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Sony WF-1000xM4 release date, price and what we want to see

Sony WF-1000xM4
(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

Shortly after the Sony WH-1000xM4 noise-cancelling headphones first appeared, the Internet was swirling with gossip of Sony working on its next flagship wireless earbuds, the WF-1000xM4. If its over-ear counterpart is any indication of what’s to come, then expect these next-gen noise-cancellers to build on the legacy of the critically acclaimed Sony WF-1000XM3

Now, let’s be clear about two things. Sony has yet to confirm or acknowledge the existence of this product. There isn’t an FCC listing for the WF-1000xM4 either. However, there are some experts that suggest Sony is prepping a follow-up to what we consider the best wireless earbuds for active noise cancellation. And based on the Mark series’ track record, the overall performance of these earbuds should only get better.

Sony WF-1000xM4 release date

Sony WF-1000xM4

(Image credit: Sony)

Right now, there is no release date information on the WF-1000xM4. All we can do is make a prediction based on previous Sony releases. Seeing that the WF-1000xM3 hit store shelves on August 5, 2019, nearly a year after the WH-1000xM3 came out, all signs point towards an August 2021 release window.

Bear in the mind that the WF-1000xM4 could also experience manufacturing delays because of the COVID-19 outbreak, which is said to have already impacted several other rumored releases, including the AirPods 3. If that’s the case, then a Holiday 2021 or Q2 2022 launch seems more sensible.

Sony WF-1000xM4 price

Sony WF-1000xM3

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The original WF-1000x sold for $200, while the WF-1000xM3 launched at $230, though you can currently find it for much less (Newegg has it for as low as $169). We expect the WF-1000xM4 to keep the same MSRP as its predecessor, making it cheaper than the AirPods Pro ($250) and other luxury noise-cancelling earbuds like the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 ($300).

Sony WF-1000xM4 design

Sony WF-1000xM4

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

No sketches or renderings of the WF-1000xM4 have surfaced online, but we suspect that Sony will stick with the series’ elongated and bulky design. The large casing offers extra room to house high-powered internals, and the company has done a solid job of creating premium-looking buds, even if it has been at the expense of fit and style. The WF-1000xM3 didn’t provide the greatest on-ear stability, nor was it flattering to sport when compared to smaller, more chic models like the Jabra Elite 75t.

Sony is likely to copy the formula of its Mark over-ear headphones (WH-1000x), which would be to keep the same form and implement minor aesthetic changes. Any perceptible modifications will apply to the WF-1000xM4’s charging case, an accessory we’re anticipating will be lighter, slightly slimmer, and have stronger magnets that keep the lid shut for optimal storage.

LetsGoDigital

(Image credit: LetsGoDigital)

Then again, Sony could pull a 180 on us and revamp the WF-1000xM4’s design completely. We say that to bring attention to a recent patent filed with the JPO and discovered by LetsGoDigital (the same publication that found the patent for the PS5 devkit), showing a new true wireless sporty design for a future model. It’s awkward and doesn’t fit the series’ luxe image, but it could also show details that may end up on the WF-1000xM4, such as ear fins and wider touch sensors.

In addition, this design suggests the future sporty model will be slim enough to wrap underneath and tuck behind your ear, which, in theory, sounds innovative and practical. Imagine how crazy it would be if Sony pulled off this concept with the WF-1000xM4.

Sony WF-1000xM4 specs and features 

Sony WF-1000xM4

(Image credit: Sony)

If you thought the details were scarce on all of Apple’s rumored AirPods models, it’s even more scarcer regarding the WF-1000xM4. At the moment, all we can do is examine the definites: what the WF-1000xM3 offers and what was introduced on the WH-1000xM4. We’re also taking into account the few reports out there that hint at potential features and specs.

Let’s start with the givens. The WF-1000xM4 will keep everything available in the Sony Headphones Connect app, including 360 Reality Audio support, an EQ with numerous presets, control customization, and select options to enhance hallmark features such as Adaptive Sound Control. Ambient Sound and Quick Attention are two others you can add to the list, especially since they were available on the previous model. 

