Microsoft's Surface Earbuds will reportedly go on sale in Europe starting May 6, according to a report from site Winfuture. Microsoft's answer to the AirPods was supposed to go on sale late last year but was delayed until spring 2020, meaning the earbuds are coming right on time by that measure, but considering the current economic climate and the health crisis keeping consumers at home and feeling frugal, it's probably not the best time.
Back in November, Microsoft's chief product office, Panos Panay, suggested on Twitter that the delay was necessary because the company needed more time to improve its truly wireless earbuds. Of course, then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and you'd think that might cause further delays considering everyone is losing their jobs and simply trying to survive, but apparently Microsoft is pushing ahead.
According to Winfuture's sources, the Surface Earbuds will be available in "many European countries" starting May 6 for €199 (approximately $215). Microsoft has said they will cost $250 in the U.S. We've reached out to the company regarding the launch and potential U.S. availability.
Launching with a whimper, not a bang — Nobody has really been able to worry the dominance of Apple's AirPods, though not for lack of trying. Samsung's Galaxy Buds+ ($149) are a great alternative to the AirPods — especially the $250 Pro version — with no serious flaws holding them back. In our review, we said Samsungs's offerings are cheaper, sound better, and last longer on a single charge than the second-gen AirPods. Still, when anyone thinks of reliable, truly wireless earbuds, they think AirPods.
The Surface Earbuds should be quite impressive if they live up to Microsoft's promises, like 24 hours of battery life, touch-sensitive controls on both buds for controlling audio playback, and even the ability to translate languages in real-time like Google's upcoming Pixel Buds 2.
If not dominance, perhaps a seat at the table — But if Microsoft really wants a shot at unseating the AirPods from tens of millions of ears, is now the best time to start selling a $250 pair of earbuds? The unemployment rate in the U.S. just passed 20 percent after all. And at that price point, the Surface Earbuds will have to be darn good to push against the headwinds and stand out from the crowd. But perhaps beating Apple isn't the goal. Perhaps Microsoft just wants a seat at the table alongside the likes of Samsung, Jabra, and every other truly wireless earbud maker that wishes it was Apple. There's no shame in that.