Sony’s WF-1000XM4 has been consistently ranked as the best wireless earbuds money can buy since its launch in 2021. But now they’re almost two years old – in terms of headphones, that’s pretty old. Sony is rumored to have a new pair in the wings, and we’ve even got some leaked photos to back them up.
So what can we expect from Sony’s next wireless earbuds? How will they improve the XM4? When will they launch and how much will they cost? We’ll try to answer all these and more as we list everything we know about the Sony WF-1000XM5.
Rumors about the release date of the Sony WF-1000XM5
The Sony WF-1000XM4 was launched in June 2021. Now, almost two years later, a successor is rumored to be near.
But not just rumors – we also have some concrete details. Sony recently filed a new pair of headphones with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in the US. While they don’t list the model number WF-1000XM5, that seems like the most likely model due to timing.
The submission must include a short-term confidentiality clause and an end date, after which the details become public knowledge. The listing specifies the end date as August 22, 2023. That doesn’t mean the headphones will launch then – companies often make this end date much later than the device’s launch date, in case there are any delays. For example, the WH-1000XM5 had a confidentiality end date of August 8, 2022, but was announced in May 2022.
So moving forward, we could see the launch of the WF-1000XM5 in the next few months.
Sony WF-1000XM5 price speculation
The XM4 launched for £250 / $280 / AU$450, but can now be picked up for slightly less. Prices currently hover around £200 / $200 / AU$349. But of course a lot has changed since the XM4 launched in 2021.
There is a crisis in the cost of living that is driving up the prices of everything, including headphones. Late last year, Bose launched the QuietComfort Earbuds II, which are more expensive than the XM4 at £280 / $299 / AU$429. So we could very well see Sony bumping up the price for its next pair of premium wireless noise-canceling earbuds, perhaps to around £280 / $300 / AU$400.
Hopefully that means the excellent WF-1000XM4 will be reduced in price again. Stay informed Which Hi-Fi? – we’ll bring you all the news of a price drop, especially around big sale days like Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday.
Sony WF-1000XM5 design rumours
The aforementioned filing with the FCC (via The Walkman Blog (opens in new tab)) also revealed some tidbits about the design. It is worth noting that the images provided with the submission do not represent the final design, so the launched product will look slightly different. But some important elements must remain.
As? The earbuds will be more compact, according to the images, ditching the flat bottom of the XM4. This change in shape and form factor is likely to make the earbuds more comfortable in the ear.
The photo also shows the tactile dot, above which is a hole for a microphone, though it’s not clear if it’s for the feedforward or voice microphone. According to the recent filing with the Federal Communications Commission, the earbuds should also have a touch screen for operation, though that’s not clearly visible in these photos.
The charging case also seems to have changed, although not as drastically as some predicted. It was said to be square, but not according to these photos. The only changes seem to be a change from a three-pin connection to two-pin, and that the LED has been moved from the inside of the case to the front. It should also have more power (230mAh, compared to 140mAh on the XM4), which should make for faster charging.
Sony WF-1000XM5 Features
The XM4 are some of the most versatile wireless earbuds out there. We can expect the XM5 to offer the same feature set, and then some.
Qi wireless charging appears to be standard (as supported by the FCC filing), as does Bluetooth 5.3. The more recent leaks haven’t shed any light on the features we can expect, but we suspect the noise canceling/ambient modes will be present and correct, along with Speak to Chat (which activates talk-through mode when you start talking) .
The Integrated Processor V1 will probably still be on board, although Sony could upgrade it to a new version. The V1 is the brains of the operation, boosting sound quality and helping to suppress noise. The XM4 also features Sony’s DSEE Extreme audio processor with Edge-AI, which we’ve also experienced in the WH-1000XM4 and XM5 over-ear headphones – it upscales low bit rate music files to near hi-res quality.
The XM4 has a 6mm driver. Sony says the larger magnet helps improve sound quality and noise reduction, especially at certain low frequencies. And while they don’t support aptX HD, they play nicely with Sony’s LDAC format, which, streamed via Bluetooth from a compatible source, can transmit high-resolution audio files up to 24-bit/96kHz at data rates of up to 990 kbps.
What else can we expect? We’ve put together a wish list of features we’d like to see, including standard Bluetooth Multipoint (it recently arrived on the XM4 as part of a firmware update), more earbuds and better noise cancellation. You can check out our full list here: Sony WF-1000XM5: 6 things we want from Sony’s next wireless earbuds.
Sony WF-1000XM5 early ruling
Much is still unknown about the Sony WF-1000XM5. But what we have seen is indeed promising. Faster charging, a more compact design and better Bluetooth would all be welcome improvements to what have long been the best wireless earbuds.
But with increased competition from Bose, Sennheiser, Apple and more, Sony will have to do its best to remain the best dog in the true wireless world. We will update this page with more leaks as we get them.
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