The active noise cancellation has made the jump from the headphone headphones to the truly wireless (true wireless). To the point that now the best must take this function to compete, for example, with the Sony WF-1000XM3 model: this model not only offers excellent noise cancellation, but also excels in audio, autonomous, ergonomic and design . But the launch of Apple's AirPods Pro has changed the landscape once again. With the long-awaited resistance to sweat and water IPX4 and a surprising reduction of noise and sound quality, they not only resemble those of Sony in price, but also in performance. The battle of Sony vs Apple headphones continues. Which of the two models is better?
The Sony WF-1000XM3 captivated us from the beginning with its sound quality. With the typical Sony style, these headphones show great clarity and excellent definition at both the upper and lower ends of the frequency scale. With the Sony DSEE HX engine they perform miracles with low quality MP3 files and audio transmissions, making all music sources enjoyable. Better yet, the Sony Headphone Connect app offers you a wide variety of settings in the equalizer in case the default values do not suit your needs.
What really surprised us, however, was how close Apple AirPods Pro were in terms of unseating Sony's in sound quality. Given how uninspiring AirPods are when it comes to this category, it was a bit shocking to put the Pro in our ears and discover that Apple can make headphones with fantastic sound. Part of this is due to the design in ear that blocks external sounds, but we must also recognize the myth of Apple's adaptive equalizer for its role in tuning the overall sound experience.
The AirPods Pro sounds fantastic, yes, but the WF-1000XM3 still have an advantage. With a richer and more complete performance, we believe that most people prefer Sony's.
Winner: Sony WF-1000XM3
If the performance of the AirPods Pro had an impact on the sound quality, we were also surprised how well they behaved in the calls. It's one of those times when you don't know how much better something can be until you compare it, and Apple showed that, compared to the Sony WF-1000XM3, AirPods Pro are better at making calls. The voices are clearer, but the most important thing is that the Pro blocked the sounds better than the competition in noisy environments such as city streets.
Winner: Apple AirPods Pro
Surprises continue in this category. Sony has been refining the art and science of active noise cancellation (ANC) for years, and its ANC headphones have only had one true competitor: Bose. So when Sony are the WF-1000XM3 as the first truly wireless headphones with this function, with the type of performance we expected, we think that, once again, the first real competition of the company in this space will come from Bose. But we were wrong.
Apple does not have as much experience in noise cancellation as Sony, but that does not mean that the AirPods Pro do a brilliant job of masking outside sounds. In the transparency mode, although it is not adjustable, they do an equally good job of letting those sounds in while still feeling natural.
But which are better? Our editors were divided. Some were in favor of Sony's approach, while others considered that Apple offered a better cancellation. The end result is that, in any case, you will get a great ANC, and Apple users do not have to worry that they are giving up anything when choosing AirPods Pro.
After the challenge of comparing the sound quality, somewhat subjective, it was a relief to analyze the category of battery life that is a matter of numbers. They are not even close here.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 can run 6 hours on a single charge and offer 24 hours of charging in total with its charging case (and this with the ANC on). Turn it on and those numbers will jump to 8 and 30. The fast charging system means that 10 minutes in the case will give you 90 minutes of autonomy.
The AirPods Pro gives you 4.5 hours on a charge and 24 hours in total with its charging case. It only improves in half an hour if the ANC and the transparency mode are deactivated. However, the fast charging system is very satisfactory, with an autonomous hour after 5 minutes in the case.
Winner: Sony WF-1000XM3
The truly wireless headphones are designed to take them a long time, as they accompany you everywhere. That is why it is important to know how they behave in everyday circumstances.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 are a bit bulky. This does not affect your comfort or your ability to remain in place, but it does mean that your carrying case is, consequently, bulky. Sony does a good job of making the charging case elegant with its flip-up copper-colored lid, but it will take up enough space in your purse or pocket. Despite the excellent battery life, when the time comes to charge the case, you will have to use a USB cable, since there is no option for wireless charging.
These headphones are easy to use, with sensitive touch controls. And now they are even better, since a version of firmware November 26 gave them the ability to control the volume, something they can't do before and that the AirPods Pro still can't do. However, those touch controls do not work if you are wearing gloves, something you should consider for winter.
Finally, although we have never heard of any problem, Sony does not have the IPX rating to resist sweat, water or dust.
AirPods Pro are even smaller than previous AirPods, with a shorter projection. They still possess that iconic aspect of tee White golf, but in a more compact package. Smaller headphones means a smaller charging case, and the AirPods Pro have one of the smallest. Shorter and narrower than the AirPods case, it barely takes up space. It has a flip-up lid with easy opening and you can charge it with a Lightning cable or wirelessly with a Qi charging mat.
AirPods Pro controls are a bit easier to use because they are squeezed instead of hitting outside. While wearing thin gloves, they are also easier to use in cold climates. If you are an iPhone user, there is the additional advantage of using hands-free with Siri, something that the WF-1000XM3 cannot do with any voice assistant.
Then there is the IPX4 classification. It is not a ton of protection, but give you peace of mind when exercising or cleaning the headphones.
In general, AirPods Pro are easier to use.
Winner: Apple AirPods Pro