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Sony WH-1000XM5 leak teases new design and upgrades

A leaked shot of the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones in black, on a yellow background
(Image credit: TechnikNews)

The Sony WH-1000XM4 have been our best wireless headphones since they launched in August 2020, so it's no surprise that the Sony WH-1000XM5 is highly anticipated. Now we have some more potential details about the new model's specs — and there's both good and bad news.  

This latest rumors come from Reddit (via The Next Web), where a user shared what they claim is the XM5's box. This fills in some of the gaps remaining after the new headphones first broke cover in a massive leak last month. 

The positive takeaway from the box image, assuming it's genuine, is that enhanced Google Assistant support could be on board. The 1000XM4s already had the ability to summon the Assistant (and Amazon's Alexa) by pressing a button, but the fact that the "OK Google" logo is pictured on the packaging suggests the next-gen model could get full wake-up word detection as found on Google's Pixel Buds or Sony’s own LinkBuds.

Image showing specs on suspected Sony XM5 headphone packing box

(Image credit: Reddit)

As with its predecessor, Sony's 360 Reality Audio technology also looks to be supported; no surprise, given it was included on the XM4 and XM3 before it. But one detail that is unexpected is that the battery will apparently be good for 30 hours, not the 40 that had previously been rumored. 

This would be a shame if true, but 30 hours is still very good — indeed, it's 10 hours more than rivals such as the Bose 700 and Apple AirPods Max can manage with ANC on.

The packaging also shows two images of the headphones, and — if genuine — these confirm what we learned in last month's leak from German tech site TechnikNews

That included some 16 photos of what it claims are the new headphones, showing them from multiple angles and in two colors. The key takeways are that the WH-1000XM5s will seemingly look quite different from their predecessor, with a thinner headband and more cushioned earcups. 

TechnikNews also claimed that the new cans will get an upgrade to the latest Bluetooth version 5.2. This could lead to reduced latency and improved low-power signal handling, while also making it possible for the XM5s to switch seamlessly between paired devices, rather than having to manually swap between them.

There's no concrete evidence as to when we can expect the new model to launch, but according to The Walkman Blog, "FCC short term confidentiality ends in early August," which points to a launch soon after that. 

We'll be updating our Sony WH-1000XM5 hub with all of the latest details as they continue to leak over the next few months.

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.