Current powerhouse

Bose QC 35 II

Budget option

Bose QC 25

There's nothing hotter than the Bose QC 35 II, which continues to draw positive praise since it was first introduced in September 2017. The headphones deliver premium audio quality at a mostly premium price.

$349 at Amazon

Pros

  • 20 hours of battery life with noise cancelation
  • Supports quick-charging technology
  • Google Assistant support

Cons

  • Overkill for some
  • Expensive

Before there was the QC 35, there was the QC 25. Though no longer officially available, this older device still packs a punch and is available through third-parties. Better still, just look at that price.

$200 at Amazon

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • Good price

Cons

  • Technically discontinued
  • Supplies are limited

Break it down now...

Bose QC 35 II

Most folks should probably splurge on the QC 35 II. Still there's much to love about the older model. Both noise-cancelling over-ear headsets come with their own perks and features. If you're considering a set, here's how they compare.

Bose QC 35 II Bose QC 25
Colors available 3 1
Dimensions 3.2 x 6.7 x 7.1 in 2.5 x 5.88 x 9.38 in
Weight 8.32 ounces 6.9 ounces
Alexa-enabled Yes Yes
Google Assistant Yes No
Noise-cancellation levels 3 1
Battery life 20 hours 35 hours

Both of these are excellent products. When looking at the differences, there are nine key points to consider.

Controls and design

On the surface, the headsets look nearly identical. The folding plastic-and-foam body includes synthetic protein leather ear cups and a plush Alcantara microfiber headband to keep your head from long-term headphone pain, with a single side switch and a bottom-mounted 3.5mm hole on the left earcup for the headphone cord.

Colors

As always, Bose offers fairly limited color choices for its headphones. You can get the QC25s in only one color currently, black. The QC35 II is available in black, silver, and rose gold.

Hardware differences

Minor aesthetic differences aside, the hardware is where these headphones stand apart. The QC 35 II supports Bluetooth and NFC wireless audio pairing, while the QC25 does not. Which headphone you prefer will largely depend on your love of wires, built-in buttons, and Google Assistant.

Minor aesthetic differences aside, the hardware is where these headphones stand apart.

As such, the QC35 II has an inline mic, Micro-USB charging port, and play/pause/volume buttons built into their right ear-cup; the QC25 instead has the mic and play/pause controls along the 3.5mm headphone cord. These are all still physical buttons — despite the move by some headphone manufacturers to pick up touch controls, Bose has eschewed that trend in favor of traditional buttons.

The QC35 II additionally has an Action button on its left ear cup: This can be used to trigger Google Assistant (if you have a supported Android or iOS device), Siri, or adjust your noise cancellation levels.

It's also worth noting that the QC25 comes in different models depending on your device, while the QC35 supports all Bluetooth- and NFC-compatible devices out of the box.

Weight and dimensions

The QC25 and QC35 models vary a little bit in their weight and dimensions.

The QC25 is a little taller (7.5 inches) and slimmer (6 inches wide) than its 7.1-inch by 6.7-inch QC35 sibling, with a much thinner ear cup depth, too: 0.9 inches to the QC35 II's 3.2 inches.

It's also quite a bit lighter than the QC35 model, weighing in at 6.9 ounces (compared to the 8.3 oz of the Bluetooth model).

This size and weight difference is largely due to the lithium-ion battery built into the QC35 II, along with the integrated mic and music controls.

The QC25 does have a slightly longer headphone cord (56 inches to the QC35 II's 47.2 inches) because of the addition of inline mic and play controls on the cord.

Noise cancellation and sound

Bose QC 25

Both headsets offer Bose's top-tier, adaptive noise-cancellation technology. In our testing, we've found both are some of the best at isolating your music from the sounds of the outside world.

Both are some of the best at isolating your music from the sounds of the outside world.

It's also a powered technology: Both require battery power to provide noise-cancellation. The QC25 uses a single AAA battery, while the Q35 II uses rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

If you want to listen without noise cancellation (and thus, no battery), you can use both headsets in their wired configuration without enabling the noise cancellation switch. You can also adjust this setting inside the Bose app for the QC35 II, which supports three different levels (High, Low, or Off). Both models also offer volume-optimized equalizer settings within the app for a more tuned experience for your songs.

