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Revisiting the Sony WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds

Sony Wf1000xm4 earbuds out of case
Sony Wf1000xm4 earbuds out of case (Image credit: Prakhar Khanna / Android Central)

The Sony WF-1000XM4 are the company's latest premium flagship earbuds. They have been in the market for a while now, which means there are already several reviews to help make your purchase decision easier. Ara Wagoner hailed them as close to perfect in her review. So why read yet another take on the same earbuds after months of launch? Well, after the newness wears off, initial impressions might change.

I've been using the XM4 earbuds for a while, and I noticed nuances during my day-to-day usage. The Sony earphones are feature-rich on paper, but do these features translate into real-life advantages? Do these fancy features even come into use in everyday life? After several months, let's reevaluate what you know about the Sony WF-1000XM4.

Things I like about the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds

Sony Wf1000xm4 Earbuds in case

Source: Prakhar Khanna / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Prakhar Khanna / Android Central)

There's no doubt about it; these are still some great earbuds. They are jam-packed with the latest and greatest features, and they fit like a dream. (More on that later.) There's a lot to love about the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds, but do the reviews hold up? After owning them for a while, here's what I still love.

Sound and noise cancellation

Right off the bat, I'll tell you this: The Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds feature stellar sound quality and top-notch ANC performance. You get nice details with instrument separation, clear vocals, and an overall warm sound without being profoundly thumpy. If that's not your type, you can adjust the sound to different profiles via the Headphones Connect app.

As you'd expect, the noise canceling is improved compared to the predecessor XM3 earbuds. It is now right up there with the Bose QuietComfort earbuds. The new V1 chip's performance combines with the passive isolation of earbud tips to deliver magical ANC performance. Even at low (less than 50%) volume, it'll help you isolate the external noises like the mumbling noise in the park when you go out to walk.

Speak-to-chat

Sony WF-1000XM4 True Wireless Earbuds

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

I absolutely love this feature. As someone who lives with his parents, I have to be attentive when mom talks to me while I have earbuds on — you don't know what might happen if you don't answer.

With speak-to-chat, you can start talking, and the earbuds go into ambient sound mode and pause the music. This way, you can have a conversation with the earbuds in your ears without having you pause the music physically or take them out. The music resumes within a few seconds when you stop talking, and the noise cancelation gets activated.

However, this feature might not be super helpful and might get irritating if you like to sing aloud with your tunes. Fortunately, Sony gives you the option to toggle speak-to-chat within the Headphones Connect app.

Long tap for Quick Attention

If you don't want the speak-to-chat feature but still want to talk to people without taking off your earbuds, there is a solution for you as well. Borrowing it from the flagship headphones, the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds feature the Long Tap for Quick Attention feature.

It allows you to long-press your left earbud to lower the music volume and activate the ambient sound mode. Unlike the speak-to-chat feature, Quick Attention doesn't pause your music.

Battery notification, battery life, and a petite case

Sony Wf1000xm4 earbuds lying on table

Source: Prakhar Khanna / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Prakhar Khanna / Android Central)

I usually forget to charge my audio equipment and am disappointed when they are at low battery levels when I need them. If you are anything like me, this feature on the Sony WF-1000XM4 is a blessing. Each time I put them in, they tell me how much battery life is left in each bud. This way, I instantly know how many hours of music juice is left.

Another plus is that you won't need to charge these earbuds frequently, even if you have them in the whole day. The Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds offer amazing battery life. The earbuds can last you up to eight hours on a single charge, and combined with the case, you can get two more full charge cycles.

These flagship earbuds are more pocketable this time around.

My typical use case includes having them on for meetings and a two-hour music session before I go to sleep. I've been charging the device weekly. Even if you hit low battery on the earbuds, you can put them in the case for five minutes and gain 90 minutes of playback time.

Speaking of cases, unlike the Sony WF-1000XM3 wireless earbuds, this case is 40% smaller and weighs just 7.4 grams versus 8.2 grams on the predecessor. These flagship earbuds are more pocketable this time around.

Snuggly fit while I try to sleep

I've been desperately looking for earbuds that fit my ear and don't fall off when I sleep on my side. I'm primarily a headphones person, but those can't be worn to bed, and the AirPods' stem design is too bad for side-sleepers like me.

The XM4s are the first earbuds that I've used in a while that fit my ears and don't tend to fall off every now and then, making me search for the tiny buds in the middle of the night.

