Is Sony cooking up a sequel to the best headphones in the world?

sony wh-1000xm4
(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

The Sony WH-1000XM4 have been our pick for the best headphones you can buy since they launched in 2020 - and now, it looks like a new upgraded model is on the cards. 

A patent, spotted by The Walkman Blog, describes an engineering prototype for a pair of over-ear headphones with the model number YY2954 - and if these are the successors to Sony's flagship headphones, you can almost be certain that's a code for the Sony WH-1000XM5. 

If this patent is for the Sony WH-1000XM5, we may have been given our first glimpse of the rumored wireless headphones. It contains a rather basic illustration of a pair of over-ear headphones with oval-shaped earcups, a thin headband, and an FCC nameplate on a tag underneath the left ear cushion. 

a patent illustration of a pair of headphones

(Image credit: The Walkman Blog / Sony)

As The Walkman Blog speculates, this could mean the WH-1000XM5 will feature a different headband style to their predecessors. The WH-1000XM4 have a nameplate on the underneath of the headband, but the fact that this has been moved to underneath the ear cushion suggests the new headband might be too thin to house a nameplate, or perhaps made of a material that can't be easily stamped - like metal. 

Of course, it's entirely possible that Sony has opted to move the nameplate to somewhere less conspicuous for the sake of a cleaner look, but the idea of a pair of Sony headphones with a slick metal headband like the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is pretty enticing. 

Like the Sony WH-1000XM4, it looks like the next Sony headphones will initially come in black or silver. The Walkman Blog shared an import listing for a Sony headset from Hong Kong to India, which it believes relates to the headphones described in the patent - and this listing contained two colors, silver and black.

The patent also shows that the internal battery rating of these headphones is 3.8V, as opposed to the 3.7V rating we got with the WH-1000XM4. This means the Sony WH-1000XM5 could improve upon their predecessors' 38-hour battery life. That figure was already impressive, so an even longer music playback time would be a big selling point for Sony's next headphones.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 could also come with fast charging support, with the patent describing a 5V / 9V USB rating for charging.

Will the Sony WH-1000XM5 be released in 2022?

It's important to remember that a patent listing is never a firm guarantee that a product will ever see the light of day - but we'd be very surprised if Sony wasn't working on a follow-up to its hugely successful WH-1000XM4 headphones. 

If the headphones in this patent really are the Sony WH-1000XM5, they could be launched in August 2022 - that's because the confidentiality agreement on the document ends on August 8. 

An August release date for the Sony WH-1000XM5 definitely makes sense. After all, the Sony WH-1000XM4 were released on August 6 2020, while their predecessors, the Sony WH-1000XM3 launched on August 30, 2018. 

There's a clear release schedule there - every two years in August, we've had another model in the WH-1000X line up since 2018. In any case, we'll be keeping a close eye on all things Sony for the next few months, especially as a 2022 release date could put the WH-1000XM5 in direct competition with other rumored headphones like the Apple AirPods Max 2 and the first Sonos headphones

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.