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Sony’s response has been inconsistent so far.
A recent post on r/SonyHeadphones detailing how a user’s Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds burst open has caused some concern about the earbuds and their history of exploding. A quick Reddit search reveals that the incident is not an isolated case. What happened, and how much of a risk is there to customers?
Two months ago, a user on the Sony headphones subreddit made a concerning post about their WF-1000XM4 earbuds. He mentions that his earbuds suddenly “got hot” and then burst open, backing this up with a photograph of the aftermath of the explosion.
The OP didn’t share much detail about how it happened, or what prompted the explosion.
Yet, many users urged him to get in contact with Sony about the issue, and a later update informed us that the broken headphones were replaced with an updated pair of WF-1000XM5s.
However, this wasn’t a one-time incident with this specific model. Many other users have reported their earbuds exploding– on one occasion while still in use– and most weren’t lucky enough to receive a free replacement.
How Are the Earbuds Exploding, and Is It Dangerous?
According to users who’ve experienced this phenomenon, the earbuds would overheat and then pop open, releasing a ‘chemical-like’ smell and often revealing a broken battery.
This seems to be more common when the earbuds are charging, but it can also happen when they aren’t connected to any power source.
There has only been one report of the earbuds exploding in someone’s ear. Fortunately, they weren’t directly harmed by the explosion, though that doesn’t mean they escaped without injury.
Other customers have avoided injury, though it was a close call for one user, who was left shaken after their earbuds exploded during a work meeting.
Another pair of earbuds exploded while being removed from the user’s ears.
The Cause of the Explosions
According to Sony customer support, the explosions are due to the earbuds overcharging, which pops the battery and leads to the whole earbud breaking open.
Some users have speculated that this could be due to the software update 1.4.2, which seemed to cause battery drainage issues and overheating while charging.
The first reports of exploding earbuds came about a year ago, which coincides with the software update.
However, the issue has persisted through several more recent updates, though not with earbuds that have only run the 1.5.0 release.
Users on r/SonyHeadphones have guessed that the faulty charging while the 1.4.2 software was running might have permanently damaged the battery. This lines up with the age of the earbuds affected, as many of the reports mention that their earbuds were out of warranty.
How Sony Has Responded
Despite numerous reports of this issue, Sony has not yet released a public statement or issued a recall on the earbuds.
Regarding replacement earbuds, some users have updated us on their customer service experience after their earbuds exploded. However, the response to this issue has been inconsistent.
Some customers, such as the OP who originally drew community attention, easily got his earbuds replaced or upgraded for free, even when out of warranty.
However, some weren’t so lucky.
“Sony support gave me just a number for my support ticket and literally didn’t do sh*t for more than a month,” complained Electrical_Wrap_8755 on r/SonyHeadphones.
“And proceeded to give me the addresses of the service locations near my area. I can already see the damn locations and phone numbers on the website, why the hell did you make me wait six weeks if the only thing you were gonna do is tell me to go figure it out by myself.”
For one user, Sony initially promised replacement earbuds, then reneged on this offer and requested a safety evaluation, even noting that repair costs might fall on the customer.
Many customers are hoping that Sony will take action about the issue, while others recommend that those who’ve experienced the explosions reach out to mainstream news outlets with their stories to pressure Sony into releasing a statement.