The Samsung Galaxy Buds and the Apple Air Pods may be the most popular true wireless buds out there in the market but there’s actually quite a lot of options there and the SONY WF-1000Xm3 is the first true wireless earphones worthy of the premium it is asking for. Sony has definitely done a good job with the WF-1000Xm3 based on our 2 week experience and review with the product and we’re very happy to share our findings with you.
What’s to Like:
- Active Noise Cancelling
- Adapative Sound Controls
- Great Software [via iOS and Android]
- Sound Quality
- Integrated Google Assistant
- Smart Play/Pause
- One Tap Controls
- Beautiful Design
- Great Battery Life
What Not to Like:
- Plenty of cheaper alternatives
- Bulky Charging Case
- No Wireless Charging for Case
No IP Resistance
Let’s head on to the review
First of all, it’s worth noting that this isn’t Sony’s first rodeo into true wireless earphones. It’s actually their 2nd attempt and the wait for this new generation is justified. Quick fact – The naming actually suggests that this is a 3rd generation Wireless buds but this was only to become uniform with their 3rd Generation WH-1000Xm3 Wireless ANC headset which we find is currently the best ANC headphone in the market right now.
That’s right, it’s named after one of the world’s best ANC headphones (if not the best) and appropriately because the Sony WF-1000Xm3 True wireless buds also offer Active Noise Cancelling – a feature which not a lot of brands can claim. Let’s talk about it in more detail later.
Second of all, it has a plethora of features that really make it worth it’s price. It’s on the mid-high end spectrum of true wireless buds but we hope this review can convince you to spend the extra $$$ to grab one of these instead of cheaper alternative.
Now, let’s take a quick look at the product.
Packaging and Design
The packaging of the the Sony WF-1000Xm3 is actually very SONY. It comes with a classic minimalist box but complete in information. I do have to say that i’m surprised the box was quite big though despite the product being small but when we opened it up, we understood why.
Inside the box, you’ll be greeted by the wireless pods (for charging the buds) and the buds themselves. Underneath these two, you’ll see a usb to typec cable (for charging the pod) and a generous set of various tips for different ear sizes. These tips are quite critical to the product for noise isolation. (Something we found lacking in the Apple Airpods, which otherwise would have been the best True wireless buds in 2019)
Last in the box is the pile of documentation, set up guide and warranty.
Checking out the product itself, if we were to choose a top 3 in best over-all design – we would definitely include the design of the WF-1000Xm3 along with Sennheiser’s True Wireless Momentum buds and the Apple Airpods which give a geek look. What we didn’t like however is the larger than most wireless charging pod. It’s almost 2x as big as the Galaxy buds pod or the airpods case, making this bulkier to bring with you than other alternatives.
Product itself though is top notch. It’s not as bulky as the Sennheiser Momentum but they’re still bulkier than the Galaxy earpods, and not nearly as slender or “cool” as the apple earpods. They’re quite light at sub10-grams each – listed at 8.5g at the specsheet – but they feel much lighter than others we’ve tested.
The subtle black design is appreciated and the only accent it has is the SONY branding which comes in a rose gold trim. It matches the case color scheme which comes in a rather non slip plastic-rubber like material and a rose gold top cover. My only gribe with the case, aside from it being larger than most, is that it doesn’t stand up right. You can have it lying down on either side or upside down, but not upright ready for propping open and taking out the buds. It’s annoying really.
Moving further, the fit is quite good in the ears using the one propped in out of the box but if they aren’t comfortable, there’s a bunch of other sizes to choose from. There’s 2 types of material and the rubbery one was more comfy to me versus the silicon-like variant.
When i first put it on, i was confident that it would stay in place but after a few tries of purposeful headbanging, the 8.5g weight seems to be making itself known wherein the buds would be consciously sliding out of the ears but never really falling off completely. You’ll have enough time to adjust but it would have been better if there was no need to. There’s no perfect solution except with a ear hook so this is not necessarily a bad thing.
I’d still say the fit and shape is much more appreciated than the Galaxy buds which, while felt light, never gave me the confidence that it’ll stay put or the Apple Airpods which had no rubbery surface to latch on against your skin.
The feature set of the WF-1000Xm3 is quite rich. There’s the usual Bluetooth but with an addition of NFC. I knew NFC was going to be easy so i tried to pair with the bluetooth first and i failed 3x before finally deciding to go the NFC route just to finally have it going on. Once it was connected though, everything was a breeze.
