Sony WF-1000XM5: release date, price, features and specs

in-ear headphones: Sony WF-1000XM5
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

We've been waiting for the WF-1000XM5 for a little while now. After all, their predecessors, the all-conquering WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds launched way back in 2021. They have been What Hi-Fi? Award-winners and our pick of the best wireless earbuds for some time now, but in headphones terms, they're getting on a bit.

And now, after months of speculation and rumour, the Sony WF-1000XM5 are finally official, and you can head straight on over to our Sony WF-1000XM5 review to read our verdict.

So what can you expect from Sony's next premium wireless earbuds? What are the new features on offer? When did they launch and how much do they cost? We answer all these questions and more as we run down everything you need to know about the Sony WF-1000XM5.

Sony WF-1000XM5 release date & price

in-ear headphones: Sony WF-1000XM5

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

After much speculation, the Sony WF-1000XM5 launched in July 2023. For context, their predecessors, the Sony WF-1000XM4, launched the best part of two years earlier, in June 2021.

The WF-1000XM5 cost £259 / $299 / AU$499. This is more than the XM4, which launched at £250 / $280 / AU$450, although pricing for the older pair has dropped over time and has been hovering around £200 / $200 / AU$349 mark for a while. We've seen them as low as £149 in the UK during Prime Day 2023 – the lowest price yet.

Other rivals include the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, which at £280 / $299 / AU$429 are pricier than the WF-1000XM5. And, you've also got Apple's flagship AirPods Pro 2 to contend with (released in September 2022) which come in slightly cheaper than the Sonys at £249 / $249 / AU$399.

Sony WF-1000XM5 design 

in-ear headphones: Sony WF-1000XM5

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The new earbuds are more compact, smoother, and less blocky than previous models. Sony has confirmed a considerable drop in weight from 7.3g (XM4) to 5.9g (XM5) per earbud. This change of shape and weight is likely to make the buds sit more comfortably in the ear for most users. 

The charging case has also changed with a smoother, more compact design, much like the buds themselves. The XM5 case now includes a two-pin connection for docking each earbud and the LED which indicates charging is now present on the front of the case. 

Each earbud uses a new glossy plastic material for most of the exterior which looks and feels high-quality, however, makes removing the earbuds from the case a bit tricky. 

The outer surface used for the touch controls has been given a finely textured matte finish. This material leads down to the outer mic arrangement and is the only section of the earbuds that isn't glossy.

Sony WF-1000XM5 features: ANC, battery life

Sony WF-1000XM5 in charging case

(Image credit: Future)

The XM4 are some of the most feature-laden wireless earbuds around and the XM5 continue this along with some new additions. 

One of the biggest changes for the WF-1000XM5 relates to the touch controls. You can now operate playback, sound modes, and volume simultaneously through the touch panels on either earbud. With their predecessors, you were restricted to only being able to change two out of the three parameters at any one time. With the XM5, you can change volume by tapping multiple times on either the left earbud (volume down) or the right earbud (volume up).

Spotify users can now load up the streaming service with a double tap instead of having to open the Spotify app manually.

According to Sony, noise has been reduced by around 20 per cent in the XM5 compared to the previous model. Each XM5 earbud features three mics (compared to two on XM4) including dual feedback mics to improve the cancelling of lower frequencies.

Bluetooth 5.3 is now also incorporated. The XM4 run on Bluetooth 5.2 while every other new 2023 earbud model has moved on to version 5.3.

Battery life comes in at eight hours while both Bluetooth and ANC are activated, with the wireless charging case providing another 16 hours on top, which matches the performance of the XM4 earbuds. Despite this, it’s still at the top end of premium noise-canceling wireless earbuds and compares favourably to the six hours offered by both the Bose QuietComfort II earbuds and the AirPods Pro 2.

While the XM4 featured a V1 processor, the XM5 make use of a new and improved V2 integrated processor along with HD Noise Cancelling processor QN2e.

The XM45, like the XM4, also feature Sony’s DSEE Extreme audio processor, which we have also experienced in the WH-1000XM4 and WH-1000XM5 over-ear headphones – this upscales low-bitrate music files to near hi-res quality.

Sony WF-1000XM5 verdict

Sony WF-1000XM4 vs WF-C700N case comparison

Sony WF-C700N (left) vs Sony WF-1000XM4 (right) (Image credit: Future)

There are a number of changes from the XM4 to the XM5 earbuds, primarily the lighter, smaller design and form factor and a new sonic signature to get used to.

We were impressed by how comfortable the XM5 earbuds are, their ease of use, and also their unmatched clarity of sonic performance. The competition has come a long way in recent years and so the bar is higher than ever before for wireless in-ear headphones. Read our full Sony WF-1000XM5 review to find out more about how the XM5 fare in more detail.


Read our Sony WF-1000XM5 review

5 sound settings you shouldn't ignore on the Sony WF-1000XM5

Interview: I spoke to Sony's audio experts about how they tune the WF-1000XM5 earbuds' stunning sound

Check out our picks for the best wireless earbuds across all budgets

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II vs Sony WF-1000XM4: which buds are better?

Apple AirPods Pro 2 vs Sony WF-1000XM4: which five-star earbuds are better?

Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.

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