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Sony WF-1000XM3: you can get £52 off Apple AirPods Pro’s biggest rival

Sony's premium earbuds are on offer right now, but are you better off with Apple's iconic AirPods?

Originally selling for around £220, you can now grab a pair of Sony’s truly wireless earbuds for closer to £170. That’s a tidy saving and a tempting offer, but only if they live up to the hype.

Our expert tests have proved countless times before that very few truly wireless headphones hit the mark. And with added noise-cancelling technology, there’s all the more risk that they could fall flat.

To help you pick a side, we’ve tested Sony and Apple’s latest and seemingly similar truly wireless headphones in our lab. Keep scrolling for a closer look at what sets the headphones apart, along with links to our full reviews.

Best Buy headphones – crisp audio for every genre

Sony WF-1000XM3 vs Apple AirPods Pro: what’s the difference?

The Apple AirPods Pro headphones cost £249. Although there are a few key differences between Apple and Sony’s in-ear headphones beyond price. In terms of looks, there aren’t many surprises – Apple’s AirPods come in a predictably simple white finish, while Sony’s in-ear rivals rock a black or silver paint job.

Neither of these models are fully waterproof, but the AirPods do come with an IPX4 rating making them sweat and water-resistant.

If you’re a fan of wireless charging, you might lean towards the AirPods, which live inside a wireless charging case. Sony’s headphones aren’t quite as convenient, so you’ll have to charge them using a USB Type C cable.

Each of these wireless headphone models support noise-cancelling technology. With the AirPods Pro, you activate it by pressing and holding the earbud. On Sony’s headphones, tapping on the left earbud lets you switch between Noise Cancelling mode and Ambient Sound mode.

Both the Sony headphones and the AirPods come bundled with a charging case, although battery life claims vary. Apple says you’ll get ‘up to 4.5 hours’ of listening time with the AirPods Pro on a single charge, while Sony is convinced its headphones edge ahead at ‘6 hours’. You’ll have to check our full reviews to see just how accurate those claims are.


To see which in-ear headphones scored higher in the Which? test lab, see our Apple AirPods Pro review and Sony WF-1000XM3 review.


Should you wait for the Echo Buds?

But wait – if you’re shopping for in-ear headphones, a new fighter has recently stepped into the ring. Amazon’s long-awaited Echo Buds (£120) are also taking a swing at the AirPods, promising to offer up immersive sound while you’re going from A to B.

Amazon’s Echo Buds come with Bose Active Noise Reduction, which aims to limit background noise so you can focus on tapping your feet to the beat. And double-tapping the headphones will temporarily allow sound to pass through the earbuds; handy if you’re listening out for your name at a coffee shop.

The Alexa voice assistant is nestled inside, ready and willing to answer your questions and queue up your music. If you’d rather chat with a different AI helper, Siri and Google Assistant are also supported.

To help make sure these in-ear headphones don’t drop out of your ears, the Echo Buds come bundled with multiple sizes of ear tips. Picking the right option will ensure a comfortable fit and prevent distracting noise from seeping in.

So how long will the Echo Buds last on a single charge? Amazon is promising ‘up to 5 hours of music playback’ with a full charge, or ‘up to 2 hours’ with a nippy 15-minute top-up. We’ll be testing those claims very soon in the Which? headphones lab.

Other wireless headphones on test

  • JBL T450BT (£30) Budget-priced headphones with a built-in microphone for taking calls. Buttons on the earcup let you control your music without having to reach for your phone.
  • Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 (£100) Affordable noise-cancelling headphones available in various colours. A detachable cable lets you use them wired if the battery runs out.
  • JBL Live 650BTNC (£150) Wireless, over-ear headphones with support for Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa. An on/off toggle gives you control over noise cancellation.
  • Sennheiser PXC 550-II (£270) Foldable headphones suitable for travelling with. You’ll find touch-sensitive controls on the ear cups for adjusting volume and answering phone calls.

Make tangled headphones a thing of the past and go wire-free with our expert guide on the best wireless headphones for 2020.


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