If you're not using Google Assistant or Siri on the QC35 II, you can instead adjust your noise cancellation levels with the Action button on the left ear cup.

The one issue we have with adaptive noise cancellation is present in both models: If you're in a particularly windy environment, you'll occasionally get interference while listening to your music. It's not usually a problem in your traditional noise-cancellation setting (on a plane, in the office), but if you plan to use these headphones for any sort of regular outdoor commuting, it's worth considering.

Bluetooth and NFC

The QC35 model can be used wire-free in either Bluetooth 4.1 or NFC configurations. While it doesn't provide an augmented wireless sound experience (like Bowers & Wilkins's PX, which offers aptX HD), it still pumps out some excellent sound.

As with Bose's other wireless options, you can connect to multiple Bluetooth sources for sound, though (unlike Bose's QC30 in-ear headphones) you can't share a single source between multiple pairs of wireless headphones.

Battery

The QC 35 II has 20 hours of battery life in noise cancellation mode; in our experience, that can translate to several weeks of on-again, off-again listening without needing a charge. A full charge takes just over two hours over Micro-USB, though the QC35 II also supports quick-charging technology — plug in your headset for just 15 minutes, and you'll get 2.5+ hours of listening time.

Without noise cancellation (or while using the QC35 II's Low setting), the QC35s edge closer to 40 hours of battery when used wireless. That said, I've found those times few and far between. Generally, if I'm using my Bose headset over my AirPods, I want extraneous background noise eliminated.

The QC25s, in contrast, offer a straight 35 hours of noise cancellation — if you don't turn it on, you're just using the headphones like a regular wired headset. (The QC35 II also offers non-powered wired usage, for reference.)

Google Assistant and Siri

Bose's QuietComfort line has long been able to trigger your device's built-in assistant using Apple's MFi (Made For iPhone) controls: Holding down the play/pause button will bring Siri (or Google, or Alexa) up to the forefront and let you chat with little delay.

But the QC35 II's Google Assistant support is a little more thorough than that: It not only supports chatting with Google, but you can also use the headset's new Action button to get notifications and reply to messages. It's not a dramatic increase in functionality, but if you're someone who regularly likes using Google Assistant, you may appreciate the extra care Bose and Google have put into this integration.

It's important to note that the QC35 II doesn't have any sort of Wi-Fi or cellular network built into its headphones to let you access Assistant at all times: It simply relays your iPhone or Android phone's connection.

Price

Only the QC35 Series II is still officially offered by Bose with the QC25 technically discontinued. Nonetheless, you can still find the older model on Amazon and in Bose's Special Offers section.

For most folks, we recommend the Bose QC 35 II if you can afford the premium cost.

As a result, the pricing for these headphones varies considerably; you can find refurbished QC25 models on Bose's site for as little as $160, while the average price for factory-sealed QC25s hovers around $200 at Amazon and elsewhere.

The QC35 Series II is roughly double that, at $349.

If pricing is a factor, the QC25 delivers the same core experience as Bose's wireless headphones, just with a cord. Those on a budget who still want Bose's noise-canceling technology should consider them.

For most folks, we recommend the Bose QC 35 II. If you can afford the premium cost of Bose's latest and greatest, the QC35 Series II offers plenty of nice perks. You'll get multiple levels of noise cancellation and deep integration with Google Assistant — most helpful for Android users, though iPhone owners can also take advantage of the feature using the Google app.

If you want a pair of lightweight wired headphones that provide best-in-class noise cancellation, Bose's QC25 is a great pick. If you don't mind a wired set of headphones in today's Bluetooth age, you can get the company's same sturdy design and top-notch electronics at almost double the battery life and half the price of Bose's latest Bluetooth model.

Current flagship

Bose QC 35 II

Still the best Bose has to offer

Noise cancelling belongs to Bose and the company's current flagship device is one of the best.

Still powerful

Bose QC 25

Old school charm for less

There's no denying, the Bose QC 25 headphones are still respects despite their age. Buy these to save some money and still get great sounds.

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