Bose QuietComfort 35 II Review: Now Featuring More Google
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Our verdict of the Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II:
Bose updates their almost flawless QC 35s to include seamless Google Assistant integration. At $350, they are relatively expensive, but all the original's best features sit neatly alongside the Assistant. For first time buyers they make a worthy investment, but for those who already took the plunge with the QC35s, the incremental update may not be worth the money.
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Since its inception in 1964, the Bose brand name has become synonymous with high-end, high-performance audio equipment. Unlike some of their competitors, Bose haven’t been afraid to keep up to date with technological progress. This approach has served them well over the past few years, releasing first the wired QuietComfort 25 noise cancelling headphones. These were followed by the QuietComfort 35s which ditched the cable in favor of a wireless Bluetooth connection.

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones, Noise Cancelling - Black Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones, Noise Cancelling - Black Noise-rejecting dual-microphone system for clear phone calls and voice access to your phone's default virtual assistant, like Siri Buy Now At Amazon $349.00

Just over a year after the launch of the universally beloved QC35 Bose QuietComfort 35 Noise Cancelling Headphones Review Bose QuietComfort 35 Noise Cancelling Headphones Review Back in 2014 Bose released the over-ear QuietComfort 25 headphones to near universal praise. Two years later they followed them up with the QuietComfort 35 – a wireless take on their popular noise cancelling headphones. Read More , Bose announced they were updating the QC35, and relaunching them as the imaginatively named QC35 II. The reason for the relaunch comes down to one of this year’s biggest tech trends — digital assistants. More specifically: Google Assistant.

Design

When first laying your eyes upon the QC 35 II you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were still looking at last year’s QuietComfort 35. Bose opted for a near-perfect reproduction of the first generation model, which makes sense given how well the original’s were received. The only new addition comes in the form of a rather subtle button on the left earpad. The new button is the physical manifestation of the QC 35 main update — integration with Google Assistant.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II Review: Now Featuring More Google Bose QC 35 11 2 1

The headphones are available in both matte black and silver as before. The black is the more subtle and elegant of the two color choices. However, the finish allows for fingerprint marks to show up across the headphones, which will be a source of huge irritation to many. My first generation QC 35 are silver, and despite a year of very heavy usage, and never storing them in the carry case, have only a couple of minor marks. Given how similar the QC 35 and QC 35 II are it’s likely the newer models have this same resilience.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II Review: Now Featuring More Google Bose QC 35 11 5 1

The QC 35 II are 10g heavier than the originals, but you wouldn’t know by wearing them. The headphones are light on your head, and comfortable on the ears thanks to the soft faux leather ear cushions. To prevent soreness and headaches during extended use, the headband is cushioned with a soft alcantara cushion. The headphones fold inwards for easy storage in their carry case, which also stores the 3.5mm aux and Micro-USB charging cables. Sadly, the Micro-USB charging cable is still too short, and Bose has forgone the opportunity to provide a charging dock. This is disappointing for an otherwise stellar pair of Bluetooth headphones that retail at $350.

Battery and Connection

The headphones still come equipped with a single rechargeable battery. You may believe this to be a problem but, like the QC 35 before them, the QC 35 II can eek out an astonishing 20 hours of battery life. That’s all while handling the Bluetooth connection, audio reproduction, noise cancellation, and the Google Assistant. If you do run out of juice unexpectedly, the included 3.5mm aux cable allows you to plug your headphones directly into your device.

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The Bose Connect app — available on both Android and iOS — has been updated for a new noise cancellation setting. It can now be switched between High, Low, and Off. In regions where Google Assistant isn’t available, the left earpad button toggles between these settings. The app takes care of device management — allowing you to edit the paired devices and perform software updates.

Sound Quality

The QC35 II were tested against the first generation QC35, and one pair of Bluetooth in-ear headphones. Using Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody (2011 Remaster) as my comparison sample, each pair of headphones was put through it’s paces over the near six minutes. Bohemian Rhapsody lends itself well to headphone testing as it shifts between frequencies and instrumentation over the course of the song.

