Sony WI-C400 review: Best in class battery

If you want some cheap earbuds that offer great battery life, Sony's WI-C400 are for you!

Earbuds are easy to come by these days, and good earbuds are plentiful. When you don't need to spend more than $20 or $30 to pipe music into your head

Sony has been part of the audio game for the longest time, and its WI-C400 earbuds are well worth their $68 asking price.

The Good

  • Lightweight
  • Long, 20-hour battery life
  • Sturdy design
  • Multiple color options

The Bad

  • Micro-USB charging
  • Some users may not like the non-retractable design

Sony WI-C400 earbuds What I like

Earbuds are the headphones I use when I'm in the gym, taking helpdesk calls at my day job, or if I just don't want the bulk of my over-ear headphones in my backpack for the day. Battery life super important — even more so than audio quality, if I'm being honest — because I'd hate to be without a charge in any of these situations.

The WI-C400 headphones are excellent in nearly every situation.

The WI-C400 are excellent in all of these scenarios, as well as just for generic music listening. Neckbuds typically have retractable cables for the actual earbuds, but these just use a series of holes to keep the cables under control. At first, I wasn't a fan of this — I much prefer the cleaner look that retractable earbuds offer. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the upsides to Sony's layout: there's more room inside for battery, there's no chance either of the cables will be stuck inside its housing, and there's no chance of the retraction method wearing out over time. The pulley system here does a great job of keeping the cables from dangling down my chest but also lets me get an earbud in if a call comes in.

These are strictly Bluetooth earbuds, even though some of Sony's other wireless in-ear headphones support audio through their USB charging ports. This is Bluetooth 4.2, not the newer 5.0. That may seem like a downside, but when using the earbuds, it doesn't matter. The WI-C400 have the strongest connection of anything I've used — even better than Bluetooth 5.0 headphones — and I was able to walk completely from one side of the gym to the other and hear my music without any stuttering or dropouts. That was on a busy Saturday morning, with a bunch of other gym goers and their headphones between my phone and these earbuds.

Sound quality is great too. These use the AAC audio codec instead of the better aptX or Sony's own LDAC. I'm sure using these technologies would sound better, but that comes at the cost of battery life. No matter if I was on a phone call, listening to some great musicians, or the best Android podcast in the world, everything sounded clear and great. Tastes will differ of course, but these are worth a try before buying some more expensive buds.

That leads us to my favorite thing about these earbuds: the battery life. Sony advertises 20 hours of listening with these, and even at full blast, I manage at least 19 hours before the battery dies. I use earbuds for about 11 hours per day, so using something like the OnePlus Bullets Wireless with eight hours of battery life means I have to charge the headphones in the middle of the day. Not the end of the world, but I'd rather use something like these that lasts the entire day and then some.

Sony WI-C400 earbuds What I don't like

USB-C charging would push these headphones from great to outstanding.

My only real complaint with these earbuds is that they use Micro-USB for charging instead of the reversible USB-C. My phone, laptop, portable battery, Nintendo Switch and wireless keyboard already charge with USB-C, so it'd be great to have one more device in my home that used the newer connection. It'd also make packing for trips easier since I'd just need one cable. USB-C charging — especially with fast charging — would push these headphones from great to outstanding.

Sony WI-C400 Should you buy them?

Yes. If you like neckbuds and don't mind the non-retractable cable, these are great for you. At $68, they're much better than comparably priced earbuds, especially if battery life is your main concern. Micro-USB for charging is kind of a sticking point for me, but it's common enough still that I don't think anyone should be deterred.

4.5 out of 5

If you want some great sounding neckbuds that last forever, these are for you.

Tom Westrick