It has been almost two years since Sony launched the WF-1000XM3 to its flagship true wireless earbuds. Since then, we have been patiently waiting to see what Sony will do for a follow-up, especially given how the noise-canceling true wireless earbud range has exploded in interference times. Today, thanks to an anonymous poster on Reddit, we can finally get our first glimpse at Sony’s next ANC earbuds, the WF-1000XM4 – and they are nothing like Sony’s previous efforts.
The image, which is clearly from the product box and not the actual earbuds, depicts a round body with a ventent opening near the top, and a very prominent copper cylinder shape protruding out of the main earbud body.
The top vent – if there is any consistency in Sony’s design language – is likely the location of one or more microphones. Similar detail appears on the Sony WH-1000 XM3 and XM4. But we can only guess as to the function of that cylinder. It can be a touch control, a physical button or a dedicated sensor of some kind. Or maybe a hybrid of all three.
The eartype looks like it is made of memory foam, which would be a departure from Sony’s use of silicon sleeves on the WF-1000XM3 and WF-SP800N. However, unlike those models, the leaked image shows a much more compact overall shape that does not extend as nearly 3 xM3 or SP800N from the ear. Based on the ratio of the eartype on the body to the leaked image, I’m guessing that these earbuds will be larger than the Jabra Elite 85T, but smaller than Sony’s previous model.
As exciting as it is to think that we are looking at a leaked picture of an actual product, it is also possible that it is a fake. As noted by others, the typeface used in the image is close, but not exactly a perfect match for Sony’s recent product boxes. It is also a bit strange to think that the poster on Reddit is a complete product box in their possession, but only chose to post a (blurry) picture.
As Sony has stored for us feature-wise on these now-unannounced earbuds – if they are doing Real – Some things are mindless. They will have active noise cancellation (ANC). They will have a battery life of at least six hours between charges. They will have customizable EQs and controls that can be adjusted via the Sony Headphones app. When you remove / reinstall them, they auto-pause and resume the music functions. They will work with the Sony 360 reality audio format. They will also provide optional access to Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. These are all features of the current WF-1000XM3.
Sony is likely to add: wireless charging, an eartip fit test, a way to quickly switch between ANC and ambient modes, more control over functions such as volume and some sort of official IPX rating (current WF-1000XM3) slightly. Handle moisture, but are not officially water resistant).
I think the price will remain at $ 320 because that is what Sony did when Sony replaced the WH-1000 XM3 with the XH4 model. As to the timing of the introduction of the WF-1000XM3 in August 2019, I think we will see the WF-1000XM4 no later than August 2021.
As we learn more, we will update this roundup.