The guy in charge of naming new Sony products sits bolt upright in his bed, cold sweat dripping from his forehead.
In a corner of the room, illuminated by the pale moonlight, is a whiteboard. Every inch of it is covered with hastily scrawled ideas, each of them struck through. WB-1010XM? No. FMX-700D? Ridiculous. GTF-006? Utter nonsense.
“I’ve got it,” he gasps, shaking his wife awake. “By god, I’ve only gone and bloody got it.”
Sony’s new noise-cancelling earbuds, the enigmatically named WF-1000XM3, are the follow up to the company’s previous, much celebrated pair of noise-cancelling earbuds, the WF-1000X. They are vastly improved, delivering top quality audio and cramming a whole heap of tech into a compact device.
They’re significantly chunkier than Apple’s Airpods, but look sleek, weighing just 8.5g and sitting comfortably inside the ear. They also come with no fewer than eight different shapes and sizes of rubber tips to ensure you get a snug fit, no matter how weirdly shaped your earholes are.
The flip-top charging case is an attractive object too, with a satisfyingly snappy lid, magnetic resting places for the buds and a quality finish. It charges in three and a half hours, and can recharge both earbuds three times over.
Each bud has a touchpad, which can be used to pause and play media with taps. Hold your finger against your left ear and you can chat with the Google Assistant, which has the added benefit of making you feel like a secret service agent.
The noise-cancellation is the best you’ll find on any in-ear earphone, wired or wireless. The WF-1000XM3 detects whether you’re standing still, strolling down the street or riding on public transport, and dials the noise-isolation levels up and down accordingly to suit the environment.
They can also tell when they’re inside your ear using a proximity sensor, automatically pausing your music or podcast whenever a bud is removed, resuming when they’re re-inserted, and turning themselves off completely if they haven’t seen an ear for more than five minutes. All common sense stuff, but it’s simple features like these that make the WF-1000XM3 a joy to use.
In the space of a few years, truly wireless earphones have undergone a rapid transformation from cheap plastic hands-free headsets to stylish, high-end devices with impeccable, class-leading audio quality. Feature-packed and fashionable, the WF-1000XM3 is the best example of this new generation of earbuds.