Sony’s WH-1000XM4 noise-canceling headphones have been one of the best options since they debuted in 2020, but it appears the company is gearing up to release the next generation. German tech news site TechnikNews has published some images and specs of the successor, seemingly called the WH-1000XM5 (via Gizmodo).
The first thing you might notice is a sleek new design, particularly a thinner headband. The 1000XM3s and 1000XM4s were almost identical, but Sony could change the way things look for the new 1000XM5s.
Instead of a shrouded arm that swivels, the arm is exposed, with a single contact point replacing the XM4’s larger folding hinge over the ear cups. That changes the design of the ear cups as well but suggests just a bit more of their space is available for the stuff that affects what you hear.
That arm looks slimmer than the previous design and could contribute to a lighter weight that hopefully doesn’t give up any strength and durability. As Gizmodo points out (via Notebookcheck and The Walkman Blog), filings for the FCC and other regulators that outlined a new model were spotted in February. One key item revealed is that the FCC labeling has moved, going from the headband itself to underneath an ear pad, which The Walkman Blog speculated could mean the band is now made out of metal instead of plastic.
Pictures of the leaked models in their carrying case show a design that ditches the collapsible folding of the XM4 that tucked one cup inside the other. Still, in these pictures, it seems doubtful they’ll take up much more space on a desk, stand, or in your bag.
According to TechnikNews retail source, the WH-1000XM5 will have an estimated battery life of up to 40 hours with active noise cancellation (ANC) on, 10 hours longer than the XM4, with a total charging time of 3.5 hours via USB-C, about 30 minutes longer than the XM4. They also report it will use two processors for ANC instead of one, and sound will be produced by a new driver, although there are no details on what has changed. They still sport three microphones to pick up your voice and detect noise to cancel it, but the positioning has changed.
The button previously labeled “Custom” is in the same place as before but now marked NC/Ambient, which probably reflects what most people use it for, rather than integrated voice assistants or anything else.
Last year’s model iterated on its award-winning predecessor with “Speak to Chat,” which silences music if it hears you trying to speak to someone, and multipoint Bluetooth audio that stayed connected to more than one device at a time. The latter feature was much more useful, although it did have some glitches at launch. Software updates helped it work better, but any improvement in helping the headphones decide which device to connect to and when would be welcome.
There’s no word on pricing or a release date, but the WH-1000XM4 cost $349.99 at launch, and retailers like Best Buy and Amazon maintain that price today. The headphones’ price has occasionally dipped during sales that Verge Deals points out when they pop up, and it’s unclear if the changes in a new model will move the bar in any direction.