Sony WF-1000XM4 leak: are these the next best wireless earbuds in the world?

sony wf-1000xm3
The Sony WF-1000XM3 are the best wireless earbuds you can buy right now. (Image credit: Steve May)

Leaked images of the rumored Sony WF-1000XM4 have surfaced online, showing off a dramatic design overhaul for the best wireless earbuds you can buy right now, the Sony WF-1000XM3

Posted to Reddit by Key_Attention4766 (via The Walkman Blog), the images appear to reveal the packaging of the true wireless earbuds

sony wf-1000xm4 leaked image

(Image credit: Key_Attention4766)

Based on the images, it looks like the Sony WF-1000XM4 will have a sleeker build than their predecessors, with rounder housings and what look like memory foam ear tips. 

The gold Sony logo has also changed slightly, now appearing on the side of the earbuds rather than on the top. Meanwhile, a gold accented piece on the outside of the earbuds could be an external noise cancellation microphone, as The Walkman Blog speculates. 

The Reddit user also posted some additional images of the packaging, which shows the claimed battery life of six hours from the earbuds themselves, and a further 18 hours from the charging case. That's the same as the current-gen Sony WF-1000XM3, so you may be disappointed if you were hoping for a big improvement to battery life (assuming these images are legitimate, of course). 

Other specs gleaned from the packaging include a Hi-Res Audio Wireless certification and a return of the active noise cancellation technology that made the WF-1000XM3 so popular.

Are these images genuine?

The Sony WF-1000XM3 are our pick for the best true wireless earbuds you can buy today, thanks to their excellent sound quality, class-leading noise cancellation, sleek design, and value for money – but having launched in July 2019, it could well be time for a new generation to take over. 

Unfortunately, The Walkman Blog has been unable to verify the legitimacy of the images posted to Reddit, citing concerns with the font on the packaging and the placement of the Sony logo on the earbuds themselves. 

As with any leak, it's important to take these images with a pinch of salt. As Notebook Check points out, no reference to the WF-1000XM4 have been found on regulatory bodies, such as the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), so far, which usually provides a sign that a product is due to be launched imminently.

For that reason, we're not expecting to see the Sony WF-1000XM4 for some time. In fact, it's entirely possible that Sony will launch the fourth-gen wireless earbuds on the second anniversary of the WF-1000XM3, in July 2021.

Even so, it's hard to not get excited about this leak. If Sony can match the success of its over-ear WH-1000XM4, the brand could easily hold onto its crown as the best wireless earbuds manufacturer in the world – and with rumors of the Apple AirPods 3 and the AirPods Pro 2 also circulating, it could be a very good year for wireless earbuds enthusiasts indeed. 

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.