Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Bose QC35 II: Which should you buy?

Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4 (Image credit: Sony)

Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony WH-1000XM4

The Sony WH-1000XM4 provides the best Active Noise Cancellation on the market, and have been improved in all the right areas. Despite the heavier design and the sometimes-wonky touchpad gesture controls, these are the best in the business.

Sony WH-1000XM4

New kid

Industry-leading noise cancellation
Built-in sensor for wearing detection
Connect two devices at the same time
Adaptive Sound Control enhances listening experience
Heavier design
Touchpad controls are still odd

Bose QC35 II

Bose QC35 II

While these are three years old now, the Bose QC35 IIs still offer a great value with pretty good noise cancellation and built-in smart assistants. But you'll miss out on multi-device connections and have to dig out that old MicroUSB cable for charging.

Bose QC35 II

Old head

Customizable Noise Cancellation
Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built-in
Up to 20 hours of battery life
Less expensive
Can only connect one device at a time
MicroUSB Charging

The Bose QC 35 IIs offer just about everything someone would want in a set of noise-canceling cans. However, there are a few missing and essential features that Sony has taken advantage of and included with the WH-1000XM4s.

Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Bose QC35 II How do these stack up?

When you think about how long the Bose QC35 IIs have been available (since 2017), it's hard to discern why this is really a competition. However, the truth of the matter is that Bose was so far ahead of the rest of the field that the QC35s still hold up today.

Bose QC35 II with Android phone

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

From the foldable and lighter design to quick charging (even over MicroUSB), and of course, the phenomenal Active Noise Cancellation, the QC35 IIs continue to impress today. However, as time marches on, the disparity between these headphones and others, such as the XM4s, grows larger.

One area where Sony has joined the party is with its Multi-Device Connection support. This makes it possible for you to be paired to two different devices at the same time, while switching between them seamlessly. The QC 35IIs have this and it's known as "Multipoint", but it's the same idea. While the XM3s lacked this, the XM4s bring this to arguably the most popular headphone line in recent years. There's something to be said about having your headphones paired with your computer and smartphone, being able to switch to your phone when a call comes through and seamlessly switching back to your computer for some more music.

Sony packed in the latest version of Bluetooth, along with the newer audio codecs, and some more. Bose relies on seemingly-archaic buttons, while Sony moved to a combination of some low-profile buttons and touch gestures for navigation. But both of these headphones sport a foldable design, which is why the previous WH-1000XM3s and the QC 35 IIs were always locked in a head-to-head battle for those who travel frequently.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Sony WH-1000XM4Bose QC35 II
Weight8.95 oz8.3 oz
Wearing Detection
Active Noise Cancellation
Battery Life30 hours (ANC on), 38 hours (ANC off)20 hours
Quick Charge10 minutes provides 5 hours of playback15 minutes provides 2.5 hours of playback
Charging CableUSB-CMicroUSB
Bluetooth Version5.04.2
Foldable Design
Ambient Noise Mode
Multi-Device Connection
Smart Assistant SupportGoogle Assistant, Amazon Alexa, SiriGoogle Assistant, Amazon Alexa (built-in)
ControlsTouchPhysical Buttons

Battery life provides another point for the XM4s as you'll get up to 30-hours with ANC enabled or 38 hours if ANC is turned off. Compared to the Bose QC 35 IIs, you'll get just 20 hours of battery life, which is still great, but simply doesn't compare. As for the aforementioned Quick Charging, Sony's WH-1000XM4s can provide up to 5 hours of additional battery life with just 10 minutes of charging. Comparatively, the QC 35 IIs will provide up to 2.5 hours of additional juice with a 15-minute charge.

The Bose QC35 IIs have Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built-in, so you won't have to rely on using your phone for smart assistant support.

Turning it around, the Bose QC 35 IIs do get an upper hand when it comes to smart assistant support. Instead of having to rely on your smartphone for interacting, you'll find both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built-in. iOS users will still be able to interact with Siri on the Bose headphones, but the primary interaction will still have to come from your phone.

That's not to say that the WH-1000XM4s can't be used with a smart assistant, as you will be able to. It's just that you will need to do so through your phone and not through the headphones directly.

With new versions, that usually means there are new features, and that's where the XM4s pull away for good. There's a new wear detection sensor in the ear cup, which will pause your music when taking the headphones off. Ambient Noise mode makes it, so you don't even have to take your headphones off to have a conversation. Just place your hand over the right ear-cup, and the music subsides so you can have a conversation and then the music will fade back in when you remove your hand.

Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Bose QC35 II Is there a winner?

Sony WH-1000XM4

Source: Sony (Image credit: Source: Sony)

Harkening back to the comparison between the XM3s and the QC 35 IIs, there were just enough differences to recommend Sony over Bose. Now that the XM4s have arrived, the gap has grown even wider, making for an easier recommendation for Sony's latest headphones.

Sony's XM3s were already the industry-standard for those looking for the best noise-canceling headphones. That has continued with the XM4s as Sony improved the ANC in all the right areas (enhanced cancellation of higher-frequency sounds). Plus, the XM4s are designed with gesture controls and support more of the higher-end audio codecs than the QC 35 IIs.

The only potential "hiccup" comes down to price, so if you want to save a few pennies, the Bose QC 35 IIs will perform admirably and are regularly on sale at your favorite retailers. If you want the latest and greatest, no matter what, just get the Sony WH-1000XM4.

Andrew Myrick
Senior Editor - Chromebooks, tablets, and wearables

Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.