Sony WF-1000XM5 wireless earbuds: everything we know so far

Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds: a leaked image on white background
(Image credit: The Walkman Blog (Ascariss))

Sony has yet to officially announce the Sony WF-1000XM5, aka its latest flagship wireless earbuds and the successors to the wildly successful Sony WF-1000XM4, which have topped our list of the best wireless earbuds pretty much every year since they came out.

Sony is in the mood for new headphones in 2023, having released two pairs of over-ear headphones, including the Sony WH-CH520 and the excellent Sony WF-C700N earbuds. 

The tech giant has already launched the over-ear Sony WH-1000XM5 wireless headphones to bring its noise-cancelling cans up to the fifth generation, so we've been expecting the earbuds to follow and get their own fifth version. 

And although no official announcement has come from Sony, we now have sighting of the Sony WF-1000XM5 in a regulatory filing, several leaked images of the earbuds, a possible spec-sheet in the wild and a June leak including what appears to be promotional images (thank you, And it looks like they're going to be pretty special. 

So here's what we know so far about the new Sony buds looking to take on the best noise-cancelling earbuds, based on what's in the official filing, and what we can predict from Sony history. And we've added in what we hope to see, based on what's available in more of the best true wireless earbuds we've tested.

A set of black earbuds on a white background, with the logo 'The Walkman Blog' in the corner

The Walkman Blog recently leaked several images it claims are the WF-1000XM5 design – and they're quite a bit more compact than the XM4.  (Image credit: The Walkman Blog)

Sony WF-1000XM5: Predicted release date & price

In terms of pricing, Sony's flagship earbuds have always come at a premium cost. And it appears the WF-1000XM5 wireless earbuds won't be any different. European prices for Sony's WF-1000XM5 have leaked and it looks like they're going to cost around €319.99, according to

That's 15% more than the Sony WF-1000XM4s. We're not entirely surprised if the rumors turn out to be true as the price of Sony's earbuds have been increasing over recent years. The WF-1000XM4 that came out in 2021 cost $279 / £250 / AU$449, while the Sony WF-1000XM3 buds released in 2020 cost $230 / £220 / AU$399.

This price hike could be explained by more advanced tech, but also rising costs of materials needed to construct the buds and a shortage of microchips. We expect the Sony WF-1000XM5s to be available in mid-2023 when there may still be high prices and shortages, which means they could cost as much as $300 / £280 / AU$500.

Obviously, we understand that if tech costs more to make it'll cost more to sell, but we would like to see the price stick to the official price of the XM4s if possible. We're not super-hopeful of this now though, because the over-ear WH-1000XM5 released in 2022 cost notably more than the model they replaced.

Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds: a leaked image on white background

That shiny black plastic has been seen in a few leaked images now, so it might be here to stay (Image credit: The Walkman Blog (Ascariss))

Sony WF-1000XM5: Features

We haven't heard anything official from Sony about the Sony WF-1000XM5s, but we've got plenty of leaked information, as you'll see below. The June 3 spec-sheet (below) comes courtesy of The Walkman Blog writer, Ascariss, who claimed the spec-sheet was taken from Amazon.

What's the deal? Well, pitting it against its current siblings, including the newly released (and excellent) Sony WF-C700N and of course the Sony WF-1000XM4 is some (sort of) positive reading. No news on drivers, Bluetooth version (thought to be 5.3, to better the XM4's 5.2 chipset), codec support or IP rating, but the listing of 5.9g per earbud and 39g for the case is good news. This would make the WF-1000XM5 case 2g lighter than the XM4's – and most importantly, each earbud 1.4g lighter, which ties in with a previous leak about their diminutive size (although it should be noted that this also came from The Walkman Blog). 

Apart from this, the table confirms multipoint support, "hi-res audio wireless", wearer detection, noise cancelling, touch controls and Sony's PreciseVoice Pickup tech carried over from the XM4, which uses beamforming microphones and a bone-conduction sensor to allow the WF-1000XM4 mic to pick up your voice clearly and accurately. The tech is also found in the smaller and cheaper Sony LinkBuds S, but not the very budget friendly WF-C700N.  

Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds on the far right of a Sony earbuds comparison sheet, leaked

Well, that's a bit more like it for specs (albeit unverified information, remember)  (Image credit: The Walkman Blog (Ascariss))

And the claimed battery life of 24 hours is only equal to, rather than better than, the older XM4. The June 2021 Sony XM4 flagship 'buds can last for eight hours per charge, with a further 16 hours in the case. While we don't know the stamina per charge for the new WF-1000XM5, if the proposition cannot better buds two years older it might be a sticking point for potential buyers. 

The original FCC filing (a sure sign that the buds are real) does state they'll have Bluetooth version 5.3, which would mean they could support Bluetooth LE Audio too – a new Bluetooth wireless standard that may upgrade the way we listen to music and bring new audio features with it. But Sony is often weird about formats, so we wouldn't be surprised to see it focus on its own LDAC wireless system and drag its feet on LE Audio.

Thanks to an image leak from noted tipster The Walkman Blog, we also have a shot of the underside of the case, which lists a 5 V = 230mAh juice pack, compared to 5 V = 140mAh in the WF-1000XM4's case. So, shorter charging times are likely on the cards.

