Beat's $200 headphones are better than the Sony WH-1000XM5 in these 3 ways

Beats Solo4
(Image credit: Future)

I won't argue that the Sony WH-1000XM5 are the best headphones money can buy. But what if I told you you can get a brand-name listening experience for half the price — and one that's actually better than the XM5 in certain ways? 

Although I'm a big fan of the Sony WH-1000XM5, I recently swapped them for the Beats Solo 4, the latest installment of the product that basically put the Apple-owned brand on the map. I knew the trade meant sacrificing active noise cancellation and some aspects of sound performance, but I also expected some positives to come with making the change.

I'll say straight up that the Beats Solo 4 aren't going to impress all ears, especially not those coming from the Sony WH-1000XM5 or another pair of premium headphones; however, for those who don't want to (or can't) shell out $399, I discovered a few key ways the $199 Beats Solo 4 beat the XM5. 


The Beats Solo 4 weigh a mere 7.65 ounces and they fold in, meaning they're easy to tote around and even toss in a pocket. The XM5 are slightly heavier, weighing 8.8 ounces, but when you're wearing something on your head, even one ounce can make a difference.

Though the Solo 4 and XM5 both come with a case, the Sony pair requires you to lay them flat, ultimately taking up more room in a bag. And considering how much the XM5 cost, I usually opt to bring the rigid case with me on trips to keep the cans safe. Not only Is the Beats case smaller, but when they're in use, the soft pouch can be scrunched up into the tiniest corner of my backpack. As someone who travels a lot, I can appreciate any little bit of storage space saved. 

Beats Solo 4: $199 @ Amazon

Beats Solo 4: $199 @ Amazon
The newest Beats headphones are great for taking on the go, with a collapsible design, 50 hours of battery life and lossless playback support.

Battery life

Though it's true that the Sony WH-1000XM5 are some of the best noise cancelling headphones in terms of battery life, they don't last as long as the Beats Solo 4. The Solo 4 get up to 50 hours of battery life, which is a 10-hour improvement over the previous Beats Solo 3. On my recent trip, I didn't have to worry at all about charging the headphones until I got back home.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 last up to 40 hours if you don't use the ANC feature, but I personally almost always use them with ANC, dropping the battery estimate to 30 hours. That's less playback time between charges, giving the Solo 4 another win. 

The Apple ecosystem 

One of my favorite things about the Sony WH-1000XM5 is that they switch very easily between my different playback sources, such as my iPhone and iPad. But if you're an Apple user, you can't match the convenience of the Beats Solo 4. Not only do they have quick setup when you turn them on, but you also get features like Find My at the ready. You can adjust the Solo 4 controls directly in the settings app, too. 

Another feature you can only get with Beats and AirPods devices is Share Audio. When I travel with friends or family, we can watch the same movies together on my iPad if we both use Apple headphones. I use Share Audio rather regularly and consider it one of the bigger perks of the Apple ecosystem.

If you want noise-cancellation and want to stay in the Apple ecosystem, I might opt for the AirPods Pro 2 instead of the Beats Solo 4. You can often find the AirPods Pro 2 on sale for $199, and they have ANC as well as one of the best wireless earbuds sound performance. But if you're looking for some over-ear cans, then the Beats are worth a look.

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Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef. 

  • David Castle
    I literally created an account for this website just to tell you that in no world, this or others, is any Beats headphones better than the XM5s.
  • Nick W29
    David Castle said:
    I literally created an account for this website just to tell you that in no world, this or others, is any Beats headphones better than the XM5s.
    Agreed, especially not when comparing beats on ear headphones to Sony over ear headphones with noise canceling.
  • inthebin69
    I also created an account just to clarify that for anyone reading, it's lovely that they're hiring deaf people at Tomsguide. However, they probably shouldn't be writing articles about headphones.
  • 𝘾𝙧𝙤𝙤𝙠𝙚𝙙𝘾𝙤𝙡𝙤𝙧
    I had to sign in and respond about the ridiculous claim you have made that Beats are better than Sony XM5 headphones in 3 categories. I take it you were just bored and needed to invent something to post. But this is just offensive to Sony and a far superior product. Your credibility has taken a hit. I would say ignorant but I assume you are knowledgeable in this field. We all have bad days.
  • 𝘾𝙧𝙤𝙤𝙠𝙚𝙙𝘾𝙤𝙡𝙤𝙧
    I've used the XM5 headphones I own the XB900n which I love, I've owned 2 pair of beats in the past and for just sound the XB900n headphones are much better than the beats.