Sony just announced new truly wireless earbuds, the Sony WF-1000XM3 ($230), and they’re a big deal because they promise similar levels of sound quality and noise cancellation as the Sony WH-1000XM3 — the best noise-canceling headphones you can buy (although we’ll have to test Bose’s newest headphones to see if that still stands up). If you wanted your AirPods to have active noise-canceling, these are the closest thing to it.
The announcement of the Sony WF-1000XM3 comes on the heels of Bose’s own announcement, back in late March, saying that it would be releasing its own noise-canceling wireless earbuds sometime in 2020, called the Bose Noise Cancelling Earbuds 700. As the Sony WF-1000XM3 are available for pre-order right now, and they will be available everywhere in August (exact date unknown), it appears that Sony has beaten Bose to the punch. In regards to noise-canceling wireless earbuds, anyway.
It should be noted that, as of this point, there really aren’t any truly wireless noise-canceling earbuds that you can buy. The Bose QuietControl 30 ($300) are probably the closest you can get, but they have a wire (and a neckband) connecting the two earbuds — they’re not truly wireless. There’s also the Sony WF-SP700N ($178), which were released in early 2018 and they are truly wireless earbuds; however, as numerous reviews have noted (including our own), they aren’t very good at noise-canceling.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 borrow a couple of notable features from their over-ear brethren, the Sony WH-1000XM3. They have an ambient sound mode so you can better hear sounds around you, which is practical for commuters. There’s a “Quick Attention” mode; by placing a finger over the left earbud, it briefly lowers the volume. The earbuds have customizable swipe gestures, too, so you can easily play, pause, skip songs or activate Google Assistant. Lastly, the earbuds have optical sensors (just like AirPods) so they will detect when they are in your ears and automatically play or pause music.
As for battery life, Sony claims that each earbud will last about six hours with noise-canceling turned on. The charging case, which charges via USB-C, will provide up to three extra charges for each earbud — that’s a total of 24 hours with noise-canceling turned on. With no noise-canceling, the earbuds and case can last up to 32 hours.
Obviously, it’s pretty difficult for any earbud to compete with an over-ear headphone in terms of sound quality and noise cancellation, so we’re pretty excited to test the Sony WF-1000XM3 and see how they stack up the Sony WH-1000XM3. We’ll have a review up on the website in the coming weeks and update our guide for “best wireless earbuds” accordingly.
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