Rumors around the arrival of the Sony WF-1000XM5 true wireless earbuds continue to grow despite there being no official word from Sony about a next-gen model. Renderings of the buds have made their way online, along with details posted in an FCC filing that indicate modifications on a possible new Sony flagship model.
I've also seen speculation about several Sony hallmarks being enhanced with even better active noise cancelation, improved sound quality, and stronger special features. Whether or not any of these rumored modifications will make the WF-1000XM5 better than the category-leading AirPods Pro 2 remains to be seen though.
Apple's latest AirPods Pro iteration are some of the best wireless earbuds money can buy. They come with longer battery life, premium sound, and ANC on the Pro 2 is said to be twice as effective as the original. I’ve even found them to be some of the best running headphones, thanks to their new ear tip kit that gives great stability and reliably secure fit.
As one of the best Apple AirPods alternatives, the Sony WF-1000XM4 are held in high regard because of their innovative design, powerful ANC, and top-flight audio quality. The high-level performance, plus my experiences with Sony’s recent WF-C500N and WF-C700N earbud introductions, has me confident that Sony's WF-1000XM5 next-gen flagship true wireless earbuds will be even stronger and do certain things better than the AirPods Pro 2.
Read on to discover the five areas where you can count on the Sony WH-1000XM5 being better than the AirPods Pro 2.
1. Truer Hi-Fi sound
Much like the WF-1000XM4, the WF-1000XM5 will boast numerous sound features, including a customizable EQ with multiple well-engineered presets, DSEE Extreme technology that upscales lo-fi recordings, and 360 Reality Audio for immersive 3D audio.
As with the WF-1000XM4, they will likely support Sony’s LDAC Bluetooth codec, which enables near-lossless audio signal transmission over Bluetooth with a bitrate of up to 990kbps. For a perspective on how significant this is, aptX Adaptive offers a bitrate of up to 420kbps, while aptX HD codec support handles audio data up to a maximum of 576kbps. The difference with LDAC support from compatible playback devices is noticeable on the WF-1000XM4. Instruments and vocals receive a clarity boost, while signal stability holds up well for seamless streaming.
Expect the WF-1000XM5 to follow suit and present a more natural and engaging listening experience than the AirPods Pro 2. Apple’s superb spatial audio and sound profile aren’t enough to compete with Sony’s true wireless sound. Furthermore, the lack of lossless audio support counts against the AirPods Pro 2 in terms of their sonic value, given that its Apple Music streaming service delivers lossless quality as standard.
2. A more luxurious design
Sony knows all about creating attractive wireless earbuds. Current leaks (via The Walkman Blog) show the WF-1000XM5 bearing a design similar to their beautifully constructed predecessor, but with a shiny plastic exterior and flush ANC mic housings. Other notable changes include a smaller size and rounder shape with more angled nozzles for easier insertion.
The design looks sleek, though the extra shine factor cheapens the WF-1000XM5’s appearance; I prefer the WF-1000XM4’s soft matte finish. In any case, these buds still look fancier and more high-end than the AirPods Pro 2.
3. Stronger noise cancelation
The WF-1000XM4 might be a year older than the AirPods Pro 2, but they have the more effective noise cancelation. Sony credits this to their V1 processor, which features adaptive noise-canceling circuitry that adjusts on the fly for optimal noise neutralization. Apple’s ANC technology performs similarly, and their transparency mode is one of the category’s best. However, Sony’s ANC handles high-frequency sounds better and supports 20 levels of adjustable ambient noise for greater environmental awareness.
Experts anticipate that the WF-1000XM5 will either match or surpass the WF-1000XM4 and beat the AirPods Pro 2’s noise cancelation. Let’s just hope this updated version runs on the rumored Sony V2 chipset.
4. More battery life for your buck
Apple increased battery life on the AirPods Pro 2 to 6 hours with ANC on and 7 hours with ANC off. Fast-Fuel charging generates 1 hour of listening time on a 5-minute charge. These power-saving tricks and tips can also help squeeze more juice out of Apple’s buds. Despite these improvements, the AirPods Pro 2 still have lower playtimes than most Sony models.
The WF-1000XM4 offers 8 hours with ANC on and up to 12 hours with ANC off; that drops by 1 to 2 hours when factoring in high volume and 360 Reality Audio. Sony’s charging case holds more portable power (up to 35 hours) and provides the same quick-charging results.
Details from the FCC filing share insight on the WF-1000XM5’s power rating, 5V = 230mAh, compared to the WF-1000XM4’s 5 V = 140mAh. This could mean shorter charging times. While awaiting more details, let’s presume the WF-1000XM5 will have longer battery life.
5. Full iOS and Android support
I don’t understand how Apple can launch Beats models like the Studio Buds and Studio Buds+ with exceptional multi-platform support, yet the AirPods remain a pain to pair with third-party devices. The AirPods Pro 2 connect instantaneously to iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, and maintain a steady connection during Facetime calls and music streaming. They don’t grant the same experience to Android and Windows users, either disconnecting after a few seconds or struggling to recognize previously used devices. I’ve had issues with sound muting after 10 seconds of play on my Google Pixel 6 Pro. Lastly, the digital assistant function is deactivated, so you can’t use the Google Assistant on Android phones.
All of Sony’s buds are iOS and Android friendly. They won’t pair to your iPhone as quickly as the AirPods, but they connect instantly when recognized. One-tap Google Fast Pair expedites the process on Android devices. The Sony Headphones Connect app is also available for download in the App Store and Google Play and provides the same feature set across all platforms.
These are all Sony wireless staples that will undoubtedly carry over to the WF-1000XM5, making them the superior multiplatform buds.
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A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.