Readers like you help support Pocket-lint. When you make a purchase using links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read More.
  • Sony XM5-1
    Sony WF-1000XM5

    Sony's flagship true wireless buds bring with them improved sound, better noise cancelling and a much better, more comfortable design for longer wear. They even manage to stick relatively close to the launch price of the WF-1000XM4, which is not something we're seeing often in this current climate.

    • Dynamic, musical sound
    • Comfortable, improved design
    • Great battery life
    • Some genuinely useful features
    • Noise cancelling isn't the strongest at this price
    • Call quality can be inconsistent
  • Sony XM4-1
    Sony WF-1000XM4

    Sony's WF-1000XM4 have been among our most recommended true wireless earbuds since they launched two years ago. However, they do miss out on some of the new improvements brought by their successor, but if you can find them for a good price they're still well worth a look.

    • Great audio performance
    • Comfortable for long wear
    • Support for wireless charging
    • Still quite large in the ear
    • Overall battery life could be better
    • Noise cancellation not as good as newer competition

Sony has released the fifth generation of its WF-1000X buds, promising to bring with them improved noise cancelling, better sound quality and their best call quality yet. Considering the WF-1000XM4 are some of our most recommended true wireless in-ear buds, how do they compare with the new WF-1000XM5, should you upgrade or should you bag a bargain with the XM4s left on sale? Read on for our breakdown of how these two headphones compare.

Specs, pricing and availability

Sony announced the WF-1000XM5 on 24 July 2023, costing $299/£259, in a choice of black or silver.

The WF-1000XM4 were announced just over two years previously, on 8 June 2021, and cost $280/£250. You can now find them significantly cheaper during sales periods, and I suspect more permanently now the XM5s have launched.

There are a few more details on their specs in the table below, but keep reading for more in-depth details.

  • Sony WF-1000XM5Sony WF-1000XM4
    BrandSony Sony
    Battery Life8 hours (24 hours with case)8 hours (24 hours with case)
    Noise CancellationYesYes
    MicrophonesThree per budTwo per bud
    ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3Bluetooth 5.2
    IP ratingIPX4IPX4
    Weight (earbuds)5.9g7.3g
    ChargingUSB-C, Wireless Qi chargingUSB-C, Wireless Qi charging
    Driver size8.4mm6.4mm
    ChipIntegrated Processor V2Integrated Processor V1
    Spatial AudioSony 360 Reality Audio support with head trackingSony 360 Reality Audio support
    Special featuresAdaptive Sound Control, Speak-to-chat, Spotify TapAdaptive Sound Control, Speak-to-chat



The Sony WF-1000XM5 are 25 per cent smaller than the WF-1000XM4, which were in turn 10 per cent smaller than the WF-1000XM3. The XM5s are a much more slender design that are much more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. That's also helped by the fact they are 20 per cent lighter.

They both feature polyurethane ear tips, but the WF-1000XM5 offer a fourth smaller set of tips - extra small, if you will - to help with securing the fit for smaller ears.

There's a slightly glossy finish to the main bud body in the XM5s, compared with the more matte finish of the XM4, but the charging case isn't much different, save for being slightly narrower thanks to the smaller buds.

There is still a USB-C input on the back for charging, as well as built-in wireless charging too. Battery life is matched at eight hours from a single charge and 24 hours with the case, and waterproofing plays snap here too - both buds offer IPX4 rating meaning they can both be used in the gym without concern.


Sony WF-1000XM5

Both Sony buds are jam packed with features, though the XM5s do throw in a few extras when compared to their predecessors.

Both offer Adaptive Sound Control, which is Sony's adaptive noise cancelling. This can adjust the amount of ambient noise that is let in depending on what you're doing and where you are - and can be customised to suit.

Noise cancelling has also been improved in the XM5 though, with the addition of a second feedback mic - making a total of three in each earbud instead of two. There is also a new Integrated Processor V2, which includes the HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN2e. Sony says this combination of improvements should particularly help with the blocking out of lower frequencies, and says the noise cancellation found in the XM5s reduces 20 per cent more noise.

That extra mic is also supposed to work in combination with Sony's new AI-based noise-reduction algorithm to improve noise cancelling as well, giving the XM5 its "best ever call quality".

Elsewhere, there are wear sensors in both generations, so your music will pause when you remove a bud, and there is Speak-to-chat in both too, which can automatically pause your music when it knows you're talking.

You can also count on multipoint connectivity in both the XM4 and XM5, following a firmware update for the former, support for both Sony's lossless LDAC codec and the ability to play back 360 Reality Audio in compatible apps, like Tidal. However, the XM5s add in head tracking functionality when playing back 360 Reality Audio tracks, which works in the same way as Apple's Spatial Audio - adjusting sound effects based on where your head is in relation to your device.

Finally, you will get Spotify Tap on the XM5s, a shortcut on the buds that will play you a recommended track from Spotify - something that isn't available on the XM4s.


Sony WF-1000XM4 review: Class-leading ANC TWS earbuds, 'nuff said photo 6

The Sony WF-1000XM5 have a new driver compared with the 6.4mm option in the WF-1000XM4, something Sony is calling the Dynamic Driver X. It uses a new diaphragm made from a number of different materials, and is a bigger driver in itself too - up to 8.4mm.

The focus has been on refining the whole frequency range, from finer details in vocals through to the solid bass reproduction.

I loved the sound of the WF-1000XM5, as they served up a full-bodied, confident and musical performance that gave some of its great competition a run for their money. However, we also loved the sound of the XM4s, also commenting on the rich sound profile, great detail and staging.

The fact is, the XM5s have moved the sound quality on, but it's not night and day here. Bass is a little more refined and fine detail is up a notch too, with a touch better sense of cohesion and authority.

Noise cancellation is better here too, but it's no longer class leading - you'll find the best of ANC can be found elsewhere. Still, as far as this versus piece goes, you will absolutely hear an improvement in the noise cancellation between the generations, while still retaining that natural feel that not all of its competitors can manage.


The Sony WF-1000XM5 are without a doubt the better buds of the two, and in two years Sony has put in the work to tweak the sound, improve the noise cancellation and drastically improve the fit. They might not be the absolute no brainer that they used to be, but from their predecessors, they've absolutely been improved in most areas.

Sony XM5-1
Sony WF-1000XM5
The best buy now

Great musical in-ears that offer a lot to love.

However, the Sony WF-1000XM4 are no doubt going to be on the receiving on of some pretty tasty discounts now, so considering how much we loved their sound, they are more than worthwhile keeping an eye on.

Sony XM5-1
Sony WF-1000XM4
Still great if on sale