We’re well into the life cycle of Sony’s brilliant WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds, so it’s only natural that we turn our attention to their likely successor. The big question, then, is “is Sony releasing the WF-1000XM5?” There hasn’t been a peep out of the tech giant about a potential XM5 (let alone a WF-1000XM5 release date) and, unlike with Apple iPhones, there hasn't been a rumour or leak in sight. But if Sony follows previous form and product patterns, e.g. the move from WH-1000XM4 to WH-1000XM5 in the case of the over-ear equivalent, we’d hazard a guess that they're in the pipeline and that we could be looking at them in the flesh at some point this year.
The XM4 have already cemented themselves as class-leading five-star wireless earbuds. Not only that, but they are also two-time What Hi-Fi? Award-winners and one of the easiest pairs of earbuds to recommend at their price point. They are well-built, sound great and offer some of the best noise-cancelling in their class. That’s why the Sonys have been in the squad of wireless earbuds we’ve had on rotation in the office ever since they launched in 2021.
But even though they are one of the first names on our team sheet, it doesn’t mean that their position at the top of the pile isn’t under threat. That’s especially the case now, with rivals such as the AirPods Pro 2 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II now firmly on the market and both scoring glowing five-star reviews (and the latter, a What Hi-Fi? Award). Honestly, there’s never been a time when there has been so much excellent competition at this end of the market.
And, having now spent time with newer rivals, testing their features and listening to the sound quality on offer, it got us thinking about what we would like to see from a possible Sony WF-1000XM5. The XM4 are indeed fantastic in-ear headphones, but are there any areas that deserve tweaks? We’ve put a few of our musings below – but please feel free to add any more in the comments below.
More eartip sizes please
It goes without saying that everyone’s ears are different, which means earbud fit is quite a personal thing. This is why we would like to see Sony offer more in the way of eartip options. The WF-1000XM4 came with small, medium and large versions of its polyurethane tips. Some of us are quite fortunate in that going for large eartips seems to get the job done in most cases, but we also realise it’s not quite so simple for everyone else. So, we would like to see Sony expand its offering to extra-small and extra-large to cover an even wider range of ears. Some other brands are, so why not Sony!
And a different eartip material
Could Sony perhaps add a silicone eartip option which, ironically, it used to provide many moons ago? Some people find silicone eartips require less manipulation to get a better seal than ones based on memory foam. The WF-1000XM4 use polyurethane which is fine, but some rivals use arguably softer and comfier materials.
One great thing about the Sonys is that they include an air-tightness test to help you make sure you’ve got the best fit possible. We’d really like to think this will make its way across to their successors so all users can make the most of them.
How about a refined design?
The more premium wireless earbuds we have tried this year, including the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II and the AirPods Pro 2, the more we’ve become aware of how unimposing they look and feel. When using/wearing the Sonys, you're more aware they are in your ears and can feel greater pressure from the earpieces compared to most others. We'd like to see some fine-tuning to the physical design to make them a bit more ergonomic and feel a little bit more discreet and comfortable.
Multipoint Bluetooth out of the box
At the time of writing, we’re still waiting for Multipoint Bluetooth (the ability to connect to two Bluetooth sources simultaneously) to be introduced to the Sony WF-1000XM4 although it has been promised to arrive before the end of European winter (*looks at calendar anxiously*). We’re not quite sure why there has been such a long delay in rolling this out; after all, it has been a feature of Sony’s premium over-ear ANC equivalent since 2020 and the launch of the WH-1000XM4. We’ll be very disappointed if this isn’t a feature of the WF-1000XM5 straight out of the box.
Bluetooth 5.3 support
The Sony WF-1000XM4 support Bluetooth version 5.2, which was fine when the headphones launched in 2021. However, the game has moved on slightly and there is now Bluetooth 5.3 to take advantage of. Why should you be bothered? It appears there could be some energy-saving benefits to supporting the latest version, an increase in stability over long ranges and a reduction in interference that could hinder your wireless connection. They all sound like welcome usability improvements, so fingers crossed it makes the XM5's specification sheet!
Another noise-cancelling boost
Following the launches of both their latest premium noise-cancelling earbuds, Bose and Apple are both nipping at Sony’s heels when it comes to ANC. Both the QuietComfort Earbuds II and AirPods Pro 2 have really gone up a gear in this area compared with their predecessors. Sony isn’t one to rest on its laurels, though, so we would expect them to make a few tweaks, whether it be to the ANC algorithm or the Integrated Processor V1 which, among other things, powers the noise-cancelling.
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