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The QC 35 II far exceeded the audio performance of the in-ear headphones, and even that of the original QC35. It wasn’t only Bohemian Rhapsody where they won out either — across a range of artists and genres the QC 35 II were a cut above the rest. I even found more depth in the audio using the QC 35 II than with my desktop setup. This may be in part down to Bose’s TriPort Acoustic headphone structure, which increases the acoustic volume by drawing air in through vents in the earcups.

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Many of us listen to podcasts on the go, especially when travelling or commuting. Over recent years, podcasts like Serial and S-Town have seen the medium strive for high quality audio production where intimacy and detail are key. It’s in situations like these where the QC 35 II active noise cancellation Noise Cancellation vs. Isolation: Which Headphones Are Better for You? Noise Cancellation vs. Isolation: Which Headphones Are Better for You? Misunderstandings abound when it comes to noise cancellation and noise isolation for headphones. Here's all you need to know to make a sound decision between the two. Read More really comes into its own. The external microphones pick up sounds around you, and use anti-phase signal 10 Terms You Should Know to Identify the Best Headphones 10 Terms You Should Know to Identify the Best Headphones In this guide we'll cut through the jargon and show you what the key headphone specifications actually mean, and why — or if — they matter. Read More to cancel out any unwanted noise. If you live in a city or work in noisy environments, this is an incredibly important and useful feature.

Google Assistant

While the QC 35 II are a fantastic pair of Bluetooth headphones, in many ways they are a revamped version of the QC 35 with one major difference — Google Assistant. Where before the left earcup was bereft of adornments and buttons, on the lower rear side there now sits a large button used to activate and interact with Google Assistant. Holding down the button allows you to talk to Google without the need for the “OK, Google” activation keyword. One of the major assistant privacy concerns is that people assume that the devices are always listening Is Your Smartphone Listening to You, or Is It Just Coincidence? Is Your Smartphone Listening to You, or Is It Just Coincidence? Little green android guy with an ear horn? or a glass against the wall? or looking over your shoulder as you watch TV? Read More . This is an objection that none of the companies seem willing to openly address, suggesting some there is some truth to it. Using the button to activate the Assistant means that it is only listening when you want it to.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II Review: Now Featuring More Google Bose QC 35 11 3 1

To talk to the Assistant, you need to hold down the button and release when finished. During testing, I found that all the regular cross-device Assistant commands 10 Things You Didn't Know Google Assistant Could Do 10 Things You Didn't Know Google Assistant Could Do Android's version of Siri -- Google Assistant -- is more powerful than most people realize. Read More work.  Earlier in the year Google announced Actions on Google, their version of Amazon’s Alexa Skills, allowing third parties to integrate with the Assistant. All of the Actions that I tried worked just as well as they did on any of the other Assistant variants. Bose has engineered the microphones to eliminate noise, so that you can always be heard and understood, whether using Assistant or on calls. At launch, the Assistant is available to those in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, and France. There is currently no word from Bose or Google on further expansion.

Notifications

While the hands-free nature of the Assistant is great, it is largely a replication of the Assistant experience on your phone. However, Bose and Google worked closely to fully integrate Assistant into the headphones. Imagine you are walking along the street when you receive a notification, and you get the familiar alert in your ears. Usually, your next step is to pause and get your phone out to check the notification. The QC 35 II remove this step as the Assistant can read out, and let you respond to, your notifications. It may seem like a small change, but being able to decide whether to act on a notification without getting your phone out saves you time, and allows you to be more present with whatever you happen to be doing.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II Review: Now Featuring More Google Bose QC 35 11 1 1

There are some slight annoyances here though. For instance, if you receive an email the Assistant isn’t able to access it. Frustratingly, to read out your notifications, the Assistant talks over whatever you were listening. As these are software related, it’s likely that future software updates will improve the experience. Unfortunately, the smart headphones become just plain old headphones when your phone is offline or on aeroplane mode, as the Assistant requires internet connectivity.