Things I didn't like

Sony Wf1000xm4 earbuds in case

Source: Prakhar Khanna / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Prakhar Khanna / Android Central)

No device is perfect, and while the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds are close to it, there are a few things that aren't that great about them. If these details are your jam, it may be best to look elsewhere for a pair of earbuds.

No multi-device Bluetooth pairing

When working from home, it is important to have audio devices that can connect to your PC and your smartphone simultaneously. No one wants to mess with Bluetooth settings when jumping between the two devices. This is a big miss on the Sony WF-1000XM4.

At $280, not having multi-device Bluetooth pairing is a crime. As a reviewer, I juggle between phones, and have no less than two on me at a time. I want to be able to connect to the one I have in my hand and not the phone sitting in the next room. Even the older non-flagship Sony XB-900N headphones can connect to two devices simultaneously. All in all, it is a major omission.

My ears hurt if I plug them in for long durations

Sony Wf1000xm4 earbuds lying out of case

Source: Prakhar Khanna / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Prakhar Khanna / Android Central)

While the battery life can last up to 8 hours on the earbuds, you might not want to wear them for longer durations. I haven't worn them for more than 3 hours at a time, but when I take them off, I have a weird feeling in my ears for the whole day.

It still happens after weeks of use. Yes, every ear is built differently, but if you have smaller ears, you might have problems with the fitting.

Choosing between controls for ambient sound or volume

I'm not too fond of the fact that I have to choose between ambient sound/noise-canceling or volume controls on the left earbud. My right one is set for playback controls and offers single tap, double-tap, triple tap, and long press for controls. Meanwhile, the left earbud only offers a single tap or long-press for both ambient sound and volume controls.

It offers all the options, including double and triple taps if you choose to have playback controls on the left earbud. As a result, you can't have volume controls and noise-canceling controls simultaneously.

Should you buy the Sony WF-1000XM4?

None of these three points are really a deal-breaker for all the advantages offered by the Sony-WF1000XM4 earbuds. Still, it's good to take a look back and see past those rose-colored glasses after time has passed. They are still a great buy, regardless. They sound fantastic, have excellent noise cancellation, and have great battery life packed in a smaller package, making them one of the best wireless earbuds on the market.

Prakhar contributes with commerce content and writes features and editorials for Android Central.
Contact: parkydoesstuff(at)gmail(dot)com

7 Comments
  • Points are spot on. The multi-point, long term comfort and touch controls are what keep me from replacing my Bose QC30's for serious long duration and daily usage. There is no reason for $300 earbuds to lack the multipoint and I really hope Sony adds touch control customization to the earbuds in future.
  • I hope the same. The lack of multipoint BT bothers me a lot too!
  • How in the world can you review earbuds without a single comment on how they sound while making calls? Specifically, how YOU sound to another caller. For anyone interested in these, I would HIGHLY advise testing this out before your return window lapses.
  • I've been using these for 6 months based on reviews and they have issues every single day. Pairing is annoying but I can live with it. You can't customize what touching the buttons do like pausing. And worst of all as we know Sony has never been good at software, and the Bluetooth connection is constantly dropping even if I am standing still with my phone in my pocket. Is the sound good? Yea. Is it worth it? No.
  • I have had them for a while and my only gripe with them is the touch controls. Say I'm mowing the lawn and want to adjust the fit. I reach up and accidentally disable the noise cancelling creating a not pleasant experience. Honestly that is my only minor gripe with them. Apple is not my platform of choice but the pressure sensitive touch sensors on the airpod pros are nice. If they had that they would be perfect.
  • There is an option in the app to disable all touch controls under system. Copy and paste from
    The app below. I would think Sony would have an iOS app like on Android but I don't have an iOS device to confirm. I would be surprised if they do given all the options there are sound quality You can change the function assigned to the touch sensor on the left. Reset Function: None Assigned Touch operation will become disabled. Pairing operation is available on this setting.
  • I own these and they are by far the best sounding earbuds available outside some potentially way pricier brands. I did find the silicon/foam tips to be uncomfortable after the 2 or 3 hours but that can easily be fixed with some spinfit replacements. They are rubber, and give just as good of a seal so no ANC is lost. If anything, you might lose 5 percent of the ANC but for all day comfort it's well worth it. I saw someone post about voice quality. It's good but if voice is your main concern then there are better buds out there. Sony actually came out with a new pair that they claim can be worn all day and the design is, unique to say the least. Since they are geared towards voice the sound quality isn't nearly as good but also about half the costs.