The Sony WH-1000XM5 may not be the five-star follow-up we were expecting

sony wh-1000xm4
The Sony WH-10000XM4 wireless headphones. (Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

The Sony WH-1000XM5 are the most hotly-anticipated pair of headphones expected to come out this year, with the expectation that they'll follow in the footsteps of their five-star predecessors, the WH-1000XM4. 

However, a new leak has dampened those high expectations, suggesting that the successors to the best headphones you can buy today won't be quite as impressive as we were hoping. 

Pictures of the retail packaging for the Sony WH-1000XM5 have been leaked on Reddit (via The Verge), and they show a claimed battery life of 30 hours. If these photos are legitimate (and it's important to note that Sony hasn't even confirmed that it's working on a new pair of over-ear headphones) then that figure is 10 hours less than the 40-battery life that was previously reported by TechnikNews

Not as long-lasting as we'd hoped

a render of the sony wh-1000xm5 headphones

A previous leak shows the Sony WH-1000XM5 could come with a more streamlined design. (Image credit: TechnikNews)

The Sony WH-1000XM4 already offer a 30-hour battery life with active noise cancellation enabled – and it would be a shame if the company didn't make an improvement in this area for its next pair of flagship headphones. After all, there are over-ear wireless headphones on the market that are capable of delivering over 50 hours of playback from a single charge, so Sony risks being left behind by the competition. 

Saying that, a 40-hour battery life is still possible, even if these packaging photos are accurate. As The Walkman Blog speculates, that higher figure could represent the battery life when the Sony WH-1000XM5 are used with an energy efficient codec. The WH-1000XM4 are capable of extending their battery life to 38 hours when listening with the SBC codec and active noise cancellation is switched off - and it may be that the XM5 will come with a similar trick up their sleeves. 

The packaging images also appear to show the WH-1000XM5 will come with Sony 360 Reality Audio support, hi-res audio support, noise cancellation, and Alexa / Google Assistant built-in. 

That largely matches up with previous Sony WH-1000XM5 leaks and rumors, which have also hinted at a more streamlined design with generously padded earcups. Based on previous release dates in the WH-1000X range of headphones, we're expecting the new cans to be officially launched in August - and we think they'll come with a similar price tag to their predecessors ($350 / £350 / AU$550).

As with any leak, it's important to take these details with a hefty pinch of salt. We've reached out to Sony for comment, and we'll update this article when we know more.

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.