Bose SoundSport Free vs Apple Airpods 2: Which should you buy?

Key differences

When you break down the specs of both these devices side-by-side, the differences are mainly in the battery life, connection style, and water-resistant categories.

AirPods have the advantage when it comes to battery life, in almost every way. While both devices are quoted for five hours of battery life for the earbuds, both the SoundSport Free and the AirPods comes with charging cases that hold additional battery power. The case for the AirPods clocks in at an impressive extra 24 hours of battery, while the Bose SoundSport Free's only offer about 10 hours. Furthermore, the AirPods can give you up to three hours of listening time from a quick 15-minute charge in its case while the Bose can only get a measly 45 minutes.

The differences come down to battery life, connection style, and water-resistant categories.

Bose's biggest advantage on specs is its IPX4 water resistance rating, meaning it's sweat-resistant giving you the peace of mind you need to know you can break a sweat at the gym with the earbuds getting damaged. AirPods have no such classification, so while you can wear them at the gym, you do so at your own risk.

Bose also beats the AirPods in another category. Though neither the Bose SoundSport Free or AirPods have official noise-cancellation technology, the Bose pair of wireless earbuds come much closer than AirPods Their super-customized silicone earbuds offer a variety of fits for small and big ears alike, which allows the Bose SoundSport Free to isolate the sound from the outside world. It's not true noise cancellation, but Bose offers a better experience while listening to music in a crowded and noisy place.

A big win for the AirPods is their Apple-specific features thanks to the H1 chip. Pairing is an absolute breeze, and the AirPods offer Auto Pause when you remove an earbud, and that same accelerometer technology lets the AirPods automatically connect when you remove them from their case. If you plan on using your wireless earbuds with an iPhone, AirPods are the most seamless and simple to use option out there.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Bose SoundSport FreeAirPods
Battery life5 hours5 hours
Battery life of case10 hours24 hours
ConnectionBluetoothH1 Chip-enabled
Fast charging15 mins = 45 mins15 mins = 3 hours
Custom fitYesNo
Auto pauseNoYes
IP RatingIPX4None
Hey SiriNoYes


AirPods (Image credit: iMore)

Of course, there are the differences you can't really put on a spec sheet, like just how seamless the AirPods integration into the Apple ecosystem or just how fantastic the Bose SoundSport Free sound.

Although the design is a bit bulky and may not be everyone's cup of tea, the Bose SoundSport Free truly sound amazing. Bose has been in the audio game for a long time and their balanced, rich soundscapes that provide wonderfully warm bass and crisp treble tones are truly remarkable. Earbuds often get a bad rap for sounding bad as a whole, but the SoundSport Free's challenge that notion in a big way.

If you plan on using your wireless earbuds solely (or mostly) with your iPhone, AirPods 2 are an incredible piece of technology that Apple has worked hard at making the ultimate audio accessory. The H1 chip provides a smooth and seamless experience when it comes to not only pairing but controlling your whole iPhone from the AirPods.

If you want sound quality over price, go with Bose

Bottom line: The Bose SoundSport Free has the superior sound quality due to a more snug fit in your ear, and if you don't plan on using them with an iPhone, you won't ever miss the H1 chip.

AirPods have a better all-around package, especially for Apple users

On the flip side to that argument, the battery life, fast-charging capabilities, and the sheer usefulness that the H1 chip provides iPhone and iPad users is so fantastic, that if sound quality isn't the single most important thing to you, the AirPods are worth some serious consideration. PLus, if you don't feel like you need the wireless charging case for your AirPods, you can pick these up for $40 less.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.