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Leaked images suggests Sony WF-1000XM5 will be smaller, rounder

From their impressive sound quality to their awesome noise cancellation, Sony’s WF-1000XM4 are among the best noise-canceling wireless earbuds you can buy. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. If the latest leaked images, courtesy of the Walkman Blog, are indeed the XM4’s successors (thus the WF-1000XM5), I think it’s fair to say we now have a good idea of what some of those improvements might be.

Leaked images of the purported Sony WF-1000XM5 wireless earbuds.
Walkman Blog / Sony

Though the images are a bit rough due to their source (the Walkman Blog says they’re from a certification document, but doesn’t say which certification entity published them), a few things are immediately notable — specifically their size and shape.

While it’s hard to say for sure without another object or a scale for comparison, these earbuds look a bit smaller than the bulky XM4, and in some ways are reminiscent of the shape of Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.

Keen observers will note that the pictured earbuds aren’t just rounder through the main body, but they’ve also been given a more ergonomic curve on the underside, where the earbud sits up against the inside of your ear. That’s in contrast to the very flat design of the WF-1000XM4.

A leaked photo purportedly showing the Sony WF–1000XM5 charging case.
Walkman Blog / Sony

These two aspects could help with one of the problems I felt some folks would have with the XM4 — getting a good fit. The XM4 are large — one of the largest designs I’ve tested in the last two years — and that makes them a nonstarter for people with small ears.

As to whether Sony has been able to address one of my other comments on the XM4, namely a slight tendency to produce high frequencies that aren’t as clear as on the older WF-1000XM3, is still uncertain. In another leaked image showing the internal structure of the purported XM5, we can see that Sony seems to be sticking with foam eartips, which might account for the XM4’s sound signature.

According to the leak, we can expect the WF-1000XM5 to keep the wireless charging feature that Sony introduced on the WF-1000XM4, but hasn’t added to its LinkBuds S, the step-down model from the XM4.

The Walkman Blog speculates that we’ll see these earbuds launch around the May 2023 time frame, but hasn’t offered any guesses on pricing. My bet is that Sony will try to keep them very close to the current $279 price of the WF-1000XM4 unless it has managed to integrate some very special features that would let it charge more, as the company did when it launched the WH-1000XM5 with a price that’s $50 more than that it charged for the WH-1000XM4 when those wireless cans debuted.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
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