The buds will also use the same touch panel control as the XM4s. But even though we're lacking in official details about the features to expect from the Sony WF-1000XM5 buds, we can make some solid predictions about what we might see (and what we want to see) to be able to put them straight into our top three ANC earbuds for 2023 roundup…

Sony WF-1000XM5: What we want to see 

The Sony WF-1000XM5 leaked earbuds

This leaked image from WinFuture shows what looks to be the WF-1000XM5 in two colorways (black and white).  (Image credit: WinFuture)

1. A more compact, inclusive design

We rated the Sony WF-1000XM3 wireless earbuds that came out in 2020 for their good noise cancellation and decent battery life. But they didn't look great, with a large, pill-shaped body that stuck out of our ear canals. This changed with the XM4, which adopted a more rounded shape, which has been the ongoing trend of true wireless earbud design since – but they also lost about 30% of their volume, crucially.

With that in mind, we expect this style to continue with the XM5s and hope they might be even smaller. Because bulkier designs feel outdated in 2023 and a more modern, rounded design not only looks better, but they're likely to fit more ears more comfortably, too – we know Sony knows this, because it already released the Sony LinkBuds S, which use a lot of the same technology as the WF-1000XM4, but are among the smallest and lightest buds around.

And if the images leaked recently are anything to go on, our wish for more svelte earbuds may have been granted! The images show a much less bulky earpiece that tapers towards its neck in an ergonomic, teardrop shape. Take note though, those driver housings (a bone of contention among Sony's matte-plastic fans and largely put down to the notion that we were seeing a prototype, rather than the real thing) might actually here to stay for the final design. The touch sensor area does look matte though.

A design and comfort consideration we'd love to see incorporated into the Sony WF-1000XM5 buds is a fit suitable for extra small and extra large ear canals. The XM4s came with a choice of small, medium and large silicone eartips and a handy fit test. But competing buds, like the AirPods Pro, come with extra small tips now, so it would be smart for Sony to add a few additional options too.

Sony WF-1000XM4 worn by a woman in a stylish kitchen

The Sony WF-1000XM4 used to be at the top of our list of the best noise-cancelling earbuds, but not any more. (Image credit: Sony)

2. Improved noise cancellation to keep up with the rivals

The Sony WF-1000XM4 true wireless earbuds are up there with some of the best noise-cancelling earbuds you can buy today, only really bested by the exceptional Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 and Apple AirPods Pro 2. But they used to be at the top themselves.

That means in Sony's next iteration of wireless earbuds we're expecting truly wondrous things from their ANC capabilities. We're talking an even more effective seal and better cancellation of ambient noise with an improved algorithm to put them on par with Bose's buds, that's all without compromising on general audio quality.

3. New Bluetooth features and Android Spatial Audio

If you rarely consider which Bluetooth version your tech supports don't worry, you're not alone. But in short, the XM4 support Bluetooth 5.2, whereas some big name competitors, like Apple, have added Bluetooth 5.3 to their latest buds. We'd expect Sony to follow suit with the XM5, as it'll allow for more efficient pairing, which means a more reliable connection and reduced power consumption.

We hope that Sony will also support Bluetooth LE Audio in its next buds, which have the potential for higher audio quality from more devices – not just for people making use of Sony's own LDAC hi-res tech. And LE Audio also means more reliable connectivity even if you're not listening in higher quality.

Speaking of Bluetooth, the XM4 currently boast multi-point pairing, which means you can connect to more than one Bluetooth device at once. Think listening to music from your laptop then easily switching to a call on your phone. This came as a later update to the XM4s, which means we'd expect the XM5s to have this feature right out of the box. 

Finally, we hope that the Sony WF-1000XM5 will support the new Android Spatial Audio tech that Google is building into the operating system. This enables headphones to mimic what iPhones can do when connected to AirPods, and create a soundspace that moves with your head – it's incredible for Dolby Atmos movies. Sony has always been hot on 3D sound, having touted its own 360 Reality Audio system for years… but that's also why we fear it might not support Google's tech. Much like LDAC mentioned above, Sony really likes to go its own way… but still, we really hope it throws in support for Android Spatial Audio.

A black earbuds case on white background, also showing the underside of the case

The underside of this leaked image lists a 5 V = 230mAh juice pack, compared to 5 V = 140mAh in the WF-1000XM4's case. So, shorter charging times are likely on the cards…  (Image credit: The Walkman Blog)

4. Beefed up water-resistance and battery life specs

For this final point we're combining a few points on our wish list, because we'd simply like to see slightly better specs across the board. That's a big ask considering the Sony WF-1000XM4s are fantastic all-rounders already. 

However, it would be great to see better water-resistance above the IPX4 rating the XM4s currently have. Sure that allows for splashes, meaning they handle sweat fairly well, but we've got our fingers crossed for a bump to an IPX5 rating, which is sustained exposure to water – although by no means fully waterproof. The charging case currently has no water resistance in the XM4s, which maybe some people don't need but we'd love to see that at least IPX4.

The same goes for battery life. We've currently got an unremarkable 8 hours from the XM4 buds and 16 hours from their charging case. That's not bad, but it'll start to lag behind the competition if Sony doesn't improve it a little next time around – although it didn't really improve the longevity of its over-ear XM5, so perhaps we'll be lucky.

While we wait, be sure to check out our guide to the best headphones available today.

Becca Caddy

Becca is a contributor to TechRadar, a freelance journalist and author. She’s been writing about consumer tech and popular science for more than ten years, covering all kinds of topics, including why robots have eyes and whether we’ll experience the overview effect one day. She’s particularly interested in VR/AR, wearables, digital health, space tech and chatting to experts and academics about the future. She’s contributed to TechRadar, T3, Wired, New Scientist, The Guardian, Inverse and many more. Her first book, Screen Time, came out in January 2021 with Bonnier Books. She loves science-fiction, brutalist architecture, and spending too much time floating through space in virtual reality. 

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