Bose QC 35 II vs. QC 25: What's the difference (and which should you buy)?

Bose headphones arranged in an attractive manner
(Image credit: Bose)

Bose QC 35 II vs. QC 25

Bose QC 25

Bose QC 25 (Image credit: iMore)

Most folks should probably splurge on the QC 35 II, which is one of the best headphones for working at home. Still, there's much to love about the older model. Both noise-canceling over-ear headsets come with their own perks and features. If you're considering a set, here's how they compare.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Bose QC 35 IIBose QC 25
Colors available31
Dimensions3.2 x 6.7 x 7.1 in2.5 x 5.88 x 9.38 in
Weight8.32 ounces6.9 ounces
Google AssistantYesNo
Noise-cancellation levels31
Battery life20 hours35 hours

Both of these are excellent products no matter which of the best iPhones you're pairing them with. When looking at the differences, there are nine key points to consider. 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.

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.

Bose QC 35 II vs. QC 25: 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.

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

In the Bose QC 35 II vs. QC 25 comparison, the models vary slightly 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).

These size and weight differences are 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 an inline mic and play controls on the cord.

Bose QC 35 II vs. QC 25: Noise cancellation and sound

The back of a suited man wearing Bose QC 25 on his head.

Bose QC 25 (Image credit: Bose)

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.

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). Still, if you plan to use these headphones during 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.

Bose QC 35 II vs. QC 25: Battery and voice-assistance

A woman wearing a pair of Bose QC 35 II while standing outside.

Bose qc 35 Series (Image credit: Bose)

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. Still, 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 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.

Bose QC 35 II vs. QC 25: Which should you buy?

Only the QC35 Series II is still officially offered by Bose, with the QC25 discontinued. Nonetheless, you can still find the older model in used or refurbished condition. As a result, the pricing for these headphones varies considerably.

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. However, 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.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.