Aside from BT and NFC, there’s google assistant built-in and other software touches like Sony’s own audio processing including DSEE HX, and hardware touch functions like tap to pause, tap to change ambient noise or noise cancelling etc. There’s also a separate app that you can download for both iOS and Android and it has multiple EQs to choose from but you can also customize your own.
Another thing that’s appreciated is the proximity sensor that detects when you take off the buds and automatically pauses your music. My favourite function though is the ability to use just 1 earbud without having to activate the other.
Actually, how this works is amazing. Both earbuds work independently and connect individually to your phone so there’s no delay in either ear like in other buds where in your phone transmits the sound to one bud and then that bud transmits it to the other. This way, the sound goes directly to both buds in real time. It’s the same feature that allows you to use it independently of the other. Note though, You can’t use it on 2 separate devices at the same time though.
There are a few features and functions that i would have preferred though like a hardware level noise adjustment so you dont need to rely on your phone at all and be truly free from it. Atleast, their software is quite good!
Also, there’s no AptX HD support like it’s WH-1000Xm3 headset bigger brother.
In terms of quality, they don’t disappoint. They are in fact one of the better sounding wireless earbuds i’ve ever test. I’d still say the sound quality crown goes to the Sennheiser True Wireless Momentum bud and their IE8 audio drivers but the 6mm drivers inside the WF-1000Xm3 is pretty awesome already considering they cost almost 40% lower than the True Wireless from Sennheiser.
The details of audio are clear and there’s a wide soundstage to differnet genres of music we’ve tried. Granted the bass is a little on the lowside, the high’s and mid’s we’re pretty perfect. Guitar solos and acoustics come out vivid but drum beats and edm tunes can seem a bit washed out. Pop, Jazz and instrumentals is where the audio shine truly well, though. Vocal clarity is top notch, and this can actually be adjusted through the EQ settings of the app.
These settings we’re all while ANC we’re on though, and testing is a little bit different without it. They still sound much better than cheaper alternatives but they get distorted easily by outside noise and get drowned by environmental noises from the street. Granted you are probably buying the Sony WF-1000Xm3 for it’s ANC capabilities though, then outside sound is never going to be a problem as you can just block them out as the ANC is quite superb.
They aren’t on the same level as the WH-1000Xm3 but they perform miles away from other truewireless buds who rely solely on noise isolation. We were able to try the WF-1000Mx3 in flight and during short walks in the city and they served their purpose quite well. Sometimes even too good that we become totally unaware of our surroundsings. (Something you should take note of)
This is where the WF-1000Xm3 also shines. Apple airpods lasts a little over 4 hours in our testing and the Momentums are rated for the same (Real world may be less) but the WF-1000Mx3 lasted for around 5.5 hours on every single charge.
One thing i noticed though is that the left and right side drains battery at a different pace. The left side seems to drain faster and you’ll find yourself charging right away. There wasn’t a single time we used it for 6 hours straight though except for battery drain testing so everytime you do use it, it’ll be at full charge granted your case has charge too.
Additionally, the wireless charging case comes with the ability to charge the buds 3 full times for an additional 18hours, completing a full 24hour usage time suddenly making me appreiciate the huge case. Competitors only give additional 2 charges and none of them can claim a 24hour life (buds + charging case) like the WF-1000Xm3 can. We actually lasted for a full week in the city without having to recharge the case since we mostly used the buds an average of 3 hours per day only for small entertainment breaks or calls. [I really enjoyed the ANC function during calls since i used them in noisy areas.]
That’s not even the best part of the battery and charging thouhg. The best part is that you can get 90 minutes of audio time by just 10 minutes of charging. NOW, HOW ABOUT THAT?
The Sony WF-1000Xm3 is hand’s down the best True wireless buds in the market for us. True that there might be 1 or 2 better sounding options but they don’t offer nearly as good as a value as the Sony WF-1000Xm3 does.
The battery life and Active noise cancelling alone are reasons enough to pick Sony’s true wireless buds over competitors and the design and audio quality are secondary strong factors that should compel you to not even think twice about buying it.
At PHP12,990, it costs almost twice than that of the Galaxy buds, just a little over the Airpods with wireless charging or 40% cheaper than Sennheiser’s True Wireless Momentum so they aren’t exactly cheap or too expensive. Instead, they take the middle ground and attacks it’s competitors with a plethora of features that are going to take a long time for others to catch up to.
In the end, sony was able to play the price really well (justified by it’s over-all value) with their re-entry in the True Wireless category and have proved themselves the leader in audio as they consistently do with products like the WH-1000Xm3 which is the best in it’s class.