Microsoft has finally started to sell its AirPod rivals – dubbed Surface Earbuds – in the UK. First announced back in October 2019 alongside a slew of new Surface-branded hardware, the wireless earbuds are finally available to buy. Happily, Microsoft has also dropped the original $249 price tag announced during its press conference last year, with the earbuds now setting customers back a more reasonable $199 at the check-out. In the UK, that new price tag translates to £199, which makes these ‘buds a little more expensive than the standard AirPods, but more reasonable than the AirPods Pro.
According to Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Program Management for Devices Robin Seiler speaking to The Verge: “We want to make sure we are competitive in market,” which explains the lower price point. £199 certainly is more competitive, however, it’s still at the high-end of wireless earbuds without active noise-cancellation.
Aside from the price, little else about the Surface Earbuds appears to have changed since the announcement back in October.
The ‘buds still have a hockey puck-like design. These relatively large surface on the outside of the wireless headphones is to allow listeners to tap and swipe to perform a number of functions. And these aren’t just the usual play/pause features you get with almost every other earbuds on the market right now – oh no, Microsoft has bigger ambitions than that.
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During the initial announcement last year, Microsoft proudly declared that customers will be able to use the swipe feature on the earbuds to move forward in a Powerpoint presentation – meaning you won’t need to walk around with a little remote like you’re giving a TED Talk. You will, however, have to keep digging in your ear each time you want to move between slides.
Microsoft promises eight hours of battery life from a single charge. As with all almost all of its competitors, the Surface Earbuds ship with a charging carry case that can refill the earbuds from flat to full twice. That’s an extra 24 hours of listening time.
So, why has it taken so long for the Surface Earbuds to get to market? According to Surface boss Panos Panay, Microsoft needed the extra time “to get all the details right.” That explanation is also echoed from Seiler, telling The Verge: “The work that we’ve done from October until now is from a software perspective, making sure the software is exactly what we wanted.”
Microsoft Surface Earbuds are available to buy in the (online) Microsoft Store right now. Express.co.uk will be getting a pair in our ears soon and will have a definitive verdict on the AirPod rivals.