Weight: 54g with case | Battery life: 8 hours (up to 24 hours with case) | Bluetooth: 4.2 | Waterproof: IPX4 | Mics: 4
Microsoft’s first attempt at true wireless earbuds have been a long time coming – but at least the company has used that time to ensure there’s absolutely no way you’ll mistake its Surface Earbuds (£199) for any other brand’s design.
Yes, they look like some unfortunate jewellery, and at a whopping 25mm in diameter, there’ll be no ‘are they? Aren’t they?’ about whether you’re wearing earbuds. But that extensive, well, surface means the capacitive area is large and responsive, and the fit is both secure and noninvasive. In fact, the Microsofts fit quite similarly to Apple’s AirPods inasmuch as they feel a little loose and vulnerable at first but in fact prove to be very stable – and without clogging the wearer’s ear canal.
Despite the unpromising Bluetooth 4.2 standard, the Surface Earbuds are optimised for aptX connectivity, and as such have no problem dealing with hi-res audio. Their generous proportions mean there’s room for an oversized (13.6mm) driver in each earbud. And their overall sound is very nicely judged indeed: they dig deep and hit hard, but they’re no blunt instrument. Detail levels are high, and there’s quite startling dexterity to the way the Microsofts handle transients and second-stage dynamics, especially where vocalists are concerned. There’s a good degree of EQ adjustability in the Surface control app, too.
Despite the lack of any active noise-cancelling technology, and the seemingly approximate nature of the fit letting in more external sound than is usual, the Surface Earbuds nevertheless provide an immersive listen. And in addition to very acceptable sound quality, they offer such complete compatibility with Microsoft’s broader ‘Surface’ range of products they can be used in conjunction with Windows 10, Microsoft 365, PowerPoint…
Also consider: With the Master & Dynamic MW07 Go (£170) you get music on an epic scale, decent battery life and, well, an admittedly quite rickety charging case.
Pros: Balanced, confident sound; good interface; wide Microsoft compatibility Cons: Assertive looks; size doesn’t translate to battery life
Price: £199 | Check price on Amazon | John Lewis | Microsoft
What are the best Bluetooth earbuds for running?
If you’re looking for the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds for your daily running routine, our pick is the Jabra Elite Active 75t (£179). To be great for running, wireless earbuds should pack a comfy and secure fit while also giving you decent battery life that won’t leave you hanging mid jog. A high durability rating is necessary too, letting you keep listening as you battle the elements. Thankfully, Jabra has nailed all of them.
Which Bluetooth earbuds have noise cancellation?
Noise-cancelling started off as a bit of a luxury in the Bluetooth and wireless earbuds world but we’ve recently seen the tech come down to cheaper prices. The likes of the Huawei Freebuds 4i earbuds offer distraction-free listening at under £100. To get the best of noise-cancelling though, you will have to venture above £200 – with the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds providing the best overall experience.
Which wireless earbuds have the longest battery life?
Wireless earbuds are great but, unlike wired headphones, you have to deal with the added irritant that is managing battery life. For some, this could be a dealbreaker – however, manufacturers are getting better in this department.
The Audio Technica ATH-CKS5TW give you all the convenience of going wire-free while also lasting longer than just one long listening session. You can get 15 hours out of these earbuds once you’ve taken them out of their charging case – well surpassing the industry average of around 7 hours. With the charging case, they’ll stretch to 45 hours overall.