Sony WF-1000XM4 vs WF-1000XM3: Which Wire­less ANC Ear­phones Should You Buy

Namrata Gogoi

Sony is no stranger to noise-canceling earphones and headphones. The company has made quite a few popular ANC earphones in the past, including the WF-1000XM3 wireless earphones. Another new pair of wireless earphones to join this lineup is the Sony WF-1000XM4.

Sony WF 1000 XM4 vs WF 1000 XM3 8

Sony WF-1000XM3

Like its predecessor, the Sony WF-1000XM4 are true wireless earphones and offer active noise cancellation. Only this time, they are significantly smaller than the WF-1000XM3.

But at the end of the day, is it just the size that differentiates the Sony WF-1000XM4 from the WF-1000XM3? Or, is there something more than it meets the eye?

Well, that's what we are going to find in this post as we pit the Sony WF-1000XM3 against the Sony WF-1000XM4 to see the differences. But before that,

Specs That Matter

PropertySony WF-1000XM4Sony WF-1000XM3
PropertySony WF-1000XM4Sony WF-1000XM3
BluetoothBluetooth 5.2Bluetooth 5.0
IP ratingIPX4N/A
Wireless ChargingYesNo
NFCYesYes

1. Design

One of the first things that stands out about the Sony WF-1000XM4 is the design. The WF-1000XM4 looks nothing like its predecessor. The earbuds are small and more compact than the WF-1000XM3. Moreover, the size of the charging case has also been stripped down, resulting in a case that is easier to fit into pockets.

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Here, the packaging case is made from a special blend of environmental-friendly paper, and that is a huge plus, especially when the earth is struggling with recycling e-waste and plastics. The charging case has a matte finish, thereby making it easy to grip. More importantly, the matte surface gives it a premium look.

Sony WF 1000 XM4 vs WF 1000 XM3 7

The compact nature of the earbuds translates into a better fit. Sony bundles three sets of polyurethane foam ear tips with these buds. The polyurethane material ensures that you get a better fit, and as per the folks at Sound Guys, these ear tips easily mold to the shape of your ears.

Like its predecessor, you get a similar set of customizable touch controls. You can control the playback and play with the settings through the Sony Headphones companion app.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 also proves to be a good pair of gym earphones. These wireless buds are IPX4-rated and can take their share of sweat and moisture.

On the other hand, the Sony WF-1000XM3 is not one of the discreet-looking earphones out there. The buds as well as the charging case are a little bigger than some of their counterparts like the Galaxy Buds Pro. The latter is an issue especially if you want to fit the case inside trouser pockets.

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Aside from that, the dual-tone color lends a distinct premium look. And thanks to the nozzle-like fit of the ear tip, you can stay assured that the buds stay anchored to your ears, even when you do strenuous exercise.

When it comes to ear tips, Sony packs a total of eight sets for a better fit. It's worth noting that the foam-based ear tips are extremely comfortable to use.

Sony WF 1000 XM4 vs WF 1000 XM3 9

The touch buttons have great feedback and respond well to touch, even when your fingers are slick with sweat. In our case, we could easily change tracks or tweak the volume while running.

Surprisingly, the WF-1000XM3 earphones are not water-resistant. Though you can use them for light workouts, it's recommended not to use them if your ears sweat a lot.

2. Battery Life

Truly wireless earphones with Active Noise Cancellation or ANC play it a bit differently when it comes to battery life. For instance, the older WF-1000XM3 lasts for only 5-6 hours on a single charge. Thankfully, the bigger size of the charging case proves to be an advantage and brings an additional three charge cycles to the table.

In our case, the WF-1000XM3 wireless earphones lasted about around a week before needing a top-up. This one also supports fast charging and a 10-minute charge will buy you around 90 minutes of playback.

Sony has worked on the battery of the new earphones, and this time, they have bundled the new earphones with the V1 processor. On paper, this processor is more efficient and uses less energy.

Sony WF 1000 XM4 vs WF 1000 XM3

The good news is that the battery life has improved significantly You can expect around 8 hours of playback with ANC. At the same time, you will get around 16 hours of battery life. This gives you a cumulative of around 24 hours. Cool, we'd say.

At the same time, the Sony WF-1000XM3 is equipped with wireless charging. So all you need to do is place it on a Qi wireless charging pad to top up the battery. And hey, you get USB-C charging as well.

3. Audio Performance

Now, let us address the elephant in the room—how well do these buds sound?

The Sony WF-1000XM3 has a clear sound signature with a rich and pronounced bass. The clear sound signature means you'll be able to the intricate details in your favorite songs.

The ANC is considered one of the best in its category, and rightly so. These buds can block out most of the surrounding noises and lets you work minus distractions.

Long story short, you get a quiet setting without the stuffed-in feeling. And whenever you want, you can switch to the ambient sound setting.

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As you might have come to expect, the Sony WF-1000XM4 delivers a top-notch ANC. As long as you have a good seal, these buds cancel out most of the outside noise both actively and passively. With ANC enabled, you can mute out rattling of trains and carriages.

The audio delivery is impressive for the price. This is partly due to the addition of Sony’s proprietary DSEE Extreme audio tech designed to improve the audio delivery of compressed tracks. At the same time, the new buds also support 360 Reality Audio in streaming apps like Tidal and Deezer.

Which Should You Buy

So, should you pick the Sony WF-1000XM4 over the Sony WF-1000XM3? We say why not. The new earbuds are small and compact, and the form-based ear tips have a comfortable fit. More importantly, they deliver top-notch audio and ANC.

On the other hand, the Sony WF-1000XM3 earphones are not bad either. The audio delivery is impressive, and it's a joy to listen to soundtracks and podcasts on these earphones.

However, they are a tad on the bigger side, especially the charging case, making it difficult to carry it around. At the same time, the bigger battery life on the Sony WF-1000XM4 is a good enough reason.


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Namrata loves writing about products and gadgets. She has been working for Guiding Tech since 2017 and has around three years of experience writing features, how-tos, buying guides, and explainers. Previously she worked as an IT Analyst at TCS, but she found her calling elsewhere.