As far as improvements, it’s expected the WF-1000xM4 will receive an advanced mic-array system for improved calls (or so we hope), Bluetooth 5.1, better touch controls, stronger active noise cancellation, and a more fine-tuned soundstage.

Sony HD Noise Canceling Processor QN1 processor

(Image credit: Sony)

Several new features were added to the WH-1000xM4 and will presumably be carried over to its in-ear sibling. Speak-to-Chat is a popular one, using the mics and advanced signal processing to recognize your voice and pause music when speaking. Sound technologies like DSEE Extreme and Edge-AI, which work to upscale compressed music and analyze music in real-time to reproduce more faithful sound, could be a go as well. Let’s not forget multipoint technology, so you can pair to two devices simultaneously and switch between them without disconnecting from either audio source.

There has been zero buzz on Sony developing a successor to its stellar HD Noise Canceling Processor QN1 chip. It has been the driving force behind all of Sony’s flagship headphones and earbuds, so it’s safe to say that we’ll see it on the WF-1000xM4. One report from CNET suggests Sony’s upcoming earbuds might have one of Qualcomm’s latest processors, which are set to appear on several new true wireless releases this year and provide a plethora of performance perks. This includes stronger battery life, call quality, the ability to easily switch between stereo and mono modes, and “hybrid active noise cancellation with a hear-through transparency mode.”

Sony WF-1000xM4 battery and charging case

Sony WF-1000xM4

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The WF-1000xM3 set the standard for battery life in the true wireless category when launched. Sony somehow figured out how to squeeze an impressive 8 hours (6 hours with ANC on) into these tiny in-ear monitors. Nothing has been reported as of yet, but our gut tells us Sony will increase playtimes on the WF-1000xM4 by about 2 to 3 hours. Quick charging should also see a slight boost; the previous model generated 90 minutes of use on a 10-minute charge.

Expect little to change regarding the charging case. There is a strong possibility it remains at 32 hours fully charged, but we hope Sony ups this to 35 or 40 hours. One of the coolest, most underappreciated features on the WF-1000xM3’s charging case was NFC, which allowed users to instantaneously pair the buds by placing the case on the back on their Android smartphone. That isn’t going anywhere, nor is USB-C charging. Wireless charging is something Sony has yet to introduce on any of its wireless earbuds, but we’re thinking fourth time may be a charm.

Sony WF-1000xM4: What we want to see

Sony WF-1000xM4

(Image credit: Xtreme Skins)

All of Sony’s latest headphones and earbuds offer a ridiculous amount of functionality, but consumers always want more, especially when paying a premium. Based on our testing with several Sony models, including the WH-1000xM4 and WF-1000xM3, we feel there is room for improvement in design and sound, as well as new features. Here is our wish list of upgrades that we want to see on the WF-1000xM4.

aptX HD: Hi-Res Audio support has been rumored to arrive on the WF-1000xM3 via update for months now. We’re still waiting. In the meantime, Sony can go to work integrating the Bluetooth codec into their next-gen model.

Enhanced LDAC support: The WH-1000xM4 supports the company’s proprietary high-res codec, but not with multipoint technology. It seems difficult to accomplish, but Sony has plenty of time to crack the code.

More extravagant colors: Black and Silver are cool, but Sony needs to experiment and release more unique, fancy colorways. We feel the WF-1000xM4 could easily pull off the bold-and-shiny look, similar to the Jabra Elite Active 75t. A Mint, Titanium or Navy version with gold accents would be fire.

Sweat and water resistance: Sony never shared the IP rating for the WF-1000xM3, but it has been confirmed that the buds lacked sweat- and water-resistant protection. The company has made strides with its wireless sport earbuds, as demonstrated on the IP55-rated WF-SP800N, so we see no reason why the same can’t be done with the WF-1000xM4.