An Assistant In Your Ear

Smartwatches, smart home hubs, and digital assistants are all sold on the promise of simplifying your life. My personal experience with these technologies has always left me wanting. I excitedly purchased one of the first generation Android Wear watches, which now sits unused. When Google launched Assistant inside their messaging app Allo, I struggled to find any reason to open it. After experimenting with a Google Home How to Set Up and Use Your Google Home How to Set Up and Use Your Google Home Just purchased a new Google Home? Here's a step-by-step guide for everything you need to know to get it set up and working perfectly! Read More , I have yet to find a compelling reason not to just use my phone. The QC 35 II are the first time I’ve found a real-life, practical use for the Assistant. It works seamlessly, in all noise conditions, and has genuinely allowed me to decouple from my phone. Well, up to the 9m range of the Bluetooth connection.

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Since reviewing the first generation QC 35, they have barely left my side. The comfort, incredible 20 hour battery life, and superior sound quality just made it to difficult to use anything else. The QC35 II are a perfect example of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. By reusing the design of the QC 35, they offer everything that the originals do — adding value rather than novelty. If you own the QC35, the addition of Google Assistant may not be a compelling reason to spend another $350. However, for the uninitiated, there has never been a better time to invest in Bose’s (almost) flawless wireless headphones.

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones, Noise Cancelling - Black Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones, Noise Cancelling - Black Noise-rejecting dual-microphone system for clear phone calls and voice access to your phone's default virtual assistant, like Siri Buy Now At Amazon $349.00

Are you convinced to give the QC35 II a shot? What do you think of an assistant in your headphones? What’s your favorite pair of Bluetooth headphones? Let us know in the comments below!

Enter the Competition!

Bose Quiet Comfort 35 ii Giveaway

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  1. Lisa Horn
    October 16, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    OMG, Bose headphones?! That would be a dream come true. They've been on my Amazon wishlist for years, but for some reason, no one has bought them for me yet. ;-)

    Not sure I'd need an assistant in my ears, though. I tend to just like music and audiobooks there. Either way, I'm up for Bose any day.

    Thanks for offering this contest - I've gone through the panel above and am just crossing my fingers now.

    • James Frew
      October 16, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      Good luck Lisa! If you don't win I hope someone ends up buying you some!

  2. Alfred Chan
    October 10, 2017 at 3:30 am

    Bose?! Wow I cannot believe it. Let me Win this and I will tell you it's true...Lol..... Thanks guys!!

    • James Frew
      October 10, 2017 at 6:33 am

      Make sure you enter using the competition widget above - good luck!

  3. Cameron
    October 8, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Have the first edition, but the Assistant compatibility is definitely a worthy and extremely useful feature to have, would love to have a pair.

    • James Frew
      October 9, 2017 at 9:42 am

      Totally agree. I didn't think I'd like the integration but its was incredibly useful. Make sure to enter the competition using the widget above!

  4. Allen Beay
    October 8, 2017 at 4:11 am

    Yes I definitely want a pair
    All I have now is a pair of Skullcandys

    • James Frew
      October 9, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Make sure to enter using the widget above - good luck!

  5. Dana N Pearson
    October 8, 2017 at 3:49 am

    I've been using plantronics backbeats butmy daughter got the Bose last year and I was blown away... Still, I already had several pairs of pairs of the backbeats and have held off. This is irresistible! Count me in!

    • James Frew
      October 9, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Make sure you've entered using the widget - best of luck!

  6. Paul Krueger
    October 8, 2017 at 2:15 am

    Have one pair, Love the quality!

    • James Frew
      October 9, 2017 at 9:41 am

      The QC 35 IIs? What do you think of the assistant?

  7. ANDREW BARTLETT
    October 8, 2017 at 12:46 am

    "SURE I'LL GIVE THEM A SHOT"
    THE BOSE QC 35ii sooouuunnnds fantastic and looks to great ii.

    • James Frew
      October 9, 2017 at 9:40 am

      They really were brilliant - make sure to enter the competition!

  8. Graeme
    October 7, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    So is this a worldwide giveaway or...?

    • James Frew
      October 9, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Worldwide.

  9. Rishabh Dhingra
    October 7, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    I don't get it. How to enter the competition.?

    • James Frew
      October 9, 2017 at 9:39 am

      Make sure you aren't using any adblocking extensions and there should be a widget provided by Gleam just at the bottom of the article, just above the comments.