a bit deeper in the ear canal, though not as deep as the AirPods Pro.

surfaceearbuds6
Surface Earbuds come with small, medium, and large tips, so most people should be able to get a decent fit. We found them to be uncomfortable to wear at first, but after they settled in for a few hours, the Surface Earbuds were more comfortable to wear.

surfaceearbuds5
The design of the Surface Earbuds definitely looks a bit funky, but it's functional because of the simple and effective gesture set, which uses the large surface area of each earbud.

surfaceearbuds4
A double tap plays/pauses music, a swipe on the left earbud skips tracks, and a swipe on the right earbud controls the volume. AirPods don't have gesture controls for volume, which is one of the major negatives when it comes to AirPods gestures.

There are also controls for accessing voice-based help and answering/ending phone calls, plus several Microsoft apps can take advantage of Surface Earbuds gestures. On an Android phone, for example, a triple tap on either earbud opens up the Spotify app. On iOS, you can listen to, delete, and reply to emails with touch and voice using the Outlook app, and in PowerPoint, you can swipe to advance slides, enable live captions and subtitles, and have what you're saying be translated into one of 60 languages.

Sound quality on the Surface Earbuds was somewhat unimpressive. The low end was disappointing and on the whole, music playback had a tinny quality. There is an app that accompanies the Surface Earbuds for EQ adjustments, which helps improve the sound somewhat. There's no Active Noise Cancellation, so the only sound isolating comes from the fit of the Surface Earbuds in the ear.

surfaceearbuds3
The Surface Earbuds have a six to eight hour battery life, which is extended to 24 hours with the included USB-C charging case, which has a rectangular design reminiscent of a little coffin. The case charges over USB-C, and there's no wireless charging included.

surfaceearbuds2
When paired with a Surface device or a Windows PC running Windows 10, which is what the Surface Earbuds are designed to work with, there's a Swift Pair feature for fast pairing, but on iOS devices, the connection will need to be done through Bluetooth settings.

surfaceearbuds1
Surface Earbuds are fine if you plan to use them with a PC or a Surface device, but there's no reason to pick these up if you're planning to use them with a Mac or an iPhone because the full feature set is restricted to Windows. Given the $199 price point, these are best for those who are in Microsoft's ecosystem rather than Apple's.

Popular Stories

iPhone 17 Plus Feature

iPhone 17 Lineup Specs Detail Display Upgrade and New High-End Model

Monday July 22, 2024 4:33 am PDT by
Key details about the overall specifications of the iPhone 17 lineup have been shared by the leaker known as "Ice Universe," clarifying several important aspects of next year's devices. Reports in recent months have converged in agreement that Apple will discontinue the "Plus" iPhone model in 2025 while introducing an all-new iPhone 17 "Slim" model as an even more high-end option sitting...
iPhone SE 4 Vertical Camera Feature

iPhone SE 4 Rumored to Use Same Rear Chassis as iPhone 16

Friday July 19, 2024 7:16 am PDT by
Apple will adopt the same rear chassis manufacturing process for the iPhone SE 4 that it is using for the upcoming standard iPhone 16, claims a new rumor coming out of China. According to the Weibo-based leaker "Fixed Focus Digital," the backplate manufacturing process for the iPhone SE 4 is "exactly the same" as the standard model in Apple's upcoming iPhone 16 lineup, which is expected to...
Apple TV Plus Feature 2 Magenta and Blue

Apple TV+ Curbs Costs After Expensive Projects Fail to Capture Viewers

Monday July 22, 2024 5:11 am PDT by
Apple is scaling back its Hollywood spending after investing over $20 billion in original programming with limited success, Bloomberg reports. This shift comes after the streaming service, which launched in 2019, struggled to capture a significant share of the market, accounting for only 0.2% of TV viewership in the U.S., compared to Netflix's 8%. Despite heavy investment, critical acclaim,...
iPhone 16 Pro Sizes Feature

iPhone 16 Series Is Just Two Months Away: Everything We Know

Monday July 15, 2024 4:44 am PDT by
Apple typically releases its new iPhone series around mid-September, which means we are about two months out from the launch of the iPhone 16. Like the iPhone 15 series, this year's lineup is expected to stick with four models – iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Plus, iPhone 16 Pro, and iPhone 16 Pro Max – although there are plenty of design differences and new features to take into account. To bring ...
iPhone 17 Plus Feature Purple

These 5 Features Will Make the iPhone 17 the Biggest Update in Years

Monday July 22, 2024 4:02 pm PDT by
The upcoming iPhone 16 models that we're expecting to see in September are going to be quite similar to the iPhone 15 models, but rumors suggest that Apple is making big changes in 2025. We've been hearing hints of an all-new device in the iPhone lineup, and it may be the most expensive iPhone Apple has offered to date. New 'Slim' Design Rumors have taken to referring to the new iPhone 17...
iPhone SE 4 Thumb 1

iPhone SE 4 Rumored to Launch Early Next Year With OLED Display, 48MP Camera, and More

Monday July 22, 2024 7:22 am PDT by
The fourth-generation iPhone SE will offer a series of major upgrades over the current model, the leaker known as "Ice Universe" claims. The information was listed in a post on Weibo, which also detailed the specifications of the iPhone 17 lineup. As previously rumored, the fourth-generation iPhone SE is expected to feature Face ID and USB-C, marking a major upgrade from current and previous ...
bsod

Microsoft Blames European Commission for Major Worldwide Outage

Monday July 22, 2024 11:55 am PDT by
Last Friday, a major CrowdStrike outage impacted PCs running Microsoft Windows, causing worldwide issues affecting airlines, retailers, banks, hospitals, rail networks, and more. Computers were stuck in continuous recovery loops, rendering them unusable. The failure was caused by an update to the CrowdStrike Falcon antivirus software that auto-installed on Windows 10 PCs, but Mac and Linux...

Top Rated Comments

Waxhead138 Avatar
55 months ago
These things look like the stickers you put on cheap furniture to cover the nail / screw heads.....or a drywall filler applied to ones ear....
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
calzon65 Avatar
55 months ago
They look like those huge pierced earlobe earring/inserts that missed the earlobe.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple Knowledge Navigator Avatar
55 months ago
The touch gestures sound great; but for $199 it seems to me like a hard sell when the main feature - the audio quality - isn’t on par with competition.

And frankly, the design looks very ambiguous. At least with other earbuds an on-looker knows What you’re wearing, these don’t look like anything.

Give MS it’s due though, they gave it a go!
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
djcerla Avatar
55 months ago
And once again, even in the absence of Steve Jobs, Apple has an unique, courageous product that it’s iconic, cool, and defines its own category, while producing metric tons of cash.

This comparison feels like Zune vs. iPod all over again.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thedarkhalf Avatar
55 months ago
This is all I see when I look at them..



Attachment Image
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nikusak Avatar
55 months ago

"Looks like you have tampons hanging out of your ears"
And strangely EarPods, which look pretty much identical (just a bit smaller I think), but with wires, never produced that comment..

Honestly, I think people going about and wearing huge traditional Beat, Bose or Sony headphones etc. look even goofier than someone with relatively discreet buds in their ears.

These Surface ones do look weird though..

(but just wear whatever you want)
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)