(Last Updated On: September 22, 2020)

Redesigned. Loaded With Features.

Sony WF-1000XM3
Sony WF-1000XM3
General Usage75.7 See Score Breakdown
Audiophile75.9

Pros:

  • »Flat sound signature
  • »Great battery life
  • »Solid build quality
  • »App support with many configurable options
  • »Stable Bluetooth connection
  • »Mic with good voice pickup

Cons:

  • »Slow charging speed
  • »No “Find My Earbuds” feature

Score Breakdown

Rating (out of 100) 75.7
80.3

Where to Buy

The Sony WF-1000XM3 is available on:

Introduction

The Sony WF-1000XM3’s predecessor, the WF-1000X, did not receive good reviews when it launched in 2017. Rightfully so.

The WF-1000X was Sony’s first foray into the true wireless (TWS) market and it has issues that are common to first-gen products – unstable connection, average battery life, and a less than stellar noise cancellation capability.

Sony’s answer was to take in all the feedback, improve upon them, and gave the product an even clumsier naming convention. Thus, the Sony WF-1000XM3 was born.

So how did it fare? Are there really no downsides to it?

Let’s find out.

Case

Sony WF-1000XM3's charging case
Sony WF-1000XM3’s charging case

Battery

  • Battery Life: 12 hrs
  • Connector: USB-C
  • Wireless Charging: No

Even though the amount of battery capacity is not stated, the bulkiness of the case does give us some hints on the amount of battery juice packed in it. Anything less than 10hrs would have been disappointing.

The TWS also has a modern feature of a USB-C charging port but sadly for the price range, there is no wireless charging.

The USB-C charging port on the case
The USB-C charging port on the case

UX

  • Can be open easily with one hand: Yes
  • Pass the shake test: Yes
  • Light Indicators: One light indicator on the front of the case

The case is well designed. The rounded body makes it really nice to touch and carry. The cover opens easily and can stay in place while open. It makes a nice magnetic thud when shut.

You can rest the case on the flat side and it will stay upright, exposing the charging connector on the top for easy access.
You can rest the case on the flat side and it will stay upright, exposing the charging connector on the top for easy access.

I like the way the charging port is positioned, right where the rounded portion of the case is. The case can stand perfectly upright while charging, with the light indicator visible. You can also easily unplug the charging cable since it is situated right at the top in the “standing charging” position.

The earbuds resting inside the case.
The earbuds resting inside the case.

The light indicators are confusing and give very little data (charging state, battery low). Without the manual, I have no clue as to what is going. I’m guessing Sony is relying on software (they have an accompanying Sony Headphones Connect mobile application) to display more granular data to the user.

If you have fat fingers like mine, you will find it slightly tricky to take the earbuds out of the case. This happens especially when both earbuds are in the case. It leaves only a small gap for the fingertip to “dig” the earbuds out.

Design

  • Material: Plastic
  • Build Quality: Good

The bulk of the case is made from plastic. However, the plastic that is used for the cover and the body frame is different. The body uses a nice rubberized plastic material that gives a smooth, premium feel to it.

Solid build quality on the Sony WF-1000XM3
Solid build quality on the Sony WF-1000XM3

The rounded bottom design is a refreshing take on the form factor of the charging case, but it is not really aesthetically pleasing to my eyes.

Portability

  • Weight: ~96g (With earbuds inside – 8.5g each)
  • Volume: 6.5 x 4.5 x 2.4 = 73.44cm cu (~4.4816 in cu)
  • Portability: Average

The charging case feels like a rock on my hand that can potentially double up as a self-protection weapon.

Earbuds

The earbuds of the Sony WF-1000XM3
The earbuds of the Sony WF-1000XM3

Battery

  • Battery Life: 4 hrs (with NC on)
  • Charge Time (15mins): 40 mins playback time

The battery life of the earbuds has decent battery life at 4 hrs when the noise cancellation (NC) is on and 4.5 hrs while NC is off.

The charging speed is terribly slow. It takes 1.5 hrs to fully charge the earbuds.

UX

  • Control Mechanism: Touch
  • Touch Accuracy: Good
  • Control Symmetry on both earbud: Depends on configuration
  • Mono Use: Yes (Both sides)
  • Cannot on/off
  • Controls on the left and right earbud can be configured

The touch control of the WF-1000XM3 is implemented well in terms of responsiveness and hit accuracy. There is a circular flat surface that indicates the location of the touch sensor. This makes it intuitive for you to know if your fingers are landing on the right position.

The area of the touch sensor clearly demarcated.
The area of the touch sensor clearly demarcated.

In terms of functionality controls, the Sony Headphones Connect app allows the control to be configurable across both the earbuds. I recommend choosing “Volume Control” for the left earbud and “Playback Control” for the right earbud.

If there is no volume control found, please update your firmware.

Design

  • Profile: High
  • Material: Plastic, rubber, metal
  • Comfort: Good
  • Fit: Average

The elongated shape of the earbuds gives off a “headset” kind of a vibe. It also has a high profile when worn and that’s why I can easily spot someone wearing the WF-1000XM3. This could be a positive or negative point for you, depending on how flamboyant you are.

