Your new wireless sound buds
Why Sony's WF-1000XM3 lives up to its claim
Well this took a while; following the WF-1000X over two years ago, Sony finally has a follow-up to its truly wireless noise-cancelling headphones, the WF-1000XM3. Again, Sony, since you've got some really cool audio products, why not try giving them cooler names, too?
These buds are, pound-for-pound, bulkier than Apple's AirPods, Samsung's Galaxy Buds and Huawei's FreeBuds. It's not the lightest at 14gm per bud, but you still get the feeling you're wearing nothing when they're on.
There are two colour options, black and silver; our review unit was the former, but I have a preference for the latter. And while its case is gorgeous - black with an elegant copper lid - it is quite big. Its NFC chip and an LED indicator are located just where you open the lid. Right under is a USB-C port. Inside the box are six pairs of spare buds - three each of foam and rubber - so you're guaranteed the right fit.
And, of course, to enhance this device's capabilities, download the Sony Headphones Connect app, which can do a whole lot of stuff for you. It can automatically detect your actions, which will then adjust how to take in ambient sound. There's also what Sony calls 360 Reality Audio, which allows more immersive audio - think of it as an alternative version of surround sound that really works wonders, as if you're in a movie theatre. That one, however, will only work with certain apps.
Within the app, an equaliser is also at your disposal, as well as ear analysis to find your perfect fit. You can also change the function of either bud, from ambient sound control, playback, Google Assistant or even none at all; even if you choose the last one, pairing and call operations won't be affected. And for good measure, Sony, in its latest firmware update, added Alexa support.
Keep in mind, however, that you can only use the app and adjust what you wish when you're wearing the buds.
Tapping on the left bud's sensor cycles through noise cancellation, ambient sound and ambient sound control off. The right, meanwhile, does the usual stuff:play/pause, answer/end calls and skip tracks forward/backward. To pair it, you need to touch and hold both sensors for about seven seconds.
Sound quality is, without doubt, excellent, especially when you fire up the bass with the equaliser; the audio is crisp and you'd readily notice the difference if you stack it up with certain rivals. But, of course, the real deal here is every high-end audio firm's key selling point - noise cancellation.
And these babies sure do the trick. It's perfect for busy streets and crowded places; in fact, it's so good that trying to speak to someone with noise cancellation on is a very daunting task - so the best option is to either kick in ambient sound or just totally remove them.
Battery life is also superb. With up to six hours on a single charge, it easily surpasses some of the best juices in wireless buds out there; turn off noise cancellation, and Sony says, you can get up to a ridiculous eight hours. The charging case holds three full-cycle charges, and it even has a quick mode in which plugging it in for just 10 minutes will give you an hour-and-a-half of life.
For some reason, they have the tendency to slip off your ears; I tried running and bobbing my head like crazy and, eventually, they'd be out of place in a matter of time - particularly the foam ones for me. What's more, there's no IP rating listed, so this can be a question mark in case you decide to do some rigid activity with it.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 offers value for money. Its noise-cancelling capabilities are a huge plus, and its ambient mode is equally calming. Some may balk at its case size, but that's secondary, because of the superb battery life it offers. Its tendency to fall off is a head-scratcher as well, but as long as it's on your ears, go ahead and enjoy. It's actually so good that even without the app, you're still good to go.
Headphone type: Closed, dynamic
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, NFC
Battery: Up to 8h (noise cancellation off), quick charge
Pros: Great sound, greater battery, sturdy noise cancellation
Cons: No IP rating, tends to fall off, case too big
Author's Rating: 4/5