The WF-1000XM5 are smaller and more comfortable than the XM4 earbuds before them. Sony improved the active noise canceling (ANC) and tweaked the sound quality for a better overall experience too. They may be pricy, but these buds are an easy recommendation for listeners who crave customization and need a powerful microphone system.
Sony WF-1000XM5 review: At a glance
Table of Contents
- What are they? The Sony WF-1000XM5 succeed the famous WF-1000XM4 active noise canceling (ANC) earbuds. Sony shrunk the WF-1000XM5 down and improved the memory foam ear tips. Under the hood, these buds house two new processors for better ANC, sound quality, and call quality. Battery life is exceptionally long, considering all the power-hungry features, and the Headphones Connect app that works on any operating system.
- What is the price? The Sony WF-1000XM5 cost $299.99 in the US and CA$429.99 in Canada. You can buy them for £259 in the UK and €320 in other regions of Europe.
- Where can you buy them? Pre-orders for the Sony WF-1000XM5 began on July 24, 2023. Today, you can purchase these earbuds from Sony and third-party vendors like Amazon and Best Buy.
- How did we test them? For this Sony WF-1000XM5 review, I tested the earbuds for three days. The earbuds ran firmware version 2.01 and the Headphones Connect app version 10.1.0. Android Authority purchased the unit for review.
- Are they worth it? The Sony WF-1000XM5 are among the best earbuds you can buy, whether you have an Android phone or an iPhone. Sony gives listeners a wealth of customization options, ensuring the earbuds act exactly how you want in a given situation. If you’ve been waffling between the older WF-1000XM4 and AirPods Pro 2, and can bear the high price, give the WF-1000XM5 a spin.
Should you buy the Sony WF-1000XM5?
Lily Katz / Android Authority
The Sony WF-1000XM5 share the same general design as the WF-1000XM4. This time, Sony integrates more powerful processors into the newer buds for better performance. Fans of Sony will feel right at home with the WF-1000XM5 and their upgrades.
The WF-1000XM5 are clearly descended from the WF-1000XM4. Sony offers the same color black or silver color options with copper accents that decorate each earbud. While the color schemes are identical, Sony made some notable changes to the shape and weight of the WF-1000XM5. Being 25% smaller than the WF-1000XM4, the new buds are much more comfortable. I can wear these for two hours, 30 minutes before experiencing mild discomfort. Small-eared listeners will rejoice when they unpack the ear tip caddy. The XM5 buds include extra-small tips and the standard small, medium, and large options.
As an iPhone and AirPods Pro 2 user, I am seriously considering the WF-1000XM5 for their battery life and extensive customization options.
Despite the smaller size and weight, the WF-1000XM5 protrude from my ears. This never posed a problem when working from home, cooking, or even walking, but I noticed the uneven weight distribution when running. I used the ear tip fit test in the Headphones Connect app to confirm the right size, and even still, the buds jostled out of place on my run. I fixed the fit a few times mid-run, and the touch panels registered these adjustments as commands, sending my music into a flurry of song skips. While frustrating, this only happened once per mile.
Outside of running, the WF-1000XM5 touch controls worked well, and Sony lets listeners remap some of the controls. It’s easy to skip songs, field calls, and access Google Assistant or Siri all from the buds. I only wish there were swipe controls for adjusting the volume. Tapping an earbud four times in rapid succession felt like a lot of work for an incremental volume change.
The Sony Headphones Connect app isn’t the most beautiful, but it is comprehensive. The app worked as well on my iPhone 12 mini as on my Android phone, a Google Pixel 6. No matter which phone I connected to (or both, since the buds have multipoint connectivity), I completely tailored my listening experience.
Adaptive Sound Control was one of the most useful features I used during this Sony WF-1000XM5 review. With this, the earbuds register your activity and environment. The buds instantaneously adjust the ANC and ambient pass-through to suit the scene. The earbuds can identify four actions: staying, walking, running, and riding in a vehicle. By default, Sony enables some ambient sound for the first three actions, and ANC for commuting. At first, this was frustrating: I didn’t want ambient sound when sitting still; I wanted ANC and Ambient Sound off. Sony anticipated this variation and lets you dictate the settings for each action. I even adjusted the Ambient Sound intensity (1-20) for designated actions. You can also dictate whether you want the buds to filter voices through while canceling superfluous noise. Very cool.
Other features include a custom five-band equalizer (EQ) and some Bluetooth connectivity options. When prioritizing connection stability, I risked dropping down to the SBC codec rather than the more advanced AAC or LDAC options. If you want to get the best audio quality from an Android device, prioritize sound quality from the app. Listeners with compatible devices can use LE Audio and the LC3 codec thanks to the WF-1000XM5’s Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity.
There’s also Speak-to-Chat, which allows you to wear the earbuds while conversing. The buds do this by pausing media playback and enabling Ambient Sound when you speak. Frankly, I didn’t like using this feature. Keeping the buds in while talking to people felt rude, but it’s a cool trick.
Enabling all or any of these features will drain battery life faster. Fortunately, the WF-1000XM5 have a long battery life for ANC earbuds. According to SoundGuys‘ testing (check out our sister site’s review for more data), the buds lasted nine hours, 32 minutes with ANC enabled — nearly two hours longer than the WF-1000XM4 under the same conditions. The case supports wireless charging and can fast charge the earbuds. Placing the buds in the case for three minutes supplies an hour of listening time.
The WF-1000XM5 relay clear voice quality even when speaking amid street traffic or wind noise.
