Sony's flagship noise canceling wireless earbuds have pretty much everything you could hope for thanks to the latest Sony V2 audio processor that enables powerful Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity, stronger sound and even better active noise cancelation. There's an updated Headphones Connect app too, offering stronger customization and adaptive sound features.
- Outstanding sound quality
- Strong noise cancelation
- Exceptional functionality
- Excellent level of control
- Smaller earbud size affects eartip seal and fit
- Battery life remains the same as predecessor
- Flaky 360 Reality Audio personalization set up
Jabra has stuffed as many upscale features as it could into a luxe design, including double the active noise cancelation, spatial audio with Dolby head tracking, seamless Bluetooth multipoint, and several settings that enhance usability on multiple ends. Not quite everything hits the mark, but even so the Elite 10 stand out as one of the best earbuds you can buy.
- Rich, dynamic, customizable sound
- Powerful ANC
- Superior head tracking
- Jabra’s most luxe design since the Elite Active 75t
- Steady battery life
- Unreliable call quality
- Spatial audio needs work
- No aptX codec support
It's been a busy period for the best wireless earbuds, with model launches and updates from big-name makes including Apple, Bose, Jabra, Sony and Technics. While each new model miraculously moves performance and features on beyond our expectations, two of the most interesting introductions of the past six months are the Sony WF-1000XM5 and Jabra Elite 10 wireless earbuds.
Both new flagship models launched within a few months of one another in mid-2023 and pack adaptive noise-cancelation and top-tier audio performance into practical designs. I've been using the new Sony's flagship earbuds since I carried out my review, and have found that the earbuds are nothing short of excellent, particularly with LDAC streams from compatible devices.
Although the Jabra Elite 10 wireless earbuds don't support LDAC for high-quality streams over Bluetooth, they're priced at $50 less and their overall performance make them a strong Sony alternative at the price.
Here's how the two flagship wireless earbud models compare in terms of specs, design, performance, battery life and more.
Sony WF-1000XM5 vs. Jabra Elite 10: Specs compared
|Header Cell - Column 0
|Jabra Elite 10
|$299 / £259 / AU$499
|$249 / £229 / AU$379
|Cream, cocoa, gloss black, matte black, titanium black
|0.8 x 0.7 x 1.1 inches (per bud); 1 x 1.8 x 2.6 inches (charging case)
|0.2 ounces (per bud); 1.6 ounces (charging case)
|Battery life (rated)
|8 hours (ANC on), 24 hours (with charging case), Quick charge provides up to 1 hour of playback from a 3-minute charge
|6 hours (ANC on); 8 hours (ANC off); 27 hours (ANC on w/charging case), 36 hours (ANC off w/charging case)
|Bluetooth 5.3 with SBC, AAC and LDAC
|Bluetooth 5.3 with SBC, AAC
Sony WF-1000XM5 vs. Jabra Elite 10: Price & availability
While both models are considerably more expensive than the best cheap wireless earbuds, it's important to remember that these are flagship models stacked with features and high-level performance to showcase the maker's prowess. The WF-1000XM5 are on sale at $299 / £259 / AU$499, which is a $20 increase over their predecessor and $50 more than the Jabra Elite 10.
Although only a few months old, we've already seen price drops on both models and I recommend bookmarking our best headphones deals pages to stay on top of the latest wireless earbuds price drops.
Winner: Jabra Elite 10
Sony WF-1000XM5 vs. Jabra Elite 10: Design
Sony made the WF-1000XM5 25% smaller than the previous-gen XM4 earbuds, and as such some user may find the fit a bit tricky. They retain their traditional form, donning a simple rounded shape with a protruding eartip. There are four foam tips supplied including a new XS sizes to ensure smaller ears can find the best seal. The WF-1000XM5 wireless earbuds come in black and silver options only.
The Jabra Elite 10 have an appealing teardrop shape. This also factors into comfort and fit and the semi-open design doesn’t make the buds feel like they’re plugged. New oval EarGel tips sculpt perfectly to different ear shapes, while the curved cavity rests pleasantly on the concha.
The Jabra's 5 color options are appealing (although why there are three shades of black is a bit of a mystery), and we liked the buds’ smooth rubberized texture that resembles suede. They have an IP57-rating, making them better protected against dust and water than the Sony WF-1000XM5.
Winner: Jabra Elite 10
Sony WF-1000XM5 vs. Jabra Elite 10: Controls
While the XM5 have touch controls to navigate playback and activate noise-canceling modes, the Jabra Elite 10 employ a physical button on each earbud. Whichever option you prefer is a matter of personal taste, but both methods functioned reliably in our tests. With the XM5 buds, tap commands can be assigned to individual buds and have the familiar single, double and triple taps or long press method.