I'm not a big fan of how it looks when worn.
I’m not a big fan of how it looks when worn.

The earbuds are comfortable to wear and don’t drop out when I shake my head vigorously. However, I always felt like the earbuds don’t fit as snugly as other TWS such as the Jabra 75T or Samsung Galaxy Buds.

The short nozzle
The short nozzle

Mic

  • Noise Cancellation: Average
  • Voice Pick-up: Good

The mic does pick up a considerable amount of background noise but the voice pick-up is really good. Despite the bustling background, my voice still sounds clear and the volume is audible.

Sound

  • Driver: 6mm CCAW Dynamic Driver
  • Active Noise Cancellation: Average
  • Sound Signature: Flat
  • Sub-bass: Bad
  • Bass: Average
  • Mids: Good
  • Treble: Good
  • Sound Detail: Average

I’m comparing the WF-1000XM3 with two other similar active noise-canceling TWS (but with way saner names):

  1. Jabra Elite Active 75t
  2. Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
All three TWS comes with EQ options but I’m comparing them with their default setting (No EQ).
The Sony WF-1000XM3 looking cool here.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 looking cool here.

Active Noise Cancellation

I think the ANC capability is decent. It doesn’t come close to what over-ear ANC headphones like the Bose 700 or WH-1000XM4 offers but it does quiet down the low droning ambient sound noticeably. I find that the Jabra 75T’s ANC effect is stronger than the WF-1000XM3.

Overall sound quality

The WF-1000XM3 has a flat sound signature where the sound is kept mostly natural without any major tweaking or emphasizing of the frequency range. Despite having a mild sub-bass, the overall bass performance still is decent with the tightness and impact. The mids is where I think the WF-1000XM3 truly shines and it complements well with the bass and the treble.

Bass

The sub-bass on the WF-1000XM3 is dismal and you can barely feel it. Both the 75t and the Galaxy Buds Live beat Sony hands down in the sub-bass department.

Surprisingly, the bass on the Sony wasn’t too bad. It was tight and articulate, unlike the Galaxy Buds live which sounded a little boomy for my taste. The WF-1000XM3’s bass impact is noticeable but the 75t moves more air than the Sony.

The red light indicates that the earbuds are currently charging.
The red light indicates that the earbuds are currently charging.

Mids

I really enjoyed the mids on the WF-1000XM3. I can’t find any major flaws with the vocals. They sounded clear with no coloration. Both the 75t and Galaxy Buds are on par with the Sony on the general mids performance.

The part where the WF-1000XM3 shines slightly more than the two is how the bass plays with the mids. As the Sony IEM has a less emphasized bass, the mids stand out more with less distraction, giving a more forward presentation.

Treble

The treble on the WF-1000XM3 has a good amount of control on when it should shine and when it should hold back. The upper treble is where Sony has done a much good job of bringing out the excitement without being overly bright. The 75t, in comparison, was a little more aggressive in smoothing the upper treble which reduces the overall enjoyment.

Connectivity

  • Audio Codec: SBC, AAC
  • Bluetooth Version: 5.0
  • Auto-connect when: Taken out of case
  • Average drop-outs in an hour: 1 – 2 times
  • Multi-point connection: No

As a flagship Sony product, I’m surprised that the TWS doesn’t come with LDAC support. Apparently, it was revealed in an interview that the company wanted to prioritize battery life while balancing sound quality, hence, the exclusion of the LDAC codec.

The back of the Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds
The back of the Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds

They also claimed to be using a special processor chip – QNe1 that does not include the usual aptX support from Qualcomm TWS technology.

In general, the Bluetooth connection is very stable and the pairing is a breeze. The only disappointment here is the lack of a multi-point connection. You can find other TWS at the same price bracket (Jabra 75t etc) that already offer such a feature.

Waterproof

  • IP Rating: NA

No IP rating provided by the manufacturer and I wouldn’t recommend it for any exercises due to the fit of the earbuds.

Software

  • Manual EQ + Preset
  • 360 Audio Ear Analysis
  • Granular Noise Cancellation
  • No “Find my Earbuds” feature

The amount of configuration that the Sony Headphones Connect app allows you to do is impressive. Other than the EQ presets give, you can manually tweak the EQ and save them as a profile.

The app shows the battery life of both the earbuds and the case.
The app shows the battery life of both the earbuds and the case.

You can also select the level (20 steps) of active noise cancellation (ANC) that you want. The lower the value, the stronger the ANC effect.

The app contains a bunch of features where you can adjust the ANC, the EQ settings, etc
The app contains a bunch of features where you can adjust the ANC, the EQ settings, etc

As mentioned above, you can also configure the functionalities of each earbud individually. Too bad, the on/off function is not included.

It has 3D sound support (360 Audio Ear Analysis) where you are supposed to take a snapshot of your ears and the app will project the sound in a 3d space, giving you a very wide soundstage. This is effectively the same technology that was pioneered by the Creative SXFI.

Lacking the “Find My Earbuds” feature

The only downside is that there is no Find My Earbuds feature where you are able to track the last position of the earbuds.