Sony WH-1000XM3: are we about to see a new version of 2019's best headphones?

Best Sony W-1000XM3 sales and prices
(Image credit: Sony)

The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones have been our top pick for the best headphones since their release in August 2018 – and now an FCC filing suggests that a new pair of Sony noise-canceling headphones are on the horizon. 

Spotted by The Verge, an FCC filing for the Wireless Noise Canceling Stereo Headset WH-1000XM4 was submitted by Sony Corporation on December 15, which suggests that a successor to the highly successful wireless headphones could be announced soon.

While the FCC filing gives no indication of a release date, the Sony WH-1000XM4 could be announced at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. 

The world's biggest tech show runs from Tuesday January 7 through Friday, January 10, and promises lots of product launches and announcements from big players like Sony. 

(Image credit: Sony)

What to expect from the Sony WH-1000XM4

Aside from the name of the new headphones, the FCC filing doesn't reveal much about the new headphones – but we can hazard a few guesses as to the new features that could be on offer. 

Although the Sony WH-1000XM3 successfully fought off competition from Bose in 2019, Sony could take a leaf from its competitor's book and apply noise-cancelation to phone calls as well as music, just like the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

This could address the mediocre call quality we discovered in our Sony WH-1000XM3 review

We could also see improved audio quality; while the XM3s sounded undoubtedly brilliant, it's been sixteen months since they were launched – and audio technology is improving all the time. 

Sony could achieve this by including support for Qualcomm's latest Bluetooth codec, aptX Adaptive, which delivers lower latency, higher resolution wireless audio than its predecessors. 

It may be time for a change in terms of design, too; Bose's Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless (2019) are so striking, Sony's headphones look a little... drab in comparison. 

Saying that, the WH-1000XM3 were the best headphones of 2018 and 2019 for a reason, and if Sony can build on the success of its flagship cans, the rumored Sony WH-1000XM4 could well be the best headphones of 2020.

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.