Sony is really bad at naming their products. An example is right on your screen. The WTF1000XM3 (Yes, WTF) is a terrible name for a really great device. Let’s call it unofficially the ‘Sony Buds’, just for the sake of simplicity. As you have seen from the title that I have compared the Sony buds with Apple AirPods, you must be wondering what makes this wireless earbud go so far and compete with Apple? Here is the first impression of the Sony Wireless buds.
Magnificent Earphones by Sony
Sony came in strong with its wireless game. Although the competition from Apple and Bose is going to be tough, they have a worthy contender as of now. The Bose 500 are not yet out so we’ll have to wait a bit. So about the earphones now.
The Build of the Buds
The Sony Buds are bigger than the AirPods and a bit heavier. They have a very premium build quality. The size fits very well with my ear shape and I did not feel that looming fear of losing the buds if I move too much. The case of the buds is also beautifully designed and feels very premium. A flat top and a rounded base (or vice versa), the case is bigger than most of the wireless pod’s cases. It is equivalent to two AirPods cases stacked side by side.
The Audio of Sony Buds
The best thing about the Sony buds is the audio quality it provides. That is also why I have put it on par (even better sometimes) with the AirPods and the PowerBeats. The playback is loud, the bass is brilliant. The audio is crisp and clear. The magic is in the noise cancellation. It works seamlessly. You don’t have to crank the volume to the max to voice unwanted noise to creep in your ears. It is fascinating how Sony has managed to bring noise cancellation this good in a device this small. There are two microphones to assist in noise cancellation.
Other bells and whistles
Apart from the brilliant audio quality and noise cancellation, there some other interesting things Sony has done that is worth glancing over. There is support for ACC and SBC format. Their DAC is capable of delivering 24-bit audio. The buds also have their proprietary DSEE HX audio upscaling that can recover data from lossy tracks. The Buds support Bluetooth 5.0 and proximity sensors to let you know when the bud is pulled off the ear.
The Battery Life
The battery life of these earbuds is good, but nothing spectacular. The company claims it to have a continuous playback for 6 hours in a single charge with active noise cancellation. Turn the cancellation off and you get an additional 2 hours. The case provides 3 more charges that push up the battery life to a full day (almost). The case charges with USB-C.
The ‘Sweet’ Gestures of Sony Buds
One thing that I found very interesting is the gestures in the buds to access some features. Tap on the left bud and it turns noise cancellation off. One tap again it turns Ambient mode which allows outside noise to come in. Here is the cool part. Tap and hold the left bud and it lets you hear the outside noise so that you can hear someone who is trying to talk to you even though you have buds in. On the right bud, tap once to play/pause and tap and hold to access google assistant. There is no volume control on the buds which is annoying sometimes when the phone is in the pocket and you have to adjust the volume.
It is a great piece of audio hardware that delivers some great audio. There a few minor flaws like the inability to change the volume from the buds and the absence of waterproofing, but overall this is a great earbud. But here is a catch. The Sony Buds are priced at $230. Yup, it is more expensive than the Apple AirPods and it makes me wonder why is Sony trying this price tag. Making it equal to the price of AirPods is a risky bet already but pricing it higher than that seems confusing. We’ll see how the sales come up when it this available in August.