New Sony WH-1000XM4 features revealed in a leak – and they sound very impressive

Sony WH-1000XM3
The Sony WH-1000XM3. (Image credit: Sony)

New details about the Sony WH-1000XM4 have come to light, revealing that the wireless headphones could be among the smartest cans we've ever seen.

Twitter user @justplayinghard published their findings from a teardown of the Sony Headphones Connect APK (Android Application Package), uncovering some of the impressive features we can expect from the follow-up to the Sony WH-1000XM3 – otherwise known as the best headphones of 2020 (and 2019, and 2018). 

According to the teardown, the Sony WH-1000XM4 will be able to connect to more than one device at once, allowing you to quickly switch between them – this appears to be limited to two devices, however. 

While the Sony WH-1000XM3 can already store multiple Bluetooth connections, you do have to disconnect from one to pair with another device. This feature would make it easier to share the headphones with a friend (or quickly swap your audio source from your tablet to your smartphone), however, it looks like the Hi-Res Audio LDAC codec won't be available when using multi-point pairing.

Perhaps the most interesting rumored feature is 'Smart Talking'. This means that when the Sony WH-1000XM4 detect a voice, they'll automatically enable ambient sound, allowing environmental noise to pass through the headphones so you can hear the conversation without removing your earcups. After a time of your choosing (Fast, Mid, Slow, or None), the noise cancellation will be restored.

According to XDA Developers (which corroborated the leaks with its own teardown), "users will also be able to adjust the voice detection sensitivity from Auto (based on ambient sound), High, or Low in case users find that it activates too often (such as when the person speaking is close by) or too little (such as when you’re in a vehicle). You can toggle this setting either from within the app or from (likely) the NC/Ambient button on the headphones."

sony wh-1000xm3

The Sony WH-1000XM4 won't look very different from their predecessors (pictured). (Image credit: TechRadar)

Extreme upscaling

The Sony WH-1000XM4 will also reportedly "be able to change some (if not all) headphone settings based on your location (set locations or your own) and uses [sic] Google Maps API for it". 

Changing the noise cancellation settings based on location is already possible with the Sony WH-1000XM3, thanks to a recent update – however, the use of Google Maps could automate this process, negating the need to input your locations into the Sony Connect app yourself.

It looks like the audio quality will be improved, too. The Sony Connect app teardown revealed strings of code for something called 'DSEE Extreme'. 

The Sony WH-1000XM3 already use a feature called DSEE HX to upscale sound sources to higher quality – DSEE Extreme is likely an upgraded version of this technology. 

Lastly, and as expected, the teardown revealed that the Sony WH-1000XM4 won't be getting any major design changes – although they will apparently come in three colors, including black, silver, and white.

Unfortunately, no hint of a Sony WH-1000XM4 release date could be found within the APK – here's hoping we get to see the noise-cancelling headphones this year.

Can't wait until then? Check out the best Sony WH-1000XM3 deals we've found today:

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.