One of the main selling points of the WF-1000XM5 is its microphone system. The Sony WF-1000XM5 leapfrog other flagship earbuds when it comes to microphone quality. These earbuds handily suppress background noise while relaying the speaker’s voice clearly. When taking various calls, none of my conversation partners noticed me shuffling papers in the background or that I was walking outside. You can hear how the WF-1000XM5 microphones perform in different environments with SoundGuys’ standardized samples below.
Sony WF-1000XM5 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Sony WF-1000XM5 microphone demo (Office conditions):
Sony WF-1000XM5 microphone demo (Windy conditions):
I can’t talk about Sony earbuds without addressing their active noise canceling. With the upgraded QN2e and V2 chips, the WF-1000XM5 ANC performance is more directly in line with modern flagships like the Apple AirPods Pro 2 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2. Remember those copper accents on the earbuds? Those aren’t just for decor: they help reduce wind noise and optimize noise cancelation.
Sony’s memory foam ear tips block out much more noise than the competition, almost muting background noise side conversations. When I wore the WF-1000XM5 to a coffee shop and enabled ANC, I felt like I’d entered the Cone of Silence from “Get Smart.” If you work in a noisy environment or commute by plane or train, the WF-1000XM5 will serve you well.
Harley Maranan / Android Authority
Sony didn’t forget about sound quality either, and I prefer how the WF-1000XM5 sound compared to the WF-1000XM4. The newer earbuds have a louder treble response. With the WF-1000XM5, it’s easier to hear cymbal crashes, hi-hats, and string harmonics — the effect: a greater perceived sense of clarity from songs like “Hopscotch” by The Greeting Committee. The bass response is a bit stronger than I’m used to from the AirPods Pro 2, but you can change this with the app’s EQ.
If you’re considering these Sony buds, you have high standards. The Sony WF-1000XM5 are some of the best earbuds you can buy. They’re replete with necessities and niceties, from the IPX4 water-resistant build to wear detection for auto-play/pause. While some people will feel a bit of sticker shock, the WF-1000XM5 are only a tad more expensive than their predecessors. Plus, Sony adds value to its earbuds with notable firmware updates throughout their life cycles. (You don’t always get that with cheaper buds.) Prospective buyers considering the WF-1000XM4, grab the WF-1000XM5 for an extra Benjamin. The improved fit, comfort, ANC, and microphone quality are more than worth it.
Great ANC • Improved sound quality • Comfortable fit with four ear tip options
The Sony WF-1000XM5 have even better noise canceling than the WF-1000XM4. Sony made these its most comfortable earbuds by shrinking them and including XS-L memory foam ear tips. The WF-1000XM5 support advanced features like multipoint connectivity and spatial audio with head tracking. You also get plenty of customization options through the free mobile app.
What are the best Sony WF-1000XM5 alternatives?
Adam Birney / Android Authority
The WF-1000XM5 go up directly against other flagship earbuds from Apple, Bose, and Samsung.
- Apple AirPods Pro 2 ($199 at Amazon): The AirPods Pro 2 remain the best earbuds for iPhone owners. I compared the AirPods Pro 2 ANC to that of the WF-1000XM5 and the effect is very similar. Sony pulled ahead when blocking out high-pitched sounds, however. Even still, Apple’s proprietary chipset allows its flagship buds to work seamlessly across Apple hardware. iPhone owners unlock battery optimization, Find My location services, and more. This happens to be the AirPods Pro 2’s most significant drawback because many features don’t work on Android.
- Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 ($249 at Amazon): These ANC earbuds are uniquely comfortable and offer a more secure fit than the WF-1000XM5. Bose’s ANC is neck and neck with Sony’s, but the sound quality is worse. Thankfully, you can equalize the sound in the Bose Music app.
- Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro ($179 at Amazon): Samsung’s earbuds boast an IPX7 rating, which makes the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro the most durable of the WF-1000XM5 alternatives. If you own a Samsung phone, these are the buds to get. You get auto-switching between Samsung devices along with 24-bit audio. The earbuds are compact, and the case can even fit in small jean pockets.
- Sony WF-1000XM4 ($278 at Amazon): Although the WF-1000XM5 replace the WF-1000XM4, the older buds are still excellent. You get many of the same features with the XM4 buds as with the newer model, even if the WF-1000XM4 don’t perform as well.
Sony WF-1000XM5 specs
Earbuds: IPX4 water-resistant build
Earbuds, ANC on: 8 hours
8.4mm dynamic driver (aka Dynamic Driver X)
Bone conduction sensor
Personalized 360 Reality Audio
Adaptive Sound Control
Ambient sound mode
Ear tip selection
XS, S, M, L
July 24, 2023
Sony WF-1000XM5 review: FAQ
Yes, the Sony WF-1000XM5 have Ambient Sound Mode that you can toggle on/off with the onboard controls or through the Headphones Connect app (Android/iOS).
Yes, the WF-1000XM5 have a six-microphone array (three mics per bud) that effectively suppresses wind and street noise, enhancing the speaker’s voice.
Yes, the WF-1000XM5 case supports Qi wireless charging.
Yes, the WF-1000XM5 supports multipoint connectivity. You can toggle this feature on/off in the Headphones Connect app.
Yes, the Sony WF-1000XM5 work with an iPhone. You will get all the same features on iOS as you do on Android when using the WF-1000XM5.
The Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds have an IPX4 water-resistant build, making them splash and sweat resistant. Ergonomically, there are better workout earbuds like the Beats Fit Pro ($159 at Amazon) or Shokz OpenRun ($129 at Amazon).