Forget AirPods Pro 2: Sony WF-1000XM4 leak reveals radical new design

Sony WF-1000XM4 leak
(Image credit: Key_Attention4766)

Leaked images of the long-awaited Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds have revealed a brand-new design for the AirPods Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro rival. 

Reddit user Key_Attention4766 posted photos supposedly of the true wireless earbuds’ packaging box sleeve, which not only show a major design overhaul on the current Sony WF-1000XM3, but also a 6-hour battery life and the return of active noise cancellation (ANC). 

The seemingly sleeker and much more compact design is the big news here. Sony's WF-1000XM3 remains among the best wireless earbuds you can buy today, but this leak suggests Sony has heeded complaints about the hefty size of its buds.

As with any unverified leak, you should take these photos with some healthy skepticism. As The Walkman Blog points out, the WF-1000XM4 branding on the main image doesn’t match the typeface used for previous Sony headphones packaging. 

However, the photo showing battery life information uses the same battery graphic and typeface as the WF-1000XM3 packaging. And in this image, the graphic has a Hi-Res Audio badge next to it, which the WF-1000XM3 box does not. So we can at least say it’s not just a cropped photo of the old model.

Therefore, the WF-1000XM3 earbud design in the main image is worth some perusal, even if we proceed with some skepticism. 

Much like the WF-1000XM3, the XM4's earbuds appear to use in-ear tips that look to be removable, but that’s where the similarity ends. 

The earbud’s main casing is markedly rounder and smaller than that of the WF-1000XM3, looking almost like a flatter take on the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. There’s no AirPods Pro-style stalk so the flat circular area would almost definitely be a touch sensor.

Sony WF-1000XM4 leak

(Image credit: Key_Attention4766)

What appears to be a microphone grill sits on top, while a mystery golden cylinder just pokes out from the button of the bud. This looks a little too small to be a control dial, so it’s potentially a separate external microphone dedicated to the active noise-cancelling.

The ear tips also look rather chunky, suggesting they're made out of foam. The WF-1000XM3 uses thin silicone tips.

Battery life is listed at 6 hours with an additional 18 hours from the charging case, though this accessory isn’t pictured. That’s identical on both counts to the WF-1000XM3, which raises questions of this being a copy/paste job with existing packaging elements. It would be strange to do this for the battery life information only to use a completely different font for the product name.

It’s too early to say for sure if this is what the Sony WF-1000XM4 will look like, though a smaller design is definitely on our wish list for Sony’s next pair of true wireless buds. Hopefully, as we move through the year we’ll get to see some corroborating evidence trickle out as well.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.