In terms of voice activation, the Jabra Elite 10 are summoned with a “Hey Google," command, or you can use the native assistant on your playback device. Sony's earbuds are compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa, so you have a bit more flexibility for voice commands.
Winner: Sony WF-1000XM5
Sony WF-1000XM5 vs. Jabra Elite 10: Features
Both models have adaptive modes to dynamically control the level of active noise cancelation based on the sound in a user’s environment. Sony's ANC claims to block out 95% of external noise, while Jabra's Advanced ANC promises to be twice as strong as its Standard ANC. Both worked remarkably well at blocking out all but the most persistent higher frequency sounds during testing, and were remarkably effective.
Sony has 20 different Ambient Sound mode levels in its Headphones Connect app, while the Elite 10 has 5 levels of HearThrough. Both are effective.
Finally, there are reliable ear-detection sensors fitted to both models to automatically pause playback when a bud is removed from your ear. Playback resumes once the earbuds are re-inserted. Both models support single 'bud mode playback. The Sony appears to detect and enable single mode automatically with just one bud inserted in the ear, while the Jabra can be activated through the settings in the control app.
Sony WF-1000XM5 vs. Jabra Elite 10: Sound quality
When it comes to sound quality, the Sony WF-1000XM5 are as good as it gets for audio over Bluetooth from a pair of wireless earbuds. They rank top in the best wireless earbuds, and thanks to Sony's LDAC support with compatible playback devices, they deliver the most engaging listening experiences I've heard from a compatible Android phone.
The Elite 10 sound great straight out of the box. Expect excellent frequency response that feels balanced, open and nicely detailed. As with the Sony's Headphones connect app, the Jabra can be adjusted via a multi-band EQ.
Both sets of earbuds perform remarkably similarly when listening to tracks via my playlist on Tidal, although I prefer the richness and extra clarity that the Sony's bring with LDAC enabled for higher data streaming rates over Bluetooth. Also, I found that the Sony had greater scale and openness to the way it presented its soundstage. I liked the 'wideness' that this brought to certain recordings, making my listening feel more immersive even without any 3D audio tech enabled.
There's nothing wrong with the way the Jabra's sound, and my preference for the sound of the Sony earbuds is a matter of my own personal taste.
Winner: Sony WF-1000XM5
Sony WF-1000XM5 vs. Jabra Elite 10: ANC
Sony's WF-1000XM5 achieve remarkably strong noise-canceling tech that sees them rank among the cream of the best noise cancelling earbuds. They're beaten only by the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbud, and Sony claims they reduce ambient noise significantly more than their predecessor. That's difficult to measure, but the combination of Sony's more powerful V2 chipset and HD Noise Canceling processor certainly seem to deliver remarkably effective results.
Jabra’s Advanced ANC technology is introduced on the Elite 10 and delivers 2x more noise cancelation than the company’s standard version to reduce nearly 90% of external noise. Advanced ANC silenced annoying nearby sounds during our testing and was impressively effective outside.
While Sony's Ambient Sound mode is effective, Jabra's HearThrough transparency mode is better.
Sony WF-1000XM5 vs. Jabra Elite 10: Battery life
While the battery life of earbuds will vary based on how you use your earbuds, the Sony WF-1000XM5 average 8 hours of listening with ANC on and 12 hours with ANC off. The charging case can hold up to 24 hours of total charge.
The Elite 10 wireless earbuds offer up to 6 hours playtime with ANC on, which is pretty standard. Turning it off extends battery life to 8 hours. Keep in mind that high volume and spatial audio reduces playtimes by about 2 hours. This is noticeably lower than the WF-1000XM5.
Both charging cases offer wireless charging and quick charging features.
Winner: Sony WF-1000XM5
Sony WF-1000XM5 vs. Jabra Elite 10: Verdict
|Header Cell - Column 0
|Jabra Elite 10
|Price and value (5)
|Sound quality (25)
|Active noise cancelation (20)
|Call quality (10)
|Battery life (10)
|Total score (100)
These are two of the best flagship wireless earbuds around right now, but there can only be one winner.
While the Jabra Elite 10 are competitively priced and match the Sony WF-1000XM5 in terms of features, fit, sound quality, and ANC performance, they fall behind the leader of the wireless earbuds pack in terms of battery life and more extensive special features. It's a close race for sure, with both models showcasing a strong and well-rounded option, and any real differences on which model suits one listener over another will come down to individual needs and price.
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As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.