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Sony WF-1000XM4 leaks reveal design, colors and release date of the AirPods Pro rival

Sony WF-1000XM4 leak
(Image credit: @mirai160525 / The Walkman Blog)

Remember how the new Sony WF-1000XM4 design was teased in a packaging leak earlier this year? Well, now a couple of even more revealing leaks have laid bare that same design from every angle.

The Walkman Blog originally posted what look like cropped photos of a WF-1000XM4 earbuds prototype, confirming a much more shorter and more rounded profile than the Sony WF-1000XM3. The Walkman Blog later posted numerous WF-1000XM4 renders, originally shared by Twitter leaker mirai160525, confirming the design. And with the AirPods 3 set to launch this year, an upgraded design could be just what Sony’s headphones need to join the ranks of the best wireless earbuds.

The new angles back up what we glimpsed in that initial packaging leak, like the generally more rounded shape — a welcome change from the oddly oval WF-1000XM3 design — as well as a gold-accent pressure relief vent, infrared sensors for in-ear detection and presumably replaceable ear tips.

And, while earlier leaks only indicated that the WF-1000XM4 would come in black, the new renders also indicate a creamy white model will be available too.

The leaks also included photos and renders of the WF-1000XM4’s charging case, which in addition being a lot more compact than the WF-1000XM3's case reveals one potentially important detail. Charging output is listed as 5V = 140mA, a little above the WF-1000XM3’s charging case which is listed as 5V = 120mA. The packaging leak indicated both pairs of Sony earbuds would have the same rated battery life of six hours, but this case detail indicates the WF-1000XM4 will be able to recharge faster. The case apparently supports wireless charging, too.

Sony WF-1000XM4 case leak

(Image credit: @mirai160525/The Walkman Blog)

Even more tantalising is a change to the WF-1000XM4’s FCC documentation. This previously mentioned a short-term confidentiality agreement ending on September 27 2021, suggesting the WF-1000XM4 would launch shortly before then; the Walkman Blog noticed this date has changed to June 9, indicating a much earlier June release.

With so little time before that confidentiality agreement expires, it seems unthinkable that Sony would change the WF-1000XM4 beyond what we’ve now seen in multiple leaks. All that really remains to be seen is the pricing, and confirmation of key features like active noise cancellation (ANC).

That specific feature seems like a given after the WF-1000XM3 featured ANC as standard, though Sony will need to be careful with how much the WF-1000XM4 costs. The AirPods 3, Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and Google Pixel Buds A-Series are all expected to launch this year, and with lower prices than their most recent predecessors.

James Archer

As Audio Editor, James covers headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. His favorite musical genre is rock, despite once claiming the guitar is “too complicated” for humans to play. He plays bass instead.